Compilation of Resources on Rehabilitating Squirrels
Like many in the Wildlife Rehabilitation field, we too have been fascinated by the many topics and minute details involved with wildlife rehab. This has prompted discussions about rehabilitation and many related topics, including on squirrel rehab (e.g., nutrition, formula, health conditions). This expanded to writing papers on wildlife rehab, including squirrel rehab topics and our 250 page The Squirrel Rehabilitation Handbook (2003 ed.). Over the years, we developed and presented at state, regional and national rehab conferences, as well as our 2-day squirrel rehab seminars around North America. Those prompted even more discussions, learning and problem-solving with rehabilitators. We were recently asked to compile a list squirrel rehab related resources on ewildagain.org to make them easier and faster to access. Here are some papers we wrote, some we co-authored, and other publications written by others. We expect to add more resources as learning continues. Thanks for your commitment to wildlife and learning.
Shirley and Allan Casey
WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation
Natural History Considerations
Utilizing Squirrel Natural History in Rehabilitation Decisions – Knowledge of a species natural history is essential for preparing for and rehabilitating any wildlife. This paper describes how natural history influences rehab decisions for and practices with squirrels, including talking with the public, facilities, diet, caging, health conditions and release. (published in NWRA Wildlife Rehabilitation Resources, 2011)
Tree Squirrels of North America (Steele and Koprowski) – This book provides very useful information on the natural history of tree squirrels by two well respected scientists. For example, quoting the number of parasites on Eastern gray and Fox squirrels can help people finding juvenile squirrels decide to surrender them to rehabilitators.
Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide (Thorington and Ferrell) – Provides wide range of information about squirrel natural history in a question-and-answer format. Well organized, written and illustrated, the authors’ engaging approach and abundant information grabs and keeps the reader’s attention with info about the 278 species of squirrels.
Squirrels of the West (Hartson) – This is a reference guide to squirrels or related species found in the western US. Includes basic natural history, size, habitats, and nesting and maps of home range for 65 species – with illustrations of the adult squirrels. Helpful for identification.
Squirrels of the World (Thorington, Koprowski, Steele, Whatton) – The 285 species of squirrels share common features, like teeth and jaw muscles. After an overview of taxonomy, paleontology, anatomy, ecology, this 450-page reference book provides species accounts, including description, behavior, habitat, conservation status, and threats. Fascinating reference for those curious about squirrels around the world.
Considering Squirrel Health
A Survey of Common Conditions Seen in Wildlife Admitted to Rehabilitation - Experienced rehabilitators were surveyed to collect information on common conditions in wildlife admitted to rehabilitation. The charts provide an overview of conditions seen in all species, as well as by types of animals (small mammals, raptors, etc.). Familiarity with these can help a wildlife rehabilitator understand common conditions that might occur, learning how to identify them, making plans for diagnosis and treatments, having supplies available (i.e., supplemental heat sources, rehydration fluids), etc. This paper does not describe treatments. (Published in NWRA Conference Proceedings, 2000)
Aspiration in Juvenile Squirrels: Etiologies, Treatments, Prevention – Unfortunately, respiration problems are common in juvenile squirrels, often unrecognized and can be fatal. Some young squirrels arrive with respiratory problems due to feeding by a finder or other well-meaning helpers. Other squirrels may develop breathing problems during rehabilitation. This paper describes causes of aspiration, possible treatments and easy ways to prevent the problem from initially developing. Photos of lactating squirrels and possible rehab feeding utensils are provided. (published in NWRA Wildlife Rehabilitation Resources, 2011)
Tips to Prevent Aspiration in Juvenile Squirrels (PDF) - Juvenile squirrels in rehab may show respiratory conditions after being fed by a well-intentioned rescuer. While less common, respiratory conditions may develop in a rehab facility - especially when newer people are feeding the young squirrels and during a very busy season. This brief article offers some reminders to help prevent and reduce respiratory conditions resulting from feedings by both new and experienced volunteers and rehabilitators. (2023)
Wildfire Smoke Impacts Wildlife and Rehab (PDF). Wildfire smoke has affected large areas and millions of people during 2023, in some cases thousands of miles from the location of the wildfires. This short article explains emerging research on ways some of these harmful micro-particulates may affect wildlife, result in significant respiratory and cardio-vascular conditions and affect populations. It also identifies some of the action steps rehabilitators may consider when admitting wildlife in respiratory distress. The short resource list will be expanded as new research emerges. (2023)
Twelve Common Causes of Squirrel Stool Problems – Some young squirrels in rehabilitation develop problems with stool. This paper briefly describes what ‘normal’ squirrel stool looks like for different species. It then describes common causes of GI upset which allows the rehabilitator to prevent such problems, such as avoiding overfeeding by amount and frequency, as well as treating for endoparasites. (published in NWRA Wildlife Rehabilitation Resources, 2011)
When Pets Attack Wildlife: What Happens – Part 1– Many wild animals, including squirrels, are presented to rehabilitation as result of cat and dog attacks. This paper describes what can happen when the wild animals are attacked, along with illustrations. It can help rehabilitators know what to look for when the wild animal may have been attacked, including wounds and injuries that may be obscure or difficult to notice. (published in NWRA Bulletin, 2013)
When Pets Attack Wildlife: What to Do – Part 2 – Wild animals attacked by pets may have minor or severe health problems. This paper describes both conventional and holistic treatments considered by veterinarians and rehabilitators. It is not a substitute for working with a veterinarian. (published in NWRA Bulletin, 2013)
Etiologies and Treatments of Genital Injuries in Juvenile Squirrels – Some juvenile squirrels are presented to rehabilitation with genital injuries from falls or attacks by pets. In other cases, the
injuries may be a result of their trying to ameliorate hunger or dehydration. This paper describes possible causes and effective treatments (published in NWRA Wildlife Rehabilitation Resources, 2011).
