What to feed a baby squirrel without eyes open
Baby Squirrels | The Wildlife Center of Virginia
Gray squirrels nest twice a year, in late winter and summer. They commonly have litters of three or four pups. Babies' eyes open at four weeks of age and the young are often starting to explore outside the nest at six weeks of age. They are typically weaned and ready to be on their own at 10 weeks of age.
A baby squirrel has the best chance of survival when it is cared for by its mother. Sometimes healthy young squirrels are found on the ground by themselves are not orphans -- they simply need help reuniting with their mothers. Often, mother squirrels will "rescue" their fallen or displaced healthy babies by carrying them by the scruff back to the nest.
Do any of the following apply to the squirrel?
- It is bleeding, has an open wound, or has a broken bone.
- It's been in a cat's or dog's mouth.
- It's covered in fly eggs [these look like small grains of rice].
- It's cold, wet, or crying nonstop.
- If YES, the squirrel is likely injured or orphaned. Take it to the nearest wildlife veterinarian or rehabilitator.
- If NO, the next step is to identify its age to determine if intervention is needed.
Does the squirrel ...
- Have a fluffed-out tail [like a bottle brush]?
- Have a body longer than 6" [not including the tail]?
- Approach humans or pets?
- If YES, this is likely a juvenile squirrel. You do not need to intervene. Even at the young age of 10 to 12 weeks, the squirrel is independent. If the squirrel is approaching humans or pets, try to scare it by making loud noises when it comes near.
- If NO, this is an infant squirrel. You will need to guide the healthy baby back to its mother:
- Place uncooked rice or bird seed in a sock and warm in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Wrap the sock in a soft towel and place it with the baby in an open container [e. g., a box]. Remember, do not give the baby food or water!
- Return the squirrel to its nesting tree -- this should be a tree in the immediate area where the squirrel was found. If you don't know which tree the squirrel's nest is in, or if the nest was destroyed, then choose a tree closest to where the squirrel was found. Squirrel nests can either be in tree cavities, or in "dreys" -- the big balls of dried leaves at the tops of trees.
- If the baby's eyes are open, place the baby on the tree trunk to encourage it to climb. If it does not climb, place the squirrel in the container and attach the open container to the tree. If the baby's eyes are closed, attach the open container to the tree. Keep children, dogs, and cats out of the area. Click here for more ideas on re-nesting containers.
Observe the baby squirrel for the next six to eight hours of daylight. Reheat the rice/birdseed bag every two hours. Has the mother returned to retrieve her baby?
- If YES ... congratulations! You helped reunite a baby with its mother. This is best for the squirrel!
- If NO, take the squirrel to the nearest permitted small mammal rehabilitator.
NOTE: Each animal's nutritional, housing, and handling requirements are very specific and must be met if the animal has any chance of survival. Cow's milk and human milk replacers will make wild animals sick. Raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal in Virginia unless you have a state permit. For information on how you can become a permitted wildlife rehabilitator, contact the Wildlife Center of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, or your state's wildlife agency.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
Squirrels are one of the most entertaining animals to watch. They're so playful and active. And baby squirrels are just adorable. If you hear a high-pitched squeaking sound coming from the ground, look around. You might have found a baby squirrel. If you do see one without its mother around and it is in need of assistance, you may be the only person who can save it, but that should be your last resort. Primarily you should leave it alone, and wait for its mother to care for it. If that isn't an option, the second best action is to find a wildlife rehabilitator to care for the squirrel until it can care for itself - more on that later. Only when the first two actions are unavailable should you consider trying to care for the baby yourself. In that situation I hope this guide serves and a sound basis for your journey.
Did you know? A baby squirrel can't take care of itself until it is 12 weeks old!
What Species is the Squirrel?
The two most common species of squirrel that you'll find in the US are Eastern Greys and American Red squirrels. As the names suggest, you can tell them apart by their coloring. Eastern Greys can be black, gray, or brown with golden hues. They are mostly seen in the eastern US and Canada.
American Red squirrels have a reddish-brown hue on their head and back but a white undercoat. They are also smaller than greys. You can see red squirrels east to west, north to south throughout North America.
Both species develop at about the same rate, and you can care for either species in the same manner.
Identify the Baby Squirrel's Age
Unlike other animals at birth, baby squirrels can't do anything on their own. They require intense care as they develop. You can estimate how old the baby squirrel is by matching its appearance and behavior to these descriptions.
