Squirrel Nutrition and Care

        By Clarissa Summers
           

                                     Sentinel drinking from the water can.

These pages are dedicated to those among us who are bushy-tailed....for a better and happier life. (.........And they shall be known by their tails!)

Love grows here!


Copyright © Clarissa H. Summers 1992
Revisions and Updates: November 1999; March 2000; July 2000; June 2001; January 2002; April 2002; October 2002; August 2003; July 2004; January 2005; May 2005; December 2005; April 2006; August 2006; April 2007; October 2007; April 2008; July 2008; November 2008; January 2009; April 2009; September 2009; November 2009; December 2009; April 2010; November 2010; July 2011; November 2011; February 2012; July 2012: September 2012



All information on these pages is copyrighted. It is given freely and may be reproduced for the benefit and well-being of our bushy-tailed friends. This material may not be reproduced for sale nor may it be used on a web page without permission lest the wrath of the gods come down on your heads (!), and it will, you know!

Information in these pages has helped people in as many as 22 foreign countries as well as in the United States, not only to raise baby squirrels or heal the injured, but also to establish their own local squirrel rescue groups. I feel very honored to be able to help.

Periodically this web page is updated, thanks to questions from the public who help me fill in the gaps. The answers to most all questions are now on the web page. As is the case with all reference documents, this web page is intended to be consulted any time a question arises. However, if you aren't able to find the answers you seek, you may certainly email me. (See below.)

Because this is such a widely comprehensive web page, I have also included, not just information on diet (for humans as well as animals) and care, but also on squirrel behaviour, normal and abnormal. (You may even find a rant or two or three within!)

For those of us who are the healers, the creators, in this world, it is recommended that a copy of this material be printed out and read (!) at all times during each phase of the squirrel's growth.

This web page should be considered an instruction manual, a natural, holistic guide to be followed explicitly, not to be mixed randomly with information from other sources since that will only lead to failure.

Please do not act first and ask questions later. What I cannot teach, the squirrels will. Many times the lessons they teach can be bitter and heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, several unethical and (sadly) competitive people have plagiarized information directly from my web page to theirs, presenting it falsely as having come from their own past experiences as they proclaim themselves "experts" (Good Grief!). Those who are inherently corrupt and incompetent can only steal from others.

Although it has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I am neither flattered nor amused (as Queen Victoria would say!). The information on this web page is my own original creation, and always has been from its conception more than 30 years ago, not just when it was implemented on the Internet in 1999.

In spite of all the malicious propaganda out there on the Internet, Scalded Cow's Milk NEVER killed any squirrel, baby or adult!

Be not deceived or misled. Only in this web page will you find the entire original and unadulterated Truth.





Since independent laboratory tests have FINALLY proven that certain commmercial formulas are highly toxic to squirrels and other animals, Scalded Cow's Milk is the ONLY safe alternative. as it always has been. Thousands of others agree and have done so for many years, having great success with it as you will see from the lovely signings from the public on my Guest Book (link below) as well as the notification of this laboratory test.

Some people, obviously quite threatened by our continually growing numbers and our fantastic success rates, continue to very vocally recommend commercial formulas (even though they are quite aware of their toxicity) while scathingly criticizing Scalded Milk, even though none of them have ever tried it.

A quotation I recently came across stated: "It takes an evolved person to appreciate new ideas and not feel threatened by them." So true!

Scalded Milk has proven to be a successful formula based on my more than 20 years of rehabbing more than 2,500 squirrels as well as with thousands of other people who have also used it successfully.

Once the newly-found baby gets past the first critical 24-72 hours when he comes into your care, Scalded Milk will provide excellent nutrition for his growth. One of MY Nutballs daily is CRITICAL for these babies' health and well-being once they are older and have started eating solid foods. In fact, they need to be kept on them for the rest of their lives as long as they are in captivity, whether unreleasable and/or simply kept as pets. (Those "hokey" concoctions or copycat so-called "Nutball recipes" on other web pages or chat rooms will NOT work because of their calcium/magnesium-blocking attributes.)

Cow's milk is the basic ingredient of all adulterated commercial formulas. Defying logic, those recommending commercial formulas while criticizing Scalded Milk are actually recommending formulas of highly processed and adulterated cow's milk or by-products thereof.

As basic Biology continues to teach and as is widely known, pure cow's milk builds strong bones and healthy teeth.

Our success rate speaks for itself.

- - -

And, besides that, the whole thing is just dumb and I wish they'd quit it.


Please visit our where you may view and/or sign it.

Click here for our Photo Gallery

If you have comments or questions about squirrels after you have printed out and read this web page (I do welcome feedback!), you may email me at Clarissa -- I answer all emails quickly, so if you do not hear back from me, something may be wrong on your receiving end.

This site visited times since June 26, 1999


Basic Baby Animal Care -- A Summary

1. Warm up baby in a small hamster cage put on top of a heating pad set on low heat with several warm, woolly blankets to burrow under. (Baby's cage should be kept constantly on heating pad!)

2. Feed Scalded Milk with a small 1 c.c. syringe very slowly 4 times a day, every 5 hours.

3. Stimulate with a tissue after every feeding to make him go to the bathroom.



Ingredients
(Table of Contents)

The Beginning...

Upon Receiving a Baby Squirrel...

Baby Squirrel Formula (Scalded Milk Recipe)

Feeding Schedule

Growth

Nut Balls/Squares (Ca1cium Information)

"But I don' wanna make those stupid Nutballs!"

Stupid list - Stupid things to NOT feed squirre1s and why
The Positive List --- things to "Yes" feed squirrels

Suggested Daily Schedule for Self-Feeding Squirrels

Common Sense Squirrel Tips

Nutritional Healing for Animals and Birds

"Elixir" for Squirrels

Flying Squirrels

Possum Basics

Rabbit Basics

Sugar Gliders

General Information

Squirrel Nest Box

Release

A Summary


The Beginning ….…….…

Wildlife rehabilitation is neither a contest, nor a competition. It should be a sharing of information gleaned from our own true experiences dealing with the animals who are our very best teachers -- not come from those people who only spout ovine hearsay. Nor is it a "scientific" thing which some "so-called" rehabbers try to turn it into by using weights and measures, which I think is just plain silly. If ever there were a "scientific" bent to it, it would be in the 1% of antibiotics which are only rarely given, hardly ever to these squirrel babies, though. The remaining 99% is nothing more than Mother Nature, Mother Nurture. We can tell just by looking and by how well they are eating whether animals are thrifty (thriving) or not.

People think squirrels and other animals can't talk. Oh, yes, they can! We just have to know how to listen, both figuratively and literally.

For many years I have worked with nutrition in my own dogs and cats. birds and fish. The last 30 or more years have been devoted to extending this practical knowledge to squirrels, their care, nurture, and rehabilitation, toward releasing them back into nature. Many, because of physical or mental handicaps, cannot be released but certainly can continue to lead long, safe and viable lives in captivity when they are properly fed. There's no need for them to be murdered. It is from them we learn the most.

I continue to be amazed at how fast they heal when given proper nutrition. I have taken in well over 2,500 squirrels over the last two decades, approximately three-fourths of whom have been babies. The first 24-hour period is the most critical. After getting them through this time (dealing with their injuries)and the next 2-3 days, none have ever died. My success rate from this 2-3 day point on until release at 6 to 9 months of age is 100%

Interestingly enough, nobody knew the first thing about calcium deficiencies or squirrel "nutrition" (too esoteric a word!) until I came on the scene but now everybody and his dog spout the word "nutrition" on copy-cat, antagonistic web pages. They still haven't got a clue how symbiotically vitamins and minerals work!

As is also mentioned in one of the boxes near the beginning, there are unethical incompetents out there on the Internet who have plagiarized parts of my web page, spewing it forth as if it came from their own personal experiences while they proclaim themselves "experts". (Good Grief!) I eagerly await the comeuppance of these thieves -- and it will come!

Contrary to "popular opinion", there is no such thing as "lactose intolerance" in squirrels. With the well over 2,500 squirrels taken in over the years I have NEVER found even one (young or old) who was "allergic" to Scalded Milk. ALL mammal milk contains lactose. Also, I have NEVER found it necessary to do the "Pedialyte thing" with baby squirrels, even with those severely dehydrated who have been away from Mama for at least 6 days. Gatorade is awful! Do NOT feed it! It is not intended for wildlife and isn't good for people either because of the alien chemicals and preservatives in it. Yes, they do need fluids and nutrition, and Scalded Milk supplies both.

A squirrel's nature is basically shy and timid, sweet and gentle, when properly nourished and cared for. Each new arrival (baby or adult), I wrap in a blanket and cuddle, love, and pet, warming against my heart before they are put on a heating pad. They are all very responsive to a soothing touch which helps ease them past their recent traumas. I do the same after each feeding to boost their immune systems and promote rapid healing. This extra loving attention at a critical time when they need it has nothing to do with "making a pet out of them" but does have much to do with making them feel they are loved and valued! The time comes, after babies and adults are weaned and healed that handling is no longer needed or wanted. However, IF you do not plan to release your squirrels (whether because of a permanent handicap or otherwise), and IF they will allow it, continued handling is perfectly fine since they're not "going anywhere" anyway!

Of all the calls and email I receive from the public and other rehabilitators, the most common cause of death in squirrels is a severe calcium and magnesium deficiency. I cannot stress enough the critical importance of calcium in the squirrels' diet. In captivity calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D are supplied by Scalded Milk Formula in balanced proportions when babies are young and by MY Nutballs when they are older. Failure to meet these nutritional requirements can result in sudden, "unexplained" death at any time. Squirrels who have not been fed a proper diet can become quite nasty and vicious -- they don't feel good! -- a warning flag that they are getting ready to drop dead. (Other symptoms of a calcium/magnesium/Vitamin D deficiency can be found directly below and under "The Stupid List", although death is the most common.)


**Phases in the lives of squirrels who are not being fed properly:

**NONE of the above calcium/magnesium-deficient crises ever happens in squirrels raised on the Scalded Milk/Nut Ball program.



Unfortunately, the admonition has been put forth (and continues to be a "working hypothesis" with those politically-motivated wildlife-group people who still do not know any better): "Release them before they drop dead on you," while they are still babies, at far too young an age to fend for themselves in nature. Survival skills, without a mother to guide them, do not kick in until squirrels are around 6 months of age or even older, so any squirrels released too early won't survive, especially when taken out into the woods and/or dumped somewhere. I've often wondered why these people bother to take them in in the first place since they simply do not know how to keep squirrels alive either on a short-term or a long-term basis because they don't feed properly.

Besides my own observations of squirrels' needs, much of the information in these pages has come from Adelle Davis whose books on nutrition (Let's Have Healthy Children, Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit, and Let's Get Well) are based on thousands of animal studies. She took from the animals and gave to the people, and I like to think I'm giving back to the animals.

Much of what is passed off as "new" in the scientific community today is actually "old" Adelle Davis. Universal Truth withstands the test of time.

Much information in these pages has come from the squirrels themselves who will tell what they need every step of the way to one who is attuned to them. One of my greatest teachers was my Mama Squirrel who came to me wild from the yard and thought she'd "get in on some of this food" I was doling out to those in captivity. She taught me a tremendous amount about squirrel motherhood for 5 years until a car took her life.

"Snatchy" at first, she evolved into the gentlest taker of tid-bits from my fingers. She had a sense of my work and purpose: The day after I released 13 youngsters (8 and 9 months old that I had wintered over), she installed herself and her spring babies in a nest box in the yard. To protect her own from the "new intruders", her defense was minimal -- chasing them only 2 feet away from her box -- or, once, only a well-directed defiant glare was sufficient! She could have run them totally out of the yard, as she later did to one of her own 6-month-olds, but was, with mine, quite gentle and understanding of their initial ineptitude and lack of street-wise ways.

Since the scope of my yard is only a microcosm, the public has also taught me a great deal about the individual personalities of these little animals. It has only been up to me to listen (or read!) in order to learn.

I have also learned a great deal by observing squirrels in my yard after they have been released: How mothers will vigorously defend and protect their babies, sometimes losing the battle and leaving their own orphaned, the males who are so busy knocking each other out of the trees when they, themselves, are "in season" that the females are virtually ignored; and the wooing courtship of a male presenting his big bushy, gorgeous tail to the female rather than his face (because she will slap it!).

Still on the lighter side, I've often called a horde or gathering of squirrels a "grouplet". Markianne has come up with some much better terms: ".......a bunch of baby squirrels should be called 'a cuddle of squirrels' (as they are the most adorable 'baby' of any species) and a bunch of adult squirrels should be called 'an Einstein of squirrels', as they are so very very intelligent! But, I am quite prejudiced, and proudly admit being a 'squirrel hugger'!!! My favorite 'squirrel expression' is the look of total joy on their sweet little faces when they make prodigious leaps ~ absolute bliss as they wildly jump, then run on the 'Tree Trails'!"

Nor can we forget the "flying" squirrels (the grays, of course!) who do seem to fly (The Flying Wallendas!) when they take off and sometimes disappear in the blink of an eye into another dimension!

Upon Receiving a Baby Squirrel….

(Please take special notice of the last 9 paragraphs in this section before you do something rash like give your squirrel away or succumb to bullying or fear-mongering!)

Before you begin……

Do not feed a cold baby. So many of these babies are cold when they first come in. Warm up on your heart (skin to skin) until the heating pad is warmed up and then put him in a small hamster cage set on top of the heating pad, with small blankets for him to cuddle and snuggle under. (Small hamster cages are recommended since they are basically the size of the nests in the trees they've fallen from.) The heating pad should be set on low. He needs to warm there for at least 40-45 minutes. Buffer the heating pad with towels if heat is excessive. Heating pads should be monitored for the first two or three hours and the next two or three days and more towel buffers added if necessary. The temperature where the baby is should just be tepid. The outside of a baby may feel warm but internal organs still be cold; feeding a cold baby at this time will shut down the system: death follows, because a cold body cannot digest food.

Babies should be kept constantly warm, day and night, round the clock, in a small hamster cage set on a heating pad set on low and NEVER allowed to get cold. Cold is one of the most damaging things that can happen to a baby squirrel, causing brain or neurological damage and death.

Heating pads may be set up on a grill or a small cake cooling rack on small wooden blocks, cage set on top of the heating pad -- this will not only help protect the surface they are placed on but will also allow cooler air to circulate underneath. Peeling skin, especially with the fur-less pinkies is caused by too hot a heating pad. Buffering with towels as explained above will correct this situation.

Baby squirrels need to be fed Scalded Milk (whole cow's milk) 4 times a day -- NEVER ever any kind of commercial formula, no matter WHAT the label says or WHO recommends it! (Those commercial formulas have recently been found in independent lab tests to be highly toxic and deadly to all squirrels as well as to other small animals all across the United States for the last 3 years, although they have NEVER been good for them. More on this under the Suggested Feeding Schedule and the Baby Formula section on this web page and on my Guest Book.)

We tend to call those "pseudo-scientific" people who use the term "MBD" Maximally Brain Deficient! They wouldn't know what it was if it walked in the front door and bit them on the toe, and they certainly don't know how to fix it!

Squirrels, as with all other types of rodents (I really don't like that word!), are immaculate -- very clean little animals! If they come in with anything "suspect" on them, get it off immediately!

Fly eggs must be removed immediately before they hatch into maggots. Use a flea comb, dry toothbrush or fingernails to remove eggs. Soaking large dry clumps of fly eggs in olive oil or salad oil for a few seconds helps with flea-comb removal. Remove maggots with tweezers (if only a few). For larger areas of maggots, sprinkle with Sergeant's Cat Flea and Tick Powder or Adam's Flea Powder to smother them (or even corn starch if you have neither of the other two). These powders contain pyrethrins which are made from chrysanthemums and are non-toxic to squirrels.

Wash wound with warm water on cotton ball, dab dry thoroughly with a tissue, and put Desitin ointment on if you wish or leave alone. Desitin is a wonderful wound healer because of the zinc in it. Only one or two applications should be necessary. Give Acerola Vit. C (15 - 24 mg. dissolved in ¼ to ½ c.c. of water)orally before each feeding for a day or two to help boost the immune system,promote healing from within, and prevent death. Toxins from ant bites can cause diarrhea for a time or two, so don't be unnecessarily alarmed. This, too, shall pass.

Sugar is good for sprinkling on open wounds, especially those that are infected. Sugar reacts chemically with pus to neutralize it and only two or three applications should be necessary. Honey and Karo can also be used, but I think those are too messy. Even if the wound is a dried one, it can be moistened with a few drops of water to make the sugar granules stick and form a crust. When sugar is used, no topical or oral antibiotics are necessary.

For more on ant bites or fleas, see Common Sense Squirrel Tips.

Although there are a minimal few cats (about 5%)who do harm baby squirrels, a cat-rescued baby squirrel does NOT need an anti-biotic, as birds do, and as misled rehabbers seem to think. Cats do NOT infect squirrels. I have NEVER found it necessary to give a cat-caught baby squirrel antibiotics. Oftentimes, scratches and puncture wounds on babies are attributed to the "bad" cat when, in reality, they have been caused by hitting broken twigs on the branches of trees as the baby fell. Cats are some of our best rescuers and can find the babies where we can’t, under leaves and in tall grass.

Bloody noses are quickly and readily healed with Vitamin C, a natural antihistamine, which takes down swelling (good for head injuries, too), and by the calcium in milk which is a wound healer. Sometimes those who come into us with a bloody nose will end up with tooth problems, misalignments or malocclusions. Difficulty in chewing or swallowing will be apparent when they get older and are eating solid food. Sometimes (rarely, though) teeth may need to be snipped later on -- more about this under the Common Sense section. Squirrels with malocclusions or tooth problems should never be released.

Head injuries are permanent, often lie latent, and can take them in a month, a year and three months, or at the end of a long life with us. Any squirrel with a head injury cannot survive out in nature so should not be released. (More information on these and other incapacitating injuries or handicaps can also be found under the Common Sense section on this web page.)

Abscesses (rare in babies) are NOT caused by cats, but from a bite from another squirrel and will usually erupt in 10 days, although I did have one that began to fester on the third day. Again, no oral or systemic antibiotic is necessary: Manipulation, or scab picking (when and IF the scab comes off easily) to drain the wound of pus is the preferred method or just leaving it alone to eventually erupt and heal all by itself.

Babies do need to be stimulated to go to the bathroom. You may lightly tickle their bottoms with Kleenex, using quick little up and down or round and round strokes, to encourage them to go -- they'll wet the Kleenex. Failure to stimulate can cause uremic poisoning and death. Do stimulate them after every feeding 4 times a day. Urine of all baby squirrels should be clear. As they mature and begin eating solid foods around 10 weeks or more of age, the urine may become more yellow (with the grays) or peach-colored or the color of cider vinegar (with the fox squirrels).

It's a good idea to continue to stimulate them to make them go to the bathroom as long as they are being taken out to syringe-feed, whether they are really "going on their own" or not. It's a good way of monitoring them and helps keep their blankets cleaner and drier.

Warm spit on a pointy place on the tissue helps get them started wetting when you tickle twinkies. Doodles will follow just by tickling them to make them wet, whether they are actively wetting or not. Babies may be dehydrated when they first come in and may not have anything to wet out right away, or they may not be thrifty wetters in the beginning, but that will soon change as the body absorbs the formula.

If they are dehydrated, do NOT use Pedialyte, but feed Scalded Milk which supplies fluids as well as proper nutrition. When severely dehydrated, it may take as long as several feedings or 2 days for wet to come out. If totally empty, it may be 5 days before doodles come.

Babies often have the ability to doodle on their own, long before they have the muscle control to wet, so look in the bottom of their cages for doodles before panicking. There is no "set age" when they are capable of wetting on their own. All babies are different and gain muscle strength at different ages. When in doubt, continue to tickle as long as you are taking them out to syringe-feed. I have had several "Baby Hueys" who were not able to wet on their own even after they were mature enough to be on milk from a small water bottle and still had to be stimulated to make them go!

Once babies are stabilized and eating well (usually within 2 feedings after arrival), you should be able to get them to wet after every feeding. However, they will not necessarily doodle every single time. Some will only doodle once a day, some twice, and some every other day -- babies are all different.

Doodles can be little bitty pellets, a long stringy thing, the consistency of toothpaste out of a tube. Yellow smears on blankets or on the tissue indicate diarrhea which is caused by too much sugar or Karo in a formula, so omit the sugar which shouldn't have been put in the Scalded Milk in the first place. (If they've been fed an alien formula before arrival, they will often have quite smelly diarrhea which can be quickly cured by the addition of Dannon plain yogurt to their milk twice a day, necessary to restore balance to their intestinal flora which has been messed up by those alien formulas.)

Diarrhea in baby squirrels is no big deal, but it does need to be corrected because it's messy and can burn their little bottoms. (Applying Desitin to their little raw bottoms helps ease that soreness.) Adding Dannon plain yogurt (no sugar) to their milk helps stop the diarrhea. However, as time goes on and IF diarrhea does occur, it can be caused by too much acidophilus or any other of those "........dophiluses", so eliminate the yogurt and continue feeding plain Scalded Milk with Vitamin E in it. It takes 3 feedings for what we put in to come out, so do be patient!

They usually doodle after bladders have emptied, so keep on tickling twinkies (in quick little up and down strokes or round and round) to make doodles come out. No need to obsess over this: 3 minutes or less is sufficient to get "results" if you're going to. Or look in the bottom of their cages to see if they're already doodling on their own.

Chronic or long-term, hard-to-cure, very thin, watery diarrhea can be caused by goat's milk, those too-sugary commercial formulas, or some kind of bacterial intestinal organism like coccidiosis, giardia, or salmonella and, in the latter extremely rare "germy" cases, a drug is recommended. Babies can pick these up through their mother's milk if she has ingested contaminated water, as in bird baths.

They are sexed like dogs and horses. If you are not sure what you have, you probably have a little girl.

I do NOT advocate physical therapy for the injured -- they know better than we do when they are hurt and when they feel better. More harm than good can be done if we try to "manipulate" them ourselves. As they heal, they will move around more and more as it suits them.

Common sense tells us that any who come in injured should be handled as carefully and as little as possible in the beginning Excess handling only exacerbates injuries and can kill them quickly. We can love and soothe them and ease their fears by stroking their heads and down their backs for a time or two after feeding, talk soothingly to them, and then leave them alone to sleep which is where all healing occurs. This justifies our putting them aside in a cage when they're first brought to us so they can rest or warm up on a heating pad for 30 or 45 minutes before we get around to feeding them. It also gives them time to adjust to their new surroundings, whether they are lucid or not. When we take them out to syringe-feed them 4 times a day, their little bodies should be well-supported by a small blanket to avoid further injury. --

Steroids are never recommended. I have NEVER found them to "take the swelling" down, as so many vets and rehabbers seem to believe, nor have I ever found them to be effective in the few times squirrels have been dosed with them before they came into my hands. They suppress the immune system and are NOT healers. It is only in an exceptionally rare case that a baby or adult will need any kind of drug or antibiotic. ALL drugs have harmful and sometimes long-term side effects. ALL upset the natural chemical balance of the body. Too many babies have died unnecessarily from an overdose or from being given the wrong kind of drug. Injuries and wounds heal very quickly in squirrels when they are being fed properly, most within 10 days to 2 weeks, if not sooner.

Keep baby in a quiet place away from children and excessive noise. These are delicate and fragile little animals and are not playtoys for anyone, children or adult.

Babies do need to be stroked, petted, and cuddled when they are taken out for a feeding session so they will know they are cherished, loved, and valued and will therefore thrive and grow. Excessive handling, though, or haulling them around, is not recommended since they do need their uninterrupted and restful sleep between feedings.

Baby squirrels can dehydrate overnight when they're getting ready to die from internal injuries and their little systems are shutting down. The most usual place to look for signs of internal injuries are in the diaphragm area, under the rib cage, and all down in the soft-tissue tummy area. Any bruising or discoloration there is definitely a sign of internal injury or bruising or bleeding, and that is most often the telling thing when there's a death. Those places won't necessarily show up right away either but will do so right before death.

One particular pinkie I took in was doing fine, progressing nicely, until the 10th day. That morning when I got her out to feed, she was totally unresponsive, limp, listless and lethargic. I knew I was losing her, and she did pass an hour or so later. She had those dark places in her diaphragm area which never showed up until that morning. They most often just drift off or float away when it's time for them to go, a very peaceful death. All we can do is take them as far as they will go and hope they recover from the damage (unseen and invisible sometimes) they sustained in their fall. Normally the first 24 hours and the next 2-3 days after they come in is the most critical, when they have sustained injuries.

Do NOT put babies outside! Squirrels should not go outside until right before time to release -- when they are 5 and 1/2 months or 6 months old for the spring-born babies and 8-9 months for the fall-born babies who are wintered-over in the house -- NOT wintered-over in cages outside. Babies and the young are far too vulnerable and fragile and are quite susceptible to getting colds or pneumonia from getting chilled or wet, no matter how "warm" the weather outside may seem to you. (More on how to slowly or gradually release under the Release section farther on in this web page.)