Bordetella in Squirrels – Certainly more are familiar with Bordetella (i.e., Kennel cough) in dogs, this highly contagious bacterium is found in many other species, including cats, rabbits and rodents – and that includes squirrels. This paper describes Bordetella transmission, symptoms (more than respiratory) and progression in squirrels. It also describes possible treatments and ways to prevent or reduce transmission in a rehabilitation facility.
Substitute Milk Formulas and Powdered Milk Replacers – The milk replacer powders used to make formulas have and will continue to change. There are also many changes in knowledge about ingredients, products, reconstitution methods and more. As a result, formula issues are being studied, and new data collected, analyzed and incorporated into upcoming papers. Subsequently, no specific formula recipes to feed squirrels are provided here. This site does, however, provide many resources to help review and assess info on squirrel milk, available products (including comparison of products and results) and recipe options to make their own informed decisions. The website also provides essential information on formula preparation – which significantly improves or reduces the animal’s ability to utilize the formula and affect health. We believe rehabilitators need more than a formula recipe in making decisions – hence providing information to support that.
Rodent chow update. An analysis of chow products first published in 2003 has now been updated and expanded to 39 available products. It addresses many common questions including: Should I use rodent chow, or not? Which products are designed for growing animals? Which products have the most fat? What are the ingredients? What about protein content, and calcium and phosphorus? How should I properly store them? And much more.
Getting Squirrels to Eat Rodent Chows - Some rehabilitators say their older juvenile and squirrels in rehab refuse to eat rodent chow. This short article describes reasons that may occur (e.g., poor quality rodent chow, making too many treats available (i.e., high in fats or sugars), old or spoiled product, or the rehabilitator ‘gives in’ to squirrel ‘begging’. (Coming soon)
Caging and Facilities
Considerations and Plans for Indoor Cages for Squirrels – This paper describes essential considerations for cages for juvenile squirrels, as well as recovering adults. It covers factors such as designing for health, age, safety, and cleaning. It includes examples of practical and inexpensive indoor cage plans. (published in NWRA Wildlife Rehabilitation Resources, 2011).
Design and Plans for Small Mammal Cage – This paper offers a small indoor 2-page cage plan that is inexpensive, and easy to make – and to easily modify based on the species needs and animal’s condition.
Additional Helpful Topics
Modifying a Feeding Nipple for Squirrels in Rehabilitation – Most rehabilitators feed young squirrels with a small syringe (1cc or 3cc). Since the plastic nozzle/tip of those syringes are different from the shape, size or texture of the mother squirrel’s teat, the young squirrels may have difficulty adjusting to eating from the syringe. Some of the nipples marketed to be placed and used on feeding syringes are longer than the mother squirrel teats, potentially resulting in the young squirrels aspirating when they are fed with an improperly sized nipple. The modified feeding nipple described in this paper more closely matches the mother squirrel’s teat size, is soft in texture, easy to clean and low cost.
Arranging for a Necropsy for a Wild Animal: Reasons and Procedures. Rehabilitators often attribute the cause of the death of a squirrel in rehab to circumstances or obvious physical signs. In other cases, they want further info about the cause. This paper describes steps, resources, and options for necropsies that don’t ‘break the budget.’
Tips for Reuniting Juvenile Squirrels with the Mother. Coming soon.