- Newborn to 1 week: pink body, no fur, eyes closed, body measures about three inches long (not including the tail), American red squirrels will have a dark stripe down the middle of their snout
- 2 weeks: fur starting to develop on the back but not on the underside, eyes still closed
- 3 weeks: has grown to about 4 inches long (excluding tail), front lower teeth are coming in, eyes still closed
- 4 weeks: body is approximately 5 inches long, fur growing on the underside, eyes open
- 5 weeks: 6 inches long, top front teeth coming in
- 6 weeks: develops back (cheek) teeth, can sit up on its own and hold food in its front paws
- 7-8 weeks: 7-8 inches long, fur has fully grown in, becoming more active
- 8-12 weeks: learning to climb, still smaller than adult squirrels, can be released outdoors if healthy
Baby squirrels need care for about three months. After that, you can continue supporting them by releasing them outside and filling a squirrel feeder for them to use. Place it in an easy-to-reach, easy-to-see location. Providing a squirrel feeder will ensure that they are getting enough nutrition as they learn to forage for their food supply.
How do You Know if a Baby Squirrel is an Orphan?
You might find a baby squirrel alone and feel the need to care for it. Just be sure that the mother is no longer able to care for it herself.
If the baby squirrel is injured or looks dehydrated or malnourished, take it. If it is hurt, the mother will not be able to heal it. Depending on the severity of the injury, you or even a veterinarian might not be able to save it, but human care will be more effective than the little that the mother squirrel can do. If your pet dog, cat, or another predator carried it away from its home, the mother might not be able to find it again anyway.
If it is dehydrated or starving, you can tell that the mother has not been able to care for it. She might have been trapped and removed in another yard, killed by a predator, or died from falling or natural causes.
If, however, the baby appears healthy, leave it where it is until dark. Monitor it from afar as much as you can to keep it safe, but allow time for the mother to return to it. She might be watching you to make sure it's safe for her to return. She might be creating a new nest and need time to finish it before carrying the baby to its new home. She might be in the process of moving the rest of the litter to the nest and will eventually come back for this one. Finally, if the baby fell from the nest due to high winds or a predator attempting to carry it off, it might take her some time to find it and carry it back to safety.
Did you know? A squirrels teeth never stop growing! They have to gnaw and chew on things to keep their teeth from getting too large.
You can help keep the baby squirrel warm by creating a make-shift nest around it. Place bottles full of warm water under a blanket, towel, or old clothing. Surround the baby with warmth, but do not cover it. Placing the baby in a box, even with the lid open, or covering it with cloth, can make it harder for the mother to see. It also might make her more wary of approaching your setup. You can pick up the baby to position it more comfortably and securely in the nest. Unlike, birds, squirrels will not be bothered by the smell of human oils on their babies. They will shy away from the baby if they are chilled, so keeping them warm is the best you can do for them at this point.
If you notice the likely mother come to the baby but then leave again, don't be discouraged. She knows where the baby is, has checked on its health, and has likely gone to forage for food or secure a new nest.
Squirrels are only active during the day, so if the mother has not returned by dark, you can assume that she isn't able to. If she could, she would have. She would not leave the baby on its own, even if a new nest were not ready to receive it. She would come back to check on and feed it at the very least.
Correcting Human Disruptions
Before we move on to adopting and caring for the orphan you found, you might be able to reunite it with its mother by changing or reversing some human behaviors. Construction and landscape projects often disrupt animal habitats. There's nothing wrong with maintaining your property, but you might find a litter of baby squirrels separated from their mother when you do so.
Where did you find the baby squirrel? Was it near a tree you recently cut down? Was it under the porch where you recently applied a new lattice? Was it on your roof?
Squirrels do not always create nests in trees . They will burrow or find a warm corner. Nestling up against a house under a dark porch is quite cozy for a squirrel. A leafy gutter also makes a soft bed. If you've recently cleaned out your gutters or closed off an area with new fencing, consider reversing your steps for a time. Make a temporary leaf nest in the gutter and give the mother time to reclaim her young. Open the fence or latticework. If you cut down a tree, don't chop the wood or remove the brush right away. The mother will see that her chosen location is no longer suitable and will make a new nest elsewhere. Once she's moved the babies to a new home, you can continue with your project.
Adopting a Baby Squirrel for Care
Being afraid of humans is a partly instinctual, partly learned behavior for squirrels. Baby squirrels who can walk but are alone, will often overcome their fear and approach humans. They've even been known to follow people home or climb up a person's leg. It's an interesting, immensely heartwarming phenomenon, but it also shows how desperate the baby is. If they are willing to approach you for possible help, they have apparently been left alone for some time. Although mobile at six weeks old, a squirrel relies upon and stays with its mother until it is about 12 weeks old.
Younger babies cannot even begin to walk or gather food for themselves. Most of the time, the babies that you find will be newborns who haven't yet opened their eyes. Baby squirrels are docile enough that there is little danger of them biting you. They will generally accept you picking them up, handling them, and feeding them. If you have the time, caring for a baby squirrel can be an exceedingly rewarding experience.