Some very wise comments from Gina: "I tell vets all the time that wildlife are not pampered, human-manipulated, gene-experimented dogs and cats with every known genetic disease that we created in them. These animals are designed by nature to survive in nature WITHOUT human interference and they just don't need all that fancy medical stuff -- just a little basic natural supportive care and good nutrition.

I just think people and vets ought to understand that there is not some sterile person standing in the woods with their iodine for the navel, the sterile towel to wipe them down and clear their little noses in a pristine room of cleanliness, oxygen ever available and an antibiotic for that little sneeze. They are dumped in the dirt, rained on, roasted in the sun, chewed on by ants with bugs in their ears and nose, never given an antibiotic EVER, are smeared around, licked with a rough tongue and then those that can are forced to get up within 30 minutes of birth, nurse, and be able to race with the wind. Those that are not designed for that "speediness" are roughly washed multiple times to hide their scent and their bottoms continuously scrubbed.

They do not have air-conditioned and heat-controlled rooms with fluffy beds of fleece and baby blankets but still stay warm with hair, straw, and pine needles taken from their surroundings. Yet despite all of that, they survive, thrive, grow and managed to make it just FINE without human intervention or manipulation for thousands of years, long before man was a pimple on a dinosaur. It's only when we do bother them and their parents in this wild place, destroy their homes, run over their domain with tractors, mowers and saws, kidnap them, put them into open-trash-can death traps that we HAVE to take over and take care of what WE, the most "intelligent" creature, created after we destroyed their lives, that their problems begin. That, of course, is excluding natural disasters which reduces all of us to equals, although I suspect animals have the edge." (Gina has really made some excellent points!)


  • *****That "Put them back out there and let nature take its course" callous cliché put forth by those so-called "rehabbers" and wildlife "rescue" places is nothing but a cop-out, a prime example of the amount of deadwood, amoral, sociopathic murder machines out there now in those wildlife groups, many of whom feed live and uninjured baby birds and squirrels ("free food") to their raptors. There is so much corruption and fear-mongering going on out there now that I have often said, "Who needs foreign terrorists when we have our very own 'home grown' variety with the so-called 'licensed' bullies and intimidators!" -- (Purrrrrrhaps those people need to look up the definition of "rehabilitation" in their little dictionaries!)

    People who echo that phrase ("Let nature take its course.") or who are too quick to murder simply don't know how to care for or raise squirrels, how to keep them alive and healthy on a short-term basis or even on a long-term one because they don't feed properly or haven't got the background experience of raising any squirrels at all. Or they're deathly afraid of them, rehabilitators or not! (Some so-called "seasoned" rehabbers will refuse to take in a baby with eyes open because "it might growl" at them! And we all know how death-threatening a grump or a growl is! So silly!)

    Do be aware that all the misinformation and disinformation (deliberate lying) with their nefarious smear campaigns (I'm impervious to that kind of thing) on those politically-motivated wildlife-group web pages and tacky chat rooms is intended to either confuse or scare the daylights out of people. (Anonymity is nothing more than pure cowardice!) Unfortunately, in spite of those commercial formulas having recently been exposed in independent laboratory tests for their alarming toxicity to squirrels, they continue to recommend it be fed, trying to "fix" what is unfixable. Or they will recommend other commercial formulas which will eventually kill the squirrels from a calcium deficiency, although they're not aware of it yet.

    Too much unnecessary killing is going on now in the world because of man -- pillaging, hacking down of trees and woodlands whimsically or for commercial purposes, not only destroying habitats but wiping out entire squirrel families in the process. Bureaucratic sanctioned and unsanctioned hunting, random shooting solely for target-practice, poisons (not only rodenticides, but fertilizers and pesticides as well), being hit by cars, electricity -- all are man-caused and all take their toll on our wildlife.

    Fabrications against wildlife are created to justify the collection of bounty money or for culling or mass slaughtering (under the guise of so-called bureaucratic or governmental "Animal Management") -- viz. Prairie dogs, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, deer, squirrels.

    So-called "shelters", whether for domestic animals or wildlife all over the United States and Canada (all those Inhumane Societies), are nothing but dead ends in one way or another since most animals are immediately euthanized (murdered) whether healthy or not, oftentimes because there are not enough volunteers (whether capable or not) to take them. The ASPCA admits it kills 9 million cats and dogs a year. Those are just some of the domestic animals they receive or confiscate. No telling how many others -- not just all forms of wildlife, but other domestic animals such as bunnies, ferrets, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. -- are also destroyed since those are not included in their "count". Others are exploited in one way or another for donation money or for personal gain. So-called "Animal Rescue" programs on cable or satellite TV are nothing but Show Business. The reality is in what goes on behind the scenes that the public is never allowed to see.

    The hidden agenda of all those State and local agencies is NOT the conservation or preservation of animals but their destruction, their annihilation. Those designated by bureaucrats as "game animals" are "protected" by law so they can be shot and killed by the hunters. "Non-game animals" are not "protected" so they can be kept, shot, hunted, or killed by anyone. Such a dichotomy!

    Those of us who are kind, compassionate, and caring -- the creators and healers in this world -- do need to lend a helping hand when needed in order to counterbalance the cruelties these little ones must endure. We certainly don't "let nature take its course" when a human baby has been abandoned or thrown into a dumpster!

    A few words of caution to any who are considering applying for a license or permit: A little piece of paper does NOT impart instant knowledge as too many arrogant people mistakenly believe, nor is it even worth the paper it is written on. Some of those manipulative, controlling, politically-motivated wildlife groups (whose primary concern is NOT the welfare of the animals) have conned and infiltrated at least 5 state Wildlife Departments that I am aware of, causing them to mandate that certain commercial formulas be fed to baby squirrels. (My, my! What a stir I've caused! -- Please read the section below for a recent independent laboratory test on these deadly formulas.) Interestingly enough, and a very "telling thing", is that all other mammals and birds are so far "immune" to this ridiculous mandatory "policy". The government has no ethical or moral right to tell us what we can or cannot feed animals in our own homes. I see this as just another step up the ladder to controlling our personal freedom -- our right to privacy being taken away or imposed upon by governmental bureaucracy.

    (More "baby stuff" is in the section on Common Sense Squirrel Tips)

    Return toThe Beginning...

    Baby Squirrel Formula

    Do not feed a baby when you have first taken him in until you have warmed him in a small cage on top of a heating pad set on low heat for at least 30-45 minutes. Babies should be kept CONSTANTLY on a heating pad, day and night, round the clock. See Upon Receiving a Baby Squirrel...

    (Please be sure to read the section down below about the recent independent laboratory testing on those toxic commercial formulas!)

    Scalded Milk is the most economical way to feed. It is an old recipe, used successfully for many years long before before any commercial formulas were ever fabricated to make money for their manufacturers. At one time I was going through 3 or more cups of this formula every 2 days, and I hate to think how that amount would have translated monetarily to a commercial formula, although cost is certainly not the point here where the health and well-being of squirrels is concerned. I have NEVER ever lost a baby squirrel or an adult using this formula, nor have I ever had any problems develop later on as can occur with commercial formulas other people use.

    Egg yolk (unborn chicken) should never be used in baby squirrels' formulas. I had disastrous results from a first-hand experience before I found repeated many times in a very helpful book long ago: "NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS, NEVER GIVE EGG YOLK TO BABY SQUIRRELS: THEY CANNOT TOLERATE IT AND THEY WILL DIE!" I suspect even small amounts of egg given daily in commercial formulas will accumulate in the body and eventually cause death. We do not lose babies on this plain Scalded Milk formula.

    Commercial formulas (even BEFORE they were found to be so highly contaminated and toxic in independent laboratory tests, killing ALL squirrels as well as other wildlife and domestic animals, too) were responsible for an unfortunate 50% mortality rate, according to a nationwide survey done several years ago by the National Wildlife Rehabitators group of their squirrel rehabbers all across the United States, all of whom conformed to their recommended and so-called "conventional" commercial-formula regimen. (Some rehab manuals admitted to a 70% mortality rate in squirrels, 80% in rabbits.) Excuses for their exceptionally high death rates range anywhere from "just another one of those 'squirrel viruses' going around" (no such thing!) to "a bad batch of squirrels" -- all pure nonsense!

    Commercial formulas cause consistent and chronic diarrhea in raccoons (all those sugars); cause puppies to have droopy, listless, and lackluster attitudes; and are why possums get rickets. All are lacking in sufficient magnesium for calcium absorption by the body, as well as being unbalanced in other ways. If truth be known they are probably composed of a good 70%-80% sugar once those various sugars are toted up.

    Those politically-motivated, wildlife-group-sponsored web pages and people who advocate artificial, synthetic commercial formulas while denigrating Scalded Milk and my methods, do NOT want the public to succeed in raising these babies. It's as if they want to keep wildlife to themselves, as a corner of the market, which is NOT the way this new forward-looking "trend" is going: Wildlife is going back into the hands of the people where it was to begin with before the government stuck its nose in and tried to take control more than 30 years ago.

    Lying, propaganda, denials, and cover-ups continue on out there, especially now that those commercial formulas have recently been found to be more toxic than ever. The toxicity is something we've been aware of for decades. If these people only knew how to read, they'd see that skim milk (or some other hokey kind of milk by-product, like casein) is listed as the second ingredient on the labels of those synthetic formulas they recommend, which causes me to wonder where they think "skim milk" comes from in the first place? Dandelions or rocks?

    The last baby I took in who had been fed that stuff was hyper, wired, unfocused, and had a rapid heartbeat 3 times the normal rate (tachycardia). He also had stinky stool. (Squirrels' doodles are not supposed to smell.) He was one of those who would have died within another day or two of either seizuring or a "heart attack" or any those other symptoms of a calcium/magnesium/Vitamin D deficiency, as delineated in the section near the beginning of this web page -- the unfortunate things that can happen to baby squirrels who haven't been fed Scalded Milk when they are young and given my Nutballs when they are older. He would have been one of those who seizure or drop dead in the 8-9 week range (that so-called "tricky period" commercial-formula users talk about, IF they're being truthful, and which we never experience).

    It took 3 feedings of Scalded Milk to calm him down so that his heartbeat and attitude were more like a normal baby squirrel's. This is by no means the first or only instance of a baby I've taken in who has had these symptoms.

    Another baby gray I once took in had been fed one of those awful kitten formulas recommended by the vet. She soon came down with raging diarrhea (of course!) and the vet, without a clue what side effects that commercial formula had caused, prescribed 3 different types of antibiotics which that baby did NOT need! One was for the diarrhea and I can't remember what the other two were for, but all were totally unnecessary. The sad thing was that when that woman took that baby to school with her (she was a teacher) she probably had all that messy, staining diarrhea all over her fine clothes!

    When that baby was brought to me ten days later, her tummy was huge (!), bloated, and she was starving, gnashing at the air because she was so hungry (malnourished) in spite of that too-fat belly. (We do like little Tub Tummies, but not as fat or as distended as hers was!) I took her off those unnecessary antibiotics, put her immediately on Scalded Milk and within 3 feedings, she was back to acting like a normal baby again -- not "starving to death" any more, no excessively bulging tummy, and no diarrhea!

    Further testimonies to the disastrous effects of ALL those commercial formulas can be found on my Guest Book. As I often tell people, unlike those politically-motivated wildlife group people, the public never lies. They have no need to. That link is: http://www.hal-pc.org/~jbsum/guestbook.html

    ****The following has recently (September 28, 2009) been brought to my attention: Off the Wildlife Rehab List: "Petag's Esbilac puppy milk contains heavy metal copper. Independent lab tests of Petag's Esbilac puppy milk have revealed it contains twice the maximum allowed of heavy metal copper as per government standards. Results also revealed that the contents are 17.6% fiber while the label states it has "0% crude fiber.

    A report was filed against Petag with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration on 9/11/2009. 9/10/2009 Animal Advocates sent a sterile sample of Esbilac straight from the Petag factory to an independent lab in California. September 24 they received the results which showed the contaminant -- heavy metal copper and large amounts of fiber. These results were forwarded to the FDA.

    The significant lab results are as follows: Protein 24.8%, Fat 31.5%, Fiber 17.6%, Heavy metal copper 2x Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL).

    Petag's label states a "guaranteed analysis" as follows: Crude Protein min 33.0%, Crude Fat min 40.0%, Crude Fiber max 0.0%. -- The actual protein and fat in Esbilac is less than the minimum guaranteed by the Petag label. The fiber is far greater than the maximum guaranteed. The lab has stated that even though the product contains 17.6% fiber, there is no fiber source listed in any of the ingredients on the label.

    Symptoms (since December, 2008) include: Gastrointestinal problems (unstoppable green diarrhea), severe health problems, delayed or stunted growth, massive levels of bacterial infections resistant to antibiotics, and fatalities even 5 weeks after being taken off those awful formulas.

    The FDA regulates pet foods and treats. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that pet foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. The Melamine test is not finished." (End of report.)

    I have to editorially ask what this Melamine business is all about! Melamine is a toxic deadly product in milk powder imported from China which gives a false reading of a high amount of protein. It also has been found in human baby formulas, killing infant children as well.

    For a more recent update and further information on how these people continue to beat a dead horse to death with their continued testing and retesting, go to this web page: http://www.ewildagain.org/Nutrition/esbilac_problems_Oct15.htm Why they continue to seek a "replacer" for pure milk is beyond me!

    (February 2, 2010) The FDA has FINALLY found PetAg guilty of contaminating their pet formulas, announcing that "their formulas KMR and Esbilac sickened and killed many animals in 2009. These formulas are also used for orphaned wildlife such as cheetahs, raccoons,squirrels and opossums who also died." http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/02/02/18636816.php -- No 10-cent fine, no slap on the wrist, no change of labels, no recall.

    Unfortunately, those unethical wildlife-group people, as well as those who are in it for the money (selling those toxic formulas), continue to recommend the stuff on their web pages, trying desperately to "fix" it. You cannot "fix" something that's rotten and "broken" at the core. They also recommend other commercial formulas which don't "work" either because of the imbalance of the proper vitamins and minerals.

    ---------

    Squirrels are not dogs, nor are they cats. They should NEVER be fed dog food or cat food (in the form of puppy or kitten formula) when they are young, nor should they be fed dry or canned dog or cat food, or Rodent blocks or Monkey biscuits when older. (Squirrels are not monkeys either!). (See the negative part of the Stupid List for more on this.)

    Scalded Milk WITHOUT egg yolk (unborn chicken) is recommended for ALL vegetarian animals, babies or adults (when needed),including deer, rabbits (See section about Rabbit Basics), mice, rats (wild and domestic), hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, as well as all types of tree squirrels or ground squirrels including flying squirrels (see section about Flying Squirrels), prairie dogs, chipmunks, groundhogs, marmots, beaver, and nutria.

    If you have been feeding one of those awful commercial formulas, you can switch over IMMEDIATELY to Scalded Milk -- no gradual weaning necessary. Since intestinal flora have been messed up and are unbalanced, a good bit of Dannon Plain Yogurt needs to be added to their milk feedings twice a day in alternate feedings because yogurt is rather filling. Put in the part you warm up to feed (not in the main portion you refrigerate since it'll only be lost in there), enough to coat the spoon or your finger when you stir it up or even a bit more. You should see a definite difference, not just in their doodles (no more foul odor), but in their attitudes after 3 feedings of Scalded Milk. They are much calmer, more serene and much more at peace with themselves, but still healthily active.

    Carnivorous animals, such as possums (see section about Possum Basics), raccoons, kittens, and puppies do well on Scalded Milk with one or more raw egg yolks added per cup of milk. The "rule of thumb" is to omit the egg yolk with vegetarian animals but to add it for carnivores. Whether or not to add Karo (white corn syrup) depends on the doodles of the animal. Most often, it should be completely omitted to prevent diarrhea from occurring. Dark Karo is never recommended since it has twice the laxative power of the white or clear kind.

    To reiterate: Diarrhea in baby squirrels is no big deal. It is messy and needs to be corrected -- adding plain yogurt to their milk helps, although with plain Scalded Milk no such problem should occur. Diarrhea (caused by all those sugars) is messy and can burn their little bottoms which an application or two of Desitin ointment can soothe. Use a Q-tip to apply it with if you have a really tiny baby.

    Chronic, hard-to-cure, very thin, watery diarrhea can be caused by goat's milk, commercial formulas, or some kind of bacterial intestinal organism like coccidiosis, giardia, or salmonella and, in these latter very rare "germy" cases, an antibiotic is recommended. Babies can pick these up through their mothers' milk if she has ingested contaminated water, as in bird baths or ponds that have dried up somewhat after a flood or during a drought.

    Commercial formulas are basically a negative rearrangement and chemical, synthetic adulteration of cow's milk: The perfectly good animal fat has been removed and replaced with super-saturated coconut oil or such and/or other vegetable oils for monetary profit -- (skim milk is sold in the stores at around the same price as whole milk while the cream is sold separately for top dollar). Casein has recently been substituted for skim milk and is nothing more than a by-product of milk, not wholesome in itself.

    Preservatives, artificial chemicals and unnecessary by-products are also often added to commercial formulas. All mammal milk contains animal fat. Whole milk alone contains plenty of vitamins and minerals and fat, naturally occurring even though they are not all listed on the label, and there is NEVER a need to add any supplements in an unbalanced and extraneous way as is done in synthetic formulas.

    I will never recommend that any commercial formula be fed even to the carnivorous animals for whom they are intended, much less to our vegetarian squirrels -- they are ALL inferior products. Composition of all commercial formulas is basically the same, no matter what the brand name, even for human babies. I have suspected for years that human commercial formulas are solely responsible for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in human babies, just as they are for sudden, unexpected deaths in squirrels.

    Neither cream nor any trumped-up (fake) commercial substitute for cream (non-dairy or so-called "zoologic" stuff) should EVER be fed to or added to the Scalded Milk Formula, which already contains sufficient fat. Cream or any so-called "cream substitute" is too difficult for baby squirrels to digest, stops up the system, causes bloat, and quickly leads to death. Regardless of unsubstantuated arguments against "too little fat in cow's milk" (all nonsense!), commercial "cream substitutes" have a known history of killing baby squirrels quickly. Textbook knowledge, "conventional lore", and "scientific studies" often run contrary to (or are contradictory to) hands-on experience.

    Milk that comes fresh from the cow or from the goat does NOT have Vitamin D in it! (Vitamin D is added before milk is commercially sold.) Without Vitamin D, calcium and magnesium cannot be absorbed by the body so deficiencies result -- including going down in back legs, seizuring, and sudden "unexplained" deaths. For this reason, milk straight from the cow or goat is not recommended. (Goat's milk causes other problems, as well, as is mentioned elsewhere on this page.)

    Cow's milk builds healthy bones and teeth, as basic Biology continues to teach. Anyone who tells you differently is being totally illogical and knows nothing about basic nutrition.


    Scalded Milk Formula

    • 1 Cup whole milk (They need the fat)
    • Vitamin E 200 I.U. -- (3 or 4 drops)
    • Dannon plain yogurt (see instructions below)

    There are basically two methods for scalding milk -- in the microwave or on top of the stove. Microwaving is by far the quickest and easiest method.

    "To scald" means to heat until just before the milk comes to a boiling point. The reason for scalding milk is to kill the enzymes that can be very upsetting to a squirrel's stomach. (For this same reason cheese should never be given because of the enzymes it contains.)

    The stove-top method is to heat in a pan or double boiler on medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until milk becomes frothy. Let cool, stir skin back down into milk, put in a fastidiously clean jar, and add 200 I.U. Vitamin E to formula. Since Vitamin E tends to float on top, shake container well several times to mix. Store in refrigerator and take out a small amount each time to rewarm at each feeding time.

    Scalding in the microwave (the easiest and quickest way) takes about 1 minute on High for 1/3rd cup milk, depending on strength of the oven. If scalding one cup at a time, stop halfway through and stir well with a wooden spoon. Continue microwaving until just BEFORE the boiling point when milk will appear to be frothing. When you take it out and blow on it or expose it to the cooler air, a skin will start to immediately form on top; that means the milk is sufficiently scalded. Let cool and stir the skin back down into the milk or discard. (It does contain a valuable protein and will re-assimilate or dissolve back into the milk.) Add Vitamin E and refrigerate. Take out a small amount each time from the refrigerator to warm up and feed.

    If you don't have the Vitamin E right now, don't worry about it, but when you do get it, get the liquid kind (not the capsules) since that's what you'll use later on in the Nutballs. -- Do be aware that there are types of liquid Vitamin E that are not intended for human consumption, that are only meant for cosmetic purposes, external use only, so make sure the label says something like "pure enough to eat". Don't be thrown by the amount on the bottle label -- that can be anywhere from 14,000 I.U.s to 28,000 I.U.s or more -- that only designates the amount in the whole bottle and you will only be using a few drops in the milk, more than that in the Nutballs later. -- And don't buy any lemon-flavored Vitamin E or cod liver oil! That stuff tastes AWFUL!

    One of the gentlest ways of reheating already-scalded milk is to boil a small amount of water in a Pyrex custard cup in a microwave oven or in a pan on top of the stove and set the small amount of milk formula (in a baby food jar) in the hot water for a few seconds or so until it comes to room temperature. Throw away any of this unused formula (or give it to the dog!).

    For only one or two baby squirrels, cut the recipe in half or thirds. This should keep for 2 to 3 days in refrigerator. Make up a fresh batch after that period of time.

    This Scalded Milk Formula can also be used for baby opossums except that for them a raw egg yolk can (or doesn't have to) be added to 1 cup of the milk after it has been scalded and cooled. (See section on Possum Basics elsewhere on this web page.) *** If you are feeding both infant squirrels and infant opossums label your refrigerated formulas in the containers so you won't feed your baby the wrong food.

    • Do not add any baby cereals or breads to this Scalded Milk formula -- calcium will be blocked and rickets will result. These babies need all the calcium and magnesium they can get for as long as they will take it in formu1a form. And, especially do NOT add any extra cream: Cream is too difficult to digest and can cause bloating and death especially in the very young.
    • The addition of a small amount of white Karo (corn syrup) may be used if babies are constipated (although this is extremely rare) 1 tablespoon of Karo or less per cup of milk is sufficient. I prefer NOT to use it AT ALL and do NOT recommend it since it causes diarrhea. Although diarrhea is not a big deal in baby squirrels, it is messy and difficult to correct once started. Honey should never be substituted for Karo corn syrup because of its potential for botulism.

      Baby squirrels, when they first come in and are dehydrated or have been without mama for some time, will not necessarily wet or doodle until they have had several feedings, so please don't mistake this lack of doodling as a sign of constipation. It takes a good 3 feedings for what we put in to come out. Elsewhere on this web page, I have also mentioned that if they are severely dehydrated, it may take a good 2 days for wet to come out and if totally empty, up to 5 days for doodles to come, so do be patient.

      If you have been feeding one of those awful commercial formulas (and your baby is still alive), you can switch over IMMEDIATELY to Scalded Milk -- no gradual weaning necessary. Since intestinal flora have been messed up and are unbalanced, a good bit of Dannon plain yogurt needs to be added to their milk feedings twice a day in alternate feedings because yogurt is rather filling. Put enough in the part you warm up to feed (NOT in the main portion you refrigerate since it'll only be lost in there) to just coat the spoon or your finger when you stir it up or even more if you wish. You should see a definite difference, not just in their doodles, but in their attitude after 3 feedings of Scalded Milk. They are much calmer, more serene, and much more at peace with themselves, but still healthily active.

      Do NOT dilute whole cow's milk or thin it down with anything, especially not water.

    • I highly recommend a pinch of baby acidophilus (from the health food store) or that a good glob of Dannon plain yogurt be added to two feedings of Scalded Milk a day especially for the pinkies or very young. Doing so provides a substitute for mothers' colostrum and is often critical for their survival. Whole milk alone contains plenty of vitamins and minerals, all occurring naturally, and there is NEVER any need to add any supplemental vitamins to squirrels' diets, until they are eating solid foods, at which time the Nutballs will provide such.

    Another old formula good ONLY for short-term emergency feeding is canned Pet or Carnation Evaporated milk mixed half-and-half with water as the instructions on the back of the label say. (Scalding is not necessary since it as already been done in the canning process.) Vitamin E amount stays the same. On a long-term basis this type of canned milk is not satisfactory for babies because of synthetic or chemical additives, especially carageenan, a carcinogen which causes malignant colon tumors.

    Goat’s milk is NOT recommended. After 2 days on it, baby squirrels start smelling bad (like a goat?). Squirrels are NOT supposed to have an odor. More days on it and they will get chronic diarrhea.

    Fat babies are not necessarily "bloated" after feeding -- they’re just fat and chunky which is normal. A baby should look rather thinnish before a feeding and then full in the stomach (or fatter) after having been fed. Once they quit growing "up", after a growth spurt, they begin to grow "out" and will have naturally tubby tummies even before feedings. (Love those little Tub Tummies!)

    *** Pet Nursers are deadly to infant squirrels. Do NOT use them. Eye droppers are never recommended either since babies can ingest air when they get older and try to suck.

