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San Diego Humane Society

Squirrels: Coexisting with Wildlife

About San Diego's Squirrel Population

  • There are three types of Squirrels in San Diego, the California Ground Squirrel, the Western Gray Squirrel and the Easter Fox Squirrel.
  • The Eastern Fox Squirrel is an introduced species.
  • Project Wildlife helps about 200 squirrels each year, 99% of which is the California Ground Squirrel.
  • This ground squirrel is widespread and considered a pest by some, resulting in extermination by a number of legal means.
  • They are mainly herbivores that eat seeds, nuts and plants but sometimes will eat insects, eggs and small mammals.
  • Their main predators include hawks, coyote, bobcat, fox, weasel and mountain lion.
  • Most calls PW receives is about orphaned baby ground squirrels in the spring and about sick or injured adult ground squirrels anytime.
  • Many calls come in about their burrows in the yard and squirrels in attics or chimneys.

When does a squirrel need to come to the Project Wildlife Care Center?

  1. It's an orphaned baby squirrel. Make sure there is no mother nearby. Keep the baby squirrel warm, dark and quiet and do not feed. More tips.
  2. An adult squirrel who is sick, bleeding or has been attacked by a dog or cat. If the animal is alert never try to handle it with bare hands. Instead, carefully put a cardboard box over the animal and seal it with rocks to weigh it down, then call animal control. If the animal is not alert, you may try to nudge it into a cardboard box and bring it to the Project Wildlife Care Center yourself. More tips.

How you can help:

Abandoned Baby and Juvenile Squirrels:

Please make sure there is not a mother nearby. In not, below are tips to safely assist bringing the orphaned baby squirrel to a qualified caretaker as soon as possible.   

  • Pick up the baby with a soft cloth.
  • Put the squirrel in a closed escape-proof container such as a pet kennel or aquarium with a soft ravel-free cloth (no strings), and cover the container loosely with a towel.
  • Put the container half on and half off a towel-covered heating pad set on low.
  • Monitor it so the animal is warm to the touch, but not hot.
  • Keep the container in a quiet area, away from children and pets.
  • Do not attempt to feed any type of formula or solid foods. Baby squirrels aspirate very easily, and it’s best to leave feeding to a qualified caretaker. Please bring them the the Project Wildlife Care Center as soon as possible, these animals will need to receive immediate care at this stage.

Adult squirrels:

  • If the squirrel is alert, do not attempt to handle it.
  • Cover it with a cardboard box with air holes where it is lying (or gently nudge it out of harm's way with the end of a broom). Weight the box down with a rock or something heavy. Call a animal control.
  • If the squirrel is not very alert or cannot move, you may attempt to nudge it into a box, bucket or carrier with the end of a broom, piece of cardboard or other similar object. Do not handle with your bare hands! Cover the container snugly (make sure there are air holes) and bring to Project Wildlife Care Center.
  • Do not attempt to rehabilitate an adult squirrel for any reason. If it will be a few hours or overnight until you can get the squirrel to a rehabilitator, set the container half-on, half-off a towel-covered heating pad set on low, in a quiet area away from children and pets.
  • Do not put food or water into the container. If the squirrel is in shock or has other issues, the food and water could cause more harm than good.

Coexisting with squirrels:

  • Squirrels will readily take up residence in a building if access is available. It is important to block all holes with wood or wire mesh to prevent entry.
  • Install only free-standing bird feeders in sites where squirrels cannot get access; keep them away from shrubs and overhanging tree limbs. Put the feeder on a metal pole at least 6 feet high.
  • Prune overhanging tree limbs, shrubs, and vines that may provide access to attics and other areas. Also cover telephone and electric wires near the house with long plastic tubing.
  • Squirrels are excitable and can cause severe damage if trapped inside a home. Quickly and quietly open a door or window to the outside and leave the room.

A squirrel may fall in a chimney while climbing on the roof. Secure a heavy rope from the top of the chimney and drop it down to the fireplace. After the squirrel has exited, remove the rope and properly cap the chimney.  



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