Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day 1. Theodore

This is Theodore. On September 11th, 2013 he crawled into my path. I had never seen a squirrel so small. To my surprise, he tried to climb my shoe while I restrained the dog I was walking.

If you find a baby squirrel, it is important to try and reunite it with its mother.

Theodore's mother could not be located. He was lethargic and dehydrated. I made the choice to intervene and set myself to the task of rehabilitating him. He was very trusting from the beginning.

With absolutely no knowledge of squirrels, my first objective was to keep him alive. I knew from rescuing other baby wildlife to look for bruises and check for dehydration (Gently pinch the skin between the shoulder blades. If the skin does not go right back into place when you release it, you have a dehydrated animal). I warmed his lightly furry body with my hands and rushed to the pet store for milk.

It was there I made my first two mistakes as a squirrel rescuer. I bought cat milk and the kitten baby bottles. Later, I learned through research that the cat milk is toxic and baby bottles can cause them to drown (see below for safe alternatives). No wonder he threw up after the first feeding! It took me three days to realize I was feeding him the wrong stuff.

I was able to keep Theodore alive, despite my initial mistakes. I credit this to determination and dumb luck. I kept hunting online for information, and found these websites:
 Squirrel baby feeding care
They may fight over who came up with the information and recipes, but they both had a hand in saving Theodore, so I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I will put a link to the scalded milk formula below.

By the end of day 1, I learned Theodore was roughly 5 weeks old. His tail was about the thickness of my thumb. He simply ate and slept. I carried him around in my microfiber bathrobe pocket, and eventually put him into a wooden tissue box stuffed with bedding.

Special Notes for squirrel rescuers:
It is much safer to get a syringe style feeder (available at Duane Reade and other drugstores) and put one of the kitten baby bottle nipples on the end of it. You can slowly feed them by pressing the plunger. Remember to pierce the nipple with a hot pin and not to feed them too much. You want them to have to suckle slowly, so as not to choke. ((FEEDING CHART)
When you are done feeding them, wipe their little faces clean.

If they are under six weeks you will need to gently rub them with a tissue or damp cotton swab to make them go potty.

Kitten and puppy milk formulas are both dangerous to squirrels DESPITE what wildlife rehabilitation centers are saying. They are toxic. The Esbilac formula has been altered recently and is NO LONGER safe. See here:

 Scalded Milk Recipe  This is not only cheaper, but better.

So a quick squirrel review: 1) Keep the baby warm. 2) Feed the baby scalded milk in a syringe with a cat bottle nipple 3) Help the baby go potty. Those are things I wish I had known on Day 1.

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