    Do NOT use any syringe larger than a 3 c.c. one, no matter how many times you have to refill it. Large syringes and Pet Nursers cause bubbling through the nose, aspiration into the lungs, pneumonia, and death. A 3 c.c. O-ring syringe and Catac nipple on the end are recommended for feeding purposes after they've reached the point where they're taking a good 5 c.c.s or more of milk per feeding. (Since nipples are so long, it's a good idea to block half of it with our fingers when feeding.) I used a small syringe alone with the first two babies I raised since I didn't know about the Catac nipples, and they did just fine.

    Use a 1 c.c. (same as a 1 ml size) syringe for tiny babies or pinkies until they are taking well over 5 c.c.'s of formula at one feeding as previously mentioned. At this time you may change to a 3 c. c. syringe but go VERY slowly, to prevent bubbling through the nose: The flow force sharply increases between a 1 c.c. (same as a 1 ml size) and a 3 c.c. syringe because the syringe tube size has increased. With really minuscule babies such as baby rats or hamsters, a 3/10ths of a c.c. syringe or a 1/2 c.c. one is best to use. (Many people aren't even aware that these teeny tiny sizes of syringes exist, but they do!)

    ****WARNING! -- Do NOT order supplies from any "squirrel-based" web page! They are only in it for the money, not for the well-being of the animals and will try to sell you tainted commercial formulas, telling you how to "fix" them! (You cannot "fix" something that's rotten and broken at the core.) Use "bird-raising" pages instead, if you must: They use small 0-ring syringes and the Catac nipples for feeding baby parrots and hopefully will not try to sell you worthless, unnecessary or "meddled with" supplies.

    If you do decide to order Catac nipples off the Internet, be sure holes have NOT already been punched into them first. Saboteurs out there do NOT want you all to succeed! Nipples with holes too large will cause aspiration and death from pneumonia and drowning as will syringes that are too big. Luer-Lock syringes are NOT recommended. -- Be wary of syringes that come with nipples already attached -- someone has maliciously been fiddling or tampering with them -- this is NOT how they come from the manufacturers.

    Feeding too fast with a Pet Nurser (baby animal bottle) or with too large a syringe can cause "foreign body pneumonia"(fluid going into the lungs) for which there is no cure. They will refuse to eat or swallow and are restless and uncomfortable for 2 days until they finally die. Drowning has the same causes, but doesn't have to be instant and can take them in 18 hours. With drowning, they will continue to swallow although appetite is very poor. They'll have a rapid heartbeat, just as with pneumonia, but will also have a terrible snorkeling or wheezing rale when they breathe. Prevention is the best cure by feeding slowly and correctly from the beginning.

    Lubricate rubber part of the plunger of O-ring syringe (or those disposable ones) with 100% Food Pure Silicone Grease (from Scuba Diving shop) or with Pure Glycerin (from the drug store) to keep syringes free-flowing and prevent accidents. (With either one of these "lubricants", all it takes is the barest smear -- not a "dunking" by any means!)

    Punch holes in Catac nipple with sharp point of utility blade and test nipple on end of a syringe with water in it first before you start to feed or fill it with milk. Tiny streams or a single drop of liquid should come out. Do NOT use scissors to cut the tippy end off with as some of those awful instructions in the packages say -- pinkies will drown with such a big hole. Feed very slowly -- a drop at a time -- until you learn the technical skill and have a feel for your baby's pace. Too fast can cause drowning or pneumonia or bubbling through the nose, all of which we do want to avoid. As previously mentioned, I raised my first two squirrels using just a small syringe alone since I didn't know about the Catac nipples, and they did just fine without.

    If you do have a Catac or very long thin nipple jammed on the end of a syringe, only put about 1/4th inch or so of the tip in your baby's mouth since that's about how long mama's "ninny" is. You can block at least half of it off with your fingers or by laying it across your thumb so babies won't choke on it. Later when babies have grown and snouts are longer, you can let them take more into their mouths. They may like to "impale" themselves on it at this time, but we can still block it off by putting it between two fingers, holding it securely onto the syringe as I've shown on the Photo Gallery web page.

    Do wipe sides of mouth off with a tissue after feeding, even if they're not messy. They will do this themselves (or mama will) after feeding when they are much older and eating solid foods -- that's one of the signs that they are full!

    Flush nipple and syringe after feeding with cool water only. Let air dry with plunger still in the syringe tube. No sterilizing is needed and is definitely NOT recommended!

    Mouth-gagging when feeding is caused by humans. This is a trance-like state where the baby is not being allowed to suck because milk flow is coming too fast. You can be sure they never pulled this "trick" with their "real" mothers or they'd never have gotten a drop to eat! Mother squirrels do not squirt their milk as do dolphins and whales (!), but expect their babies to suck. Humans must do the same when syringe-feeding and allow the babies to suck, in order to not create this bad habit, difficult to break once the baby has learned it. Sometimes it helps to change the feeding position and/or to hold the baby's mouth closed to encourage him to suck by keeping your thumb tucked under his lower lip or encircling his little snout with your thumb and forefinger which keeps his tongue girded around the nipple and encourages sucking. Don't push on the plunger of the syringe, or only do so gently, until you feel him sucking.

    Some grays like to only smack on the nipple during feeding and aren't sucking at that time, so don't push on the plunger of the syringe when they are only playing with it like this as if it were a pacifier. And, even then, only inch the plunger down a tiny bit at a time. They also like to break away as if going in search of another ninny. This does not necessarily mean they are full, so line them up again, get them back into a normal feeding position, and offer more milk. They will quit eating when they are full so there is never any danger of over-feeding them. Let them have all they want at every feeding. They will stop or push away when they are full.

    Loose stools or diarrhea can be corrected by completely omitting Karo if any has been added (shouldn't have been put in the milk in the first place!), or by adding Dannon plain yogurt, a pinch of baby acidophilus, and/or a very small amount of pureed baby banana (found in jars in the baby food section at the grocery store). Only put enough of the baby banana in to taste -- too much sugar causes diarrhea. Yogurt is made from Scalded Milk and is perfectly safe for squirrels. It will take 3 milk feedings before what you "put in" to come out, so don't expect instant results. Once the diarrhea has been stopped, don't panic and feel that he's constipated for the next day or so. He's not. You've just stopped the diarrhea!

    Diarrhea in baby squirrels is no big deal -- UNLESS you have been feeding one of those highly toxic commercial formulas -- but it is messy and needs to be corrected simply because it is messy and can burn their little bottoms.

    As has been mentioned elsewhere in this web page, chronic, hard-to-cure, very thin watery diarrhea can be caused by goat's milk or some kind of bacterial intestinal organism like coccidiosis, giardia, or salmonella and in these extemely rare cases, a drug is recommended. Babies can pick these up through their mothers' milk if she has drunk contaminated water, as in bird baths.

    Do NOT use the new yogurts containing aspartame: It is deadly to squirrels and other rodents. (It's toxic to people, too!) Aspartame is also found in Pedialyte and caused convulsions and death within an hour to squirrels of a rehabilitator who verified its toxicity with Texas A&M. Dannon Plain yogurt (or Dannon Vanilla yogurt) or Stonyfield are the only brands recommended at this time because they are free of artificial preservatives, and chemical additives. (Grocery store house brands are NOT recommended! Too much hokey stuff in them!)

    Sometimes too much acidophilus or any of those other ".......dophiluses" can cause diarrhea. Elminating the yogurt and feeding straight Scalded Milk with Vitamin E in it will alleviate this anomaly. It takes 3 feedings for what we put in to come out, so, again, do be patient!

    *** Doodles (the stool) of milk formula should be dark yellow or orange. Any color change toward very pale yellow is a warning sign that food is not being digested properly and that the intestines are bereft of beneficial flora. The next phase will be white doodles and death is imminent -- and in the meantime the baby has become more and more listless and lethargic due to depleted intestinal flora. At the first sign of doodles that are too light colored, add a small amount (a pinch) of baby acidophilus or a good hefty dollop of Dannon plain yogurt twice a day until color of doodles and baby's healthy, active attitude has been restored.

    You may also add, if you wish, a small amount of pureed baby banana (in the jars from the baby food section in the grocery store) for flavor. Don't overdo the baby banana, though, because too much fructose can also cause diarrhea. Just enough for taste is sufficient.

    Any baby who has been fed one of those alien commercial formulas, needs a good big fat dollop of Dannon plain yogurt in his milk twice a day because intestinal flora are out of whack. As mentioned before, it takes 3 feedings for what we put in to come out, so don't expect instant results.

    The doodles of babies when they first come in are dark (from mama). As the milk comes through, color will change to dark yellow or orange. When solid food is introduced later on and digestion becomes more efficient, they will turn a reddish-brown, eventually becoming blackish-brown, round, odorless pellets, all normal for a healthy squirrel. As mentioned previously, severely-dehydrated baby may not produce any wet for 2 days and, if totally empty, no doodles for 5 days.

    A balanced feeding schedule is critically important! Feedings that are too close together are deadly: Milk fed on top of old milk sours in the stomach, the digestive system shuts down and bloat and death occur from overload and toxicity. Skipping feedings is detrimental to babies and also can cause death. You cannot skip a feeding and try to catch up later. It doesn't work.

    Baby squirrels are very difficult to raise and very easy to kill. If you cannot feed on a balanced, regulated schedule, find someone who can, preferably (and above all!) someone who follows the Scalded Milk and Nutball regimen. Many a baby has died needlessly because of the thought, "big enough to be eating on his own," when he is not. I have taken in many an adult injured squirrel who was "big enough to be eating on his own" - and wasn't -- so had to be syringe-fed until he felt better. When in doubt, formula feed!

    Return toThe Beginning...

    Feeding Schedule

    No middle-of-the-night feedings are necessary if baby is well and stabilized and hasn't come in ice cold at 10 or 11 o'clock at night. Rehydrating works just fine with Scalded Milk Formula which not only provides fluid but also nutrition. I have NEVER found it necessary to do the "Pedialyte thing" with baby squirrels and, in fact, I strongly advise against it since it is totally non-nutritious and some can be deadly to our babies.

    Amounts to feed: This is a general guide, not necessarily intended to be rigidly adhered to since sizes of squirrels and appetites vary, but is intended to help you avoid the "2-3 drops per feeding" syndrome that people have inadvertently done and literally starved a baby to death. Squirrels stop eating when they are full. They eat increasingly more as they grow and get larger, obviously.

    A general rule here is that babies will take as many c.c.'s as they are weeks old: For example, 3 c.c.'s at 3 weeks, 4 c.c.'s at 4 weeks, etc. until at 6 weeks when their appetites surge. Recommended feeding times are around 7 a.m., 12 noon, 5 p.m., and 10 p.m.. Exceptions to this "rule" are the smaller breeds of squirrels, such as the little Douglas reds, flying squirrels (see section on Flying Squirrels elsewhere in this web page), chipmunks, and some of the ground squirrels who are naturally going to take less since their bodies and tummies are smaller. Let them, too, have all they want at every feeding. They will also stop eating or push away when they are full.

    AgeAmounts to Feed
    0 - 2 weeks½ - 2 c.c.'s formula 4 times a day, every 5 hours during the day. Too-frequent feedings (such as every 2 hours, or even every 3 hours) is too taxing -- causes bloating, their little digestive systems to shut down, and an imminent death. Watch tummy to make sure it is empty before feeding again.
    2 - 4 weeks2 - 4 c.c.'s formula 4 times a day. (Every 5 hours.)
    4 - 6 weeks4 - 6 c.c.'s formula 4 times a day. (Every 5 hours.)
    6 weeks on to when

    they wean themselves

    They will take anywhere from 6 c.c.'s of Scalded Milk formula, gradually increasing, over the next few weeks, to as much as 18 c.c.s or more per feeding. (Some baby gray squirrels do perfectly fine on only 3 c.c.'s 4 times a day at 6-7 weeks of age. They refuse more at this time but will take increasingly more after their eyes have opened and as they get older.)
    10 - 14 weeksContinue feeding formula 4 times a day until eating solid foods well enough to sustain life (usually takes them about a week to learn how to get food down rather than crumble it). Then you can begin to cut back to 3 milk meals a day, then 2, and finally, 1, and then none, but this cutting back should be determined by the baby's appetite, NOT your logic! I prefer to cut out the nighttime 10 o' clock milk feeding first and then the noon feeding next because these seem to be the ones babies diddle over the most since they are still full from milk and solid-food breakfast and dinner. Take several days for each cut-back. Letting them wean themselves is the best and safest method to follow.

    All baby squirrels want to do is eat and sleep and grow. Allow them to do so by limiting your handling of them to feeding times. They do need to feel loved and cherished and valued so they will thrive and grow, all of which you can do when they've been taken out to be fed. They become more active as they grow older and once eyes have opened. Keep the cage on top of the heating pad on low heat with buffering towels (do not over-heat) until quite well furred-out. If you are not sure when, later on, to take them off the heating pad, put the cage half on and half off the pad. They will seek the most comfortable zone to sleep in.

    Do NOT put the heating pad inside ANY cage! Squirrels will chew on the wires when they are older and can electrocute themselves. A small hamster cage with a plastic bottom helps deter them from reaching those cords.

    Babies need to be stimulated to go to the bathroom. If desired, you may use a warm damp cotton ball for very tiny babies or, better yet, tickle bottoms with Kleenex (they wet the tissue). Failure to stimulate can cause uremic poisoning and death. Stimulate after every feeding to get out both urine and doodles until they are able to go on their own. Some will have the muscle ability to doodle on their own long before they are able to wet on their own. If you're worried they're not doodling when you stimulate them, check the bottom of the cage to see if they've not already been doing it themselves without your knowledge!

    Baby should be held in the palm of your hand in a semi-upright position, sort of leaning back, but never, ever lying on his back. See my Photo Gallery web page for how to hold smaller and older (eyes-open) babies when feeding. That link is: http://www.hal-pc.org/~jbsum/Squrl_Images/photogal.html -- or return to the beginning of the web page and poke the PHOTOS box.

    I've found that sometimes when their feedings are interrupted, they lose their momentum, so it's best to just keep on keeping on while you've got the baby in hand, even if the baby does get "impatient" that you are "taking too long" to refill that syringe. Don't keep taking the syringe or nipple out of his mouth -- you're only causing him to get frustrated and lose his momentum for eating. To mine when they tried to tell me, "Well.....'Other mother' never needed to stop and refill," I'd just say back to them, "Yeah, well, you'd never have taken 18-24 c.c.s or more from 'other mother' in just one feeding either, else she'd have been a prune!"

    We don't start them on solid foods until well after their eyes have opened. Some will be more ready at an earlier age than others. Some can start when they are 8 weeks old, others when they are quite a bit older, since squirrels are different and can develop at different rates.

    When they start chewing on things (the cage, the syringe or the nipple), they are ready to start eating solid foods. By this time the top front teeth have erupted as have the molars. Best to start out with a pecan half or two in the cage after the morning milk and the 5 o'clock one. Hold off on slimy fruits and vegetables for a while since they can very easily strangle or choke to death on food that has even been accidentally left in the cage overnight uneaten. Next fruits they can have after introducing the pecan halves are peeled apple, crisp pear, etc. and then build gradually from there.

    Another method I use is to wait until they are taking a good 15-18 c.c.s of milk per feeding since they are old enough at that time to eat solid food little more efficiently. They do have to learn how to eat, and will do a lot of crumbling in the beginning, moreso than if you wait until they're up to the 15-18 c.c.s per-feeding stage.

    There is a time when their diet will consist of mainly Scalded Milk and pecans twice a day, which is just fine. The variety in foods that they will accept does not come until much later, so do not expect them to eat the gamut in the very beginning. Taste buds are not developed until much later. Strong flavors or difficult-to-eat foods such as corn and broccoli will not be well-received until a later age. Squirrels also have different likes and dislikes in food, just as humans do, so it is not the end of the world if, later on, they do not like cantaloupe or grapes, etc.

    Avoid slimy fruits in the beginning, such as peach, plum, cantaloupe, grapes, etc., and stick to the crisper ones such as peeled apple, pear, or Zucchini squash until chewing abilities are better developed. As I have mentioned elsewhere in this web page, nobody ever choked or strangled to death on pecans as they can so easily do with the slimy fruits when they are still in sucking mode.

    Gray babies will occasionally try to quit taking their milk cold turkey -- that "opinionated wretch" stage! Get them out in the morning and they'll keep mouth politely closed. Or only take a few c.c.s when previously they'd been making little pigs of themselves. This is when it's time to start cutting their milk back to 3 feedings a day, and sometimes very quickly to 2, just depending on how "stubborn" or opinionated they think they're going to be! They may refuse milk at the morning feeding, at the noon one but by the 5 o'clock feeding time, have finally gotten thirsty and will guzzle it. This is your cue to start them on milk twice a day the next morning -- at the morning and 5 o'clock feeding.

    Water is not necessary for them to drink while they are still on Scalded Milk 2-3 times a day, and, in fact, is not recommended since they need all the nutrition milk can provide. (There's no nutrition in water!) They do get plenty of fluid in their milk, as is evident from the profuse amount of wet produced! Some squirrels will drink a lot of water later on or just a sip or two here and there, just as a "thing to do". Others will bounce it out of the water bottle once they start getting more active or doing flips in their cages. They often take in sufficient fluids from the fruits and vegetables we give them so they may not need or want much water.

    It is also around this time that they are getting difficult to handle, going through the "imaginary danger" stage, tending to bolt or trying to explore and be adventuresome. They may try to yank the nipple off the syringe. Time for handling them to be over. At this time, they can either be syringe-fed through the bars of the cage or put on milk from a small water bottle hung from the side of their cage for no longer than 15 minutes at a time twice a day -- for the morning and 5 p.m. feeding. Solid food follows after these milk feedings. It helps to put a titch of Dannon Vanilla yogurt in the milk at this time to entice them to drink their milk from the small water bottle. Putting them on a milk bottle too early can cause problems, so it's best to wait until they know how to handle the flow and can lap proficiently. Their practicing with a water bottle hung on the side of the cage several days before helps them with their lapping ability.

    It's after the 2 milk feedings (morning and the 5 o'clock one) that they get their solid foods, since the milk is still the most important thing, especially when they're going through these early growth spurts. We cannot estimate an age when they will begin to wean themselves or start solid foods, since all squirrels are different. If you are attuned to their behaviour and let them tell you when they are ready for the next step, they will be more than glad to do so!

    Squabbles over food are normal. They will often steal food from each others' mouths, which is what they do with their mothers out in nature, I suspect. The mentality of a squirrel is often, "I'll bury mine and we'll share yours!" which, of course, does not go over well with the sharer!

    Squirrels do not mate in captivity. Oftentimes the hugging in play may be mistaken for mating behaviour when it's actually an invitation to come play and wrestle when another is trying to climb the side of the cage. Much whining, sniveling, squealing and squawking can happen during this scenario but it only means: "I want to go there and he won't let me! (*Snivel* *Snivel*)!"

    When babies are old enough that they are eating solid foods efficiently and have cut themselves back to 2 milk feedings a day and one of those feedings has gotten "sloppy" or they've become a bit disinterested, it's time to start them on MY Nutballs (not any of that hokey stuff found out there on other plagiaristic web pages!). My Nutballs provide the vitamins and minerals they need and, especially, calcium and magnesium in the dolomite which keeps temperaments on an even keel, prevents seizures, convulsions, and death (from "phosphorus overload"), prevents rickets and going down in back legs, and promotes heathy bone and muscle growth. They are the critical key to keeping squirrels uncrippled and alive and healthy on a short-term basis as well as a long-term one, whether we keep them for years as unreleasable or not.

    (More on baby stuff, doodles, and stimulating is under the Scalded Milk Recipe.)

    Return toThe Beginning...

    Growth

    Eyes open at 6 weeks of age for fox squirrels, flying squirrels, and the little Douglas reds. and at 7 weeks for the greys (cat) squirrels. Some (a very minute few) will open eyes prematurely (at 4 1/2 weeks sometimes) because of the trauma of their fall or because they are precocious. Just because they have bottom teeth (before eyes open or even after) does NOT mean they're ready yet to eat solid food. When the top teeth come in, I suspect the molars are erupting as well -- they can't chew their food without those molars.

    AgeCharacteristics
    0 - 2 weeksTrue pinkie; umbilical cord or remaining navel spot (scab) will be present. Navel spot usually comes off in 10 days to 2 weeks.
    2 - 3 weeksDark pigmentation beginning to come in from top of head to down back -- darker coloring (fox squirrel), lighter gray color (cat squirrel).
    3 - 4 weeksSlight furring begins in pigmented areas, especially on top of head.
    4 - 5 weeksMore fur coming in down back, but tail fur still sparse. Gray squirrels are wigglier and more restless than fox squirrels whose mouths are wider and bigger.
    5 - 6 weeksFurrier, tail furred more. Eyes begin to open at six weeks (fox squirrels), sometimes one at a time. White or silver fur beginning on tail of gray squirrels.
    6 - 7 weeksCat (gray) squirrels open eyes and begin furring out more from this point on-smaller than fox squirrels. No fur on stomachs until 9 - 10 weeks.

    At around 12 to 14 weeks of age, baby squirrels will go through an "imaginary danger" period just before they start to wean themselves from the syringe. Increased awareness of their surroundings causes them to startle or to bolt at the least little noise or even at "ghosts". Since they are using their toenails more and more at this time, hands and arms of caretakers can become quite scratched up as babies get more and more difficult to handle. It is at this time that I quit handling, leave them in their cages, syringe-feed them through the bars of the cage or from milk in a small water bottle hung on the side of their cage (usually twice a day at this point), leaving it up only 15 minutes at a time morning and at the 5 o'clock feeding.

    Healthy baby squirrels can also be quite wiggly, so much so that we wonder how any of them ever stay in their nests! I'm thinking that people are mistaking this for "twitching" which they can sometimes do when they're dreaming, just as our cats and dogs do.

    When they begin to mature, young squirrels will reach a point where they do not want to be handled (clutched), since they are prey animals and anything that is touching them is either going to take their food or eat them. They may become quite defensive about their food and their cage (their territory), and we need to respect their wishes. Their increased awareness of danger and alertness settles down to not quite such an exaggerated state as they mature.

    Also as they mature, squirrels will become one-person animals, preferring their main caretaker to other humans. When they begin to go into this phase, they will often aggressively lunge at (while still in the cage) or bite one who is "NOT the mama"! Best that the "not-the-mama" person keep his or her distance (don't push it!) and not take personally any of this perfectly normal behaviour!

    A tremendous growth spurt occurs between 6-9 weeks of age (foxes) and 7-10 weeks (grays), during which time their size will triple. Rehabilitators are more aware of this growth spurt because of the varying ages of babies received during baby season twice a year. Another growth spurt is between 4 months of age (when they are one-third grown) and 6 months of age (when half grown).

    A normal healthy, well-filled-out fox squirrel should weigh l5-l6 ounces (about 1 lb.) when 6 months old, and l and l/2 to 2 pounds when full grown at l year of age. Grays will weigh 2/3 lb. to l lb. or more when fully matured. There is no such thing as "runtism" in baby squirrels. Best not to get too caught up in exactly how much bitty babies weigh. They are all different and go through growth spurts at different times. Also, we can tell by looking and feeling if they are growing, thriving and gaining weight. Observation is one of our very best diagnostic tools! No need to get pseudo-scientific about it with gram weights and measures, which I think is rather silly!

    A major factor in preparing a squirrel for release is that he no longer be handled after he has been weaned. Letting a squirrel climb or run up and down on people after he has been weaned from the syringe to milk from a small water bottle only teaches him that people are nice and are to be climbed or jumped on when released. Most people do not understand what a tame or friendly squirrel is anyway and think they are being attacked.

    Unfortunate events can happen in homes as well where squirrels are allowed the run of the house. They can chew on wires and electrocute themselves, get into things they're not supposed to or end up drowning in toilets, or they can unexpectedly bite someone who is not the primary caretaker, be flung across the room and die of head trauma or internal injuries. For this reason, confinement to a cage is for the protection of the squirrel from other animals as well as from people. As Tobie so wisely said, "Expect the unexpected: If there's the possibility of something happening (a dog or a cat getting an escaping squirrel, etc.), remove the possibility!"

    It is wise not to give a baby squirrel too much space too soon. Cages that are too large for them can result in injury and death because of a fall even from a height of only 2 feet. (One person put her 8-week-old baby in a 2' x 2' cage and went in the next morning to find him dead of a broken neck. Another put her 10-week-old baby in a 6-foot-tall cage, found him with a broken back from a fall, legs dangling and useless, and he was dead within 24 hours. When they seem to outgrow their baby-sized or hamster cages, mid-sized ones (half the size of a 2' x 2' -- the size of small carrying cages) are recommended until babies are a good 3 and 1/2 or 4 months old, when they are more sure-footed and coordinated and can handle a 2' x 2' cage. Larger cages can be used later if desired, usually just before release is planned. (More information on caging can be found under the Common Sense section.)

