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The thing with orphan animals is that they can look as though they have been left entirely alone even when they haven’t. There are a number of absolutely innocent reasons why a baby squirrel, or a baby of other wild animal species, would be left seemingly abandoned, and some of them are not quite as abandoning as you’d think!
Should you come across an orphaned squirrel, stay away. We understand that you want to help this animal, but getting yourself involved isn’t always the best approach. There is a chance that your scent could linger on the body of the animal, causing the mother to get confused and reject it, believing it to not be hers. What if the mother were to come back for it; the baby not quite as abandoned or orphaned as you first thought?
There are many reasons why a mother might move her young from one nest to another, but one of the biggest reasons is if she believes a predator is hanging around. Squirrels are prey to a number of other, larger animals, and that goes for squirrel adults as well as squirrel babies. Any mother would want to keep her children safe, so moving babies from one unsafe nesting spot, to another safe spot, is paramount sometimes. It is usually during these times that a mother accidentally leaves a baby behind, drops it, or simply loses it, but in many of these cases, she will retrace her steps and find her youngster again. If you have moved it, she won’t find it. You will have orphaned the squirrel, not the squirrel’s mother.
If you just take a step back and monitor the situation for a while, you’ll probably fin that the mother comes back to claim her youngster, taking it back to the nest and keeping it safe.
If the mother does not come back, it could be for a number of reasons:
-She has lost her youngster during the move from one nest to another and cannot find it again.
-She has abandoned her youngster because she knows it is weak, disease, or injured, and knows that she will be wasting her time trying to keep the animal alive.
-The youngster has left the nest of its own accord and can’t find its way back.
In some cases, a fit and healthy baby squirrel can be taken in by wildlife rehabilitators, nursed to full health, and then released back into the wild again, but there are a number of problems with this approach. Squirrels that are tamed from an early age are often too tamed to then be released back into the wild again. They do not cope well when left to their own wild devices and, therefore, become vulnerable and die quite quickly.
Although you will want to do the best for this animal, your decision to move an “orphaned” baby squirrel could have lifelong and life-changing repercussions. Leave the youngster alone and call in wildlife rehabilitators if you are concerned. Sadly, though, these things just happen.
Go back to the Squirrel Removal page, or learn tips to do it yourself with my How to Get Rid of Squirrels guide.