4. Weaning a Baby Squirrel
Try to continue feeding formula until at least 16 weeks old. At approximately 6 weeks old, you can start to introduce solid foods. What do you feed a baby squirrel? His first solid food should be squirrel blocks. We recommend Henry's Healthy Blocks, which are all-natural and 100% nutritionally complete. You may want to cut the blocks into smaller pieces. Offer a fresh piece of block each day until he begins nibbling. Now is the time to add a water bottle to the cage.
Once the baby squirrel is able to chew well, you can introduce vegetables from the Healthy Diet for Pet Squirrels. For the first couple of weeks, you should remove any seeds, pits, skin, or strings, as these can cause choking. You can also introduce small sticks or branches for him to gnaw (oak and maple are good; see the Healthy Diet for Pet Squirrels for lists of safe trees and plants).
During the transition to solid foods do not give nuts, fruit, or treats of any kind. Concentrate on formula, blocks, healthy veggies, and wild foods. It's important they learn to love these healthy foods. Once the squirrel is eating her healthy foods well, you can add limited nuts/fruits/treats according to the Healthy Diet for Pet Squirrels. Follow this diet until the juvenile squirrel is released.
All during this process, continue to offer formula until the squirrel weans himself at around 16 weeks of age. Never wean a baby squirrel off formula; let them wean themselves.
- Blocks should be the baby squirrel's first solid food.
- Be careful to remove any seeds, pits, skin, or strings, as these can cause choking in a baby squirrel.
- Never try to wean a baby squirrel off formula; let them wean themselves.
Caring for an Older Baby Squirrel
By 8-10 weeks old, most babies are ready to graduate to a full-size cage. Make sure the bar spacing is no larger than 3/8 inch wide. If you have a tall cage, place a quilt on the bottom until he can climb well; if you have a two-level cage, you can block off the upper level. You'll need to hang a nest box or nesting cube in the cage so the growing squirrel will have a warm, safe place to sleep. He needs to learn to sleep up off the ground.
Do not use wood chips or shavings as bedding. For a cage with a wire grid bottom, use pieces of fleece or other cloth, which you can wash when soiled. In a flat-bottomed cage, you can use brown paper, paper towels, or paper hamster bedding. Everything in your squirrel's cage should be unscented, and should be washed with Free and Clear unscented detergent.
Your squirrel will need out-of-cage time at least twice daily to run and climb. This is very important for the development of his muscles. If you are thinking about keeping a baby squirrel as a pet, please see the Squirrel Forum for more information.
Common Mistakes with Weaning-Age Baby Squirrels
- Giving nuts, seeds, and fruits as the first solid food. Introduce blocks first, then veggies.
- Weaning off formula too soon. Keep the baby on formula until at least 14-16 weeks old.
- Allowing household pets near the baby. Your dog or cat will kill a baby squirrel in a second.
- Taking the baby outside to "play." In the wild, babies are kept in the nest until 12-14 weeks old, so keep the baby safe inside until he's ready to begin the slow-release process.
- Releasing too soon. Baby squirrels do best if not released until at least 4-6 months old.
- Releasing too late in the fall. In cooler climates, babies that cannot be released by September must be kept over the winter.