    Excess exercise is not necessary -- to the point of letting them get out of their cages and run around the house, climb on curtains and people, and get into stuff they ought not to, chew on wires and electrocute themselves or drown in toilets, when they're not being closely monitored. They get plenty of exercise in their cages. The flips that so many grays and a few fox squirrels will do are all part of their in-cage "exercise regimen". Before release, a larger pre-release cage provides ample space for exercise in leaping, climbing, and movement when they most need it.

    Return toThe Beginning...

    Nut Balls/Squares

    Babies are started on Nutballs when they have cut themselves back to 2 milk meals a day (morning and 5 p.m.), have been eating some solid foods well (not necessarily the whole gamut) for a good while, and are taking their milk from a small water bottle.

    These Nut Balls/Squares are CRITICALLY IMPORTANT in the diet of all types of squirrels who are no longer on their baby formula of Scalded Milk and are eating solid foods. They supply the vitamins and minerals necessary to prevent squirrels from dropping dead of sudden "heart attacks" which can occur after only a few days of a severe calcium/magnesium deficiency. Adult squirrels in captivity need them, too, to ensure healthy longevity!

    Do make sure all your oil-containing ingredients are fresh, up-to-date, and have not passed the expiration date. Rancidity is toxic to squirrels and anything that smells or tastes the least bit tainted, they normally won't touch or eat, so it's best to be safe rather than sorry. (Oil-containing ingredients include sesame seeds, nuts, cod liver oil, Vitamin E oil, and vegetable oil.)

    Nut Balls/Squares prevent rickets, convulsions, seizures, malnutrition, tooth problems, brittle bones and broken bones that do not heal properly. Any excessive crabbiness, hyperactivity, biting, nastiness, attacking can be caused by too much phosphorus and insufficient calcium/magnesium in the diet: These symptoms should be a warning flag because the next step is sudden death. All can be prevented by giving one simple little Nut Ball/Square daily in conjunction with the proper natural foods - their nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

    There is no existing commercial vitamin/mineral preparation for squirrels or other rodents that can be substituted for or used in place of these Nut Balls/Squares. All of them block or prevent calcium absorption. Cuttle bones are for birds, NOT squirrels. They are not a substitute for Nut Balls since they contain NO magnesium or Vitamin D, and calcium, therefore, cannot be assimilated by the body. (For more about this see the section called, "But I don' wanna make those stupid Nutballs".) Raising squirrels is not easy or cheap: They are very difficult to raise and very easy to kill. If you cannot afford to make Nut Balls/Squares or do not have the time, give your squirrels to someone who can. It will show you care about giving then a life free of totally unnecessary suffering or a needless death.

    ****A CAVEAT: As has been mentioned elsewhere on this web page, NEVER buy "ready-made" Nutballs over the Internet! Some unethical person, with whom I have never communicated, has attempted to cash in on, make money from, the work that I do for free. In spite of what are listed as the ingredients, these cannot be trusted to be complete or wholesome, nor do we even know how OLD they are or under what kind of conditions they've been kept. Toxic mold can grow on them if they've not been properly stored. (Some molds are invisible!) Because Nutballs tend to crumble, they do not travel well and are intended to be made up fresh as needed and taken straight from the drying place to the freezer.

    Unfortunately, other unethical web sites and chat rooms, obviously feeling quite threatened by our work and the successes we have had, have usurped the title of "Nutballs", coming up with a very weird (!) concoction, attempting to mislead and confuse the public (as always). Feeding those "things" to squirrels will only lead to failure. It is quite obvious that those people don't know the first thing about nutrition: Vitamins and minerals are symbiotic, work together, but can counteract each other if not properly combined. Only on this web page will you find the pure, unadulterated Truth! (Date of posting of this caveat is November 21, 2008.)

    Love is no substitute for labor: The two go hand in hand. Many a loved animal has suffered and died because his caretaker would not put forth the effort to feed the proper diet.

    Nut Balls/Squares Recipe
    (makes 100)

    *** A word on "meddling": This is a balanced recipe. Do NOT omit, add to, or substitute for anything in this recipe (unless the ingredient is earmarked as "optional") because counter-action, blocking, or destruction of key ingredients can result, throwing the whole balance of vitamins and minerals out of kilter.

    Omitting the dolomite in the Nutball recipe completely defeats its purpose.

    Most of these ingredients can be found in health food, grocery, and discount retail stores such as Wal-Mart, some in tablet form which you'll need to crush up into powders, using the same amounts as the recipe calls for. (Do not buy liquid cod liver oil from Wal-Mart! That stuff is yucky! The lemon or orange flavors taste awful and the squirrels don't like it.)

    If you have difficulty locating dolomite or any other of the ingredients, they may be ordered from almost any vitamin supply house on the Internet. Or you can do a Google search on KAL Dolomite Powder and compare prices at the different health food sites. Watch those outrageous shipping fees, though!

    As I've mentioned near the beginning of this web page, those "hokey" or copycat so-called "Nutball recipes" on other (malicious) web pages with rodent blocks or other junk in them will NOT work because of their calcium/magnesium-blocking attributes. I've been taking all the vitamins and minerals in the Nutballs plus a few more for decades and am NEVER sick!

    • 1 cup rice flakes (Heinz or Gerbers' baby rice cereal -- do not use any substitute here, such as whole grain cereals since they all block calcium absorption)
    • ½ cup ground-up pecans
    • 2/3 cup sesame seeds
    • 1 Tablespoon Brewers' Yeast powder. (Brewer's yeast tablets may be used. Grind up enough to make a full tablespoon of powder per 100 Nutballs). Do NOT use Baker's yeast from the grocery store since it is used for making bread rise and is not suitable for eating in this raw form. Brewer's Yeast is not the same thing and can be found in powder form at the health food store or in tablet form (cheaper) at Wal-Mart. (Tablets need to be mashed into a powder.)
    • 1 Tablespoon Lecithin granules or 1 teaspoon liquid Lecithin -- (Lecithin capsules, also available at Wal-Mart, may be used since they are more readily available, cheaper, and are not sold in such large quantities as the jars. Cut the end off 3 or 4 capsules and squish the goosh into the liquid ingredients. Salad oil will remove this from fingers easily, since it is an oil-emulsifier.)
    • 1½ to 2 heaping teaspoons KAL brand dolomite powder (about 1560-2000 mg. calcium) -- (Do NOT accept any substitute such as bone meal, oyster shell or egg shell calcium, or any other kind of commercial calcium tablets, no matter what the health food store people tell you. They are NOT the same. Substituting or omitting this key ingredient will only defeat the purpose of the nutballs which is to supply calcium and magnesium in the proper balance and proportions. Dolomite tablets may also be used as long as you crush them up to make 1 to 2 heaping teaspoonfuls of powder.)
    • Vitamin C -- 1000 mg. (mashed tablets) - (Do not use powder which is too concentrated)
    • 6 - 10 alfalfa tablets, mashed
    • 1/4 teaspoon iodized salt
    • Cod liver oil (enough for 6000 I.U's Vitamin A and 600 I.U.'s Vitamin D) (Use liquid from bottle. Do NOT, do NOT, do NOT use capsules!) Liquid Norwegian Cod Liver oil IS a recommended kind to use. This should amount to approximately 1 ½ teaspoons cod liver oil per 100 Nut Balls. The cod liver oil is where the Vitamin D is that combines with the dolomite powder and other vitamins and minerals so calcium and magnesium can be assimilated.
    • Vitamin E 600 I.U.'s. (Use liquid Vitamin E --NOT capsules.) -- This amounts to 2 c.c.s (or ml) of Vitamin E
    • 1 to 2 teaspoons salad oil, vegetable oil, or olive oil -- (NO salad dressing or lard, please.)
    • Choose from any of a combination of the following optional ingredients to make ½ cup liquid:
      • Mashed banana
      • Applesauce
      • Frozen strawberries with syrup or natural juices
      • Apple juice concentrate (no water added)
      • Fruit cocktail (in heavy syrup -- or natural juices) with maraschino cherries removed
      • Canned pears or peaches in heavy syrup or natural juices
      • Pure juice (100%) nectar
      • Frozen blueberries (or fresh if available)

    • Grind pecans in nut chopper or blender. Put in a large mixing bowl and add rice flakes and sesame seeds. Stir well to blend. In a small bowl mix well all dry vitamins/minerals (Powdered Brewers Yeast, Lecithin, Dolomite powder, smashed Vitamin C tablets, smashed alfalfa tablets) and salt.
    • Put chosen liquid ingredients in blender and blend. Add Cod liver oil, Vitamin E liquid, and salad oil, and blend again. Add dry vitamins/minerals to liquid and blend well. Add this mixture to dry ingredients (rice cereal,nuts,sesame seeds) and mix thoroughly with large spoon until a thick dough has formed.
    • Form dough into one large ball, mash down, roll flat, shape into a large flat square. Cut 10 across and 10 down. (This is the quickest and easiest way to form them.) Put in sun to dry for 2 days.
    • To make balls (an alternate method), divide the large dough ball into 4 sections (Each section should yield about 25 Nut Balls -- to help you count). Roll into longish strand and cut into sections about the size of a moth ball. Roll up each ball tightly to press out air
    • Put on aluminum foil on cookie sheet and let dry in sun for 2 days. (Usually 2 full days of sun is sufficient.) Oven drying does not work because centers do not dry out and vitamins can even be destroyed by low oven heat. Besides, I think the sun puts something delightfully intangible and vital in them that in-house drying cannot accomplish!
    • During inclement or yucky weather, nutballs may be dried in the house under a goose-neck lamp or a swing-arm lamp with an ordinary light bulb or just in the open air. You may feed them the first day when they are still in the doughy stage, and occasionally I will intentionally freeze mine when they are still moist and chewy rather than completely dried, since they like them that way, too. When dried under a lamp, nutballs may give off an odor of the cod liver oil drying. This eventually dissipates.
    • Store in freezer in air-tight plastic freezer bag to prevent possible rancidity. Serve one daily, preferably before their evening meal of fruits and nuts. These should be made up fresh occasionally, are not intended to be stored indefinitely since no preservatives are used, although they will keep in the freezer as long as 6 months. They do not travel well and are intended to be taken straight from the drying place to the freezer.

      Plain old refrigeration is not recommended, because, no matter how "air tight" the jar or bag, moisture gets in and oils in the Nutballs will start to turn rancid after 10 days or so. There is no need to "thaw them out" before serving.

    When baby Squirrels begin to cut back on their Scalded Milk Formula at 9-10 weeks of age or older to start on solid foods, they continue to need the calcium formerly supplied by milk. These Nut Balls are not only a complete source of vitamins and minerals (especially calcium and magnesium), and amino adds, but also of fat, Vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus, and Vitamin C all vitally necessary for the assimilation of calcium.

    Benefits of calcium are that it is a relaxer-- a calmative (fixes hissy emperaments) -- as well as a pain reliever. Since it is also a natural sleep inducer, I like to give my squirrels their Nut Balls/Squares before their evening meal to help them sleep better. Calcium prevents convulsions, seizures, and death from "phosphorus overload". (Too much phosphorus can cause nervousness. No supplement is ever recommended since it's abundant in all foods.) Danger signs are when squirrels squabble unnecessarily or are too "wild", skittish, or nervous acting. Magnesium is the anti-seizure, muscle-strength mineral.

    Blockers: Spinach, turnip greens, broccoli,cauliflower,cabbage, green beans. whole grains such as oats or oatmeal, whole wheat flour or breads. wheat germ, bran, and corn or cornmeal can prevent calcium absorption. Grapes and all berries, including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries have oxalic arid in them and also block calcium. Therefore, don't give any of these at the same meal with Nut Balls/Squares.

    If squirrels won't eat their Nutballs at the designated time, you are either giving too much food or allowing them to have stash. (See the section on "But I don' wanna make those Stupid Nutballs")

    Avoid all artificial chemicals and preservatives and strive for their natural diet of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and occasional seeds in combination with one Nut Ball/Square daily. You will have exceedingly healthy squirrels who will live to be released

    Return toThe Beginning...

    "But I don' wanna make those stupid Nutballs!"

    A question often asked is, "Where, out in nature, do squirrels get their calcium and magnesium?" The question is a good one, but one I hate to hear, since the motivation behind it always is: "I'm not going to waste my time and money making those stupid Nutballs."

    The answer is that we simply do not know where they get their calcium out in nature. When I've put this question forth to others, I've gotten different answers -- from "dirt" to "grass and leaves" and "bark", none of which I can tell people, not only because, to me, these aren't satisfactory answers, and then, too, people would be going out and gathering up a bunch of dirt, grass and leaves, and bark for "supper"! And they'd still end up with a dead squirrel.

    What we do know is that ALL squirrels in captivity, no matter what their age, MUST have their daily calcium/magnesium/Vitamin D in order to stay healthy, uncrippled, and alive on both a short-term and a long-term basis. One Nutball daily supplies this need. I have never taken in a juvenile or adult squirrel fresh from nature who was calcium deficient. This is something that happens in captivity when they've not been fed properly.

    "Clever" methods people have used to avoid making the Nutballs have already been tried. All have failed. Some of these methods are: cuttlebones from the pet shop (don't work), deer antlers (don't work), or dog bones (don't work either -- I have sometimes joked that people need to make sure the dog is good and dead first!), putting squirrels in sunny windows (doesn't work -- UV rays are blocked by screen and glass, as they are with house plants). Nor does Neo-Calgluconate from the vet. All these so-called "substitutes" are the equivalent of bone meal and other commercial calcium supplements and none of them work. Magnesium is the key ingredient always missing in those supplements and the one most critical for muscle control and preventing seizures or sudden, unexplained death. Magnesium is necessary for the assimilation of calcium by the body (along with Vit. D), as all Biology and Nutrition courses teach (not dietician courses). Without magnesium, calcium cannot be absorbed by the body.

    Putting squirrels out in the sunshine for Vitamin D does NOT work either. One person who tried this ended up with one chronically ill squirrel and the other turned into a vicious attacker of people. They do NOT get calcium or magnesium from sunshine but must obtain it from their food! The sun is a poor source of Vitamin D anyway, even for humans.

    Full-spectrum lights are dangerous!!! An overdose of Vitamin D from them can cause death from liver toxicity and failure. Squirrels get a sufficient daily amount of Vitamin D from the cod liver oil in their Nutballs.

    There is some calcium in nuts, but only in insufficient amounts and to rely on them as a source of calcium/magnesium is a mistake and will NOT prevent problems. Almonds are highly touted by the media as containing calcium, but what they don't tell you because they don't know any better, is that the oxalic acid they also contain blocks calcium absorption. The same is also true with many fruits and vegetables containing phytic acid, such as broccoli, spinach, green beans and others I've mentioned elsewhere on this web page. Calcium combines with oxalic acid within to form calcium oxalate, which in high amounts becomes a poison and is probably the main cause of kidney stones in people.

    When I first started rehabbing squirrels 25 or so years ago, I was fortunate enough to find the Scalded Milk recipe. Once my two babies started trying to wean themselves, I realized (because of my nutrition background), that I could not leave them high and dry from that point on with no calcium or magnesium, so I developed the Nutball recipe. As time went on, and I took in more and more squirrels, I heard of the major problems other rehabbers were having, none of which were happening to mine -- seizuring, going down in back legs, dropping dead unexpectedly, all seemingly for no apparent cause. So I knew I was "on to" something good! I didn't start speaking out about it until I'd rehabbed a good 275 squirrels.

    Interestingly enough, nobody had a clue about squirrel nutrition until I came on the scene years ago and now everybody (and his dog!) is spouting the word, "nutrition", out there. They STILL haven't a clue how vitamins and minerals work symbiotically with each other.

    There are a few squirrels out there who have managed to survive without having been fed Scalded Milk or raised on Nutballs, but there's always the risk of losing 50% or many, many more of them to "unexplained deaths" or a "phosphorus overload" (another term for a calcium deficiency). As with people, too much phosphorus makes squirrels extremely hyperactive, nervous, and prone to dropping dead suddenly.

    To paraphrase the old adage: "I can lead a horse to water, but I cannot make him drink." Again, as I've stated in The Little Red Box at the beginning of the web page, the squirrels will teach what I cannot. The lessons they teach can sometimes be quite bitter and heartbreaking.

    If you have a problem getting squirrels to eat the Nutballs, it's because you are feeding too much other food or allowing them to have stash which they can draw upon to "spoil their suppers" (like children) -- OR someone is "sneak-feeding" them behind your back, sabotaging your work!

    I had one adorable situation with a fox squirrel once who never would take the first Nutball offered to him out of the bag. I'd tell him, "Hmmmmm....don't want that one, huh? Okay, how 'bout this one?" (Same batch, same taste.) (*Snatch!*) "THAT'S the one I want!" So cute. Just a little game we played daily so he could exert his ever-lovin' "squirrel power"!

    ****A CAVEAT: NEVER buy "ready-made" Nutballs over the Internet! Some unethical people, with whom I have never communicated, have attempted to cash in on, make money from, the work that I do for free. In spite of what are listed as the ingredients, these cannot be trusted to be complete or wholesome, nor do we even know how OLD they are. Toxic mold can grow on them if they've not been properly stored. (Some molds are invisible!) Because Nutballs tend to crumble, they do not travel well and are intended to be made up fresh as needed and taken straight from the drying place to the freezer.

    Unfortunately, other unethical web sites and chat rooms, obviously feeling quite threatened by our work and the successes we have had, have usurped the title of "Nutballs", coming up with a totally different and very weird (to say the least!) concoction, attempting to mislead and confuse the public (as always). Feeding those hokey "things" to squirrels will only lead to failure because of the calcium-blocking ingredients in them. It is quite obvious that those people don't know the first thing about nutrition: Vitamins and minerals are symbiotic, they work together, but can also counteract each other if not properly combined. Only on this web page will you find the pure, unadulterated Truth! (Date of posting of this caveat is November 21, 2008.)

    Follow the recommendations laid out on the Suggested Feeding Schedule: No food after 10 o'clock in the morning, no stash, no lunch, and when Nutballs are given first thing (after their milk) at 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening, they will be greedy-eager and snatch for them. They cannot be allowed to graze on food all day long, otherwise they'll end up being picky eaters.

    There is no such thing as a "free" animal. Proper diet, caging, and care are all part of the responsibility and upkeep of choosing to raise a squirrel. The rewards of our efforts are many.

    To reiterate: Love and labour go hand in hand.

    Return toThe Beginning...

    Stupid List (Stupid things
    to NOT feed squirrels and why)

    A List of NO-NO's

    • Nothing-- for 24 hours; he died.
    • Egg yolk -- they all die. This is literally "unborn chicken", not intended for our vegetarian squirrels -- only for carnivores.
    • KMR (kitten formula) they die in 3-5 days. One lasted 8 days. The extremely high concentration of egg yolk (unborn chicken) will quickly do them in, especially fox squirrel babies whose little systems are much more delicate than the grays.

      This has recently been found in independent laboratory tests to be highly toxic and contaminated, killing baby animals of all kinds, not just squirrels, across the board all over the U.S. -- see Baby Formula section on this web page and my Guest Book for more on this subject.

    • Esbilac (puppy formula) -- literally thousands of squirrels have died needlessly over the years in the hands of humans because of being fed commercial formulas recommended on those politically-motivated wildlife-group web pages whose members don't want the public to succeed. This particular formula used to take longer than KMR for the harmful effects to set in, although now (and for the last three and a half years, since it has been found to be highly toxic and contaminated), it kills them much quicker, within a day or two. Has egg yolk (unborn chicken) in it, no magnesium, too many alien chemical additives and preservatives, and the ferrous sulfate blocks calcium, leading to broken bones, rickets, nervousness, convulsions, seizures, and sudden, unexpected death.

      Both this, KMR, and Zoologic have recently been found in independent laboratory tests to be highly toxic and contaminated. See Baby Formula section on this web page and my Guest Book for more on this subject.)

      All other commercial formulas supposedly intended for baby animals, no matter WHAT the brand name, cause the same unfortunate symptoms since compositions of all those formulas are basically the same. (More about the unfortunate side effects of these commercial formulas can be found under the Baby Squirrel Formula section.)

    • Ground-up dog food mixed with Pet Milk -- he died (Instructions for this awful concoction came from a Wildlife Rehabilitation handbook.) Squirrels are vegetarians and cannot tolerate meat. When squirrels are confused with or compared to dogs, the next "step up" can be Puppy Weaning Formula, a sure-fire instant killer, because of the extemely high content of meat.
    • Pizza-- convulsions, seizure. He died.
    • Enfamil, Similac, etc. (human baby formulas) -- these are all some of the WORST things to feed since they are not intended for wildlife -- they all die -- nor are they necessarily good for human infants either, causing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in human children just as they do in squirrels. ALL soy products and formulas block calcium and should never be fed to infant squirrels.
    • Green acorns -- he died.
    • Sunflower seeds --2 quarts of these were the daily diet of the nastiest-tempered squirrel I ever saw.
    • Tea - for 2 days to a pinkie squirrel. He died.
    • All Junk Food (For example)
      • Candy coated chocolate candy
      • All Chocolate foods
      • Jelly beans
      • Chocolate sandwich cookies
      • Chocolate Chip Cookies
      • Cake
      • Peppermint Candy

    • Walnuts (to the exclusion of anything else -- that was all he was ever fed) caused severe muscular weakness in all four limbs, became nothing but a little blob. He never sufficiently recovered in his short life span to be released.
    • Carrots -- caution! Two have died after gorging on these. (What is this gorging business? Squirrels should never be allowed to "gorge" on anything!)
    • Lamb -- squirrels are vegetarians. They do not store leg of lamb for the winter. (heh-heh!)
    • Gatorade is awful! Do NOT feed it! It is not intended for wildlife and isn't good for people either because of the alien chemicals and preservatives in it.
    • Cereal in baby formula blocks calcium. Does Mama squirrel mix cereal with her milk? (The only exception to this "no-no" rule is when rice cereal must be added to the milk formula for a short time to control severe diarrhea which you really should not have at all with Scalded Milk unless you've added something sugary to their diet.)
    • Skimmed or Low-Fat milk. Eating fat does NOT make you fat. Never has and never will. Babies need fat to activate their growth hormones. Calcium will not assimilate in the body without fat.

    What Improper Nutrition Can Cause in Squirrels: (These symptoms are NEVER seen in squirrels who have been raised on Scalded Milk and have been given Nutballs as a part of their daily diet when they are older and have started eating solid foods.)

    • Seizuring, unexplained sudden death.
    • Rickets -- hobbling gait of back legs, can only slightly move them ¼" and can hardly climb or can climb and can't come back down again. (These were raised on Esbilac and did manage to survive, though ended up being permanently crippled.)
    • Crabbiness, hyperactivity, biting, nastiness, attacking -- caused by a lack of calcium or too much phosphorus (an imbalance), too many acorns (contain tannic acid, the stimulant also found in tea) or sunflower seeds, no variety in diet. These symptoms should be a warning flag because the next step is sudden death.
    • Severe malnutrition, drunken gait (muscles totally uncoordinated and jerky), stunted growth (weight and size of a 10-week-old. yet she's 5 ½ months old), tail fur arrested at the 6-week-old stage -- caused by giving only 4 foods (acorns, rancid pecans, undetermined type of milk. And only 1 or 2 pieces of apple in her whole life).
    • Broken bones and malocclusions (teeth missing or thrown out of alignment) -- caused by a lack of the total balanced spectrum of calcium, Vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus, and fat.
    • Suddenly going down in back legs.
    • Seizures (as mentioned previously) -- Squirrels do NOT get epilepsy! --(Some of these who have seizured have survived without dying immediately, but I don't know what the long-term effects of this is on the brain). Out of the approximately 2,500 squirrels I have taken in, only a few adult injured squirrels and babies come in in this condition because of head trauma, poisoning or having been hit by a car. None of my hand-raised babies has ever had a calcium/magnesium-deprived seizure. Cause: Severe lack of calcium or "phosphorus overload" (both are the same thing.)

      **** MY NUTBALLS ARE CRITICAL TO THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF SQUIRRELS WHEN THEY ARE OLDER, HAVE STARTED CUTTING BACK ON THEIR SCALDED MILK, AND ARE EATING SOME SOLID FOODS WELL!

    More NO-NO'S.