Initial Care: Checking for Injuries and Bathing
The first step is to check the baby squirrel for injuries.
1. Using a soft cloth, gently pick up the baby and carry it indoors to a well-lit room with a sink. You can also fill a bucket or large basin with warm water if you don't want to take it inside or into the central living area of the house.
2. Caress the baby's face. It should move its head from side to side. If it doesn't, the baby might have a broken neck or spinal injury.
3. Gently squeeze each paw and the tail. Watch how the baby reacts. It should pull away from the pressure. If it doesn't, or if the movement seems unnatural, it might have a broken leg or tail.
4. Next, mix some dish soap in warm water and bathe the baby. Use a soft washcloth to clean any cuts and brush away debris or parasites. Be sure to wash the nose and face. Clear the nostrils for natural breathing. Using a soft, wet cloth simulates a mother's tongue grooming the baby.
5. Lastly, use a Q-tip to stimulate the baby squirrel's genital area and anus. Doing so is often necessary for baby animals to release waste and would be a regular part of a mother's care. It might take a couple of minutes' worth of stimulation before the baby pees. You will need to keep stimulating the area until it is finished to ensure the baby empties its bladder.
If a male squirrel does not start urinating at least a little amount within a couple of minutes, check for a swollen penis. Baby squirrels suck on any nipple-like appendage and can sometimes cause a brother's penis to swell and scab over. If this is the case, soak the lower part of the squirrel's body in warm water for about 20 minutes to soften the scab. You can then wipe the scab off with the washcloth and allow it to release its urine.
If the baby has been alone for a significant amount of time, the urine might be more brown than clear, showing its degree of dehydration.
If you suspect broken bones, find deep lacerations, or unable to stimulate urination, call a veterinarian for help. Some vet offices see small rodents. Others can direct you to a wildlife specialist who might be able to help. If your cat caught the squirrel, it would need antibiotics to fight off infections received from the cat. Just as a cat scratch or bite can irritate your skin, feline germs and bacteria can be toxic to small animals.
Secondary Care: Warming
The warm bath will have helped heat the baby up. It will drop again, though, as it dries. To keep the baby's core temperature up, place it in a box with a blanket bed. Cover the baby, even its head, and put the box on a heating pad or next to a heater. Check on the baby every 15 minutes. If you found more than one baby squirrel, place them next to each other for comfort and to share body heat. The presence of a littermate will help the squirrel feel safe and relaxed.
You can also hold the baby squirrel cupped between your hands or let it snuggle against your body for warmth.
Rehydration is often more important than food during the first day of care. You can use Pedialyte or mix half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of sugar in two cups of water and feed it to the squirrel with a feeding syringe. Pedialyte is more efficient than the water mixture, so if you can pick some up at the store, do so. Look for the unflavored variety, but if you can't find it, squirrels will generally drink the flavored mixes as well.
A feeding syringe does not have a needle, but an open, cone-shaped top. It is often used to administer oral liquid medications to animals. You can dip the top into the liquid, pull back on the plunger to fill the vial, and then press the plunger forward to drop or squirt the liquid into the squirrel's mouth.
To help the squirrel drink, place it upright in a sitting or position or as if it were standing on its hind legs. You can do this by mounting a blanket or towel around it or holding it in your hand. You don't want to give it liquid lying on its back as it might choke. If the baby squirrel is particularly wiggly, you might need to hold it to keep it still. It might also be helpful to use cotton gloves when handling the squirrel and to avoid washing them unless they become soiled with waste material. The gloves will absorb the squirrel's scent and help it to feel safe and calm.
Administer the liquid slowly. A squirrel that drinks too fast can choke and allow fluid to enter its nasal passages. If the liquid starts coming out of its nose, turn it upside down to let the liquid to drain out entirely through the nose rather than flowing down into its lungs.
You'll want to go slowly at first as the baby squirrel might be too weak to swallow much at a time. It might also be too small to drink very much during one sitting, so continue to offer the liquid about every half hour. After every drinking period or at least once per hour, re-stimulate the squirrel's genitals. When the urine appears light yellow or clear, you can move on to more nutritious foods.
Clean the baby's face and neck with a wet, warm cloth after every drinking period as the salt and sugar water can leave a sticky residue.
What if the Squirrel Won't Drink?
Most animals need to feel safe and comfortable before they can turn their attention to eating or drinking. It's part of their survival instinct. Be safe first; then eat when they can. If your baby squirrel doesn't seem to want to drink, try the following.
- Hold the squirrel upright in hand towel to keep it warm.
