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Thread: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

  1. #1

    Default Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    Saturday someone brought a baby flying squirrel to my mother in law that was in a cut-down tree. We don't know how old it is. It will eat small seeds and grapes and tomatoes but will not drink water. We've tried giving it in a bottle, dropper, and cup. My husband has had to basically force it to drink in an effort to keep it from being dehydrated (which it was when we got it). He's not drowning it, just using a syringe to put some in its mouth that it swallows. But it struggles. It ate a little melted ice cream off of my hand. But now I find that milk is a bad idea to give to squirrels! There aren't any local pet stores so if we can't get puppy formula what can we give it? Also how can we tell how old it is? And how do we get it to drink water?? Please help! It seems alright now, but we've had kittens that seemed fine and died shortly. I don't want the poor baby to die.

  2. #2
    foxsquirrels Guest

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    Good morning Blue Fantasy, welcome to TSB. Hope you enjoy your visit here. Have you looked at our Flying Squirrel Forum or Baby Squirrel ABC's? There is so much wonderful information in each section. Go down to the bottom right of the page. You will see Forum Jump, click on it and you will find several topics of information.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    City Island, Bronx, NY

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    Baby squirrels really don't drink water...they get all their fluids from mamma's milk. That's why this little one, as foxsquirrels says, really needs formula to survive. Here's hoping you can get some this morning! If not, I would get the baby to a rehabber as soon as you can.
    Island Rehabber
    NY State Licensed
    Wildlife Rehabilitator

    "Ancora Imparo" (I am still learning)

    If you can't afford the vet,
    You can't afford a pet.

    "Better one day in the trees, than a lifetime in a cage."

  4. #4
    Buddy'sMom Guest

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    If you let us know what city you are closest to, we may be able to assist you with finding a rehabber for your little rescue. Or go here and scroll down to Posts #1, 4 and 5 which have links to lists of rehabbers searcheable by state:

    Have you warmed your baby? A heating pad on low, under half the box he is in, will do nicely. The box should have tshirts or fleece or something like that to snuggle in. If you don't have a heating pad, a bottle of hot water, wrapped in a tshirt, will do but needs to be replaced frequently. Or a "rice buddy" -- instructions are below in the Emergency Instructions which I am posting for you.

    Also there, you will find a recipe for "homemade Pedialyte" which will be a better hydrating fluid than plain water, until you can get to a rehabber or a pet store. The recommended formula is Esbilac puppy formula. If you cannot find a rehabber today you will need to find formula for the baby. If you are far from major pet stores, do you have a nearby Walmart? They sell a product called "First Born" which will be OK to start out if Esbilac cannot be located. The Esbilac can be ordered online and delivered if there are no other options for you.

    Emergency Care for Baby Squirrels

    Donít try to feed the squirrel.
    Donít handle him more than you have to.
    No loud voices, TV, music, or bright lights.
    No children or pets in the same room!

    1. Warm the Baby (never feed a cold squirrel!)
    Quick Methods:
    -Cup the baby in your hands or under your shirt next to your skin.
    -Fill a plastic bottle with very warm water. Wrap in a cloth, place next to baby, and cover him. Reheat every 2 hours.
    -ďRice BuddyĒ: Fill a sock with 1 cup of rice or dried beans and microwave for 30 seconds. Place next to baby and cover him. Reheat every 2 hours.

    2. [B] Find a Box or Container[B]
    A shoebox will do for small babies. A baby that can walk will need a larger box with a lid (with holes). Put a clean baby blanket, flannel shirt, or piece of fleece in the bottom of the box. No towels or terrycloth. Squirrels can get tangled in the loops. Place baby on the material and cover him with one flap. If you have a heating pad, turn it on low and place it under half of the box (not IN the box!) so baby can move away if he gets too warm. You can use the plastic bottle or rice buddy described above, but these are only temporary methods until you get a heating pad, since they must be reheated every 2 hours and won't keep baby warm all night.
    NOTE: Monitor his temperature so he doesnít chill or overheat. His feet should feel warm to the touch.

    Note: If the baby is injured, is having trouble breathing, has fly eggs on his fur, or is very skinny or dehydrated, he needs emergency care by an experienced rehabber or vet.

    3. Rehydrate the Baby

    Most babies are dehydrated when you find them and must be rehydrated before you can feed them. Never feed formula or food of any kind to a dehydrated baby!

    How to Check for Dehydration
    Pinch the skin on the back of his neck. If it doesnít spring back immediately, the baby is dehydrated. If the pinched skin stays up like a tent for more than a second, the baby is badly dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration: pale grayish gums, dry mouth, sunken eyes, whites around eyes showing, rough spiky fur, dry scaly skin.
    NOTE: If baby is badly dehydrated, he will need subcutaneous fluids, which can only be given by a rehabber or vet.

    [B] Supplies You Will Need: [B]
    --Pedialyte (any flavor) OR the recipe below (the homemade version is actually preferred)*
    --Plastic syringes (1 cc size; no needles. Ask the pharmacist to get these for you) An eyedropper can also work.
    These are available at most drugstores.