    • Squirrels are vegetarians. Do NOT feed dog or cat food because they contain meat.
    • Do not feed Monkey Biscuit: It contains egg yolk (unborn chicken) and will only keep experimental laboratory animals alive for a short amount of time, until they are old enough to kill to see if their experiments worked. Squirrels are NOT monkeys!
    • Do not feed any egg-containing product to squirrels.
    • Do not feed any kind of human cereal such as Cheerios. All cereals block calcium and are non-nutritive fillers -- not intended for wildlife anyway.
    • Do NOT feed acorns. Tannic acid in acorns causes hyperactivity in squirrels since it is the same stimulant that is in tea, as is caffeine in coffee. Green and old moldy acorns can kill.
    • Limit sunflower seeds. They are not necessary to a healthy diet and are only considered a snack. They also block calcium, are considered hyper-addictive, and can cause liver disease since they are susceptible to aflatoxin, a sometimes invisible mold deadly to all wildlife.
    • Peanuts are NOT food for squirrels; They are a legume and are not a true nut. They also have the potential for deadly aflatoxin. Since they are an incomplete protein (lack 2 essential amino acids necessary for growth), they can cause severe hair loss (alopecia). Do not feed dried field corn or sunflower seeds for the same reasons.
    • Sunflower seeds, peanuts, and field corn are not natural foods for squirrels. All are grown in fields where squirrels do not live or forage. Should squirrels happen to live in the trees surrounding such fields, farmers would not tolerate their presence any more than they would tolerate deer tromping through their crops!
    • Birdseed is for the birds, NOT for squirrels. Do not feed it.
    • Iceberg lettuce is yukky, has no food value. Don't feed this either.
    • Do not feed jalapeno peppers or root vegetables such as radishes, onions, or garlic, except for an occasional piece of carrot or jicama. Squirrels eat mostly "hanging" fruits and vegetables (those things that grow on vines, shrubs, or trees -- not under ground.)
    • Do not feed commercial Rodent Blocks because they block calcium. Those so-called "home-made" Rodent Blocks or so-called "Nutball concoctions" (attempts at copycatting mine) on other web pages are too silly to even comment on, except to say they will NOT work! Commercial Rodent or Monkey blocks were developed for short-term use in laboratory animals to keep them alive only long enough to be killed to see if the so-called "scientific experiment" worked, and are not intended for sole long-term feeding of any animal.
    • Never feed moldy or bruised fruit, slimy corn (aflatoxin), brown or crummy-looking grapes, or anything else that is the least bit degraded in freshness. Taste what you feed before passing it out. I have thrown out many a funny-looking or odd-tasting avocado, mealy or bruised apple or tainted pear. etc., rather than risk food-poisoning my squirrels. All food should be the ultimate in freshness. As a vet once said, "If you won't eat it, don't give it to your dog!" Same thing is true for what we feed our squirrels.

    Poisonous Plants and Woods (This is not Intended to be a comprehensive list. Add to it as you hear of others)

    • All pecan wood, leaves, and bark are poisonous, so don't put any of this kind of wood in cages for them to chew on. (The pecan nut meat is the only non-toxic part of the pecan-tree)
    • Nuts from the sago palm are toxic to squirrels from what my email people tell me. Do not give them. In fact, it's wise not to gather in any "foods" from the yard, even if you DO feel they are safe and/or see "wild" squirrels eating them. Body chemistries are different, some more sensitive than others. What some can tolerate, others cannot.
    • All fruit trees except apple wood are poisonous. This includes peach trees and the peach pit, nectarine trees and the pit. Box elder wood (seeds only are fine). Cherry pits are also toxic as are apple seeds.
    • Avocado pit and skin are all toxic/poisonous. Feed only the avocado "meat" part.
    • Many shrubs such as Japanese Yew, Cherry Laurel, and Waxed-Leaf Ligustrum are toxic.
    • Oil in cedar wood is toxic. The wood is very splintery and can cause abcesses so it is not recommended for nest boxes nor are cedar shavings recommended for bottoms of cages.
    • Hamster chews (from the pet shop) are NOT for squirrels. Ingested splinters have been known to cause intestinal bleeding in baby squirrels.
      No pet shop "toys" are recommended at this time for these little wild ones.

    Desirable or Non-toxic woods (For squirrels to chew on)

    • Apple twigs
    • Hackberry branches
    • Oak branches (Remove all leaves, even new spring sprouts which can be toxic.
    • Sycamore
    • Maple
    • Arizona Ash

    The Positive, YES-YES List

    Safe formulas for baby squirrels:

    • Scalded Milk Formula (made from full-fat, whole, milk)
    • Pet Milk (canned mixed half and half with water) This is only intended for short-term use, in an emergency or on a temporary basis, not recommended for long-term use because of the alien chemical additives (carcinogens) in canned milk.

    When baby squirrels begin learning how to eat solid foods, I start them out on pecan halves. (No one ever strangled or choked on a pecan.) They still need their 4 milk meals a day at this time. It usually takes them about a week of crumbling pecans and making a big mess before they learn how to eat sufficiently to sustain life. Add peeled apple, peeled pear, zucchini, etc., to the diet as they become better able to handle solids and as their taste buds develop.

    Hold off on soft or slimy foods, such as grapes, peaches, plums or lettuce until they are much older, to prevent the possibility of strangulation or getting stuck on the roof of their mouths. Broccoli is one of those stronger-tasting foods that they may not care for until they are a little bit older and taste buds have developed more.

    • Peel all fruits before offering to the very young. When they get older, they'll either peel them themselves, ptooey-ing the peeling out of the sides of their mouths, or will end up eating it.
    • Do try to strive for variety -- sameness is boring! -- but variety alone will NOT supply the calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D they critically need for long-term survival and optimum health. Only Scalded Milk and the Nutballs will do that.
    • Always remember that squirrels are vegetarians.
    • ****NUTBALLS/SQUARES ARE CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO SQUIRRELS' HEALTH AND WELL-BEING ONCE THEY'VE STARTED CUTTING BACK ON THEIR SCALDED MILK! THEY ARE WHAT KEEPS THEM ALIVE, HEALTHY, AND UNCRIPPLED, BOTH ON A SHORT-TERM AND A LONG-TERM BASIS!

    Nuts: (Protein needs come primarily from nuts and are one of the most important factors in the diet because of the amino acids supplied for growth and development. Make sure all nuts are fresh. Rancid and moldy nuts are toxic.)

    • Pecans
    • Walnuts
    • Hazelnuts (Filberts)
    • Cashew nuts (salted or unsalted, doesn't matter)
    • Pine nuts
    • Macadamia nuts (from the jar, not in the shell)
    • Pistachio nuts (in the shell for the older, more juvenile squirrels). Do give the white kind, NOT the red-dyed ones. Salted ones are just fine.
    • Almonds ---- Give sparingly because these contain salicylates (the same ingredient in aspirin which is stored in the body and not easily thrown off -- takes 3 weeks for that chemical to go out of the body).
    • Chestnuts are fine as long as they're sliced open with a butcher knife, cut in half so inside can be inspected and tasted, if necessary. Withered, yellowed, or moldy chestnuts should never be given. Nor should those that have started to sprout be fed since they can be terribly bitter and leave a horrid aftertaste in the mouth. Their life span is very short -- shells are so porous and air can get in to spoil the pure white nutmeat inside, so do be cautious about feeding these.
    • Brazil Nuts -- Give rarely -- or not at all -- these are too high in phosphorus and make squirrels nervous. Since shells are so hard, it's best to cut them in half (or less) with a nut cutter and only give the half (or less) at once. Whether these have withered or spoiled inside can only be detected by cracking them open.

      It goes without saying that any rancid, dried up, withered, blackened, or moldy nut should NEVER be given.

    • As has already been mentioned above, "nuts" from the sago palm are toxic to squirrels, from what my email people tell me. Do not give them. In fact, it's wise not to gather in any "foods" from the yard, even if you feel they are safe and/or if you see "wild" squirrels eating them. Body chemistries are different and what some can tolerate, others cannot.

    Fruits and Vegetables: (Supply some vitamin and mineral requirements.) Give 4 or 5 daily -- chunks should be subtantial, about an inch high and an inch or so wide, small enough that they can easily hold in their little hands, but NOT teeny tiny.

    • Leafy green vegetables:/FONT>
      • Red-tipped or green-leafed lettuces (Romaine is preferred)
      • Endive
      • Spinach (go easy on spinach because it contains nitrates which are carcinogens unless it's the organic kind)
      • Small tender (and fresh!)leaves of:
        • Beet greens
        • Swiss Chard
        • Turnip greens
        • Kale
      • Hackberry leaves (if you know what a Hackberry tree is)
      • Celery, leaves and ½" very short piece of stalk -- please don't put the whole plant in the cage! Celery has zero nutrition in it so give only sparingly or not at all.
    • Other vegetables:
      • Squash (Yellow, Zucchini, and Butternut) (Go easy on the high yellow vegetables -- the Butternut squash, as well as sweet potatoes and carrots. Feed only one small piece every 5 or 6 days or so -- too much Vitamin A can cause death from liver toxicity.)
      • Broccoli Small floret with stem. (Cauliflower, its cousin, has no food value so should not be given.)
      • Brussels Sprouts (cut in fourths from the base down -- only give 1/4th)
      • Cucumber (Peel rind if waxed -- the best kind are the unwaxed ones)
      • Tomato
      • Sweet potato
      • Green Bell pepper
      • Okra
      • Sugar Snap peas
      • Snow peas
      • Carrot, small chunk
      • Corn --- A 1" slice cut in 4 pieces. (Give only 1 or 2 of these pieces.) Do NOT put in a whole ear of corn for them to gorge on: Corn sours and molds quickly.
      • Green beans (1 ½ " sections)
    • Fruits (all, except where noted, should be a small chunk about the size of the end of your thumb including thumbnail)
      • Avocado (no skin or pit since those are toxic)
      • Blueberries (3 or 4)
      • Blackberries (1)
      • Strawberries (1/4)
      • Raspberries (these mold awfully fast so feed only those that are of the ultimate freshness)
      • Banana (small slice or chunk)
      • Kiwi (supposedly the most "nearly perfect" fruit)
      • Watermelon (I consider this nutritionally poor because it is mostly water -- 92% water, in fact!)
      • Cantaloupe
      • Grapes (1 - 2 occasionally)
      • Raisins (same nutritional value as grapes) -- feed only seldom, if at all.
      • Plum
      • Pineapple
      • Mulberries
      • Fig (1/4 to 1/6th -- too much can cause loose doodles because of its laxative effect)
      • Dates (1/3rd is a sufficient serving but only when they are older and can handle the skin)
      • Apple -- (seeds in the core are toxic -- do NOT feed)
      • Peach or Nectarine -- do not feed the toxic pits.
      • Pear
      • Orange(small piece)
      • Mango(small piece -- skin is toxic, so peel it off)
    • Other:
      • Fresh cherries (with toxic pits removed)
        • Mushrooms (store-bought only). Do NOT feed white button or Portabello mushrooms because they contain three carcinogens.
      • Seeds: (All sun-dried by you!) Best to give these sparingly, only a few at a time. Pumpkin seeds especially are high in phosphorus which makes squirrels (and people!) nervous. Go easy on these, too -- only a few every now and then.
        • Pumpkin
        • Squash
        • Watermelon
        • Cantaloupe
      • Cereals:
        Please don't give commercial cereals -- they are NOT part of a squirrel's natura1 diet and are only recommended by lazy people who prefer commercial already-packaged products and are not concerned with the health or welfare of their animals. They are no more than an empty filler. ALL whole grain cereals block calcium, and often contain chemical additives and honey which has the potential for deadly botulism. The daily Nutball (mine -- not those other hokey concoctions people are touting on their misleading web pages!)they get is sufficient in terms of any supplementary nutritional need.

      Return toThe Beginning...

      Suggested Daily Schedule for Self-Feeding Squirrels

      Rather than allow free-choice feeding (all the food they can eat, whenever they want), it's best to control what is given in order to prevent finicky eaters. When squirrels get older, 2 meals a day is all they need for the duration.

      Breakfast: First thing in the morning I give each squirrel:

      • Scalded Milk formula (as long as they'll take it, either from the syringe or, when they are older, from a small water bottle. Do not leave milk in water bottle longer than 15 minutes at a time twice a day.
      • A few pieces (or halves) of pecans or walnuts, all they will clean up in about 10 or 15 minutes. (Increase amounts given as they get older.
      • 1 leaf of something green, such as lettuce, spinach. mustard greens, Hackberry stem with new leaves, etc. (All optional.)-
        • or one broccoli flowerette with stem
        • or one or two 1 ½ pieces of green bean
        • or ½-1 small Sugar Snap pea
        • or any other type of fruit or vegetable from the preceding list.
      • Lunch: (Babies under 3 months old get lunch. I quit giving lunch when their supper appetites get poor because they have started weaning themselves.)
        • Few pieces of nuts
        • Small piece of pear or other fruit or vegetable
      • Supper:
        • Scalded Milk (Same as for Breakfast above. This is usually when babies have cut themselves back to 2 milk feedings a day).
        • Nut Ball (This goes in cage first. Then go away to prepare their other food and in 15-20 minutes when you return, the Nut Ball should have been eaten.) NUTBALLS ARE CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO THE HEALTH AND WELL BEING OF SQUIRRELS ONCE THEY'VE STARTED CUTTING BACK ON THEIR SCALDED MILK! THEY NEVER OUTGROW THEIR NEED FOR THEM, NO MATTER HOW OLD THEY ARE!
        • 3 or 4 selections of fruit or vegetables, if they want them, making sure that none of the vegetables block the calcium in the Nut Ball.
        • Pecans (You may go back around a few minutes later with a few pieces of these, enough that they will clean up in about 5-10 minutes.) If you find they are not finishing up on their fruits and vegetables at this evening meal, cut out the nuts to prevent a imbalanced diet.

      This is sufficient food for fat, healthy squirrels. They do well on a "controlled" diet such as this, rather than to have food eternally available to them. -- The most common cause of squirrels not eating their daily Nutball is too much food in the cage. All stash should be removed by 10 o'clock in the morning so they'll have nothing to draw on to spoil their suppers. Once a squirrel starts to bury food, he's no longer hungry, so don't put any more food in there. Wiping the mouth after eating is another indication that they are full!

      Return toThe Beginning...

      Common Sense Squirrel Tips
      • Squirrels do NOT carry rabies, nor does any other rodent, including rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, or guinea pigs -- nor do rabbits, even though the latter are not considered rodents. (The booklet put out by The Health Department stating this also says that no post-exposure shots are ever necessary after having been bitten, even though a lot of unknowing people do like to perpetuate this silly myth. -- Bitty baby squirrels don't bite anyway.)

        Squirrels are virtually disease-free and are very clean little animals (though they do make big messes when they are older, IF they are healthy). They do NOT carry diseases transmissible to humans. They can get abscesses in 10 days to 2 weeks from biting each other but do NOT infect people when bites are sustained from mishandling the older babies or adults.

        Cats do NOT infect squirrels, either, no matter what anyone says, so no antibiotic is EVER necessary if a cat finds one, baby or adult, and brings it home. Sometimes the small scrapes or scratches found on babies are caused by his fall from the tree and what twigs he hit on the way down, not necessarily by any cat.

        Squirrel pox or fibroma (rarely seen) is NOT contagious to people OR to other squirrels, is supposedly spread by mosquitos, and runs its course in 2 1/2 months if the diet is nutritionally sound. No antibiotic or topical ointment is necessary -- none of those work anyway. Pictures of a baby with it are at the very bottom of my Photo Gallery web page for any who are interested. That link is: photo gallery

      • Do not feed a cold baby. Warm up on your heart for least 40 minutes or in a small cage set on a heating pad which is set on low heat with towels between the heating pad to buffer excess heat. The heating pad should be monitored for the first two or three hours to ensure it doesn't get too hot. When skin is escessively dry and peels, as can happen with the fur-less pinkies, the heating pad is too hot and needs to be buffered more with another layer or two of toweling between it and the cage bottom. The temperature where the baby is should just be tepid, barely warm, since he has to lie on it constantly. The outside of a baby may feel warm but internal organs still be cold; feeding a cold baby at this time, will shut down the system; death follows, because a cold body cannot digest food.

        Common sense tells us that any who come in injured should be handled as little and as carefully as possible. Excess handling only exacerbates injuries and can kill them quickly. We can love and soothe them and ease their fears by stroking their heads and down their backs for a time or two after taking them out to feed and then leave them alone to rest and sleep which is where all healing occurs. This justifies our putting them aside in a cage when they're first brought to us so they can rest or warm up for 30 or 45 minutes before we get around to feeding them. It also gives them time to adjust to their new surroundings, whether they are lucid or not. When we take them out to syringe-feed them, their little bodies should be well-supported by a small blanket to avoid further injury.

        (Incidentally, we rear children and raise animals. We do NOT "rear" birds or animals!)

      • Do not feed your babies air. Air equals zero equals nothing. Clear syringe and nipple of all air bubbles before feeding. Air causes bloat, malnutrition, and death.
      • Do not use larger than a 3 c.c. syringe. The force flow from larger syringes is deadly as is a nipple with too large a hole, and can cause bubbling through the nose of a baby squirrel leading to pneumonia and death. Small (1 c.c. syringes, same as a 1 ml size) are recommended for the teeny tiny babies. A change to a 3 c.c.-sized syringe should not be made until they're taking a good 5 c.c.s per feeding, and even then we need to go slowly until we get a feeling for their pace and the stronger force flow of the syringe.

        Pet Nursers (animal baby bottles) are deadly: Do not use them. Eye droppers are not recommended either because of the baby's potential to swallow air.

      • Do not use scented fabric softeners on baby blankets. It is best to steer clear of fabric softeners completely because of contained chemicals harmful to skin. Laundry detergents with perfumes and dyes are also to be avoided. (I can't stand them either!) Best soaps to use on squirrel bedding are those for human babies such as Dreft and Ivory Flakes or others that are odor free or intended for sensitive skin. One older baby I took in not only was scratching himself to pieces, but was also working on chewing his tail off, all because of the smelly detergent (Tide) used on his blankets. Obviously he was highly allergic to those chemicals in that detergent.
      • Perfumed detergents and fabric softener allergies can cause itching, dry skin, and fur loss. Dry, flaky skin can also be caused by too warm a heating pad (as mentioned above), but this is more commonly seen with the pinkies. Buffer pad with layers of towel to correct this problem. Where the baby lies should be just tepid and small blankets provided for him to burrow, snuggle and hide under will form a heat buffer or layer. (More on shedding farther down in this section.)
      • Perfumes, shower or hand soap, hand lotions, aftershave lotions, or any other kind of "smelly potion" that people use can cause temporary behavior changes in older squirrels to the point that they can get aggressive and will want to bite. Those smells disguise what they know we smell like, so they probably think we're strangers (or ALIENS!) and "worthy" of being bitten! Their senses of smell and hearing are so much more acute than ours that it's a wonder this doesn't happen more often. In spite of how well we think we've rinsed off, residues remain on our skin that the squirrels will pick up on. Washing with plain water doesn't leave an "odor" so can prevent this kind of problem! It's best not to use any of this stuff on ourselves when handling the babies either since it can transfer to and sink into their delicately thin skin.
      • Occasionally either dying or debilitated baby squirrels will have squirrel fleas (different from cat and dog fleas since they are soft-shelled and do not hop but can only walk). These can be removed by hand if only a few (4-6), by gently flea combing, or by dusting lightly down back, tummy, legs, and tail with cotton ball dipped in Sergeant's Cat Flea and Tick Powder which contains non-toxic pyrethrins (made from chrysanthemums). Or, the best thing to do is nothing except change out bedding once or twice; these fleas usually "abandon ship" from a warming, soon-to-be-fed baby, crawling off on our shirts to quickly die. To remove cat or dog fleas, use cotton ball dipped lightly in Sergeant's Cat Flea and Tick Powder or Adam's Cat Flea Powder on same area. Only one application is necessary.

        Please do NOT use any of those spot-on flea deterrents intended for dogs and cats. Squirrels are too small and certainly don't need any of those alien chemicals systemically in their bodies anyway. They don't necessarily work, either. One baby who was brought to me sopped with that chemical still had squirrel fleas crawling all over him even though that stuff had been put on him long before he arrived.

      • Fly eggs must be removed immediately before they hatch into maggots. Use a flea comb, dry toothbrush or fingernails to remove eggs. Soaking dried clumps of fly eggs in olive oil or salad oil for a few seconds helps soften the clumps so they can be more easily removed with a flea-comb. Remove maggots with tweezers (if only a few). If there are larger areas, sprinkle on Sergeant's Cat Flea and Tick Powder or Adam's Flea Powder both of which are made from chrysanthemums and contain pyrethrins which are non-toxic to squirrels. (Flea mists are NOT recommended!) This smothers the maggots and they should immediately come falling off in agony onto that towel you had the foresight to put in your lap! These flea powders are the best and quickest way I've found over the years to instantly kill those awful things. Wash wound with warm water on cotton ball and apply Desitin ointment to area 2 or 3 times (or leave alone) until wound has healed and has nicely scabbed over. Desitin is a wonderful wound healer because of the zinc it contains.
      • Vegetable oil or olive oil may be used on fur (or feathers) as a "solvent" for removing tar, car oil, or sticky stuff from those horrid glue traps, and then wiped off with gentle strokes with a soft paper towel.
      • Ant bites you may leave alone, except for giving Vitamin C orally, which is highly and strongly recommended for healing from the inside out. Dissolve 15 to 50 mg acerola Vitamin C in 1 or 1 and 1/2 c.c. of water and depending on size of baby, give ¼ - ½ c.c. depending on size of baby before each feeding for 2 or 3 days. (Vit. C is a natural antihistamine, works to heal from the inside out, and clears up ant bites completely and quickly, no matter how many or how severely in a matter of days.) Ant bites are so toxic that the formic acid causes diarrhea in a baby, but that quickly clears up quickly with Scalded Milk and the addition of a good dollop of Dannon plain yogurt to their milk.
      • For nasal bleeding, nasal congestion or clicking in nose caused by bubbling through nose: Give chewable Acerola Vitamin C (15 to 35 mg. -- depending on size of the baby -- dissolved in 1 c.c. of water) before each milk feeding 2 or 3 times until cleared up (sometimes, in severe cases of nasal congestion or bleeding, for at least 2-3 days).
      • Baby squirrels will often suck on each other, as do other orphaned animals such as puppies and kittens, in the absence of mothers. Blood bruises will often appear on odd parts of the body (knees, tummies, back, etc.), but occasionally damage can become intense and potential scabbing can occur so the male (usually) cannot urinate: In severe cases, separation is recommended for a short time until this habit is outgrown.
      • Do not allow squirrels freedom to run unsupervised in the house. They will get into poisonous chemicals, chew on electrical wires and furniture, fall in toilets and drown. They should he kept in a cage for their own safety and security and also as protection from other animals and people! ½" x 1" wire and hardware cloth are dangerous cage materials because feet and teeth can get caught and break. Most satisfactory, particularly for older babies is welded wire with 1" square grid or a 1-inch by 2-inch grid. The smaller grid used for flooring on commercial cages can be dangerous, too, so cover floor with carpet remnants and blankets.
      • 8 x 10" "hamster" cages, 6" to 8" high with plastic bottoms, are preferable for tiny babies since they are the sizes of the nests they originally fell from. An intermediary-sized cage is 18 inches long, 12 inches deep, 12 inches high or so. A 2' x 2' x 2' or larger rabbit cage (all wire, 1" x 2" grid) is sufficient for older squirrels. It's best to wait until squirrels are around 4 months old before transferring them to a 2' x 2' cage. Giving squirrels too much cage too soon can lead to unfortunate accidents and even death. (One person put her 8-week-old baby gray into a 2' x 2' cage and went in the next morning to find him dead of a broken neck. Another put her 10-week-old baby in a 6-foot-tall cage, found him with a broken back from a fall, legs dangling and useless. He died within 24 hours.)

        They may be moved into a larger pre-release cage when they are around 5 1/2 months old. A pre-release cage outside can be 4' x 4' x 7' tall or taller with logs and branches to climb on as well as wooden shelves and a wooden nest box (up high) to splat out on.

        Please do NOT ever use one of those full-spectrum lights to shine on squirrels! They get sufficient Vitamin D in their Nutballs. An excess of Vitamin D can cause liver toxicity and death since oil-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver.

        A squirrel's natural schedule as a juvenile or adult should be the same in captivity as it is out in nature, mirroring or paralleling the same: Up at dawn when the sun comes up (fox squirrels "arise" a bit later than the grays do!), breakfast, nap, up and around, another nap in the afternoon, supper, and then hitting the hay right before the sun goes down! In captivity, they will stay up and awake if major lights are left on, but do tend to retire for the night when lights have been turned off or if only a dim night light has been left on. When there is no squirrel activity out there in nature, you can be sure they're up in the trees somewhere having a doze!