- Stimulate its genitals with a wet, warm cloth to see if it needs to urinate before taking more liquid.
- Make sure you are in a quiet environment.
- Dim the lights to simulate a dark and hidden nest.
- Hold it close to your face and whisper to it so that it gets used to your scent and learns that you're not a danger.
- Warm the Pedialyte or salt and sugar water to room temperature.
- Stay calm and patient. Don't try rush or the squirrel will sense your unease.
Once you establish the right mood and bond with the baby squirrel, it will usually take liquid from you without hesitation.
What to Feed a Baby Squirrel
If the baby squirrel has done well with the syringe, you can graduate to a feeding bottle with elongated nipples. You might need to poke holes in these nipples. To do so, just pierce the nipple with a needle or toothpick and then boil the nipple with the needle or toothpick still in the hole. Remove the nipple from the boiling water, let it cool, and then remove the piercing instrument. The hole will be permanently formed.
Adult squirrels aren't too discerning about what they'll eat , but a baby squirrel's digestive system is sensitive. Feeding a baby squirrel the wrong thing could cause diarrhea and dehydration or, worse, send their body into shock. Never feed them human formula, cow's milk, or milk substitutes. If you aren't sure on what baby squirrels eat, the best feeding solution you can buy is puppy milk. Esbilac and similar products are available at veterinary offices and pet food stores. Look for the powdered version and then slowly introduce the solution to the baby squirrel's system in the following stages.
- 1. Mix one part powdered puppy milk in three parts Pedialyte or salt and sugar water.
- 2. Mix two parts puppy milk in two parts liquid.
- 3. Increase to three parts puppy milk to one part rehydration solution.
- 4. Continue with undiluted puppy milk.
Stay at each stage for two feedings and offer the solution every two and a half hours. It would be helpful to wake up once during the night to provide the baby squirrel an additional feeding time. Be sure to follow the directions on the puppy milk packaging so that powder fully dissolves. Warm your mixture to room temperature to make it palatable to the baby squirrel and to avoid chilling it.
The amount that you should feed a baby squirrel during each period will depend on its age and species. Keep in mind that a malnourished squirrel will probably not be able to take a full feeding until it regains its strength.
- Newborns to 1 week: Eastern greys .75cc-1.25cc every 2.5 hours / American reds .5cc every 2.5 hours
- 2 weeks: Greys 2.5-3cc every 3 hours / Reds 1-1.5cc every 3 hours
- 3 weeks: Greys 4-5.5cc every 3 hours / Reds 1.75-2cc every 3 hours
- 4 weeks: Greys 6-9cc every 3.5 hours / Reds 2-2.5cc every 3. 5 hours
- 5 weeks: Greys 10-12cc every 4 hours / Reds 3-4cc every 4 hours
- 6 weeks: Greys 12-14cc every 4 hours / Reds 4-6 cc every 4 hours
- 7 weeks: Greys 14-16cc every 8 hours / Reds 7-8 cc every 8 hours
- 8-12 weeks: Greys 16-18cc every 12 hours / Reds 9-10 cc every 12 hours
Remember that American red squirrels are smaller than Eastern greys and so will need much less food. You will also need to continue stimulating urination and washing the face and neck after each feeding.
Judging Digestive Health
Pay attention to the baby squirrel's stool. When it is dehydrated, the stool might be dark brown or black and will often be quite loose. After it begins digesting the puppy milk, it should turn to yellowish-brown pellets. If the stool appears very pale, add plain water to the mixture to dilute the milk solution.
If the baby's stomach seems bloated, soak its lower body in warm water for half an hour and massage its abdomen. Skip a feeding period and administer only Pedialyte or salt and sugar water. If the bloating does not dissipate within 24 hours, call a veterinarian or wildlife specialist to check for parasites.
Contact Your Local Wildlife Service
After you have done your best to clean, warm, feed, and treat injuries, the next best step is to call your local wildlife authority. Park services often have nature centers where they can house and rehabilitate injured or orphaned animals. The staff and volunteers of a nature center will have the time and resources to best care for your orphaned squirrel. You would also be free to visit and check up on the little one's progress. And a wildlife shelter might already have another baby squirrel with which they can socialize your rescue.
Guidelines for Ongoing Care
If you are committed to caring for the baby squirrel yourself, here are a few essential guidelines to follow.
1. A squirrel is not a pet. You should not approach caring for a baby squirrel expecting it to become a permanent pet. Once it is mobile, it will be mobile. It will either tear around your house like it does the trees outside or it will be miserable while confined to a cage. Without enough area to expend energy, a caged squirrel will become violent. Even raised from birth, a squirrel cannot be domesticated. It is not an indoor animal.
