This section is intended as short term advice on what to do if you find a wildlife casualty. It is not meant for long term care, and we urge you to seek experienced help. Wild species have their own set of problems which the uninitiated will not be aware of, and more harm than good can be done if the finder attempts long term care, especially in the hand-rearing of orphans.

Whether or not there are immediate signs of illness and injury to a squirrel, dehydration and shock are important factors. Squirrels should not be cold, and in youngsters this can quickly prove fatal. See WARMTH. Do not try to feed a squirrel that is in shock or is very cold.


Water is essential for digestion and if the body’s reserves are depleted other body functions will suffer. Check that the squirrel’s nose is moist, and if possible try to check that the mouth is wet. If necessary, use the ‘pinch test’. Hold a fold of skin on the back of the neck so that it is raised. When released the skin should return to normal straight away. Try the test on the back of your hand, perhaps. If the skin doesn’t retract immediately, it is probable that the squirrel is dehydrated. Vets sell a powder called Lectade (or similar) which can be mixed with water and administered orally with a pipette. Failing this, use the International Rehydration Solution:

• Half a litre of water (preferably filtered)
• Half a teaspoonful salt
• Half a tablespoonful sugar or glucose

Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved and administer lukewarm. If the dehydration lasts more than 12 hours (or if the squirrel refuses to drink) it would be wise to see a VET who may well administer a rehydrating solution subcutaneously.


This may be hard to diagnose. If you think a squirrel is suffering from shock, it is advisable to offer warmth (not too much), quietness, darkness and shelter for a while unless it obviously needs emergency veterinary care. In general, don’t cause the squirrel any additional stress. An adult may be administered a couple of drops of Bach’s Rescue Remedy if it will take it.
Any squirrel that is unable to, or refuses to take food or drink may need to be referred to a VET.


Squirrels are susceptible to a number of diseases, many of which are not widely understood by most vets, who will often prescribe antibiotics. One of the prime aims of this website is to promote and exchange knowledge and experience, to develop a better understanding of squirrels.
Symptoms that may require attention include :

  • Sneezing, coughing, sickness, shivering or wheezing.
  • Discharge from the ears, eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Scabs, rashes or lesions.
  • Diarrhoea or passing of blood.
  •  Evidence of parasites, including a heavy flea burden.
  • Overgrown incisors.
  • Seizures, wobbling or spasms.


Severe flesh wounds, abscesses, bleeding or broken bones will need immediate veterinary treatment. Internal injuries may be hard to diagnose, but possible symptoms would be bleeding from nose, ears or mouth and/or severe listlessness. Squirrels are prone to falling from trees and this is a common cause of injury.
Minor injuries such as cuts, bites or scratches may be dealt with patience and care. Firstly, clean with a saline solution of table salt and water (approximately 1:10). Treat any wounds with a small amount of Savlon, Germolene or similar antiseptic (not disinfectant).
Flies may lay eggs on a squirrel that is not 100% healthy, especially on a wound. All eggs must be removed immediately with a pair of tweezers or they will hatch into maggots and cause further problems. Check orifices carefully for maggots and remove them. If you fear the maggots may be internal or extensive, refer to a VET.

Young Squirrels

The majority of young squirrels brought to us have been caught by a cat (or sometimes a dog) or may have fallen from their nest. They may have injuries such as puncture wounds. If the injuries seem serious or the squirrel is in some distress, get to a VET as soon as possible. In particular, cat saliva can prove fatal if it reaches the bloodstream, so an antibiotic may be necessary.

Refer to paragraph above about minor injuries.

Young squirrels will not survive long without being fed. See FEEDING.

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