      • Of all the calls and email I receive from the public, the most common cause of sudden death of squirrels, young and older, in captivity is a calcium-magnesium-Vitamin D deficiency. Sudden, "unexplained death" can occur at any time from infancy on to six months (release time or older) if the calcium-magnesium-Vitamin D spectrum has not been supplied. Scalded Milk when they are babies and Nutballs when they are older and eating solid foods well prevents these deficiencies.
      • Never grab a squirrel by the tail: It will come off and never grow back. (Squirrels are not lizards!)
      • Never grab at or snatch at a squirrel - period! A calm, gentle approach, covering him (face and eyes, especially) with a blanket is the most soothing and least stressful approach. When a squirrel bites, he's saying. "Let go!" Giving him a cozy place to hide in a blanket eases his fears and gives him no reason to bite. Not only does grabbing a squirrel terrorize him but you can squish him, causing internal injuries and death.
      • Do NOT use leather gloves when handling any squirrel, young or old. Gloves are as just as terrifying and threatening to a squirrel as hands are and they will bite through them, especially if they are snatched or grabbed. Wrap babies and adults in a small baby blanket -- a baby-sized blanket for the babies -- when taking them out to feed so they will feel cozy and secure. Supply plenty of baby-sized (their size) blankets in box or cage for them to hide under or wrap up in when sleeping.
      • Netting to catch is extremely stressful and can cause seizures and death (especially if nutritional needs in calcium and magnesium have not been met.). Coaxing with a nut, putting a blanket over him and wrapping him up gently in it or channeling him back into the cage (for the older squirrels) are preferable methods.
      • Transferring from one cage to another can be done with older squirrels by putting open door (of empty cage) to open door (of occupied cage), luring him in with a nut or letting him go at his own leisure. If the transfer is going to take longer than 5 - 10 minutes, the two cages can be clipped together and stabilized. Another method of transfer is to wait until squirrels are asleep in their boxes at night or during nap, cover the hole of their box with a blanket and your hand, and move the whole box of squirrels quietly to the other cage. The primary goal ofgentle catching or transferring is to cause the least amount of stress or anziety to the animals.
      • Dog leash clips (2) are recommended for cage doors since older squirrels can be quite clever at popping latches with their teeth.
      • Allow them a place to hide, using blankets and a box, if you wish. Squirrels are basically sweet and gentle and very shy and timid and need their 2-3 day adjustment period to either get used to you or to a new situation. Even moving a cage from one room to another requires an adjustment period.
      • Messy cages and surroundings are signs of healthy squirrels, especially when they get older! (Injured or sick squirrels don't make messes.) Some ideas on how to cope with such messiness are: An inexpensive shower curtain liner tacked to the wall behind the cage; cage sitting in the bottom of a large cardboard box that's only 3 inches high and 3 inches away from the sides of the cage all the way around to act as a baffle to hold in grittage; and a large piece of left-over linoleum on the floor underneath the cage to catch grittage and grunge and wet stuff landing from on high.

      • Do not cut babies' toenails: quicks are too long and you will make them bleed. Do not have them "de-clawed" -- they will be ruined for life. Their sharp toenails are vitally necessary for survival and for protection, as well as for tree-climbing. Toenails of older or adult (long-term companion) squirrels may need to be snipped occasionally IF they get too thick or tend to hook on blankets or cage wires. Best to only snip off the sharp little white tip since going any deeper will cut into the quick.

      • If babies need to be washed, spot-clean only with warm water on a cotton ball and dry with tissue. Squirrels do not like water: Please do not dunk them unless they are covered with maggots and a dip in soapy water is absolutely necessary. They can get chilled easily from being bathed, get colds, or end up dying from pneumonia.
      • Use white tissue or soft toilet paper to stimulate baby to go to bathroom after each feeding. Warm spit on the corner of a piece of tissue helps stimulate them to wet and once they begin wetting, the warm wet will continue to encourage them. Little boys tend to go in fits and spurts, starts and stops, dribs and drabs (!)while little girls will let it spew out all at once. Colored tissues contain dyes and are not recommended -- use white only with no lotions added.
      • Cedar shavings or any other kind of wood parings should NEVER be used in squirrel cages or for nest boxes -- the dust inhaled can cause breathing problems and permanent lung damage. Oils from the cedar tree are also toxic to squirrels and can be absorbed into the skin. No matter how "pure" those products say they are, they are prone to mold and mildew from squirrels wetting or from food remnants that get lost or buried in it. Besides that, that stuff is messy and unfun to cuddle up in!
      • Much preferred bedding is material or soft cloth. Blanket material should be warm and wooly. Soft cotton flannel is also satisfactory. Do not use towels, wash cloths or other stringy material such as polyester fiberfill: Toenails can get caught or threads can get wrapped around fingers, toes, legs, or necks, cutting off circulation. Carpet remnants are recommended for flooring for cages, although squirrels will shred them and stringy things need to be snipped occasionally.
      • Hamster chews (from the pet shop) are NOT for squirrels. Ingested splinters have been known to cause intestinal bleeding in baby squirrels. No pet shop toys are recommended at this time.

      • Do not pull teeth. The squirrel will hemorrhage and die. Sticks to chew on are necessary to keep teeth worn down, as are nuts to crack as babies get older, but there's no need to overdo the nuts. Again, do NOT overdo the "nuts in shell" business! Contrary to "conventional lore", teeth of very few squirrels continue to grow all their lives. I'd estimate that only about 30% of them do. Very old squirrels can outlive their teeth, just as people do. -- It is a kindness to partially crack nuts before they are given so they won't break their brittle little teeth.
      • Occasionally tooth problems will occur in young squirrels but it is NOT a very common occurrence, so please don't feel that every baby squirrel taken in needs to have teeth snipped! Not so at all! These anomalies can be caused by accident -- from falling and landing on the face, getting teeth caught in too small a wire grid or in the seams of cages, or from calcium deficiencies. They can be misaligned or top teeth may not later emerge at all or they can emerge and then eventually fall out because root damage has been done up in the head. With such an injury-related problem, a bloody nose will often be one of the signs at initial intake though an eating problem may not be apparent until several months later.

        Babies do NOT grow in their top front teeth until some time after eyes have opened. It is at this time, I suspect, that the molars are also coming in, which they need to have in order to be able to eat solid foods efficiently.

        If top teeth are missing in older squirrels (because of accident or calcium/magnesium deficiency), bottom teeth may have to be snipped periodically before they grow up into and penetrate the upper palate. Sometimes top teeth will grow too long if the nose has been damaged or mashed in and the jaw juts out You should not be able to see a squirrel's teeth (or not much of them!) if mouth is politely closed. When bottom teeth are too long, squirrels can look like Bugs Bunny in reverse! In the case of mouth damage, upper incisors can curve back up into the mouth, penetrating the palate, causing infection and eventually death if not corrected.

        Top teeth should be about 1/4th inch long, coming down from the upper gum. The bottom teeth (incisors) of a normal squirrel will fit snugly right behind the top teeth so the pointed little ends are not visible when mouth is closed.

        Bottom teeth may need to be trimmed, too, if overgrown, since they can penetrate into the nostrils or cause jaws to be thrown a bit out of joint. One of the signs of problematic teeth is the head being thrown back when eating or inefficient crumbling of food (not to be mistaken for the initial crumbling of nuts babies do when they are first learning how to eat solid foods). A young one with this problem cannot be released since he obviously could not survive very long out in nature and would slowly starve to death.

        A tool available at art stores or arts and crafts places called either a Sprue cutter or a Nipper tool or a Diagonal Cutter, intended for cutting delicate jewelry wire, has a nice sharp little V-shaped point to it that is easier to get into a squirrel's narrow mouth than fingernail clippers.

        Do NOT use CAT nail clippers -- they have been known to cause splintering of teeth and ensuing infection and death.

        Teeth will turn orange on the front side at any time, not necessarily at a particular age. This is part of the hardening-of-the-enamel process that they go through when they get older and teeth start strengthening.

      • It goes without saying that squirrels with spinal or hip injuries cannot be released since their back legs are incapacitated. Nor do they need to be euthanized (murdered) since they can live perfectly viable lives for years with us in captivity if well cared for. Spinal injuries consist of broken backs or dislocated spines or hips. With this kind of injury there can still be a certain amount of muscle control or spasm but that does not mean they will ever get back up and walk on those back legs again. Hip or pelvic injury symptoms, once healed which takea about 6 weeks, are exemplified by a limp, a gimpy back leg or a cow-hocked gait as in dogs where ankles toe in toward each other. When hips are dislocated or severely injured, back legs will also drag behind.

        Any with hip, spinal, or head injuries or clumsy, coordination problems should not have tall cages since they can fall and reinjure themselves, sometimes fatally. Best to have them in cages that are no higher than 12" to 14" tall at the most so they won't be tempted to climb. Carpet remnants are recommended for flooring, not only for traction in walking but for softer cushioning.

        Squirrels with rickets or lordosis cannot be released since those calcium-deficient conditions can only be arrested; the damage already caused to earlier bone development cannot be undone. Scoliosis is rare in squirrels (I've only seen one in 20 years of rehabbing) but can be caused by injury or a calcium/magnesium/Vitamin D deficiency.

        Other obvious handicaps are missing limbs or most of a tail, total blindness, or even blindness in one eye since distance judgment in jumping is impaired and they are also very vulnerable to predators coming in at them from the blind side.

        When limbs are compromised and/or if paralysis is present, squirrels and other animals will self-amputate. They do a much better job of it than vets can do because they know where the numbness and tingling stop -- and there's never any scar tissue or itching after-effect as there is with clinical amputation.

      • One of the more subtle or difficult things to diagnose is a head injury since there are so many different symptoms, depending on what part of the brain is affected. Some squirrels will have no "go forth", will be too fearful, have no survival instincts, no sense of danger (even when they are at the proper age for survival skills to have kicked in). Others may not be able to feed themselves, have forgotten how, or have coordination problems that they can't hold their food so have to be syringe-fed all their lives, although these cases are rare.

        Many will have a head tilt, a head bobble, coordination problems in walking, or just seem slower than normal, while still others cannot handle stress and may go haywire after release (though often this can be caused by a calcium/magnesium deficiency). Some cannot climb. Others can climb but not know how to get down by themselves (also rare). Some will be too fearful of the "wrong" things or won't be able to handle anything that's "extraneous". Suspect any abnormal behaviour as being head-injured-caused IF you know what "normal behaviour" is in a squirrel!

        Walking or going around in circles is yet another symptom, but is not to be confused with the back flips or somersaults off the cage ceiling the grays are so often prone to doing. Seizuring even when on a calcium/magnesium/Vitamin D sufficient diet is another symptom of a head injury.

        Eyes that bulge out are a symptom of pressure on the brain and foretell the coming of a seizure. You should never be able to see the whites of a squirrel's eyes.

        When trees have been felled (by the tree murderers) or a branch is lopped off carrying the nest to the ground with it, the damage to baby squirrels is often much worse than just a free fall to the ground is because of the heavy vibration of the tree hitting the ground. If they are not instantly killed, they can sustain head injuries.

        With older squirrels brain damage can be caused by being violently thrown from one of those awful squirrel feeders that have that windmill effect or being shaken too violently by a dog or by being hit by electricity. Head injuries in these cases are similar to Shaken Baby Syndrome in humans, where the brain is rattled, although with squirrels, other organs can be affected and damaged as well. Landing on concrete or on any kind of hard surface or being buffeted by strong winds or hurricanes and thrown from the nest are other causes of brain or neurological damage. This is one of the reasons it's very important to be aware of the circumstances under which they were initially found.

        They can have what I call "hidden head injuries" -- those lie latent but will act up later on down the road, or may not be discovered until they've been released. This type of injury is evident in the ones who go haywire after release, go round in circles, or seem to be terribly inept, not going forth to do their "squirrel thing". They may seem fine and look perfectly normal in the cage but almost immediately after release this kind of anomaly will show up. These need to be pulled back in to spend the remainder of their lives with us in captivity, since they'd never survive out there in nature.

        Adult injured squirrels who have been hit by a car or babies who have suffered what I liken to Shaken Baby Syndrome (in children when the brain has gotten rattled) may sleep excessively, even after they've healed -- as much as 23 out of 24 hours a day. Let them do so. They need that sleep. They also need to be gently handled, wrapped up in a small baby blanket when taken out to be syringe-fed my Banana Milk Shake until they are feeling better and are ready to start eating solid food.

        Head injuries are permanent and they usually do take them in the end, whether it's within a month after arrival, a year and three months, or at the end of a long, full lifetime with us. All we can do is take them as far as they will go, even though their little lives with us may be short.

        Any squirrels who are considered unreleasable I see no reason not to continue handling, if they'll let us! What difference does it make if we DO make pets out of them -- they're not going anywhere anyway!

      • Injuries -- Legs that are broken at the ankles are the most common, especially after a severe fall. They look the worst when squirrels first come in with them because the foot flops around unnaturally, but they are one of the quickest and easiest to heal IF the diet is a proper one. The squirrel needs to be confined to a small, short cage so movement is somewhat restricted, and he certainly shouldn't be climbing.

        If there is no blood, no bones are sticking out, and bones are properly aligned (as in the case of a long-bone break), there is no need for a wrap or a splint. Muscles hold the broken bones in place and by the 3rd day, they will be holding the foot in a natural position although they will still continue to favor it for a while. Healing takes place within 10 days to 2 weeks, with a proper diet, but I like to give them that 3rd week to make sure it's good and healed. At the end of 6 weeks, healing is virtually complete and this is when I decide whether they can be released or not but only when the time is right and they are old enough.

        Scalded Milk for the babies and Banana Milk Shake or Nutballs for the older juvenile and adults are the best diets for any with broken bones. The calcium in these promotes healing (of other injuries, too, including wounds), eases pain, and helps them sleep which is where all healing occurs.

        One of the best healings I ever had was with a 6- to 8-month-old fox squirrel who came to me with both thighs crushed. Her little bones were just a-cracklin' inside. I felt no X-ray was necessary, nor was a visit to the vet. I gently and carefully took her out of her cage, wrapped up in a small baby blanket for support and syringe-fed her my Banana Milk Shake. She healed beautifully -- all those little "puzzle pieces" quickly knitted right back together again, within 10 days to 2 weeks. When she was released 6 weeks later, you'd never have known there had been anything wrong with her in the first place!

      • Officially, squirrels shed twice a year, but unofficially, they shed all year round, just as our cats and dogs do. Sometimes, out in nature (even in those up-north states in February, in the snow!), the grays especially can become symmetrically quite bald or look moth-eaten because no one is there to comb out the dead hairs. Some lose all or most of the fur on their tails. This temporary baldness is quite often mistakenly diagnosed as mange. (Squirrels do NOT get mange!) Nothing needs to be done, this phase will soon pass and in a few weeks the summer or winter coat will grow back just as pretty as before. People tend to forget how scruffy deer, bison, and moose look when they are shedding in the spring when fur just hangs off them in sheets. At least our squirrels have the grace not to look like THAT!

        Fur loss (alopecia) can also be caused by a diet heavy in peanuts, field corn, and sunflower seeds -- all of which are incomplete proteins and should never be fed in the first place! In captivity, fur loss can be caused by an allergy to detergents or fabric softeners on the blankets, but usually severe itching and scratching will accompany this.

        Severe itching and fur loss can also be caused by dried caked milk on chin, cheeks, or arms, by mites, squirrel fleas or "the bugs", a tiny little larval-type of bug that is species-specific to squirrels -- in other words, they are not "contagious" to other animals. (A severe infestation of "the bugs" can cause fur loss since they feed on hair follicles. These are rarely seen by most people and only come in on dying or debilitated squirrels.) Flea combing will help determine if the itching is indeed caused by bugs and a light dusting with Sergeant's Cat Flea and Tick Powder will help. (Only one application is necessary.)

        Dry skin and dead hairs itch during shedding time and can cause excessive scratching. There are places that they just cannot reach -- in the middle of their backs and at the base of their tails -- just as cats and dogs can't, so they will often try to scratch there but end up only causing raw places and sparse fur on their necks or shoulders. A light coating of olive oil helps ease and heal dry, itchy, or flaky skin and makes the fur grow back.

        Another cause for excessive scratching and itching can be too warm a heating pad, especially for the older, more furred-out babies. (Thank you, Melodie, for reminding me of this one!)

        Sprayed pesticides such as those aerosols used for West Nile Virus are responsible for killing adult squirrels, leaving eyes-open babies orphaned and totally furless. Takes a good 8 weeks on a proper diet for fur to be fully restored once these babies have been taken in and the toxins have worked their ways out of their little systems. Lawn chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc.) or chemicals sprayed on trees have lasting toxic effects, even to dogs and cats as well as to squirrels out in nature, causing skin "allergies" and death.

        Squirrels, the grays in particular, will sometimes lift an arm and scratch under it in smug self-satisfaction when they think they've done something clever, just as cats do. This is nothing to be concerned about and doesn't mean they really DO have an itch!

        In the summertime they will have thinner coats. Tails can get thin or ratty looking by being whocked against the sides of the cage when they do their flips. Even out in nature they can come back with tails missing fur in places because they've gotten in a tangle or stuck it somewhere it shouldn't have been.

        Grays and fox squirrels shed differently -- the foxes start at the head and work down, so there's a definite demarcation of new fur coming in all across the back working its way downward to the base of the tail. Grays can get quite bald symmetrically in certain places, whether in captivity or out in nature. The first indication of new fur getting ready to come in is when skin pigmentation turns gray, just as happens when they are babies.

      • Plastic water bottles for older babies can be chewed. One tiny hole ruins a bottle, so a metal bottle guard (commercially available) is recommended. Avoid all plastic feeding dishes or water containers for use inside cages. Water bottles should be hung on outside of cage.

        Yes, squirrels do drink water. However, water is not necessary for them to have while they are still on Scalded Milk 2-3 times a day, although you may hang a small water bottle on the side of their cage for them to practice on when they get older. They do get plenty of fluid in their milk, as is evident from the profuse amount of wet produced!

        Some squirrels will drink a lot of water later on, a sip or two here and there, just as a "thing to do" while others will only drink a small amount each day. Others will bounce it out of the water bottle once they start getting more active or doing flips in their cages. They often take in sufficient fluids from the fruits and vegetables we give them so they may not need or want much water.

      • Sometimes older babies and juveniles and adults will kiss and groom us on our hands in loving little nibbles just as they will kiss and groom their mothers or siblings. This should not be mistaken for "biting" and is nothing to shy away from since it's all done affectionately.

      • Toys or entertainment need to be offered, especially to those single squirrels raised alone with no companions to wrestle and play with. A cloth or old T-shirt clipped to the top of the cage on the outside, they can work on, eventually pulling it down, swinging on it like a Tarzan, and sleeping behind it all wrapped up.

        Sticks to climb on that are poked through the sides of the cage and are off the bottom of the cage floor are good entertainment. They chew on those, swing upside down on them, and will have them down in an instant, but it does keep them occupied for a while. Stuffed toys to throw around (with no plastic parts and only polyester stuffing inside) are also recommended.

        A cardboard nest box (all sealed up, but with a hole cut in it and a blanket in there) is good entertainment for them, too, for them to climb on and tear up when they're older. Also gives us a little something to do in our spare time -- clean up the mess! Pine cones are good for later on when they are big enough to work on tearing those up. These shouldn't all be given to them at once, just one at a time when they seem bored.

        Music boxes are a lovely diversionary tactic (for us, too!) for when they get too rowdy. Wonderful to watch their facial expressions when they cock their little heads to listen! Don't over-do this either, else it will lose its effectiveness.

        In January or February when the fall-born and wintered-over babies start getting restless and pacing is a good time to move them into a larger cage.

      • Do not use hamster wheels for squirrels. Even hamsters have been known to get their heads caught between the wheel and the wire and strangle to death. Hamster wheels are too small for squirrels anyway, and really aren't recommended for hamsters since they tend to run themselves into a trance and become unfocused. Besides that, they're too noisy!
      • Four months of age (or even younger, Heaven forbid!) is entirely too young to release baby squirrels. Not only are they so small predators can pick them off easily, but they have absolutely no sense of direction or danger. They are like kittens who need constant protection and have no business outside until older and wiser.

        Six months old is a good age to release because they are smarter, much more aware of what danger is, and are larger and better developed physically to climb trees. They also begin to become antsy at this time, bored with cage life, and may start pacing. These are basically the "ready to go" qualities I look for. (Fall-born babies, of course, have to be wintered over for obvious reasons and not released until the following spring.) Squirrels with head injuries or other debilitating handicaps should NEVER be released, of course.

      • The first 24 hours and the next 2-3 days after release are critical. Newly released squirrels need supervision, help if stuck or in a pickle, and back-up feeding which I provide as long as they need it (anywhere from 2 feedings to more than 7 or 8 years of hand-outs)! Nest boxes of wood with flat tops are provided for them in trees or if they need to come back to their cages to sleep, they are free to do so. Many times I release in my yard and have had many come back a month or more after release because they have been injured and need a place to recuperate.
      • (Refer to Release section where more release stuff already is.)

        ********Some timely and very welcome common sense tips from Tobie:

        "So many times I hear very bad stories about pet squirrels, especially those who are allowed the run of the house or even confined to a room outside of their protective cage. The following are suggestions to lessen their chances of getting hurt:

        1. Leave toilet lids down. Especially fatal for flying squirrels.
        2. Get in the habit of looking before sitting down in a chair.
        3. If your baby is loose and your back is turned, turn around and look before you step....they can get right underfoot before you even know it, and then crunch. Make it a habit to look first. (This cautionary note also applies to after they've been released when they can get underfoot.)
        4. Remove all house plants into another room and close the door. Many house plants are toxic to animals.
        5. The two-door rule: Make sure your squirrel is behind a closed door before opening a door to the outside, or they can be gone in an instant. Just because the squirrel was in a particular place a second ago doesn't mean he'll still be there, they are so quick! Have him in your sights before closing him in the room and opening an outside door.
        6. Never leave your squirrel unattended with a family pet,.no matter how much they are 'best buddies'.
        7. If you are cooking, please do not think for an instant that your squirrel will not jump into a pan of scalding food, or stand on a hot burner, jump in an open oven door, or into an opened washer or dryer!
        8. If you're having company over, stress that they are to sit down and stay that way if your squirrel is loose. Most people are not conditioned to look before stepping, sitting or opening or closing doors.
        9. Don't assume everyone loves squirrels or enjoys having one on them -- they can be dropped, slung off, hit, swatted, stomped, etc.
        10. Watch kids. I heard of a visiting child who poked out an eye on a pet squirrel while still in his cage. Don't let children (or adults either!) tap, knock or bang on the cage nor aggravate the squirrel any way. Squirrels can also bite an alien hand or finger that is stuck into their cages. Some children can be cruel, whether unintentional or not.
        11. Get in the habit of turning to face a door to look at the bottom of it before and while closing the door.
        12. Squirrels are curious by nature. They test things out with their teeth and hands. Keep them away from electrical wires.
        13. Another good rule is to have at least two water bottles in the cage at all times. A full bottle of water could be stuck, gummed up with food, or can leak out steadily after you've filled it to the point that you won't notice, so it's a good idea to check it to make sure it's going to give forth water.

        People do tend to get too lax, too comfortable or careless. It's a good idea to get in the habit of doing these things whether squirrels are in the cage or out. A squirrel is not going to get out of your way, as l am sure you have seen. On the street, cars can try to avoid hitting them but then they can dart right back under the car. In nature, part of their defense is their speed in zigzagging in and out. Safest way is to stop your car, blow your horn, then wait for the squirrel to get out of the road and start up a tree."

        To these suggestions from Tobie I would also add that when they become one-person animals at an early age (3 1/2 or 4 months old or so) that they not be allowed to be with anyone who is "not the Mama" else they will sometimes attack and bite. (This mostly applies to those who aren't head injured and don't have that part of their brain affected, though.)

      • As of October, 2004, I have taken in well over 2,500 squirrels approximately ¾ of whom have been babies. The first 24 hours is the most critical. If I can get them through this time (dealing with their injuries) and the 2-3 days none have ever died. My success rate from this 2-3 day point on until release at 6 to 9 months of age is 100%.
      • Pinkies (from 0-2 weeks of age. before they are pigmented) are more difficult to get past the 2 - 3 day critical period because their bones have not calcified enough to withstand internal damage to their organs from the fall from the nest. Any bruising on a pinkie (especially in the soft tissue, tummy area) can signify internal injury. Yogurt and/or acidophilus added to the Scalded Milk Formula, besides substituting for mother's colostrum, synthesizes Vit. K activity in the intestines, and therefore helps stop internal bleeding. External factors (such as length of exposure to the elements, frigidity, dehydration, excessive mauling by dogs or cats or mishandling by humans, a fall on concrete, and being fed the wrong things) can all take their toll, not just on pinkies but on all babies. Scalded Milk NEVER killed ANY baby, but improper feeding, mishandling and injuries will.
      • The two most critical calcium/magnesium supplying ingredients in the diet of a squirrel are the Scalded Milk Formula and the Nut Balls/Squares. These in combination with a variety of proper nutrients from the Positive section of the Stupid List will ensure that your squirrel will live to be to be released or will live a long safe life in captivity if handicapped and unreleasable.

      Return toThe Beginning...

      Nutritional Healing for Animals and Birds

      For birds, put in food; for squirrels, add to baby formula or use quot;Elixir" on following page.)
      • Nasal bleeding or congestion in squirrels; Vitamin C-( 1/l6th of a 500 mg. tablet or 15 - 25 mg. Use in "Elixir". You should see results after first dose and a total cure after the third dose.
      • Diarrhea: Add yogurt, applesauce, or pureed baby bananas (in the jars in the baby food section at the grocery store) to baby formula and/or in extreme cases, baby rice cereal (short term only). Some sugary products such as Karo corn syrup, Pedialyte, Stat,and Nutri-Cal can cause diarrhea, so remove completely from diet unless using Nutri-Cal "Elixir" for short-term healing purposes.
      • Eye, skin, coat disorders: Vitamin A. Source: Cod liver oil - 1 or 2 drops in food daily plus a drop or two of Vitamin E to make Vitamin A work. Linoleic acid in salad oil and lecithin promote glossy coats also as well as B vitamins.
      • Kidney, bladder, or urinary disorders; Vitamin C and the magnesium in dolomite. Should be taken with Brewers' yeast, and tiny amounts of vitamins A. D, E, & C.
      • Stress: B Vitamins in Brewers' yeast) and calcium and magnesium (in dolomite).
      • Wounds to scab over quickly: Vitamin E applied topically.
      • Wounds to not quickly scab over: Aloe Vera juice (from the plant). Aloe Vera is also good for burns, hematomas, swellings, raw areas. Desitin is recommended for wounds until a scab is formed. The zinc in it is a wonderful healer.