2. A squirrel should be socialized with other squirrels. If you found one orphaned squirrel, there's a chance that the rest of the litter is nearby. Do your best to walk your yard for a couple of days, listening for little squeaks. Raising the squirrel with others will help it learn how to play and behave appropriately. They will watch each other and pick up new skills.
3. A squirrel should not socialize with other pets or people. For the sake of its outdoor survival, a squirrel needs a healthy fear of people and other animals. You will need to feed, bathe, and play with it to help it develop, but do not let others do so. It will recognize you as its “mother” while retaining its cautious attitude toward people who are not you. Keep it in a room by itself so that other people are not likely to pass its cage. Do not let it become familiar and friendly with your dog or cat. If they have a positive relationship with your pet, they might not know to run when they encounter another of the same species outside.
You can continue with the puppy milk according to the age and breed guidelines above, but consider thickening it with whipping cream or plain yogurt to add fat content. If the baby squirrel is very young or if you intend to nurse more baby squirrels, you can order specially made squirrel milk from Fox Valley Animal Nutrition. Some pet stores will carry their products, but they are more of a specialty item, not in demand on most shelves.
It will be tempting to give the squirrel as much milk as it wants, but be careful to follow the guideline. Some animals do not know their limits and will overheat, giving themselves bloated stomachs, diarrhea, or other digestive issues.
Once they are doing well and have reached a certain age, you can also introduce solid food into their diet. You do not need to regulate solid food once the squirrel is doing well. Allow it to eat as much as it wants.
- At three weeks, you can provide rat and mice rodent block for them to chew on.
- At six weeks, add unsalted sunflower seeds and raw fruit, such as apple slices, grapes, and banana.
Creating a Habitat
The “nest” that you make for your squirrel will need to change as it grows.
Stage 1: At first, a baby squirrel isn't very mobile so that a small box will do just fine. Lay blankets or old towels in the bottom of the box and place it in a dark, quiet room over a heating pad or next to a heater. Poke holes in the box for air circulation and close the lid. Recover the baby squirrel after every feeding or handling time.
Make sure that the cloth does not have loose strings or holes in which the baby squirrel could get caught. Wash or change the materials once a day with unscented detergent. Do not use dryer sheets or other scented additives. It's best to let the squirrel's scent permeate the fabric so that it feels safe without distracting smells. Strong odors can also irritate a baby squirrel's sinuses and lungs.
Do not use woodchips like you would in other rodent habitats. The chips will be too rough the baby squirrel's skin, too aromatic for its lungs, and will not provide enough insulation to keep it warm. You can move to woodchips in Stage 3.
When the baby is about three weeks old, they will start developing their lower front teeth. To help them teethe and to begin introducing solid food into their diet, place a few pieces of rodent block in their box. It is a small pellet-shaped food that will provide all the nutrition the squirrel needs. Choose rodent block made for mice and rats rather than hamsters and gerbils to match the squirrel's needs more closely.
Stage 2: When the baby reaches five weeks and its eyes open, it will want to be more mobile. Move it to a larger box, dog carrier, or rodent cage. If the holes in the pet carrier or cage are large enough for the squirrel to squeeze through, cover the panels with a smaller material, such as bird netting, chicken wire, or old window screens.
Add a hanging water bottle to the side of the habitat and give the squirrel a mineral stone for small mammals. The mineral stone is a salty treat they will lick to gain essential minerals, such as calcium and iron.
Stage 3: At eight weeks old, the baby squirrel is very energetic and nearly ready to be released. It will need a large cage. With sturdy wiring that it can't chew through. A large dog crate is the minimum size you will want at this stage.
Lay a tarp under the cage and fill the bottom with cloths or woodchips. Keep in mind that you will still need to change this bedding out every day. You'll also want to add climbing materials, such as tree branches or hanging dowel rods. You can push dowel rods through the holes of the cage and secure them in place by tying the ends together or placing nuts and washers on the ends. You can create a hanging or pedestal nesting box to simulate how they will live outdoors.
Place this cage outside or in an open garage for at least a few hours per day to help them acclimate to outdoor life. Bring them back inside or close the garage at dusk to keep them safe from lurking predators. Continue this pattern for three to four weeks.
As with human children, play is learning. You will need to handle, stimulate, cuddle, and play with the baby squirrel to help it learn how to use its muscles. You will also want to place plenty of “toys” in its box or cage. Squirrels are not picky. They will explore and play with anything, but for their own good, include natural items. Once they have fur as physical protection against abrasions, you can place sticks, bark, woodchips, leaves, nuts, pinecones, grass clippings, sod, dirt, or feathers in the box. When you release them back outside, they will be familiar with these natural items.
