Baby squirrels, also known as kits or kittens, are fascinating creatures that capture our attention with their playful and curious nature. Born blind and hairless, they are tiny in size, weighing only a fraction of an adult squirrel’s weight. Despite their small size, these vulnerable little animals possess remarkable survival skills and unique physical characteristics that enable them to thrive in the wild.

As baby squirrels grow and develop, their distinctive bushy tail begins to take shape, serving as a tool for balance and communication. Alongside their adult counterparts, they learn to scurry with agility and finesse, navigating the treetops to avoid predators. Their behavior evolves throughout adolescence, with their mortality rate decreasing as they acquire essential skills for survival. Eventually, these once fragile kits blossom into curious and energetic adults, ready to explore the world and contribute to their species’ continued survival.

1: The Birth of Squirrel Kits Begins in Darkness

It’s hard to imagine being born completely blind, but that’s the reality for newborn squirrels. Their eyes remain closed until they are approximately 5 to 6 weeks old, making them highly susceptible to predators.

To keep their vulnerable kits as safe as possible, squirrel parents construct nests (dreys) for their offspring in various locations, such as trees, abandoned buildings, and parks. These tree cavities and nests not only provide shelter but also serve as a defense mechanism, placing the tiny, blind infants out of reach from potential threats.

2: Some Squirrel Babies Possess the Ability to Glide Through the Air

There’s more to squirrels than just their adorable, bushy tails. Among various species of squirrels, some are uniquely gifted with the ability to “fly.” Technically, these little acrobats glide from tree to tree instead of actually flying. About 50 species, including the flying squirrel, have a loose flap of skin connecting their wrists to their ankles, which enables them to glide smoothly through the air.

Squirrels, such as the eastern gray squirrel and the red squirrel, grow up rather quickly, reaching adulthood in just 8-10 weeks. Their aerial skills are remarkable, as they can even make a complete 90-degree turn mid-air! Thus, species like tree squirrels and gray squirrels efficiently move among trees, leaving ground squirrels to navigate the forest floor.

3: Baby Squirrels Call Out to Their Moms

Just like human babies, squirrel kits express their needs through crying. When their mother squirrel is away searching for food, the baby squirrels will softly call for her to return and feed them. Even though these cries are gentle, the mother squirrel is quick to respond anytime she hears her little ones. This highlights the strong bond between the mother and her offspring, and demonstrates how attentive mother squirrels are to their siblings’ needs. This form of communication is essential for the survival of these tiny creatures in the wild.

4: Squirrel Kits Enter the World Bare

Imagine the challenges faced by infant squirrels, born both blind and without hair. Fur starts appearing at around one week old, initially around the face and head area. After a month, the squirrel pups begin to see fur growth all over their bodies, coinciding with the development of their teeth.

At around six weeks old, these young squirrels typically have their full permanent fur coat, and their eyes open up. As part of a litter, they have to brave the cold initially, but they gradually develop the much-needed warmth and protection from their fur.

5: Orphan Baby Squirrels Get Adopted

In the wild, baby squirrels can sometimes face misfortune, leading them to become orphans. Fortunately, squirrels are known to care for their young, especially when it comes to blood-related family members. The more relatives available, the higher the chances of a vulnerable baby squirrel being taken in and raised by its extended family.

This behavior of taking care of orphaned baby squirrels helps ensure their survival and allows them to grow up strong and healthy. It is important to note that rescuing and raising orphan baby squirrels should be left to professional wildlife rehabilitators or experienced veterinarians, as they have the necessary knowledge and skills for proper feeding and rehabilitation.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  • Baby Squirrel Weight: Baby squirrels usually weigh between 15 to 20 grams at birth. In just six weeks, they almost double their weight.

  • Diet: When baby squirrels are in the wild, their mothers nurse them for about 6 to 11 weeks. For those raised by humans, they are often given a special milk replacer formula. As they start eating solid foods, they enjoy fruits, vegetables like sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, and a variety of nuts, maintaining a typical rodent diet.

  • Habitat: They are born in nests which their mothers build to protect them. The mother squirrel usually constructs extra nests in separate locations for easy access in emergencies. At around 6 to 7 weeks old, she builds a new nest for the family to move into.

  • Terminology: Baby squirrels are called kits or kittens. When there is more than one baby, it is referred to as a litter. A group of squirrels is known as a scurry. They are considered juveniles after nine months.

  • Captivity & Human Intervention: Keep in mind that wild animals, like squirrels, may carry diseases such as rabies. It’s best not to keep them as pets or intervene with their natural environment unless necessary.

  • Communication & Interaction: Squirrels have a remarkable ability to communicate through vocalization and body language. They use their tails, claws, and teeth to make their intentions clear to each other and other species.

In summary, baby squirrels are fascinating creatures that live in a complex environment with unique traits and characteristics. Always remember to respect their natural habitats and avoid intervention whenever possible.

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