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When Do Baby Squirrels Leave The Nest: A Guide To Reunification And Safekeeping



During the squirrel baby season, discovering a nest of baby squirrels in your garage, shed, or attic can be a surprising and initially worrying situation. Nestled within the nooks of your abode, you may stumble upon a sweet and astonishing sight—a huddle of baby squirrels fiercely protected by the warmth of their kin. These little ones, born amidst the safety of your garage or attic, spend their first several weeks in the company of siblings under the doting care of mother squirrels. As vulnerable as hungry, their earliest chapters are written high above ground, where watchful eyes safeguard their growth. In time, these babies will venture forth, propelled by the call of the wild, yet until then, they raise their timid heads toward the life-giving sustenance that only a mother can provide. In this guide to reunification and safekeeping, we pause to consider the delicate dance between human encounters and the natural pulse of squirrel nurturing—a timely reminder that our shared spaces are a temporary canvas for the intimate brushstrokes of wildlife raising their young.


Understanding Squirrel Behaviour and Instincts


Squirrels are exemplary in their care for their young, often going to great lengths to ensure their safety. At the beginning of spring, after mating season, healthy baby squirrels are brought into the world with an instinctual prowess that is as fascinating as it is vital. These warm and fuzzy infants are born into an environment where feeding and foraging are activities and survival skills crucial for their sustenance. When they open their eyes, these energetic beings are primed to engage in an intricate ballet of leaps and dashes. In cases where a nest is accidentally uncovered or disturbed, a mother squirrel will usually return to retrieve her offspring, transferring them to a more secure location if necessary. How squirrels raise their young is a testament to their species' resilience, defying the odds to eat, grow, and thrive. Their behaviours are imbued with instincts developed over generations, readying each squirrel for the juggling act of life's challenges and acorns. If you have a momma squirrel and babies in your attic, contact AAA Affordable Wildlife Control for information, advice, and pricing.




Immediate Steps if the Baby Squirrel Nest is Uncovered but Unmoved


Preserving the Nest Site


  • Maintain Access: In a quiet, secluded space on your property, you might hear the faint sounds of new life—a squirrel nest woven by a fiercely protective mom cradling her precious litter. Discovering such a family calls for mindful actions. It's crucial to preserve their sanctuary, their haven. To do so, maintain open access to all possible entries—the open window on your shed, the forgotten gap beneath a roof tile—you are the steward of these entryways. If these paths are barred, the little ones could face a dire fate, separated from their mother's warmth. Imagine the desperation of mothers in nature, tirelessly safeguarding their kin. Your empathy in maintaining the integrity of their dwelling doesn't just resonate with the spirit of humane practices; it echoes the heartfelt principle of 'live and let live.' Choosing not to isolate and evict these tiny, tenacious beings humanely spares you heartache and further expenses.

  • Provide Space: If, on your property, you stumble upon such a nest, your immediate steps can mean the difference between survival and sorrow for these tiny creatures. Firstly, hold back the urge to intervene – scaring the mama squirrel away could sever her vital connection with her vulnerable offspring. Provide a sanctuary of space by minimizing human activity, creating a bubble of tranquillity for the family to reunite. Remember, a nearby shed or garage left ajar is an open invitation for a nursemaid squirrel to seek refuge from prying eyes.

  • Safety Considerations: If you come across a squirrel nest, take a moment to assess with a heart full of care and a mind aware of the creatures' well-being. The urgency to act must be tempered with thoughtfulness. It is often best to keep watch from afar, ensuring no cats, dogs, pets, or children disrupt this nursery of the trees. These little squirrels, eyes yet to open to the world, need about 12 weeks to muster the courage for independence. By allowing the circle of life to spin untouched in the safety of the shed, we can honour the rhythm of nature, it is advisable to have a professional wildlife control company remove them or to allow the squirrel family to remain until the babies are independent, typically around 10-12 weeks of age.


When Relocation of a Squirrel Nest is Necessary


  • Humane Tips: For situations where the current location is not viable long-term, such as an attic with electrical wiring at risk, refer to guidance on some humane methods for encouraging the mother to relocate her nest. As new life begins in the Spring, mother squirrels diligently weave their nests, preparing for the birth of the pups. Yet, when her chosen crib is a human's attic, strewn with electrical wires that hum with danger, the scene demands a quick decision. It’s during these early weeks of nesting, as the squirrels are still too young to venture outside, that the actions of compassionate homeowners can steer the course of life. Rather than scare or coldly evict, it is imperative to call in wildlife experts, those attuned to both human safety and animal wellbeing. They will provide humane strategies that will prompt the mother to relocate naturally, carrying her pups (one by one) to a safer abode, ensuring that the cycle of new beginnings continues.




Protocol for Removed Nests


Ensuring Immediate Care for the Babies


  1. Containment: When dealing with removed nests, it's important to prioritize the needs of the vulnerable squirrel babies. Most squirrels give birth to their babies in nests around four to six weeks of age, and if the nest is disturbed or removed, it's crucial to take immediate action to rescue and care for the babies. To ensure their safety, it's recommended to carefully contain the babies in a small, secure box lined with a soft towel or t-shirt to provide comfort. With proper care and attention, these tiny creatures can thrive and grow into strong, healthy squirrels.

