Skip to Main Content

Injured and orphaned squirrels

Gray squirrels nest twice each year, in early spring and in late summer. Gray squirrels commonly have litters of three or four. Babies’ eyes open at four weeks of age and the young are often out of the nest by six weeks. At 8-9 weeks of age they are on their own in the wild and no longer nurse from the mother.

If you find a baby squirrel:

  • Is the squirrel injured (bleeding, broken bones, wounds, been in a cat’s mouth, etc.)?
    • If YES, contact your nearest veterinarian that is capable of and willing to see wildlife patients (always call the veterinarian prior to bringing wildlife to the hospital) or rehabilitator for treatment. (For juvenile squirrels, wear thick leather gloves when handling. Even young squirrels can have a vicious bite!)
    • If NO, squirrels whose tails are fully fluffed out like a bottle brush and weigh more than 6.5 ounces or 180 grams, are on their own in the wild and do not need human intervention. If the squirrel does not meet these criteria, see below.
  • Is the squirrel fully furred with its eyes opened?
    • If YES, and the squirrel weighs between 75 and 150 grams (2.6-5.3 ounces), his tail is flat or not quite full, and may seem “friendly”, the squirrel still needs nursing and care from it’s mother. Mother squirrels may “rescue” stray babies by carrying them by the scruff back to the nest. For very small squirrels, attempt to locate the nest (big ball of dried leaves at the top of a tree) and try to get the baby to climb up the trunk. Check back several hours later to see if the baby is still there. If the baby has not been fed or attended to for an entire day, contact a state licensed small mammal rehabilitator immediately. If the squirrel is old enough to run from you, it is old enough to be on its own and does not need human intervention.
    • If NO, and the baby is not retrieved by the mother for an entire day, contact a state licensed small mammal rehabilitator immediately. Keep predators (cats and dogs) away from the area if the baby is on the ground.

If a wild animal has been injured or truly orphaned, locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator by calling the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources’ toll-free wildlife conflict helpline at 1-855-571-9003, 8:00AM-4:30PM, Monday through Friday or visit the licensed wildlife rehabilitator┬ásection of this website.