At 12 weeks old, your healthy baby squirrel is ready to be released outside. Take the nesting box that you made and nail it in the crook of a tree. Try to do this when it is warm and dry for a couple of days so that you can stock the box with towels for the squirrel to hide or nestle in.
Bring the cage outside and set it door-open next to the tree. Back away and wait for the squirrel to come out. Some squirrels are more adventurous, some more cautious. Eventually, they will leave the cage and, most likely, climb the tree. They will see their nest box and know that they can use it as their new home. Remove the cage and continue monitoring their explorations.
You will want to fill a food and water bowl some distance from their nesting tree. Doing so will ensure that other animals attracted to the food are not immediately made aware of the nesting box as well. You can also use a squirrel feeder to ensure it is getting enough nutrition.
You'll eventually lose track of your squirrel friend, but don't be surprised if it comes to visit you out in the yard once in a while. If it spent three or more weeks with you, it will remember you and know that you are someone to be trusted.
Baby Squirrel Facts
Here is a quick summary of what you've read for easy reference.
- Baby squirrels make a high-pitched squeaking noise.
- Eastern grey squirrels are black, gray, or brown.
- American red squirrels are reddish-brown with a black stripe on their nose.
- Baby squirrels need to be taken care of until they are 12 weeks old.
- They are pink and bald at first.
- Baby squirrels need Pedialyte and puppy milk to grow.
- You can feed a baby squirrel with a bottle and it will bond to you as its “mother.”
- You have to keep baby squirrels warm and massage their genitals to make them pee.
- At three weeks, they start developing teeth.
- At four weeks, they open their eyes.
- At six weeks, baby squirrels can eat seeds, nuts, and fruit.
- At eight weeks, they start learning how to climb.
- Even after you release it, a baby squirrel will know and remember you.
Degu (Chilean squirrel) - description, photo, care and maintenance at home
- Features of content
- Possible health problems for degus
Lovely Chilean squirrels (degus) differ from other rodents in that, with the right content, they live for a long time - up to 7 years. Of course, caring for them does not require special skills, but you still need to know how to feed them and how to handle them.
In the article we will talk about these charming creatures and the features of caring for them.
These are cute Chilean squirrels that look a bit like jerboas. Their second nickname is Degus.
Degus were first discovered in the 18th century. Then they were pests of agricultural land, but people began to use them for scientific research.
Scientists are interested in degus, as they are awake most of the day, and specific changes occur in their brain cells. This allowed researchers to model the development of Alzheimer's disease on them, to conduct experiments on diabetes mellitus and on the rhythms of day and night.
Gradually, from the laboratories, they got to the breeders, as it is impossible to resist their charming faces.
General characteristics of degu
Body length: 95-125 mm.
Body weight: 200-300 g.
Colour: grey-brown with an orange tinge.
Degus are awake during the day, and eat in the morning or evening, as they hide from the sun, which can make them feel bad.
They climb trees very well, so they easily climb furniture.
They are herbivorous rodents, so degu food consists of bran, cereals, dried fruits and vegetables.
Between themselves, Chilean squirrels communicate with the help of sounds reminiscent of bird chirping.
Rodents have one interesting feature: if they are grabbed by the tail, they can sense danger and throw it off, so do not be surprised that you have skin left in your hands, and the animal will gnaw the bare area. They can't do this trick twice, so don't try to catch degus this way.
Degus have only 20 teeth, which do not stop growing throughout their lives, so they need to be grinded down from time to time.
Before you breed these cute animals, think carefully. They have their own characteristics.
Chilean Squirrel Plus
1. They don't take up much space: they only need a small cage .
2. Chilean squirrels quickly become attached to humans.
3. If you have had rodents before, then you know that they often do not sleep at night, gnaw on the bars of the cage and make loud noises. With degus, this problem will not arise: they do not sleep during the day, and rest peacefully at night.
4. They drink little liquids and, accordingly, rarely go to the toilet, so the cage will not have to be cleaned very often.
Disadvantages of keeping degus
1. Noise and garbage: although degus sleep at night, they like to spend time actively during the day, so do not expect peace and perfect cleanliness with degus.
2. The desire to destroy everything: degus are rodents, which means they like to climb everywhere, gnaw something, turn it over. Get ready to change the decor in the cage from time to time.
If you are a caring owner, then the degu will live happily ever after with you. Like all exotic animals, they can be picky eaters.
Before starting a degu, get a roomy and high checkered . The minimum dimensions are 60x45x40. Be sure to place the wheel, tiers, and extra ladders inside. Chilean squirrels are active creatures, and they need to spend their energy on something.
