How Much to Feed a Squirrel
The first 12 to 24 hours the baby should be fed only an electrolyte hydration formula, such as Pedialyte for infants. Do not start feeding a baby until it is first warm, well hydrated, and has started to eliminate normally. Reference the links at the bottom of this page for more information on these topics.
If the baby has never had formula or is changing to a new brand, you must slowly introduce it over several feedings. Formula is never exactly like, or as good as, mother's natural milk. The baby's gastro- intestinal tract (gut) needs time to adjust to man-made formulas through slow introduction from the hydration fluid to full strength formula. Reference the section entitled, “Transitioning to Formula” at the bottom of the Feeding Technique page (Link at bottom).
Figuring Out How Much to Feed
The ideal amount to feed the baby at each feeding is up to 5% of its body weight at an interval that closely matches the frequency the mother would feed her young in the wild. Below is a rough guide to the amount and schedule for feeding a baby based on its approximate age and size.
It is highly recommended that you purchase a gram scale to reduce overfeeding. Baby squirrels are notorious hogs and will happily overeat. Overeating may result in life threatening diarrhea and easy predation by cats, hawks and other menaces that prefer chubby slow moving prey. Reference the link entitled, “Feeding complications” for more information.
If you don’t have a method of weighing the baby and are unsure of its age, you can roughly estimate it by comparing your squirrel to the ones pictured on the “How to determine the age of a baby squirrel” article (link to the right) available on the Chris’s Squirrels & More website.
The maximum amount should be no more than 5% in cc’s for the squirrel’s body weight in grams.
For example, if the squirrel weighs 100 grams (approximately 3.5 ounces), then 5% is 5 grams (.17 ounces) which translates to 5 cc (cubic centimeters) or ml (milliliter) or (1 tsp) of formula.
Table 1: Feeding Amounts by Weight
Figuring Out How Frequently to Feed
How often you feed a baby squirrel the amounts listed above depends on their age. Use Table 2 below to figure out how often to feed your babies based on their ages.
Here's an example based on Table 1 below:
A squirrel weighing 100 grams should be fed every 4 to 5 hours (reference Table 1 for squirrels weighing 120-160 grams) . The amount fed should be no more than of 5 cc (1/2 tsp*) of formula (reference Table 2 for amounts based on 100 grams of weight.
A note about frequency: It is ok to feed plus or minus 1/2 hour to accommodate scheduling for squirrels under 6 weeks. Older squirrels can be fed plus or minus 1 hour.
*Reference the Online Conversion Calculators if converting grams (weight) or cc’s (volume) to other measuring systems.
Table 2: Feeding Frequency by Age and Weight
Keeping Track of Feedings
It’s important that the baby doesn't get too much or too little formula to eat and that you know when it last eliminated (and if the product was normal - No blood in urine, loose or foul smelling stool!
Lack of normal appetite and abnormal bodily functions are important queues indicating a problem requiring immediate attention.
Keeping track can be especially hard when you have more than one care giver or multiple squirrels.
Our advice is, Write it down! Use our recommended daily care chart below.
If you are caring for multiple squirrels you might notice that it can be hard to tell who is who.
Consider using a temporary identification method such as a non-toxic nail polish or permanent Sharpie marker on an
ear or the tummy. You may need to reapply every few days.
If the squirrels are furred and you only have a small number , another option is to clip a small notch of fur from the tail at different locations.
Tail fur only replaces itself once a year, so don’t go crazy with this by trimming a large quantity of fur. Squirrels use their tails to communicate, for warmth, and balance.
Top Tips for the Safe Feeding of Squirrels
There are many things to consider for the proper feeding of baby squirrels, but here is a list of the top things you should know:
Do not add vitamins or minerals to any commercially prepared milk replacement product as they are already nutritionally complete.
Do not allow the baby to eat more than the recommended amount or frequency.
Never feed baby squirrels cow's milk, fruit juice, Tang, Sunny D or any other sweet drink! Really, Never!
Never attempt to feed a cold baby! Baby should feel warm in your hands. Feeding a cold baby will kill it because it cannot digest the formula when cold.
Never feed a baby on its back or too fast. Use a 1cc syringe on small babies to control the feed rate. Baby squirrels easily aspirate and choke.
Always stimulate the baby to urinate after feeding! An ‘eyes closed baby’ cannot eliminate without stimulation and will suffer a painful death without help.
Normal formula fed baby squirrel feces ranges from yellow to dark golden colored and is well formed like small seeds. If the stool becomes loose, smelly, watery, white or very pale then cut back on the concentration of formula or provide pedialyte for a few feedings until the feces is normal again. Adding a small amount of acidophilus or yogurt to the formula helps to keep the baby regular.
Learn how to properly and safely prepare food for and then feed your baby squirrel.
Get recommendations for the best tools for the safe and proper feeding of baby squirrels.
Get recommendations on the best formula to buy or make at home for baby squirrels.
Make yourself of what could go wrong during feeding, what signs to look for, and how to prevent it.
Warming Baby Squirrels
Before you feed, make sure your baby squirrel is safely warmed using our gentle and simple methods.
Learn the signs of dehydration in baby squirrels and how to treat them.
Learn how to safely stimulate your baby squirrel until they are able to potty themselves.
Have more questions? Ask the Squirrel Board, a forum managed by rehabbers and experts.