Squirrels are adorable little creatures characterized by fluffy tails and silky fur. Watching them jump around on the tree branches, eat nuts and corn, and play around can be entertaining. What is more adorable than a squirrel? If you have seen baby squirrels, you will agree that they are the cutest little animals.
Since you came across this article, you must want to learn more about baby squirrels. Whether you are curious about them or even more, find the one fallen on the ground from the tree and do not know what to do. This article will give you the information you are looking for.
Briefly About Squirrels
The size and habitat of the wide varieties set them apart. Squirrels are reportedly present on every continent except Antarctica and Australia. Scientifically, those creatures are known as Sciuridae. Squirrels are renowned for entering extended periods of hibernation.
Some of the most popular squirrel species include the Western gray squirrel, American red squirrel, and Indian giant squirrel. Even though they are wild animals, they have no problems living in urban settings. Additionally, many people also keep squirrels as a pet.
Those little rodents have large eyes, bushy tails, and slender bodies. The fur’s thickness is dependent on the species and environment. Squirrels can be white, black, red, yellow, gray, or brown.
Sharp claws characterize squirrels, and this helps them to climb trees easily and quickly. The size of the squirrels depends on the species and can vary. The smallest-sized squirrel can be around 10cm long. However, the largest ones are between 30 and 50 cm. As for the weight, the weight of the average squirrel ranges from 1.1 kg to 1.5kg.
Squirrel Breeding and Reproduction
Squirrels are polyestrous creatures, meaning that they may have several ovulation cycles every year. Yet, they are receptive for only one day. It depends on the species, but the breeding season of squirrels starts in late December and continues until the end of August. This is affected by the weather, food availability, and the outer environment.
Red squirrels become sexually mature between the ages of nine and eleven months. While some American squirrel females are susceptible to sexual activity as early as six months of age, typically, grey squirrels do not mate until they are one year old.
Additionally, it appears that mating and reproduction are negatively correlated with female abundance. It means that if there are more females in a region, fewer of them are breeding. A baby squirrel is typically born either in November or February. The babies are born in the natal dreys created by mothers. Male squirrels do not take part in raising babies.
The gestation period of squirrels can be 36 to 42 days. The number of babies per litter varies among species. For example, the red squirrels give birth to 4 babies. However, some other species may have up to 7 baby squirrels. Baby squirrels are also called kittens. Babies are born very tiny and only weigh 10 to 18 grams. Gray squirrels have a gestation period of 42 to 45 days and then give birth to 2 to 4 babies. However, typically, the heavier mother has heavier babies.
What Do Baby Squirrels Eat?
Kittens eat their mother’s milk for 50 to 70 days. As for the composition, red squirrel milk is believed to include lactose and protein and has a high amount of fat. Babies start coming out of the womb when they reach the age of six to seven weeks. This is the time when they can also consume solid food. After 10 to 12 weeks from birth, the babies have milk teeth that are fully developed and are weaned.
As the babies grow, they start to consume fruit, fungus, seeds, and nuts. In addition, they consume other plant materials as food. When food is scarce, several animals can also be omnivorous. They are not as predatory and do not eat other animals. These animals prefer to eat eggs, insects, and certain tiny invertebrates as opposed to other foods.
Where Do Baby Squirrels Live?
Natal dreys are frequently out of reach for researchers, and because of their design, it is challenging to investigate them without causing damage. As a result, getting statistics about baby squirrels is extremely challenging.
The squirrel nest is called a drey. In addition to squirrels, other animals, such as ringtail possums, also live and give birth in the dreys. Dreys are built with grass, leaves, and twigs and are incorporated into the tree forks. The dreys are different from the “cavity nests.”
In addition to the dreys, the squirrels can also make attics and abandoned building walls their homes.
What Does a Baby Squirrel Look Like?
Squirrels give birth to altricial young kittens who are born naked, blind, and deaf. The first hairs sprout around 14 days later on the backside, and the fur is fully grown after about three weeks. At around three weeks old, the lower incisors emerge, and a week later, the ears and eyes start to open and function properly.
The upper incisors are “cut” up to 3 weeks from birth, and the lower ones emerge when the babies chew twigs. This activity cuts their teeth. Females show maternal concern and are fiercely protective of their offspring, protecting the drey with vigor and swiftly driving off any intruders.
When the babies reach the age of four months, they start to get the adult coat. The milk teeth are also lost between the ages of 4 and 8 months, and they get replaced by regular, permanent teeth.
The Behavior of a Newborn Baby Squirrel
Typically, mother squirrels are very protective of their offspring. However, not only them but also kittens can become violent if they feel disturbed or threatened. This can happen even before the babies can see or open their eyes.
In some species, such as gray squirrels, once the babies are weaned, they are ready to live on their own. However, in red squirrel species, even after the babies are weaned, the mothers continue to take care of them for an additional two weeks.
After the nursing period ends, the mothers slowly start to get the babies ready for independence. They spend less and less time with their offspring, and try to let them adjust to their freedom slowly. Once the babies are fully grown and leave the drey, the mother moves back into the old drey and leaves the offspring alone.
What To Do If You Found Baby Squirrel On The Ground
When a newborn squirrel is taken care of by its mother, it has the highest chance of surviving. Young squirrels that are occasionally discovered alone and in good health on the ground are not orphans. Instead, they only want assistance in finding their mothers. Mother squirrels frequently “rescue” their healthy infants who have fallen or become disoriented by dragging them back to the dreys by the scruff.
Unlike other rodents like raccoons, the mother squirrels typically will claim their babies during the day. Before the mother approaches, make sure to place the babies in the open box with a heat source to keep them warm. The warm water bottle that is wrapped in a towel will do this job just fine. Make sure that the bottle does not roll around.
If you can see the squirrel nest, do not try to approach it. Instead, put the box underneath the tree where you locate the nest. Yet, if you are not sure which nest the baby squirrel belongs to, place the box underneath the tree nearest to where the squirrel was found. You may harm the baby if you try to feed it.
Put the box and squirrel under the tree for around 5 to 6 hours and observe from a distance. Check once in a while to see whether the mother has taken the baby back into the nest or not. If the baby is still in the box after 6 hours, it is time to take another action.
If you can not locate the mother or if the reunification is not successful, you have to take the baby squirrel away from where you found it. The quickest approach to receiving assistance is often to call the local veterinarian.
If you are instructed to contain the newborn squirrel, you should instantly put it in a safe pet container coated with a towel or piece of newspaper with air holes. However, note that the likelihood of a baby squirrel surviving under human care is very small.
A baby squirrel is an adorable creature; exploring them can be fun and exciting. In this article above, we discussed baby squirrels, their characteristics, behavior, and development.
If you find the baby squirrel on the ground, you can help reunite it with its mother by placing the baby squirrel near the tree it fell from. Mother squirrels will most likely rescue the baby and take it back to their dreys.
Nato is a content writer and researcher with a background in psychology who’s eager to explore the wonders of nature. As a travel enthusiast and animal lover, she hopes to inspire others to discover and cherish the beauty and importance of the natural world.