week 7: weaning baby squirrels 🐿

Apr 03, 2019


I walked in Monday and the whole place looked completely bombarded with baby squirrels. There were three whole new racks for all of the squirrels that were brought in. Although being a newbie I wasn’t assigned to them, I was still allowed to help with feeding them and learning how to do it. After attending to all of my other assignments including the ISO Room and BBB (baby bird barn), I basically just stared at the volunteers feeding the squirrels until they asked if I wanna do something. I was maybe a little too quick to say yes but it was worth it.

I started off by making the formula, something I had never done during my time here yet. To do this, I would mix a ratio of powder to water, either 2:1 or 4:1, 2 and 4 being the water to the 1 scoop of formula powder. There is an important factor to consider when doing this. Formula can also be classified as up or down. We determine which squirrel gets what by looking at its weight. If it weighs more than 45g, it receives the up formula. If it weighs less than 45g, it receives the down formula. I still have yet to ask what is the difference in nutrition between the up and down, as well as the difference in giving a squirrel 2:1 as opposed to 4:1.

After making this formula, we place it into however many 3 mL syringes needed. Depending on the weight and eyes (open or closed) of the squirrel, it can receive a certain mL range of formula and certain feeding times for it. For example, if a squirrel weighs between 80-120g, it can receive 4-6 cc of formula QID (four times a day). This is usually proportional to weight and age. Before feeding the squirrels, we place the syringes into a can of warm water that is placed on a mug heater to keep the formula at room temperature. Squirrels won’t eat it if it’s too cold or too hot.

When I am ready to feed the first squirrel, I first identify the color of nail polish on its ear to check its charts on how much it was fed last time. This way I can try to mimic that amount or even try to feed it a little more. After getting the squirrel, I remove the syringe from the water and test the temperature on my wrist. When it is perfect, I put on either a miracle nipple or regular nipple. Miracle nipples are for younger squirrels that are learning to feed from the syringe as it mimic the mother more. As they get older, regular nipples are used to get them to lean away from feeding off their “mother”. After putting on the nipple, I put the syringe in the baby’s mouth and it will usually start to suck the formula. I push the syringe very slowly to make sure the baby does not aspirate. If it aspirates, the formula will come out of its nose and it is painful for the little critter. Once a syringe is done, it can then move on to the next one until it gets its permitted amount. When the squirrel is done altogether, I put it back in the cage and feed it again in 3 hours!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *