Can Baby Squirrels Drink Cow Milk?

can baby squirrels drink cow milk

It’s not uncommon to find orphaned or abandoned baby squirrels. What do you do with these tiny babies to make sure that they survive? Our instincts tell us to feed them and keep them warm, but the details of taking care of a baby squirrel may not be self-evident. What should we feed them, and how often? Can baby squirrels drink cow’s milk?

Baby squirrels should never drink cow milk. Their digestive systems are very sensitive and unable to digest it. Cow milk can cause diarrhea and subsequent dehydration, which could lead to the death of the baby squirrel. Wildlife rehabilitation centers use a special formula for orphaned squirrels.

It is against the law to keep squirrels as pets in most states. But sometimes circumstances dictate that you need to take care of this little squirrel baby and do it correctly, or the little one could die. 

Should you find an orphaned, abandoned, or injured squirrel, the protocol is to call a squirrel or wildlife rehabilitation center.

Can Baby Squirrels Drink Cow Milk

If you find a baby squirrel and cannot get it to a rehabilitation center, you will have to follow a strict feeding and caring regime to ensure the baby survives. Baby squirrels drink only their mother’s milk until they are about eight weeks old, when Mom begins to wean them. 

It will take another two weeks before the baby eats only solid food. After that, they will be largely independent at ten weeks of age. 

Do Not Give Baby Squirrels Cow Milk When You Find Them

When we find orphaned or lost animals, our first instinct is to feed them. But, often, in our ignorance, we give them the incorrect food, which could either harm them or cause them to starve because they don’t eat that type of food. 

Wildlife experts caution people against feeding orphaned baby squirrels, explaining that warmth and rehydration (if necessary) are the crucial elements for their survival.

Never give baby squirrels cow’s milk. Their little digestive systems cannot digest the milk, which can cause bloating, pain, diarrhea, and dehydration. 

Ultimately, the baby could go into shock and die. Cow’s milk also doesn’t contain nearly enough nutrients for the pup to develop and thrive. If the situation escalates to the point where you have to care for him, puppy formula is the best option

First Steps To Help Orphaned Baby Squirrels

The first thing to do when you find a lost baby squirrel is to try to reunite him with his mother. This way, he stands the best chance of survival. The mother will search for her babies and take them back if they are warm. The human scent on her babies won’t bother her. 

A mother squirrel won’t reclaim her baby if he is cold because she thinks he is sick or dying. She will also not take a living baby back if there is more than one pup and one is already dead. 

You will have to check the baby for injuries, bugs, wounds, bleeding, or broken bones. If the baby presents with any of these symptoms, you will have to take them to a vet. Vets usually only see squirrels brought in by rehabilitators, so they should always be your first port of call. 

Make Sure The Baby Squirrel Is Warm

Squirrel babies can’t generate heat themselves, so you will have to help your baby keep warm. Put the squirrel in a nest in a box with soft fabrics or garden material similar to where you found your little one. 

Take a heating pad or hot water bottle wrapped in a cloth and place it under the box on one side. Leave the other side unheated so the squirrel can move if he gets too hot.

Check The Baby Squirrel For Dehydration

Always check the baby for dehydration before feeding him. If you pinch his skin together gently and it stays in that position for more than one second, he is dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration are emaciation and sunken eyes. The baby needs fluids as quickly as possible.

Pedialyte or other store brands of infant rehydration fluids are the best solutions for rehydrating baby squirrels. Use a 1-cc oral syringe to feed the baby. Make sure that the squirrel is still warm before giving the rehydration solution, or he won’t be able to digest it.

Once you have stabilized the baby, put him back where you found him, still in his homemade nest, in case Mom comes back to look for him. 

If she doesn’t fetch him, he is probably an orphan, and you will need to care for him or send him to a rehabilitation center. Depending on the weather, you can leave him until dusk, ensuring no predators can get hold of him. Make sure he stays warm.

What Should Your Baby Squirrel Drink?

The best substitute for squirrel milk is Esbilac puppy formula. Mix one part formula with two parts water. Then, you can feed your baby the warm liquid, preferably using a 1-cc syringe but no bigger than 3-cc. 

To ensure proper growth and development, you will have to follow a strict feeding routine with your little squirrel. Here is an example of a feeding routine:

AgeTimeAmount of Food
1-2 WeeksEvery 2 hours0.5 – 1 cc
2-3 WeeksApproximately every 3 hours1 cc for every week of age
3-4 WeeksEvery 3 hours3-4 cc’s
4-7 WeeksEvery 2.5 – 3 hours4-7 cc’s
7-9 WeeksApproximately Every 3 hours7-9 cc’s + introduction of solids
9-10 Weeks3 times a dayAs much as they want + solids
10-12 WeeksShould no longer want the formulaOnly solids

We have established that baby squirrels should not drink cow’s milk, but they should also avoid several other types of milk. These include goat’s milk, soy milk, and almond milk.

How To Feed Your Baby Squirrel

Always hold the pup upright in your hand when you’re feeding him, especially if he’s a pinkie or very tiny. They aspirate easily, and the liquid flows into the lungs, putting them at risk for pneumonia. Aim the syringe at the top of the baby’s mouth to prevent aspiration. 

Feed the little squirrel one drop of milk replacer at a time so that they can taste it first. Some will accept it eagerly. Babies with open eyes can take the syringe in their mouths and suck a few drops, but make sure that you feed them very slowly. 

If the fluid pours out of the nose and mouth, you are feeding the little guy too fast. Tip him upside down for ten seconds and wipe the liquid away. Wait approximately another minute before trying to feed the pup again.

Final Word

When you find an orphaned or lost baby squirrel, you should make every effort to reunite him with his mother because this will give him the best chance for survival. 

Adopting a baby squirrel should be a last resort if his mom doesn’t come back to look for her baby and you can’t get him to a rehab center where he can be cared for properly. 

If you find you’ve inherited a baby, you should never give him cow’s milk. At best, it will cause him discomfort, and at worst, it could make him very ill and cause his death. 

Puppy formula will give him the nutrients and calories he needs to develop normally until he can sustain himself with only solid foods. 

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