Some owners let the animals walk around the apartment. Keep in mind that you only need to do this if you have already made friends with them and know their habits, since degus are difficult to catch.
House for them should be made of durable and safe material, best of all - ceramics.
In cage place absorbent pads or sawdust as bedding. Straw and hay will not work, as the degu may start eating them and become poisoned by their own secretions. Cat litter or mineral-derived litters are also not the best option, because they can damage the delicate skin on the paws.
Install an auto-drinker and an auto-feeder inside. Just pouring food into a saucer is not the best idea, as the animal will quickly scatter it all over the place.0003 cage .
Don't forget sand baths. Purchase a model that is sold for chinchillas.
Place the cage in a place where it is not too cold or sunny: degus like it when a constant room temperature is maintained. It is also desirable to protect rodents from other animals.
Choose special foods specifically for degus, as rabbit foods are not suitable for the Chilean squirrel.
It is better to feed rodents in portions: break the daily allowance into 3-5 meals. You can spoil the animals with treats.
Degus are very clean, but bathing them in water is not recommended. From the slightest hypothermia, they can get sick, so they take sand baths. To do this, buy them a chinchilla bath. Sift sand into it, add talc or baby powder to it.
These hygiene procedures will help remove excess fat from the animal, which will have a good effect on its health.
Clean the cage once a week , but check it occasionally, as the animals may hide leftover food inside. Remove it so that the animal does not eat spoiled food.
Once a month wash the cage , remove the bedding, but leave a small piece of the old filler inside so that the animal can smell it.
Chilean squirrels are smart pets and can learn a variety of tricks. To do this, reward them with treats. Here are some of those tricks:
1. Team "Dance". Use the treat in your hand to attract the animal's attention. Then rotate your hand along with him in the same direction until he turns after you. Then reward your pet. Loudly repeat the command.
2. "Here." Lure the squirrel to a specific spot with a piece of treat . After some time, you will notice that she will resort there already without him, just on command.
3. "Jump". Place the degu on one knee, move the other a little to the side and lure it with a treat. When the animal jumps, thank him and scratch behind his ear.
To achieve obedience from your pet, spend enough time with him. Do not try to pick up the animals from above or from the side. This is due to the fact that in the wild they are grabbed from above by birds of prey. Better lure them with treats and pet them.
These rodents choose their partner for a long time and carefully. Healthy and adult individuals from 1 to 5 years old and weighing from 220 g are allowed to mate.
After placing a male and a female in the same cage , keep an eye on them. They will need time to get to know each other and find a common language before moving on to intimacy.
Between births in females must pass at least a year. Of course, they can give birth immediately after pregnancy, but this will negatively affect their health. That is why the female after mating should be resettled in another checkered .
Pregnant females bear offspring in for 3 months. Already after the first month you will notice a rounded tummy in the degu. In addition, the pet will become difficult to move, slowly and carefully.
On average, a degu gives birth to 4 to 8 babies. Organize a nest in cage for a new mother, where the newborns will be cozy and warm. As soon as they grow up a little, the mother can be returned to her original cage. Babies can stay in the cage and live on their own.
Be sure to take the degu to the veterinary clinic for childbirth, because at home this process can be difficult and even with complications. Therefore, it is important that an experienced ratologist is with the expectant mother.
Baby degu care
Newborns are born with open eyes and fur on the skin. They develop rapidly and after 6 weeks of birth become independent enough to live in individual cells .
The female degu is able to take care of her offspring herself, but in cases where she is absent, the whole burden of care will fall on the shoulders of the person.
Feed babies with Newborn Kitten Formula every 2 hours. Then massage it on the tummies for better digestion. The term of feeding is from 2 weeks. In addition to this, provide them with a warm and secluded corner where they can sleep and rest.
Possible health problems for degus
Although Chilean squirrels are naturally healthy, they can also get sick. Here are the most common diseases:
Degus are naturally prone to diabetes. It is often caused by malnutrition, so in any case, do not give the Chilean squirrel sweets or a lot of nuts.
Signs of diabetes in degus:
- lethargic behavior;
- loss of orientation in space;
- decreased vision.
Your veterinarian will prescribe a diet for your pet and advise you to constantly monitor your blood sugar levels. To do this, use a glucometer or test strips.
Drafts and swimming in the water can cause hypothermia and reduce the pet's immunity. Viral infections manifest themselves in degus in the same way as in humans: lethargy, nasal discharge, tearing, and lack of appetite.
If they appear, do not delay a visit to the veterinarian: only he will be able to prescribe the correct treatment. Usually it includes washing the mucous membranes, drinking plenty of water and rest.
Causes of hair loss in degus:
- improper diet;
The veterinarian will prescribe treatment to prevent hair loss, but if the root cause is not corrected, then the alopecia will continue.