    *Here is a recipe for the homemade version of Pedialyte hydration fluid:

    1 tsp salt (teaspoon)
    3 Tbsp sugar (tablespoon)
    1 quart warm water
    Mix all ingredients in warm water. Store in refrigerator.

    How to Prepare the Pedialyte
    Use a plastic syringe (with or without a nipple). Never use pet nursers or doll bottles. They will choke the baby. Fill a coffee mug with hot water. Fill the syringe with Pedialyte and place it in the mug for a couple of minutes. Squirt a drop on the inside of your wrist to make sure the liquid isnít too hot. It should feel barely warm on your skin.

    Proper Position

    A tiny baby can be held in your hand. A baby with fur can lie on a flat surface on his stomach. A baby that can walk can be held upright or he can drink sitting up. Hold the syringe so the tip points UP to the babyís mouth and the handle is down. Donít let the baby get cold. Keep him wrapped up while he eats.

    How to Feed Fluids

    Place the syringe tip on the babyís lips (from the side) and squeeze out one drop for him to taste. Donít squirt a steady stream. Let him swallow one drop before squeezing more. GO SLOW! It sometimes takes a feeding or two for them to catch on. Hairless babies are fed drop by drop. With older babies (once they catch on) you can squeeze slowly for one second, wait for him to swallow, then squeeze more.

    If fluids dribble out his mouth or come out his nose, you are going too fast. Stop and tilt the babyís head down so the fluid drains out (support his head and neck like you would a human baby). Then wipe his nose and mouth with a tissue. Start over, slower. NOTE: There is now a chance your baby will develop aspiration pneumonia from inhaling fluid in his lungs. This is fatal. Please contact a rehabber or vet, or the people at The Squirrel Board, for assistance.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    a small speed-bump in southeast Texas

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    You can sometimes find Esbilac at feed stores, Tractor Supply here carries it, and most vets will have it.

    Good luck.

    The Southeast Texas Acorn Academy

    Already we have hickory nuts, black walnuts, pecan nuts, peanuts, hazel nuts, oak nuts, beech nuts, chestnuts.......and now you're here!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    Now I'm thinking I posted in the wrong forum. When I went to check on him, he was very active. If this helps any: he's fully furred, does not get cold when alone, and can crawl, climb, and jump just fine on his own. He can't glide yet that we know of. He's rougly 3 1/2 to 4 inches long. Like I said he eats seeds. Does he still need formula?

  7. #7
    Buddy'sMom Guest

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    Is it possible for you to post a picture of your "baby"? That might make it easier for our flyer folks to estimate the age. With GREY squirrels, they are on formula for longer than you might imagine, but I don't know what the timetable is for flyers and formula. Sometimes, orphans are a bit precocious (out of hunger) and may eat things they would not ordinarily be eating yet if still with Mom. But flyers are so tiny, I imagine it would be natural to think of one as a baby even if it is not.

    I'm sure someone will be along who can tell you, but a picture would be helpful if you can (plus, we LOVE pictures!)

  8. #8

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    Alright, here are a couple of pictures. First is in my husband's hands. Then next to an Xbox 360 controller to give an idea of scale.

    It's not showing signs of dehydration, and is still very active. But it worries me that it's not drinking anything except the juice from some grapes. =/ It's also going to the bathroom on its own.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    A bit more info to help determine its age: There were two other squirrels in the tree, but they ran off. This one stayed behind, so we wonder if he was the runt. I wouldn't think he was an adult; he's never tried to bite and took to us very quickly. He also sleeps quite a lot, even at night. He spends most of his time in my husband's shirt pocket, though he's been coming out to explore more in the past couple of days.

    Do I still need to buy formula??

  10. #10
    Buddy'sMom Guest

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    He's ADORABLE!! I'm afraid that's the only judgment I can make as I don't have enough knowledge of flyers to know one age from another I know others will be along and take a look and let you know better how old he is and what he should be eating.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    a small speed-bump in southeast Texas

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    From the photos, and what you have said about him, I would guess around 7 or 8 weeks or so. He would probably be better off if you could get him to accept Esbilac - regardless of what HE may think, he is still a baby! The Esbilac will make sure he gets the correct nutrition that he needs. Try feeding him with a 1cc syringe (no needle, of course) with a small nipple if possible. Some of them will take it from the syringe without a nipple, often just licking it off the end rather than actually sucking. Or he may lap it from a VERY shallow dish, or lick it off your finger.

    Seeds are not very good for him. Give him pieces of peeled apple, sweet potato, broccoli, peeled grapes (make sure to cut them in half and remove the 'stem' extension that goes down the middle of them), watermelon, sugar snap peas, etc. Yogurt is also very good for them - I usually feed Dannon LaCreme vanilla or strawberry, but you can use any good brand as long as it has the live, active culture and DOES NOT contain any artificial sweetener. Don't get the fat-free or low fat, either. You can also start giving him pieces of pecans - that's one of their favorites.....just not too many, or he won't eat anything else! You can put a water bottle in the cage with him, and/or a small dish of water. If you use a dish, put some marbles or pebbles in it so that he can't drown, but can still easily get the water.

