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In reality, you shouldn’t feed a baby squirrel at all, and there are a number of reasons for this. To start with, feeing a baby squirrel that you have found is likely to reduce the chances of the mother coming back to find and then claim her young. Squirrels and other wild critters will move their children from one unsafe nesting spot to a safer one, should they feel there is danger present. A female squirrel can’t possible carry all of her young in one go, especially if she has three or four of them, so she will take multiple trips, moving them one by one. If this is the case, that baby has just been dropped or left there for a moment and the mother will come back.
There are other reasons why a squirrel might be orphaned – it might have fallen from the nest or in, wandered off and gotten lost. Again, there is a chance that the mother will come back to claim her baby, but if you move it, she won’t be able to do this – she won’t be able to find it.
Mothers will sometimes leave their young behind if they can sense that something is wrong. This might not be immediately obvious to you or I, but the mother will know. It could be that the squirrel baby has become injured or isn’t progressing as fast as the rest of the litter, or perhaps them other even knows or senses somehow that her young is diseases. Either way, if she realises that there is very little point in trying all of her efforts to keep it alive, she may leave it behind. This may seem like a cruel practice, but it’s part of nature. Many mothers will abandon a weak ‘runt of the litter’ in order to keep her stronger babies alive.
We do not recommend that you feed a squirrel that you have found, whether it is a baby or an adult. If the animal has a disease, you are putting yourself in the direct line of danger. If that squirrel is scared, lost, or maybe even sick or injured, it is likely to be aggressive and feisty. If you get too close to a baby squirrel and the mother sees this, there is a chance that she could attack you.
There are just so many scenarios where it all goes wrong.
If you do find a squirrel that appears to be in need of help, do not feed it. Feeding wild critters is often what leads to wild animal invasions. Wild animals will continue to come back to the place they were fed, so by feeding them just the once, you are giving them the green light to come back.
Call wildlife rehabilitators when you come across abandoned or baby squirrels – they will have the best shot at a good life, or they can be euthanized if the situation calls for it.
Go back to the Squirrel Removal page, or learn tips to do it yourself with my How to Get Rid of Squirrels guide.