        Sugar is good for sprinkling on wounds, especially those that are infected. Sugar reacts chemically with pus to neutralize it and only two or three applications should be necessary. Honey and Karo can also be used, but I think those are too messy. Even if the wound is a dried one, it can be moistened with a few drops of water to make the sugar granules stick until a crust is formed from the sugar. When sugar is used, no topical or oral antibiotics are necessary.

      • Pain: Calcium in dolomite. 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon in food or formula. (Use with Vitamin D, C and fat.)
      • Poisoning in birds: Magnesium in dolomite or in Epsom salts. Put a pinch in food until improvement is seen.
      • Broken bones and rickets prevention: Dolomite and Vitamin D (small amount daily, depending on size of animal). Do not give with calcium blockers such as whole-grain cereals or green vegetables. Scalded Milk Formula is perfect for infant squirrels and promotes the healing that synthetic formulas cannot. My Nutballs or Banana Milk Shake are perfect healers for the juveniles or adults who come in with broken bones and/or other injuries or wounds.
      Return toThe Beginning...
      "Elixir" for Squirrels

      This formula is for injured adults or babies and is intended for short-term use. Discontinue after a few days or when situation is fixed. For longer-term use, my Banana Milk Shake (not on the web page, so don't bother looking!) is recommended since it serves as a meal for those juveniles or adults we take in who are injured or comatose and are in no condition to eat solid food on their own.
      • Nutri-Cal: 1/8 Teaspoon
      • Water: a few drops so that this is a half and half mixture to make no more than 2-3 cc.'s
      • Vitamin C, crushed-1/16 of a 500 mg. tablet (25 to 50 mg. Vt. C)
      • Dolomite powder -1/8 teaspoon or more (for pain)
      • ¼ - ½ teaspoon yogurt or pinch of acidophilus powder (to prevent diarrhea that Nutri-Cal can cause.
      In case of stress, etc., I also sometimes add :
      • 1/16 to 1/8 teaspoons Brewers' Yeast powder
        • and
      • 3 drops of Vitamin E if it's a scorch or electrical burn victim who needs these two extra ingredients.
    Karo corn syrup (light) can be substituted for Nutri-Cal but 2 - 4 drops of Cod liver oil should be added. When making this Karo substitution use all the above ingredients.

    (YOu can give this formula 2 or 3 times a day, depending on the situation, followed by as much Scalded Milk Formula as they want until eating well enough on their own.) A word of caution on extended use of this formula: Prolonged use of Nutri-Cal can cause Vitamin D toxicity to the liver and death in squirrels.< BR>Give Elixir ( ½ to 4 c.c.'s depending on size of squirrel) 2-3 times first day, twice the 2nd day, once the 3rd and 4th days, if still needed. Then discontinue use.
    Elixir should be followed by feedings 4 times a day of warm Scalded Milk without Karo (Nutri-Cal has sufficient Karo in it), mixed with Dannon Vanilla Yogurt or plain yogurt (enough to coat the finger when stirred), until baby or adult is full. Use 1 or 3 c.c. syringe and Catac nipple (if you have one) with a tiny hole punched in the end to feed with. An adult squirrel's tummy capacity per feeding is anywhere from 12-15 c.c.'s (gray squirrel) to 15-18 c.c.'s (fox squirrel)

    This Elixir helps bring the limp, listless, and lethargic juveniles or adults back to life. My Banana Milk Shake is really more suitable than the Elixir for one who does not bounce back to normalcy quickly, within a day or two, since it serves as a meal and sustains life until they feel more like eating solid foods. However, the Banana Milk Shake is NOT intended for the bitty babies since their little "tubes" are too small to handle the thickish mixture.

    Return toThe Beginning...

    Flying Squirrels

    Flying squirrels open their eyes when they are 6 weeks old. They begin to eat solid foods at 9 weeks, and start their weaning process from the Scalded Milk Formula when they are around 12 weeks once they have learned to eat solid foods more efficiently. They do just fine on Scalded milk with full amount of Karo in it (1 teaspoon of Karo to 1/3rd cup of milk), but they also do quite well on Scalded milk with a titch of Dannon Vanilla yogurt in and no Karo added. They will take tiny amounts when they are small, increasing as time goes on, but eventually take about 3 c.c.s per feeding when they get older. I have had them take as much as 4 c.c.s per feeding when they are 12 weeks old.

    They should be fed 4 times a day, 5 hours apart. Though they eventually become nocturnal, this trait does not start showing up until they begin to wean themselves at 10-12 weeks of age, so daytime feedings are just fine for them. (Very convenient for us!) As with the larger squirrels, no middle of the night feedings are necessary.

    A 1 c.c. (same as a 1 ml.) syringe should be used for feeding -- they will lap off the end of the syringe -- but if a Catac nipple is available, they will also suck. The nipple can be cut in half crosswise to shorten it so it's more easily managed by tiny mouths. As with any tiny baby, push the syringe very slowly so that only a drop at a time comes out, letting the baby set his own pace of eating.

    Do make sure you have low or rather dim lighting to feed by once their eyes have opened. Large nocturnal eyes are super-sensitive to bright lights and can make them nervous.

    I treat my flying squirrels the same way I do the larger tree squirrels, nutritionally. They just take smaller amounts of food than the big ones do. When they show signs of wanting to begin eating solid food, I start them out on two halves of a half pecan (broken in half lengthwise) and proceed from there, the same as for the larger tree squirrels.

    When they are older and off milk, pecans or walnuts are their morning meal and a small piece of fruit or such if they wish (some will come out and take them, others won't), and the piece of Nutball and three fruits or vegetables are given at night. A very small water bottle or very small bowl with water is provided, depending on which way the squirrels decide they like to drink it. Sometimes I'll have both types available.

    Flying squirrels are prone to rickets, seizures, going down in their back legs and sudden "unexplained" deaths if their calcium/magnesium/Vitamin D needs are not supplied. Scalded Milk when they are babies and 1/4th of an inch-square Nutball daily later prevents these debilitating situations from occurring. Most people cannot keep flying squirrels alive or healthy longer than 3 1/2 months since they don't feed properly or succumb to the advice of others who recommend formulas and solid foods sold commercially.

    We do not give meat to our flying squirrels, nor bugs, since oocysts and protozoa from insects can cause illnesses and diseases down the road that can be difficult to diagnose and to cure. They do just fine and live healthily for years on a vegetarian diet of nuts, fruits, and vegetables, and 1/4 of a Nutball daily.

    Their cage when they are tiny babies should be a small hamster cage (the size of their regular nests up in the trees), if they cannot escape through the bars, or one made of hardware cloth. The cage should be kept on top of a heating pad set on low heat until they are well able to hold their own body heat. As with the larger squirrels, if you are not sure when they are ready to leave the warmth of the heating pad, place the cage half off and half on the heating pad and let them choose the zone they're most comfortable in.

    When the time comes that they need a larger cage, a basic 2' x 2' is sufficient, but the grid should be of the 1/2-inch by 1-inch size. They like shelves to perch on (even a small wooden and square corner shelf is appreciated), sticks to flit to and swing on, and small boxes for nesting and garbage and pantry needs! (Which is not to say that all garbage goes in such boxes!) A small cardboard box can be used for nesting, placed on a shelf and anchored by string to the bars of the cage for stability. The other "storage" boxes can be the small Kleenex-sized ones.

    I have never had flyers breed in captivity, nor has anyone else I know locally since ours have all been taken in as orphaned or injured babies and raised from that point on. We all have had mixed sexes, males in with females. Ten years ago I heard of one who bred when she was allowed the run of the house and even then, it was just that once that she had babies. Another instance I just recently heard of were in a substantially large cage -- 5' x 5' -- and they apparently "multiplied" successfully -- two new ones just "appeared" one day! As time goes on, I do hear more and more about other flying squirrels who bred in captivity when they were given sufficiently large cages, and they took good care of their babies, were exceptionally good mothers!

    Most of those who are sold to the public as "having been bred in captivity" or "hand-raised", I feel sure were actually wild caught, and/or mothers were trapped while they were pregnant or captured along with the babies after they had already given birth.

    A Caveat: Two people several years ago told me their basically encaged flyers ("encaged" as opposed to having the run of the room or the house) presented them with babies. Both were in relatively small cages, 2' x 2' or so. In one case, the mother mutilated (eviscerated) and killed 2 but the 3rd was salvaged even though she'd already started trying to eviscerate it, too. The second mother chewed legs off both, killing them in the process, and the third had disappeared, so it was suspected that she ate the entire baby. Should they chance to give birth in captivity, it's best to take them from the mother as soon as possible and raise them ourselves, just as we have to do with the larger tree squirrels who come in injured and pregnant and give birth in captivity. Those don't take care of their babies and will neglect them until they die of starvation or from being too cold.

    It's NEVER a good idea to carry them around all day in pockets or pouches, no matter what pet shop people or breeders say. How would WE like it if some monster hauled us around all night when we're trying to get our nice, peaceful rest! Too much noise, too many vibrations, and distractions. The idea, I'm sure, for the "toting" them around is so they will bond to their caretaker, but that's absolute nonsense! They all bond just by being taken out 4 times a day to feed and tickle to make go to the bathroom.

    The best place for them during the day is in a small cage (when they are babies -- on a heating pad on low) with little warm wooly blankets they can hide and snuggle under.

    Unfortunately, many breeders are in it for the money and have rarely, if ever, hand-raised flying squirrels. Consequently, they don't know much about proper food or feeding methods. Babies are often taken from their mothers way too soon, before they've even been weaned or are eating solid food well. Those have to quickly learn how or they'll die of starvation

    When flying squirrels are older and tend to hang on the back or sides of the cage to wet out, I've clipped a towel over the back of the cages, sometimes letting it come around halfway on both sides, or the wall behind them can be covered with a temporarily tacked-up piece of plastic or thin shower curtain liner ($1 at the Dollar store since it doesn't need to be a heavy-duty one).

    Owls of all kinds -- from the tiny screech owls to the larger ones -- prey on flying squirrels since both are nocturnal. Best not to release these flyers if you have such predators in your area or in your yard. (And don't take them out somewhere and dump them either! That's NEVER recommended for ANY animal we've raised, as you'll see from the Release section elsewhere on this web page.)

    Since flying squirrels are not considered "game animals" (i.e. -- so they can be shot and killed by the hunters) and, since they are often sold in pet shops as pets, they don't necessarily HAVE to be released but can be kept as pets. They are generally very quiet during the day (because they're asleep!) and certainly don't make nearly as much noise at night when awake as hamsters do!

    Return toThe Beginning...

    Possum Basics

    (That's what we Southerners call 'em!) The same "rules" apply to these sweet and gentle little animals as are found in the third box down from the beginning of the web page, "Basic Baby Animal Care". Especially important with these little ones is that they be kept warm in a small cage set on a heating pad set on low heat since they don't hold their body heat well until they are quite old. Fleas or other external parasites (like maggots) they come in with can be killed (or smothered) by putting a light dusting of Sergeant's Cat Flea and Tick powder and then picked off. Only one application is necessary. Or a flea comb can be used if the fur is relatively sparse and not too thick to comb through.

    Tiny babies need moisture just as is in their mother's pouch to prevent their skin from drying out and flaking off, so it's wise to put a wet sponge with a a zip-lock bag laid over it in the cage somewhere away from their blankets. They should be in a container with holes in the lid so moisture can be evenly distributed or in a small cage that's partially covered on three sides and over the top to help hold the humidity in. These are often the pinkies who have to be tube-fed, and who, 80% or 100% of the time, do not make it.

    Possums do well on Scalded Milk with yogurt and a raw egg yolk added. In fact, that's what they SHOULD be fed in order to prevent spinal column deformities, rickets, brittle bones, or going down in back legs and becoming permanently paralyzed, especially if this situation isn't caught in time. These debilitating symptoms are caused by synthetic commercial formulas which ALL lack the magnesium necesary for calcium absorption by the body. (Sticking them out in the sun daily won't cut it, nor will the other absolutely silly "gyrations" recommended by those wildlife-group people.)

    Possums can have a raw egg yolk in their milk, as I've mentioned elsewhere in this web page, but you do have to be careful, if you've also got baby squirrels, not to mix up their no-egg milk with the possums' eggy milk by labeling the jars and putting them in different parts of the refrigerator. Whether or not to add Karo (white corn syrup -- 1 teaspoon or more per cup of milk) depends on the doodles of the animal. Most often, it should be completely omitted to prevent diarrhea from occurring. Dark Karo is never recommended since it has twice the laxative power of the white or clear kind. A good glob of Dannon plain yogurt should be added to their Scalded Milk -- it's good for the beneficial intestinal flora!

    Later you can start offering pureed baby food meats to them -- all kinds but not pork or ham. Dolomite powder (about 1/4th teaspoon daily) and 2-4 drops of cod liver oil mixed in the meats should also be added once daily to prevent rickets. Meats are all so high in phosphorus that dolomite powder and a few drops of cod liver oil are necessary to balance out a "phosphorus overload" (same thing as a calcium/magnesium/Vitamin D deficiency) which causes crippling and death. (Bone meal won't cut it! It's too high in phosphorus, makes them nervous, and contains no magnesium or Vitamin D.)

    Baby fruits are good if they're still in the lapping stage and aren't chewing yet. Chunky types of meat, such as canned chicken are fine for later on when they are older. Avoid any processed meats which have nitrates added since those additives are carcinogenic.

    Hard-boiled egg yolk is another good protein source, as is pure, non-adulterated cottage cheese, if they will accept it. And they do love those fruit-flavored yogurts, or Dannon Vanilla yogurt, all of which can be thinned down a bit with Scalded Milk if they're too thick for them to lap in the beginning.

    Do NOT give chicken bones, no matter who recommends it. They splinter and can puncture the linings of their stomachs and intestines the same way they do with dogs.

    It's amazing how fast they grow -- it's almost as if the more they eat the quicker they grow. Supposedly they continue to grow all their lives even after they've been released.

    If they're tromping through their food, one of those small deep crockery bowls is recommended that they can't turn over and that they can't so easily step in to but can still stick their snouts down into. They will drink water later on from a water bottle hung on the side of their cage, which helps prevent them from tromping through their water bowls or (Heaven forbid!) from making poop soup out of it!

    Later on you can put dry cat food (small pellets) in a dish for one feeding of the day. They love meats (including canned cat foods or fish such as sardines and salmon) and all sorts of fruits (avocado, fresh banana, small chunks of pears, apple, Kiwi, and grapes are favorites and they will also eat a small floret of broccoli occasionally), but you still have to be sure they're getting sufficient calcium. Those dry cat foods do block calcium because of the corn and other whole grains in them, so it's good to be aware of that.

    Possums can be a bit messy -- their poop is so undissolvable that if you miss anything on their blankets when you wash them, it goes into the washing machine and comes out the same way.......all glumped up!

    They make a little snuffling noise to call their mothers, whether to "real" or adoptive mothers. They do have a defense mechanism -- several of them, in fact, particularly the adult possums -- opening the toothy mouth is one of the most common and intimidating -- (I think this is the absolute cutest!) -- but they can also drool, slobber, hiss, or emit foul odors when they are cornered or afraid, all of which intimidate their "enemies", including people! And, of course, everyone knows about their ability to "play dead". (Make the dog go away and the outside possum will be on his way to continue eating roaches or carrion out in nature.)

    Eyesight is poor but hearing is acute, so sudden movements and loud noises are to be avoided to keep from startling them. They are also quite stubborn: If they don' wanna (go there), they ain't a-gonna!

    ****** Some tidbits of wisdom from Gina: "Commercial dog and cat food is just terrible. I try and buy stuff that mainly has meat listed first, no soy and if they have it, which most do, but way down on the list wheat or corn. Your choices are limited. The dog food I buy is a lamb and rice type, contains no soy, wheat or corn and most of the ingredients you can read and say, HEY! that's an actual product, vitamin or mineral. ~LOL~

    The Taste of the Wild is horribly expensive in a big bag but I can get a 5-lb. bag for $10 and that will last Flower almost a month. It actually lists venison, salmon, blueberries, broccoli, etc., on that bag -- nothing mysterious on there. I add a natural diet to that also such as chopped chicken, beef or lean pork, sometimes a can of salmon and fruit. I have trouble getting her to eat any veggies except carrots, sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas, pinto beans and purple hull peas. She can't have very many carrots or sweet potatoes just like the squirrels, so she gets those once a week. Sometimes she even eats a couple of the squirrel Nutballs. She likes them but I give her yogurt with 4 drops of cod liver oil in it four times a week or mix avocado with dolomite powder and 4 drops of cod liver oil. ****Do not feed them road kill. You do not know where it's been or what's been on it and parasites are a big problem. I know they would eat it in the wild but dealing with worms in your possum is a real pain." (Thank you, Gina!)

    Possums who have been raised in captivity can be released when they are a good 11 or 12 inches long, not including the tail, or even older and larger. Any who are let go when they are too small are considered "hawk or owl bait" or easy prey for other types of predators. A lot of people do keep them as pets.

    Their body temperature, metabolic rate, is so low that the rabies virus does NOT live in possums.

    Return toThe Beginning...

    Rabbit Basics

    Basic Baby Animal Care (third box down on from the beginning of this web page) applies to any baby animal, especially to these little vegetarian rabbits. Keeping them warm in a small cage set on a heating pad on low heat is very important as with any baby animal. Food will not digest in a cold body and can cause bloating and death. Baby rabbits don't need too much heat. They do need to be kept warm, though, but not overly so since they dehydrate easily, causing death within a day! Buffering the heat with a thick towel as a barrier between the heating pad and the cage helps, especially if there is only one bunny. In groups, they help keep each other warm.

    They need small baby blankets or an old T-shirt for nesting material in their little hamster cage. (Hamster cages are recommended since they are basically the size of their real nests.) Cedar shavings or other kinds of wood chips are NEVER recommended.

    Mamas out in nature supposedly feed their babies twice a day -- the two times a day (morning and early evening) when they visit their nests, staying away the rest of the time apparently to keep enemies from finding their babies. Just because a nest seems to be abandoned, does not mean there's not a mother nearby or somewhere in the area. Unfortunately, this is how many babies get kidnapped -- people think they've been abandoned.

    Although mama bunnies do feed only twice a day, a friend of mine who did rabbits and I were not comfortable with that small amount, so we both fed 3 times a day, about 6 hours apart, just to be on the safe side. They really don't suck the way baby squirrels do, but will chew on the nipple or syringe to "make the milk come", although Tobie tells me her baby sucked! (Love how some of these little animals will make liars out of us, especially when we try to make generalizations!)

    Scalded Milk is ALWAYS recommended with a good hefty dollop of Dannon plain yogurt (critical to their survival) in the milk at least twice a day to keep intestinal flora healthy and to replace the colostrum they're not getting from their mother.

    I find it hard to believe that bunnies can tolerate egg yolk (unborn chicken), even though there are some web pages out there (and people, too) who swear they do just fine on those commercial kitten formulas and/or on canned Pet or Carnation condensed milk, mixed half and half with water with a raw egg yolk added to one cup of this. I don't believe them. Egg yolk is NOT intended for vegetarian animals. For further proof, according to the nationwide survey mentioned elsewhere in this web page, commercial formulas have been responsible for the admitted 80% mortality rate in baby bunnies, so perhaps it's the egg yolk that kills them that they refuse to recognize.

    The following alternate method to feed and quotation is from Stephanie:

    "There are so many "if's" with baby bunnies. Their digestive systems are so sensitive. I have found that the sweeter the milk, the better they do for some reason. Their mothers' milk is very thick and rich, which is why I believe they are fed or need to be fed in the nest, only 2 times daily.

    I have heard that goats' milk is best, but I've never tried this. The acidophilus in the yogurt seems to help prevent diarrhea. Dandelion and/or yarrow can be given for diarrhea, should that occasion ever arise. Dried leaves from oak, elm, or willow can also be used -- 2 tbs. added to one gallon of water, but dandelion is easier to come by since it can be found at Wal-Mart or in health food stores.

    Also, keeping the baby upright while feeding is really important as baby bunnies can aspirate more quickly than any other mammal. I feed as much as they will take and I like to see rounded stomachs when they are done. Sometimes they need to be coaxed a little just to get them going. Only handle them when feeding, and then leave them alone and in a quiet and dark place.

    When taking them out to feed, baby rabbits can jump out of your hands -- mainly to get away from you! They are quick and before you know it, they are on the floor and the damage is done. They die within a day, usually of internal injuries. They are so scared of human contact that they would rather die than be touched!

    And another important note that many people can go by: If they have a little white star on their head (the cottontails), they need the formula. If the star or white spot on the middle of their foreheads is gone, then people need to put them back where they found them, unless they are injured and bleeding. IF injured or in need of human intervention, then they can put them in a deep box with straw, not hay (it molds quickly) along with clumps of grass and dandelion. Also a sprinkle of commercial rabbit food on the floor of the box is fine. They do not use food dishes! Put their water in a shallow pan. I hope this helps just a little. I have found that with all these precautions they really do come along nicely.

    Most of them need to be coaxingly fed to get them on-track. That is why I say that they can aspirate quickly. They don't seem to do the 'sneeze' thing like the squirrels do to clear the bubbles from their noses. They actually breathe it in causing them to aspirate. That is why it is imperative that people go extremely slowly when feeding baby rabbits.

    The Catac nipple works but there's a trick to it. What I do is to cut off 3/4ths of the bottom of the nipple, making it look more like the mother's nipple. I then attach the bottom end (not the upper, rolled part) to the end of a tiny syringe, and to make the nipple stay on, I use a twist tie. This keeps it from flying off the end of the syringe. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to get the air out, forgetting to hold the nipple in place, and it goes flying across the room with the milk squirting all over. Yes.....fun, fun fun! Try that at 5 in the morning! I found that by doing the nipple modification, the rabbits really appreciate the effort!

    I then put it by their mouths and gently squeeze the syringe, and they will smack their little mouths to swallow the liquid. I find that when they are really tiny, the nipples I get are soooooooooooo long, that they swallow half of it before they get to suck. Why don't they make these nipples smaller? hmmmmm. I can't imagine any animal getting the right sucking action from these. Anyway, unlike the squirrels that I put to a larger nipple at about 7 weeks, I keep the rabbits on the same nipple because they mature much younger than the squirrels, even though they look so small.

    Unlike squirrels, rabbits are weaned between 4 - 6 weeks. The little white star on their forehead or lack of it, is just another tell-tale sign of their age.

    Also, a bunny's nose is extremely sensitive, and should they fall, because they "catapult', they sometimes (more often than people think) land on their faces. This causes them to bleed from their noses and mouths. Obviously not good, and they, more often than not, die from this fall. So, here's what I suggest to all the bunny people. If you want a hoppy (hee-hee!) healthy bunny, sit on the floor and feed them. Then you don't have to worry about falls. Wrapping them up in a blanket with just their heads sticking out also works. This way they think they're still hiding!"

    And yet more suggestions from Kim in Maryland:

    Their formula should be Scalded Milk, Vitamin E oil and plain yogurt. The big dollop of yogurt is added right before feeding so it does not spoil. Sugar in their formula can cause diarrhea, so don't put any in there!

    As soon as their droppings are ROUND and HARD -- (infant droppings are thready and softer) -- this is usually NO YOUNGER than 4 weeks -- begin introducing old fashioned rolled oats along with a premium rabbit pellet (ie, Brown's) that has the Lactobacilllus they so desperately need, and SMALL pinches at first of alfalfa hay, always fresh daily, to provide roughage. Don't overdo the alfalfa. CONTINUE feeding formula as they begin on solids. Weaning can take another 1-2 weeks. Even after they are eating on their own and fully weaned, continue to provide little capfuls of fresh plain yogurt.

    If a rabbit should come down with diarrhea, STOP ALL SOLIDS IMMEDIATELY, Continue with formula. Dehydration is rapid and can be fatal within a few hours with very young weaning rabbits if their weaning is not monitored.

    Spread out an old blanket or towels and feed and visit with baby rabbits ON THE FLOOR where it is impossible for them to fall. Even a 6-inch drop on their heads will very often give them a serious injury to the neck or spine that will kill them within a day or so. DO NOT let young children handle, or, for that matter, inexperienced adults. Baby rabbits spook easily and will jump out of your hands or lap too quickly to prevent injury.