    Now is the time to get in the habit of making sure the toilet seat is kept down, and there are no containers of water that he can get into. Drowning is the number one cause of pet flyer deaths.

    Since he is still young, he will sleep a lot, and will not care if it is daytime or nightime. As he gets older he will become more nocturnal. Carrying him around in a pocket, or inside your shirt is good, as it will make him bond more closely with you.

    Be sure to have some twigs and in-shell nuts (pecans, hazel nuts, walnuts) in his cage for him to chew on. He probably won't get into the nuts yet, but they are good practice, and will help keep his teeth trimmed.

    Congratulations! You are now a HOF. (Human Owned by Flyers) Your new owner will have you trained very quickly! Check out the NFSA board (address below my signature) for more flyer information than you ever imagined existed!
    I post as Judy or Judy C. on NFSA.

    The Southeast Texas Acorn Academy

    Already we have hickory nuts, black walnuts, pecan nuts, peanuts, hazel nuts, oak nuts, beech nuts, chestnuts.......and now you're here!

  12. #12

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    Okay, I'm going to Walmart tomorrow and I will pick up some formula! Does it have to be that brand, or will any puppy formula do? I ask because our local Walmart has a way of not carrying what you'd think they would... I'll write down the other fruits to get him. We only gave him seeds because another site said that flying squirrels could eat like cockatiel seed. =/

    We can't let him have the run of the house because we have a cat inside with some kittens, as well as a miniature pinscher who might think he's a toy. He does get to run around on the couch and curtains though.

    A few more questions if it's alright. When should we expect him to start gliding? Will he be clever enough to avoid the ceiling fan, or should we turn it off when he's out? Also do we need a permit to own a flying squirrel in Florida??

    When the little boy of the person who cut down the tree brought him to my mother-in-law, he said, "Ms Edith, can you take care of this flying squirrel? He lost his wings." ^-^

  13. #13
    Abacat Guest

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    Esbilac is the closest to Momma's milk for squirrels. The powdered is less wasteful as the liquid/premixed one tends to spoil quickly, I don't know the exact length of time as I always use the powdered. I think it's within a few days... You'll have to start slowly working him up to the full formula strength, do you know how long he's been away from mom ?

    Other brands really don't have all the necessary fat, nutrient amounts that they need...

    Muffinsquirrel is very knowledgeable about flyers, I would try to do whatever she suggests for your baby.

    I would most definitely turn off the ceiling fan if he's left out. Make sure to keep any other pets you have away from him/her. Sorry, but I don't know the answer to your other questions...

    Congratulations, what a cutie!
    Welcome to TSB!

  14. #14
    cr8zyanimalgirl Guest

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    You can find a lot of information on the website. Good luck. And he should start gliding about 10-12 weeks.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    a small speed-bump in southeast Texas

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    I very seriously doubt that Walmart will carry Esbilac. Try pet stores, feed stores, and vets. And do try to get the powdered form.

    Keep the ceiling fan OFF, the toilet seat CLOSED, and the other animals AWAY. Flyers are unbelievably fast, and can make it to an 'off limits' area in a flash!

    So far as I know, you do not need a permit to own a flyer in Florida.

    Please go to NFSA and do a lot of reading up on flyers there. They have a huge amount of information there.

    The Southeast Texas Acorn Academy

    Already we have hickory nuts, black walnuts, pecan nuts, peanuts, hazel nuts, oak nuts, beech nuts, chestnuts.......and now you're here!

  16. #16

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    Where in "North FL" are you?? I'm in Jax. He needs that puppy milk. Fruits also have a good water content so he might not drink staright water yet. If he gets too dehydrated, he would need pedialyte.

  17. #17
    MrBooMY Guest

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    Petsmart is the CHEAPEST by far for Esbilac, but you have to print out their ad from their Website showing the price to get the GOOD price. In store regular price is like 19.99 for the 12oz, and 39.99 for the 28oz. On the website its 12.99 and 23.99.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water


    Update?? how is he??

  19. #19

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    Thank you. ^-^ He is doing great! We've named him Icarus, from the Greek myth. Since he wants to fly but he really can't, plus what the little kid said about him losing his wings. =3 We picked up some puppy formula but they didn't have Esbilac. We're gonna use this until we can get him some perhaps from the local farm center, or we're gonna have to drive a long way to get to the nearest pet store. =/

    Anyway, I was wondering. He still refuses the formula like he did the water, but we've been able to trick him into taking it by mixing a little yogurt in. Is this okay?

  20. #20
    Buddy'sMom Guest

    Default Re: Baby flying squirrel won't drink water

    A little yogurt is excellent! Try to use one that is full-fat (not lite), has active cultures and no artificial ingredients. (and, perhaps obviously ) without "fruit-on-the-bottom" that will clog the syringe )

    So glad he's doing well -- Icarus is a perfect name for him! Very good choice.

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