Due to malnutrition, unsuitable food, Chilean squirrels can develop gastrointestinal upset. Do not overfeed your baby, do not give him forbidden treats, sweets and other harmful foods.
1. Degus are adorable cute creatures that look like jerboas or squirrels. They will become your good friends if you care for them and love them.
2. Before you bring your degu home, buy him cage , house , wheel, stairs.
3. Feed your pet regularly, 3-5 times a day.
4. Remove food and other debris from the degu's home daily, and once a month do a general cleaning of the cage and all accessories.
5. Play and train degus to learn simple tricks.
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Veterinary of the Sumy region - What to feed the squirrel?
What to feed the squirrel?
One of the products that I use in feeding baby squirrels is Esbilac milk replacer for puppies. You can purchase it at most pet stores.
Esbilac may be sold in powder or liquid form. I prefer to buy Esbilac powder. Do not buy instead of Esbilak its substitutes that you can offer in the store. At the same time, get a few syringes in the store (or pharmacy), but without needles.
You can pick up a gift for your loved one in the online store dom-podarka.ru.
Never, ever use bottles with nipples when feeding a squirrel! The squirrel can suffocate because of them!
Instead of bottles, you will need 1 to 3 unit syringes for feeding very young squirrels, and 5 to 10 unit syringes for feeding slightly older squirrels.
Instead of needles, you need to put on syringes small papillae, which can be sold in pet stores.
If you cannot find such small papillae, then use a pipette, but in this case, be extremely careful not to feed the squirrel too quickly, otherwise it may choke.
Mix 2 parts liquid esbilac with 1 part water (if using powdered esbilac add 2 parts water to 1 part esbilac). You can also add just a little fruity sweetener for kids. Only quite a bit! You can use fruit banana sweetener - squirrels really like this taste.
You can also add some yoghurt to the nutritional formula.
Mix the formula in a clean jar and then store the formula in the refrigerator.
Then, for each feeding, heat only the part of the formula that will be used for that feeding.
When heating the mixture in the microwave, be careful not to heat the mixture too hot.
Then draw the formula into the syringe and feed the squirrel very gently.
When feeding, I lay the older baby squirrels on a flat surface and feed them in that position. If the squirrels are still too small, then you can feed them by holding them in your hand.
Be very careful and slow to prevent the squirrel from drowning.
Sometimes a baby squirrel can suckle formula so fast that it starts to choke. In this case, you need to immediately stop feeding and hold the baby upside down so that excess fluid can flow back out. After that, you need to wipe the squirrel's nose and mouth and then continue feeding, only more slowly.
A very small baby squirrel with hair that is still completely absent or has barely begun to grow, needs regular feeding every 2-3 hours, as thin squirrels cannot eat enough at one meal.
Two to three week old squirrels should be fed regularly every 3 to 4 hours.
Three to five week old baby squirrels need to be fed every 4-5 hours.
At the age of five weeks, squirrels should be fully furred and their eyes should be opening. At this age, they can be fed every four hours during the day, and can no longer be fed at night.
The amount of food a squirrel needs at each meal is not strictly defined. The squirrel may eat a little more or a little less.
Here is an approximate feeding schedule for baby squirrels depending on their age:
- From one day to two weeks old: 0.5-2 cc. see for each meal, 6-8 feedings per day.
- 2 to 4 weeks old: 2-4 cc. see for each meal, 5 or 6 feedings during the day.
4 to 6 weeks of age: 4-6 (or even more) cc. see for each meal, 4 meals during the day, you can no longer feed at night.
From the age of six weeks, squirrels can already eat more solid food (zu prem biscuit and small pieces of plant food) in addition to the nutritional formula that they need to be given in a volume of 6-12 cc. see at every meal. Squirrels of this age need to be fed 2-3 times a day.
I always give baby squirrels a nutritional formula until then. Until they give up on it.
Also squirrels are given goat's milk with the following calculation:
1 day - 1:4 (goat's milk:water)
Day 2 - 1:3 (goat's milk:water)
Day 3 - 1:2 (goat's milk:water)
If a baby squirrel is fed goat's milk, its feces are like yellow toothpaste. If the feces become more liquid, start giving the squirrel the mixture as on the first day (1:4).
Squirrel must always be clean. After each feeding, wipe around the mouth with a damp cloth. Gently clean the genitals and anus several times a day (more often if necessary).
Vitamins must be added to goat's milk mixture. Very tiny squirrels are given one drop twice a day during the first week of feeding. Squirrels of three weeks of age are given one drop 3 times a day. When the squirrel opens his eyes, give him two drops of vitamins 3 times a day.