We are wildlife educators, with a focus on protecting urban wildlife that are often exploited by pest control companies. This site is written and maintained by a small group of
wildlife rehabilitators, humane wildlife removal experts, and defenders of wildlife.
Squirrel education is of prime importance in both the process of preventing squirrels from entering your home, and in the process of removing them from your home. Learning about squirrel biology, squirrel behavior, and squirrel natural history is the first thing you need to do when faced with a squirrel problem on your property, either when talking about squirrel removal from the attic, or about orphan squirrels or injured adult squirrels that you don’t know what to do with. There are many great resources on the web where you can educate yourself about squirrels, from Wikipedia to websites like this one that make it their mission to defend and protect our backyard squirrel by providing the reading audience with good advice and information on the subject. Other great resources for in-depth squirrel education and squirrel understanding are well-written books such as North American Tree Squirrels, by Michael Steele and John Koprowski, or Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide, by Richard Thorington Jr. and Katie Ferrell.
What Do Wildlife Rehabilitators Do With Adult Squirrels?
Rehabilitation centers don’t only deal with injured squirrels, as homeowners and wildlife removers will often bring healthy adult squirrels into the center. And that’s a good thing. If you don’t want the squirrel on your property, you shouldn’t take its release and relocation upon yourself, not if you want to give the animal a chance at surviving. A wildlife rehabber understands what a squirrel needs in order to survive, and knows where it can possibly have a chance at doing so. A rehabber will know when and where to relocate the animal based on the species is in question – a tree squirrel will be released during the early morning, while a flying squirrel will be released during the evening, for example. The rehabber will know where the squirrel has the possibility to thrive without posing a danger to the already existent squirrel population or to other wildlife. He or she will also know if that squirrel will need housing in the new location, and how to provide it with that housing. The rehabber will ideally also provide further support in the environment, if additional water or food is needed. Injured adults that have been brought back to health will be preferably put back in the environment from where they were picked up, unless the owner of that land specifically requests otherwise.
What Do Wildlife Rehabilitators Do With Baby Squirrels?
First of all, if you bring one or more baby squirrels to a wildlife rehabilitation center, the babies will be assigned to a group of individuals of the same species and developmental stage, ensuring the animal grows up in a socially adequate setting, which will increase its chances at survival when relocated. Once of age, the group will be released together. From the moment a baby squirrel is in the care of a wildlife rehabber, he or she will make sure that the baby receives proper nutrition. Once the baby is weaned and transitioned to a healthy adult diet, efforts will be made to mimic natural feeding habits so that the animal isn’t ill-prepared when released. The rehabber will also be mindful to remain detached from the animal as much as possible, and make sure it develops natural fear responses to any and all possible predators, humans included. In an effort to best prepare the animal for its future life, the rehabber will also make sure the animal is accustomed to the weather and temperatures of its future habitat. The rehabber will handle all that goes into pre-release conditioning, including but not limited to offering baby squirrels the opportunity to physically develop and gain muscle memory through designated playtime and exercise.
Only a professional wildlife rehabber can ensure baby squirrels adequately develop both mentally and physically in order to be able to survive in a new environment. Even so, no serious wildlife rehabber can guarantee a long life for a squirrel that’s been rehabilitated and released in a novel environment. Mortality rates among squirrels are terribly high, with the majority of rehabilitated squirrels dying within a year after relocation. And this happens after all the rehabber’s incredible efforts. Imagine what chances a squirrel that hasn’t benefited from intense and proper pre-release conditioning will have. Absolutely none, is what we think. So make sure you contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center when dealing with orphan baby squirrels or injured squirrels – it’s the best thing you can do. And if you have successfully excluded a squirrel from your attic, and have your reasons why you don’t want to ever see it again on your property, don’t try to kill the animal or relocate it yourself – bring it to a wildlife rehabilitation center so that professionals can try and give it a normal life.