In many parts of the country, animal hospitals and other wildlife resources are dealing with an influx of baby squirrels. That’s why experts are dubbing this time of year, ‘baby squirrel season.’
“We are at the height of baby season right now. Squirrels breed twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, so every tree trim, every tree that you take down is very likely to end up with orphaned wildlife,” said Florida Wildlife volunteer Becky Goodman to WCJB. Goodman has been involved with rescuing wildlife for more than two decades.
Throughout her experience with wildlife rescue, Goodman says she has rehabilitated ‘hundreds’ of squirrels, who are actually much smarter than people often give them credit for. In fact, squirrels may lose up to 25% of their buried nuts to thieves. That’s why they practice “deceptive caching,” meaning they pretend to bury food to throw thieving critters off the scent of their buried hoard.
If you see an orphaned baby squirrel at this time of year, it can seem tempting to take it in and treat it as you would a hamster or guinea pig. While well intended, Goodman says this isn’t the best course of action.
“A wild animal should, unless there’s no other option, be kept wild unless there’s no other option,” Goodman said.
Instead, use these educational tips from Laura Hawkins, executive director of The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. Hawkins says they’ve received about 180 baby squirrels in the past four weeks alone.
The ‘baby squirrel season’ spans from early August through October, when squirrels have their second litter of the year. If you come across a baby orphaned squirrel, it’s always best to bring it to a wildlife rehabilitation facility. Don’t try to feed it anything like food or milk. If needed, you can give the baby squirrel some water in moderation. If the squirrel doesn’t seem injured, leave it where you found it, keep a close watch over it, and see if its mother comes to retrieve it within an hour. When in doubt, however, take the squirrel to a wildlife rehabilitation clinic to receive professional medical care.
“Our goal is to always get them back into the wild, so they can continue to live a wild life,” Hawkins told ABC7.