Yesterday, I woke up to a panicked phone call from my friend Lisette. A young squirrel had fallen from a tree in her yard and was yelping loudly and appeared unable to move. She wanted to know how she could help the little guy. Here is a video she took of the squirrel she found who we named Petrie.
Finding hurt squirrels 🤕🐿, especially babies, is pretty common this time of year. What should you do if you come across as squirrel who appears to be in need of some emergency assistance 🚑?
Interfering with wildlife is risky business and there are a lot of different opinions about what should be done. I am not an expert in this area nor am I a wildlife rehabilitator, but my work with wild squirrels has led me to often get contacted by caring individuals who come across squirrels in need of help. I have tried my best to consolidate some information to help clarify steps that can be taken to care for injured wild squirrels but, this is by no means the right advice for every situation.
First, Make Sure the Squirrel Really Needs Your Help.
This may sound obvious, but we humans have a tendency to jump into action for an animal sometimes a little too quickly. Just like human children, young animals sometime stumble around while exploring the world.
To asses if a wild animal is in need of human interference the Human Society recommends you check for the following signs:
There are also some SQUIRREL SPECIFIC SIGNS to look out for.
If the answer to any one of these questions is yes than the squirrel 🐿could probably use some human help! In the case of Petrie, several of these signs were evident. Petrie had small amounts of blood around his mouth and what appeared to be a broken or dislocated hip. He also had been crying on the ground for an extended period of time. On top of all of this my friend reported that there was a tree trimming crew 🌲 outside the apartment complex today, so it is very possible this little dude took a very long fall.
What to do if the squirrel you found checks off all the boxes above:
In my experience, government animal control agencies are pretty reluctant to come out to pick up an injured squirrel. If the squirrel you found is in need of medical care your may have to find a near by wildlife rehabilitation center to take it to.
An easy way to find your nearest rehabilitation center is to use the Human Society's directory that is organized by state. You can access this at their website: www.humanesociety.org/resources/how-find-wildlife-rehabilitator. If you are unable to find a suitable location to take your hurt squirrel from the website above, a quick google search for "wildlife rehabilitation" with your area code included will usually turn up some helpful results.
In the case of Petrie, a quick search for rehabs in Santa Ana, California quickly turned up the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center of Orange County. They are an amazing organization that helps thousands of animals every year. Their website listed that they accepted squirrels along with specific hours of animal intake. Lisette was able to safety transport little Petrie over to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center of Orange County were they promptly accepted him and began to provide medical care.
Along with finding Petry, Lisette found a second baby squirrel in her yard who she named Ducky. Ducky did not appear to have any obvious bone injuries and was not bleeding or crying. As Lisette approached Ducky he began to move on his own.
If you come across a baby squirrel like Ducky who does not appear to need immediate medical care the best option is leave the squirrel where you found it. Keep people and pets away from the area for a day and give the mother squirrel a chance to come back and relocate her baby. 🐿💕👼 If it is very cold outside it may be a good idea to place the baby on a blanket.
If by the end of the day the mother has not come back it may be time to bring the baby squirrel to a rehabilitation center as it will likely not survive the night outside on the ground alone.