    (Me back again!) If one is ever needed, a home-made oral rehydrating solution is much less expensive than the sometimes chemically-altered, preservative-filled, commercial brands available: It's composed of 1/2 cup water with 3/4ths teaspoon of sugar and 1/4th teaspoon of salt added. This is a 2 and 1/2% solution as compared to the 5% Lactated Ringers' type and is intended to be given orally, NOT injected (Well, duh!) since it is not considered sterile enough for that. I'm not sure how often it needs to be made up fresh, but I should think it can be given at least two or three times before a new batch is made, kept in the refrigerator between times, of course.

    Later on you can keep a bowl of rabbit pellets mixed with rolled oats (oatmeal) out for them at all times. Best not to buy any grocery store pellets since the turnover is so slow -- we don't know how long they've been sitting on the shelf "unbought". (Feed stores may have fresher supplies.) I've always been leery of any commercial pellets with orange and green things in them.

    A small amount of spinach is fine, too, as are any types of fruits and vegetables (same things we give the squirrels) -- these should be added gradually as they get older and start eating more and more solid food. Parsley, broccoli, and Romaine lettuce are good for later on, too, though they may be a bit strong tasting for tiny ones, just as they are too strong in the beginning for baby squirrels.

    A domestic bunny I had for years even ate my Nutballs, asked for his 3 daily, as well as his daily walnut or pecan -- I joke that he must have thought he was a big squirrel!

    They can eat most anything fresh that our squirrels do except for avocado, mushroom, and radishes none of which are recommended, though they do eat radish tops, parsley, and carrot tops which most squirrels eschew.

    A small handful of Timothy hay later on for them to munch on daily provides some of the roughage they need to keep intestinal passages clear.

    Bunnies can be very deceptive about how active they are. They are nighttime creatures and will rest during the day. They will often be very still when you are looking them -- this is one of their natural defense mechanisms, a survival technique. They tend to be shocky and need to be kept in a very quiet place away from children, away from noise, with something to hide under or in such as small blankets and/or a small cardboard box and should never be handled by children who can so easily and unintentionally crush them.

    Water can be made available later on in a shallow crockery bowl. A salt block for them to lick will also be appreciated when they are older. An apple tree twig, if not sprayed with pesticide or fertlizer can also be given for them to chew on, to keep their teeth filed down if you wish.

    Some people don't let theirs go until they're around 6 months old and survival skills have kicked in, just as we do with the squirrels. They need a time when the weather is good and no storms are predicted. In the late afternoon or early evening is best, but make sure they've had a good supper beforehand.

    Return toThe Beginning...

    Sugar Gliders

    Because of so much misinformation out there and due to the increasing amount of email I've received lately, the issue of the care and feeding of Sugar Gliders needs to be addressed.

    Much of what applies to Flying Squirrels (see that particular section elsewhere on my web page) can also be applied to Sugar Gliders, even though these are marsupials. They, as with possums, are also prone to rickets (a defective bone condition), going down in their back legs (muscle weakness), and an untimely death when the diet is lacking in calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D.

    They can certainly be kept on a strictly vegetarian diet with a small piece of a Nutball (about 1/4th or more of a one-inch square daily) and nuts to supply their daily protein needs. Walnuts seem to be preferred by them more than pecans but either or other types will also suffice. Occasionally, a small piece of canned chicken meat or part of a hard-boiled egg yolk may be given, if desired, but are not necessary for optimum health.

    Bird seed is not a suitable food. Commercial foods are never recommended since all block calcium absorption by the body. Even though they do prefer fruits, as do the flying squirrels, some vegetables are well-accepted. Scalded Milk, of course (with no Karo or other added sugar) and with a nice glop of plain yogurt added to the milk, is recommended for any still-nursing baby or any juvenile or adult suffering from a calcium/magnesium deficiency. For these latter two types, my Banana Milk Shake is recommended since it is one of the quickest ways to get calcium and magnesium working in the body and for healing to begin.

    Bugs and insects are never recommended because of the oocysts and protozoa and other "ooey-ooey's" within!

    Toting them around all day (during their "nighttime") is neither necessary nor recommended to promote bonding. (As with what I've said about flying squirrels, how would we like it if some monster hauled us around all night when we were trying to get our restful sleep!)

    (Not "The End". Just waiting for more questions to come!)

    Return toThe Beginning...

    General Information

    • Squirrels do not breed in captivity. Oftentimes the "hugs" they give each other in play, joy and love can be mistaken for breeding behavior. In nature, gray squirrels can (but don't always) breed before they are a year old (like cats), but fox squirrels are around two years old before they mate or breed. When male fox squirrels come in season, they can manifest a complete behavior change, becoming quite nasty and testy and unpredictable. Females who are injured and are rescued and captured while pregnant as a rule will not care for their young when they give birth in captivity: The babies have to be hand raised.
    • They are sexed like dogs and horses. If you are not sure what you have, you probably have a little girl.
    • Fox squirrels and gray squirrels do NOT inter-breed. There is no such thing as a cross-breed in squirreldom any more than there is in birds. Some foxes can have a white tummy, due to the white recessive gene some carry; Eastern grays can go through a red or russet color phase when young -- Westerm Grays don't. These colorations change as they molt or shed twice a year. The melanistic black coloration or version of both foxes and the Eastern grays can be found in different parts of the U.S. and Canada.
    • Shedding "officially" occurs twice a year, but actually they shed all year round. Some of the young can lose fur symmetrically their first year. This shedding is normal and can occur in captivity as well as out in nature up north in the winter months, in the snow, to the point that they can become quite bald symmetrically in places --(this is NOT mange in spite of what some uninformed rehabbers continue to tell the public)! (More about shedding or fur loss can be found under the Common Sense Squirrel Tips section.)
    • Prairie dogs are squirrels, too -- the ground kind, since their bodies and legs are not built for climbing trees, nor are their teeth intended to crack nuts. Their needs for calcium are the same -- equally critical -- as for tree squirrels. They thrive on the same vegetarian diet for tree squirrels (nuts, fruits, vegetable, Nut Balls, and Scalded Milk with a good glob of yogurt in twice a day) -- for young or old.
    • Squirrels don't "forget" where they've buried nuts in the yard (memory has nothing to do with it). Their acute sense of smell is the determining factor in locating nuts underground.
    • Gray squirrels are more vocal and have a much higher metabolic rate than fox squirrels who are generally more "laid back" in temperament. [I have an idea that those who grump and growl and screech (!) are less prone to biting than the more silent ones.] The little Douglas Reds have an even higher metabolic rate than the grays. Grays also seem to live longer than the foxes (IF they look before they leap!) since they are hardier. When mature, fox squirrels are more aloof and elusive, loners by nature, whereas grays, in a natural setting, tend to cluster more. Flying squirrels (nocturnal and rarely seen by most people for this reason) are colony animals, as are prairie dogs and chipmunks.
    • Fox squirrels "chuck-chuck" with pleasure both to their natural mothers and adoptive ones. Gray squirrels purr (perhaps this is why they are called "cat" squirrels???).
    • I suspect baby squirrels oftentimes end up on the ground alone and seemingly abandoned because they have been suckling on Mama and don't let go until she's left the nest and has gone out on a limb. Unless he screeches, Mama is unaware anything has happened. (Most Mama squirrels can't count! When she returns to the nest and one out of three is gone, she finds nothing amiss!) They don't throw their babies out of the nest or reject them when sick or injured, as birds do, but sometimes a rogue male will toss the babies out when he (rudely!) needs a place to take a nap and if mama isn't around to guard her babies and run him off.
    • Gestation takes about 6 weeks (44 days). Squirrels normally breed twice a year, spring and fall, no matter what the temperature throughout the U.S. or in the rest of the world. The grays and foxes can have anywhere from 2 to 5 in a litter, with 2 to 3 being the average. The little Douglas reds and flying squirrels may have as many as 6 in a litter. -- There is no such thing as a "Daddy" in squirreldom as some uninformed so-called "rehabbers" will wrongly tell the public. Mama does it all!
    • A tremendous growth spurt occurs between 6-9 weeks of age (foxes) and 7-10 weeks (grays), during which time their size will triple. Conscientious rehabilitators are more aware of this growth spurt because of the varying ages of babies received during a season. Another growth spurt is between 4 months of age (when they are l/3 grown) and 6 months of age (when l/2 grown). A normal healthy, well-filled-out fox squirrel should weigh l5-l6 ounces (about 1 lb.) when 6 months old, and l and l/2 to 2 pounds when full grown at l year. Grays will weigh 2/3 lb. to l lb. or more when fully matured. There is no such thing as "runtism" in baby squirrels.


    • The following bears repeating: -- That "Put them back out there and let nature take its course" callous cliché put forth by those so-called "rehabbers" and wildlife "rescue" places is nothing but a cop-out, a prime example of the amount of deadwood or amoral, sociopathic murder machines out there now in those wildlife groups, many of whom feed live and uninjured baby birds and squirrels ("free food") to their raptors. There is so much corruption and fear-mongering going on out there now that I have often said, "Who needs foreign terrorists. We have our very own "home grown" variety! -- (Purrrrrrhaps those people need to look up the definition of "rehabilitation" in their little dictionaries!)

      People who echo that phrase ("Let nature take its course.) simply don't know how to care for squirrels, how to keep them alive and healthy short-term or even on a long-term basis because they don't feed properly or haven't got the background experience of raising squirrels at all. Or they're deathly afraid of them, rehabilitators or not! (Some will refuse to take in a baby with eyes open because "it might grump or growl" at them! And we all know how "deadly" grumping and growling can be! -- So silly!)

      Do be aware that all the misinformation and disinformation (deliberate lying, especially now that the toxicity of those commercial formulas has recently been exposed) on those politically-motivated wildlife-group web pages and tacky chat rooms is intended to scare the daylights out of the public so the babies will be turned over to them instead of having people raise them themselves. Lots of cover-ups going on out there, too.

      Too much unnecessary killing is going on now in the world because of man -- pillaging, hacking down of trees and woodlands whimsically or for commercial purposes, not only destroying habitats but wiping out entire squirrel families in the process. Bureaucratic sanctioned and unsanctioned hunting, random shooting solely for target-practice, poisons (not only rodenticides, but fertilizers and pesticides as well), being hit by cars, electricity -- all are man-caused and all take their toll. Fabrications against wildlife are created to justify the collection of bounty money or for culling or mass slaughtering (under the guise of bureaucratic or governmental "Animal Management") -- viz. Prairie dogs, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, deer, squirrels.

      So-called "shelters", whether for domestic animals or wildlife, all over the United States and Canada, are nothing but dead ends in one way or another since most animals are immediately euthanized (murdered) whether healthy or not. The ASPCA admits it kills 9 million cats and dogs a year. Those are just some of the domestic animals they receive or confiscate. No telling how many others -- not just all forms of wildlife -- but other domestic animals such as bunnies and ferrets, etc., are also destroyed since those are not included in their "count". So-called "Animal Rescue" programs on cable or dish TV are nothing but Show Business. Much goes on behind the scenes that the public is never made aware of.

      The hidden agenda of all those State and local agencies is NOT the conservation or preservation of animals but their destruction, their annihilation.

      Those of us who are kind, compassionate, and caring -- the creators and healers in this world -- do need to lend a helping hand when needed in order to counterbalance the cruelties these little ones must endure. We certainly don't let "nature take its course" when a human baby has been abandoned or thrown into a dumpster!

      A few words of caution to any who are considering applying for a license or permit: (A little piece of paper does NOT impart instant knowledge as some arrogant people mistakenly believe.) Some of those manipulative, controlling, politically-motivated wildlife groups have conned and infiltrated at least 4 state Wildlife Departments that I am aware of, causing them to mandate that a certain commercial formula be fed baby squirrels in spite of its recently exposed toxicity. Interestingly enough, and a very "telling thing", is that other mammals and birds are so far "immune" to this ridiculous mandatory "policy". (My, my! What a stir I've caused!) The government has no ethical or moral right to tell us what we can or cannot feed animals in our own homes. I see this as just another step up the ladder to controlling our personal freedom -- our right to privacy being taken away by governmental bureaucracy..

    Return toThe Beginning...

    Squirrel Nest Box

    Hinged front door for easy access for cleaning.

    Hang 10 feet up a tree with hosed wires and large screw eyes.

    Flat top is important. Squirrels won't take 'possession' if they can't splat out on it!

    Wire screwed on to box with large screw eyes to stabilize to tree.

    Put warm, woolly blankets in for the winter.

    Specifications:

    • Flat top to splat out on.

    • 4"x4" square hole cut in top of hinged and locked door for fox squirrels or a 3" x 3" square hole for the grays.
    • Overhang on roof over the entrance hole to keep out rain
      (You can put a piece of burlap or rug over entrance in winter to keep out wind and cold.)

    • Approximately 12" square bottom and 15"-18" tall.
    • Plywood is acceptable. Use 1" or 3/4" wood. Don't varnish or paint because squirrels will chew.
    • Use spring latch so they won't bounce door open.

    Return toThe Beginning...

    Release

    Do NOT put babies outside! Squirrels should not go outside to be reacclimated until right before time to release them -- when they are 5 and 1/2 months or 6 months old for the spring-born babies and 8-9 months for the fall-born babies who are wintered over IN the house -- not in cages outside. Babies and the young are far too vulnerable and fragile and are quite susceptible to getting colds or pneumonia (and dying) from getting chilled or wet, no matter how "warm" the weather may seem to you.

    Squirrels who have not healed 100% from their initial injuries should never be released, nor should those with handicaps since they cannot survive. Some of these incapacitating handicaps are: blindness in one eye (or both, obviously), tooth problems, head injuries which are always permanent, lack of coordination when they are more mature, spinal injuries (broken backs or disjointed spines), or even hip injuries since their climbing abilities are compromised. A more detailed description of these types of injuries can be found under the Common Sense Squirrel Tips section All can certainly live a perfectly viable and comfortable life in captivity and there is absolutely no need to have them euthanized (murdered)!

    Squirrels who are handicapped or unreleasable shouldn't be kept outside since it triggers that need to be free which they cannot have. Outside, they tend to be more skittish, on the alert for danger, unsettled, and what they eat or don't eat is very difficult to monitor.

    For those who choose to release their squirrels, a "gradual" or "slow" release is recommended. This involves setting the cage (with squirrels in it) outside for 3-4 weeks in a sheltered, shaded place (hopefully next to the house) so they can become accustomed to the sounds and elements of the world. This is the least stressful way to reintroduce them back into nature. Squirrels are at least 5 months old or older when intelligence, independence, and survival skills begin to set in, and it is at this time that preparation for release should begin. Survival skills for some of them don't kick in until they're 7 months old.

    Four months of age or even younger (worse!) at 10 weeks of age is entirely too young to release. Not only are they so small at that age that predators can pick them off easily, but they have absolutely no sense of danger, of direction, and very little knowledge of how to fend for themselves without a mother squirrel's guidance. They can also be too trusting of humans and other predators. Six months of age or older for spring-born babies is much preferred because they are smarter, much more aware of what danger is, and are larger and better developed physically to climb trees. Those fall babies who are wintered-over in the house are often 9 to 11 months old when released.

    Releasing too early can be equated to giving a 2-year-old human child the keys to the car and saying, "Have a good life". They are not physically equipped or mentally prepared to take on such a challenge.

    Squirrels who are taken out and dumped somewhere, as some of those callous wildlife-group rehabbers do, are absolutely terrified, as we would be suddenly out on our own in a strange place with no idea where to go for food, water, or shelter, and having to deal with all the harsh dangers of an unknown territory, including those aggressive squirrels who already inhabit that territory and won't tolerate a sudden newcomer. Should they get hurt, they have nobody to turn to or to go to for help. This is a very callous, cruel and inhumane method of getting "rid" of animals that have become "inconvenient" -- "Out of sight, out of mind" -- as they are sent out there only to die.

    The transition to a sheltered place outside may be scary to some squirrels, while others will handle it without a blink. Usually, the first 24 hours out are the most frightening -- squirrels do not like change! -- but after 2-3 days, they should be better adjusted and become more normal and active again, pursuing their "busy-ness".

    While to-be-released squirrels are sitting out there, soaking up the noises and atmosphere of the world, "wild" squirrels may come around to get used to "the new kid on the block", and the to-be-released squirrels can watch them to see where the food supply is and hear the alarm systems other squirrels and the birds (usually blue jays) send out, so they'll get a sense of danger and awareness. They can also see where feeding stations are.

    It's best to release early in the week, on a Monday or Tuesday when all is quiet, no construction noises around and the weather forecast is clear for at least 5 days (no hurricanes, thunderstorms, or fronts predicted) and no holidays forthcoming either! People tend to make a lot of racket that's very unnerving to the squirrels. They need peace and quiet when first venturing forth. When the early-morning wildlife "traffic" has cleared out and captive squirrels have had a substantial breakfast, the cage door is opened and squirrels can come out at their leisure.

    They do need to be monitored closely for the first hour or so, to ensure they stay out of trouble as they explore, and then off and on throughout that day and for the next day or so. By the end of the week, they've got a handle on things and have become rather street-wise. Adult squirrels who have healed from their injuries and are released are already street-wise and tend to run off, as will juveniles who came in older and wiser.

    Squirrels who have been born in the fall and must be wintered over can be released when the weather has settled in the spring (no more cold fronts or storms predicted), nighttime temperatures are reasonable (at least in the upper 60's or 70's), and the trees are fully leafed-out. The trees do need to be ready to receive them since those are their natural habitats.

    Contrary to "popular opinion" (by the uninformed), squirrels do NOT imprint on people. They do (or should) become one-person animals as they grow out of babyhood, not wanting to be handled (clutched), and may continue to remain tame and friendly to us after release if they have been fed properly and treated kindly, but will (or should) flee to the trees when strangers come into the yard but then come back down when those people have gone. They are certainly not like geese who, because of imprinting, must be led home to Canada by a glider! Incidentally, there are plenty of "wild" squirrels out there in nature who have become tame and befriended people in spite of not having been hand-raised, to the point that they will come forth and take food from our fingers or peek in the patio door or window at us asking us "where the 'groceries' are!" I suspect they are trying to show us they are not the "boogie-squirrels" so many people think they are. They quickly learn we are not to be feared either -- some of us, that is!

    If you plan on releasing your squirrels, you shouldn't be handling them even after they've become one-person animals. They don't need to be sent out there thinking people are nice and can be climbed on or jumped on. (People are NOT nice!) Squirrels can or will go up to neighbors or strangers who haven't a clue what a "tame" squirrel is and end up being flung off (a natural reaction), often causing severe head injuries or even death. (These "city" rules don't apply to those who live in the country, far away from any nearby or potentially troublesome neighbors.)

    Those I've taken in who've been handled and treated as "pet squirrels", I've had to keep confined to a cage for as long as 4 to 5 weeks before I could let them go. We can still continue to sweet-talk and hand-feed them while confined. Even with a few of those, the habit of climbing on people hasn't always been so quickly broken, so I've had to put the food down and back off away from them until they learn to go do their "squirrel thing" and take to the trees! Eventually, they do learn to quit climbing on people, but they will continue to come back to us for food hand-outs since they are one-person animals -- or are supposed to be!

    The first 24 hours and the next 2-3 days after release are critical. Newly-released squirrels do need supervision, help if stuck or in a pickle, and back-up feeding which should be provided as long as they need it -- anywhere from 2 feedings to more than 6 or 8 years of hand-outs! One of mine stayed around for 8 1/2 years until she wandered off for a few months but she did return later. Nest boxes of wood with flat tops (see the section on this web page called "Squirrel Nest Box" for a model) are provided for them in trees or if they need to come back to their cages to sleep, they are free to do so.

    If they do not want to come out of their cages immediately, don't make them or force them to do so. If they so desire, they will come out of their own free will. They aren't necessarily going to run off at first either but should slowly (and sometimes ineptly!) explore their new-found territory.

    If they want to come back in the house, let them. Refusing to come out of the cage or wanting to come in the house should tell you they don't want to go -- a symptom of a mild head-injury, that "no go forth" that I've mentioned under the Common Sense section. Those who are kept as unreleasables don't miss what they've never had, particularly when they've come in as babies. Those who come in as handicapped adults settle in fairly quickly to a safe life in captivity, knowing they'll never be hurt again.

    Not only is back-up food provided, but also sources of water should be scattered around on the ground. Squirrels cannot easily get to free-standing birdbaths unless they are only inches away from tree trunks, so water in dishes, bowls, or plant saucers on the ground or on top of empty cages are recommended.

    Oftentimes newly-released squirrels will come back to their cages at night to sleep. I've had them return as long as 6 weeks, so it's best to change nothing in their cages to ensure they continue to return as long as they wish. When they do return, cage doors should be locked at night for their own safety and protection against possible nighttime predators and doors reopened the next morning after a hearty breakfast so they can go forth again.

    Squirrels are all different. We never know what they are going to do when released. There are no guarantees. Generally speaking, those who are fall-born, spring-released will stay around in our yards much longer (sometimes for years!) than the spring-born, summer-released ones do, perhaps because they are older and wiser and know a good thing when they've got it! Some of them will come back in the evening or return the next day. Others may go forth to explore the neighborhood and return 2-3 days or a week later. All we can do is be patient and wait, continuing to put food out for them in case they do return when we aren't there to hand-feed them.

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    A Summary
    by Clarissa Summers

    Of all the calls and email I receive from the public and other rehabilitators, the most common cause of death in squirrels is a severe calcium/magnesium deficiency. I cannot stress enough the critical importance of calcium in the squirrel's diet. In captivity, calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D are supplied by the Scalded Milk formula when babies are young and by one of MY Nutballs daily when they are older. In commercial formulas (made from adulterated cow's milk and cow's milk products), as well as in any commercial vitamin/mineral preparation, the critical ingredient most often missing or excessively low is magnesium, without which calcium cannot be absorbed by the body. The proper ratio of calcium to magnesium is 2 to 1 (or more).

    Phosphorus should NEVER be given as a dietary supplement -- it tends to make squirrels (and people, too!) nervous. An overload of phosphorus can lead to death. Also to be taken into consideration are calcium-blocking fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as have been mentioned elsewhere in this page.

    Failure to meet these nutritional requirements can result in sudden "unexplained" death at any time. Other symptoms of a calcium deficiency are rickets, broken bones that will not heal properly or quickly in 7-l0 days, muscular weakness and deterioration (quietly and quickly going down in back legs), tooth problems, crabbiness, hyperactivity, nastiness, attacking, biting, and convulsions and seizures which can lead to death.
    An unfortunate cycle occurs when people do not feed properly and calcium is insufficiently supplied: Nasty attitudes evoke fear in the human caretaker who then releases young squirrels far too early to fend for themselves, long before their survival skills have developed at around 6 months of age. These rarely survive.

    Contrary to "popular opinion", there is no such thing as "lactose intolerance" in squirrels. I have taken in well over 2,500 squirrels in the last 20 years and have never found even one (young or old) who was "allergic" to Scalded Cow's Milk. All mammal milk contains lactose. Also, I have never found it necessary to do the "Pedialyte thing" with baby squirrels, even with those severely dehydrated who have been away from Mama for at least 6 days. Yes, they do need fluids and nutrition, and Scalded Milk supplies both.

    A squirrel's nature is basically shy and timid, sweet and gentle, when properly nourished and cared for. Each new arrival (baby or adult) , I wrap in a blanket and cuddle, love, and pet, warming against my heart before they are put on a heating pad. They are all (babies and adults) very responsive to a soothing touch which helps ease them past their recent traumas. I do the same after each feeding to boost their immune systems and help promote rapid healing. This extra loving attention at a critical time when they need it has nothing to do with "making a pet out of them"! The time comes with many of them, after babies and adults are weaned and healed that handling is no longer needed or wanted.

    Our squirrel numbers are diminishing and have been for the last 35 years, partially due to over-hunting, poisons, pesticides and fertilizers, and, lately, to their not breeding and reproducing as prolifically as they should. Man fears what he does not understand. What he fears he tries to kill or eliminate since he obviously feels threatened in some way by these little one- or two-pound animals (his fear of being out of control, perhaps?). So silly!

    Squirrels have so many wonderful functions for us, mainly as healers. We heal them and they heal us in return! They bring people of like minds together and seem come to people in their time of greatest need for healing -- after they've just buried an old cherished pet or a dear family member or when someone's been given bad news about a debilitating disease. And, they all live in the "now" which we ourselves are supposed to be doing! They are very quick to forgive and forget when they've gotten mad -- only stay "mad" for about 5 minutes when they feel they've been "wronged" or are ticked off about something. Wonderful little animals who have much to teach us!

    Squirrels should be nurtured and cherished for the unique, sweet and gentle little animals they are. As nature goes, so does man. When man lives in peace and harmony with nature, he also has peace and harmony within. If you are kind to Mother Nature, She will be kind to you. (The reverse is also quite true!)

    Those of us who practice proper nutrition and handling have phenomenal success rates. Love and labor go hand in hand in rehabilitating these gentle little animals. We need not betray their trust.



    .....and I'm not finished yet. Just waiting for more questions to come!

    You can email me at Clarissa

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