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Injured & Orphaned Squirrels and Chipmunks

The Tenafly Nature Center does not take injured or orphaned wildlife! An animal’s best chance of survival is in the care of its own mother.

If your circumstance requires you to handle it, always wear protective gloves and place a towel over it to reduce stress. Always take extreme caution with wild animals. They may harbor diseases and try to defend themselves when fearful. Always be overly cautious of an animal you suspect is sick and in this scenario, keep yourself, children, and pets at a distance, and contact animal control immediately.

Have you found a squirrel or chipmunk?

In most circumstances, if a wild animal is raised by humans, its chances of long-term survival in the wild are vastly reduced. Young squirrels that have fallen from their nests are commonly discovered near the trees from which they fell.  If it is possible to put them back, that is the best option. The less they are approached and touched by humans, the better.

  • Baby squirrels rely on their mother’s milk until twelve weeks of age. Chipmunks on the other hand, rely on it only until ten weeks.
  • If you find a baby which is alert and evading your capture, leave it alone. It is probably old enough to be on its own.
  • If you find a baby squirrel or chipmunk that is small with eyes unopened and very little fur, it may need your help.
  • Place it in a small shallow box, leave the area, and allow the mother time to return. If she is alive and able to relocate them, she will come back and pick them up one by one. A squirrel will often have more then one nest site.
  • A baby that has been abandoned for days may even approach people in its desperation. One that has only been alone for a short period of time will be more weary.
  • If the babies are not rescued by the mother, and you fear she may be dead, they will need to go to a wildlife rehabilitator.
  • An injured squirrel or chipmunk will benefit from the care of a rehabilitator as well.
  • Signs of injury include shivering, vomiting, emaciation, bleeding, hit by a car, or attacked by a dog/cat.
  • Chipmunks make burrows, and squirrels make nests in trees. Although, squirrels do not always create their nests in trees, they search for warm protected places and can sometimes dwell in and around your home.
  • Do not create orphans! If you are disturbed by their presence allow them a few weeks as a grace period.
  • Hiring an exterminator to remove the mother will leave you with even greater problems.
  • You can prevent squirrels and chipmunks from creating nests/burrows in and around your home by securing all openings, closing attic windows and vents, and blocking entry under decks.

How to Transport a Rescued Animal to the Wildlife Rehabilitator:

  1. Prepare a container. Place a clean, soft cloth or towel at the bottom of a cardboard box or cat/dog carrier with a lid. If there is no ventilation, make air holes.
  2. Protect yourself. Remember that these are wild animals. They are scared and may try to defend themselves. Even if the animal doesn’t try to scratch, bite, or peck, parasites and diseases are common. Wear gloves, cover the animal with another cloth or towel, and gently place it in the container. Wash your hands and forearms after contact.
  3. Keep the animal calm and warm. Keep children and pets away. Do not bother or handle the animal longer than necessary. Keep it covered for warmth and in a dark quite place.
  4. Do not attempt to feed or provide water.
  5. Note where you found the animal. This is important for release.
  6. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator. Do not keep the animal in your home. It is illegal to house injured/orphaned wildlife without the proper training and credentials.
The advice expressed on this page is to be utilized at your own discretion. Laws regarding wildlife may differ between counties.

Local Wildlife Rehabilitators Accepting Squirrels or Chipmunks

Wildlife Freedom Inc.
781 Ringwood Ave. Wanaque

The Last Resort Rescue
445 Morsetown Rd., West Milford

Deborah DeRosa
Madison, NJ 07940

Complete list of Wildlife Rehabilitators
New Jersey
New York

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