  2. Temperature Regulation: When dealing with removed nests, it's important to keep the well-being of the young ones at the forefront of our minds. Baby squirrels are especially vulnerable to the weather and cannot regulate their body temperature. In the absence of their mother squirrels, it's crucial to introduce a gentle heat source to keep them warm. Options like microwaving a sock filled with warmed, uncooked rice or a plastic bottle filled with hot water wrapped in a cloth for safety can help ensure that these wee ones stay cozy and comfortable. With half the battle being won by regulating their temperature, it's now easier to provide the immediate care they need.

  3. Avoid Feeding: When handling removed nests, one of the most important things to remember is ensuring immediate care for the babies. While it can be tempting to try to provide food or water to the litter, this can be very dangerous and ultimately lead to the baby's death. Instead, it's important to maintain warmth in a calm, dark environment. This can help keep the babies safe and comfortable, even if they have been separated from their mom or the rest of their litter. And remember, this protocol isn't just important for squirrels - it's essential for all kinds of animals, especially those at risk of getting cold or hungry without proper care.



Steps to Reunite with the Mother

Positioning the Box:


When rescuing baby squirrels, the first step is correctly positioning the box. Mothers are fiercely protective of their babies, and they're always on the lookout for predators. If you come across baby squirrels and move them to a new spot, they get extremely agitated if the moms can’t find their babies for any reason. Therefore, placing the box as close as possible to where the original nest was or where the mother used to enter and exit with her young ones regularly is essential. By doing so, the mother has a better chance of locating her babies and reuniting with them.



Patience and Observation:


Reuniting baby squirrels with their mother can be challenging, but with patience and observation, reuniting them successfully is possible. If you find abandoned baby squirrels, the first step is to ensure they stay warm by keeping them in a safe and sheltered place with a microwaved sock of uncooked rice. While waiting for the mother to return, you can try utilizing a squirrel distress call recording to attract the mother. Giving the mother up to 24 hours to return is vital, as adult squirrels often leave their babies alone for extended periods while they forage for food. Remember, the reunion process takes time, and survival skills are necessary for a baby squirrel to learn.



Environmental Considerations:


Finding one squirrel baby alone and seemingly lost can be a heart-wrenching experience, but it's important to remember that it's not always necessary to intervene. If the baby appears healthy and well-fed, the mother is likely nearby and simply out-gathering food for them to eat. If you decide to intervene, it's crucial to ensure you reunite the baby with its mother. This can be done by placing the baby in a secure box in the same location where it was found. In high-traffic areas, keeping the box secured up off the ground is important to protect the babies from other animals or predators. And if there's a light rain, covering the box with a piece of cardboard can keep it dry without hindering the mother’s return. Reuniting baby squirrels with their mom is the best chance for their survival and a heartwarming sight to witness.



Myths Debunked: Handling by Humans


As we approach early spring and squirrel baby season, educating ourselves on how to help tree squirrels who may have lost their young is important. It's a common myth that these animals will reject their babies if humans have touched them, but this couldn't be further from the truth. The mother primarily focuses on keeping her babies warm and safe from predators before they leave the nest. If you come across baby squirrels who look like they were just newly born, it's best to leave them be as they require constant care from their mother. However, if they're a little older and found outside the nest, you can attempt to reunite them with their mother by gently placing them back into the nest during dark hours. Remember to handle them as minimally as possible, and never attempt to raise them on your own as this will ultimately do more harm than good.


When Reunification Fails: Next Steps


Sometimes, despite our best efforts, reunification with the mother squirrel isn't possible. If you've waited 24 hours and there's been no sign of the mother, it's worth considering the possibility that she won't return. She may have gotten stuck in a trap, relocated, or hit by a car. In this situation, keeping the young squirrels warm and safe is important. If they’re newborns, they can have homemade goat milk formula; offering them a slice of fruit can provide some hydration and sustenance for older babies, but it's essential to contact a wildlife rehabilitator for expert advice on what to do next. These trained professionals can provide the necessary care and rehabilitation to help the young squirrels thrive, even if they've been separated from their parents.


Conclusion


Squirrels are fascinating creatures that can bring joy to our daily lives, whether we admire them from afar in the park or catch glimpses of them in our backyards. However, these cute and clever animals can also become a nuisance when they seek shelter in our attics or other human-occupied spaces. In such cases, it's important to address the situation humanely and efficiently without causing harm to the squirrels or damaging the property. Wildlife control professionals can help identify entry points and develop a plan to remove the squirrels and their nest safely. As the temperature rises in summer, it's especially important to act quickly to prevent further damage and ensure both human and animal safety. By respecting the natural behaviors and needs of squirrels, we can take responsible measures to address these unexpected encounters and contribute to the wellbeing of our local wildlife.




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