Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Baby Squirrels Orphaned by Irene

After one of my trips to check on the flooding after Hurricane Irene, I came home to find a gathering of my parents and neighbors in my neighbor's front yard. There were three baby squirrels, in the grass below the tall oak tree; damp, shivering and calling out for their mother. My neighbor's daughter told us how they heard the squirrels crying in the night but they weren't sure what it was.

Undecided of how to handle the situation, I went from squirrel to squirrel, seeing if they had any obvious injuries without touching them. That's when one baby crawled towards my foot, and decided to perch himself on top to rest!

After that moment, I knew they were too cold to leave outside in the current weather. I fixed up a box with some bedding, and carefully placed the three squirrels in the box to dry off and get warm.

There are a few things I know about finding "orphaned" wildlife. The first thing is, that baby animals found on their own may not really be by themselves; mom may be close but out of sight. If uninjured, the best thing is to let mom do her job. However, since these squirrels had been in the yard since last night I decided it was important to let them get warm and dry. The second thing I know about baby wildlife is to keep them in a dark, quiet place, and to not feed them until you call your local wildlife rehabilitation for proper instructions on what to do next. I called Woodland Wildlife Refuge, a fantastic wildlife rehabilitation facility in Hunterton County, NJ.

The babies, happily napping.

A few hours later my call was returned, and I was instructed to put the box in the yard, elevated on a chair, to see if momma squirrel would come and retrieve her babies. Believe it or not, but the belief that a mother will reject her babies if they smell of human is a myth. Squirrels are more likely to be unable to identify their babies if they're too cold. There was only an hour of sunlight left on Sunday to leave the babies out in, so I brought them in for the night. The next day I kept them outside from morning til early evening, as per instructions from the rehabber I spoke with. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I was less worried about the squirrels catching a chill. I checked on them throughout the day, and got hopeful when I heard an adult squirrel calling from the trees. Unfortunately, time ran out and no momma came. It was time to drop these guys off in the safe and knowledgeable hands of the staff at Woodland Wildlife Refuge to be taken care of until they are old enough to be re-released into the wild.

Good luck little guys!


  1. oh my gosh! They're so cute all curled up in little spirals!! You're such a good person and totally getting tons of karma points for this lol. I hope they'll be ok (I think they will be) :)

  2. I'm hoping they'll be okay too. I really can't take much credit, the WWR is gonna be doing all the work. The staff lady I spoke with said I was the 18th drop-off that day!

  3. That is so wonderful and responsible of you to help like that. You saved 3 lives today!