Help Injured Squirrels: Quick First Aid Tips

Paul West/ Pet And Wildlife Care

Stumbling upon an injured squirrel can tug at your heartstrings and leave you feeling helpless. But don’t worry, you’re about to learn how to step in as a wildlife hero.

From assessing the situation to providing the right kind of aid, this article will guide you through the essentials of squirrel rescue. You’ll discover practical steps to ensure the little critter’s safety and recovery, so keep reading to become the helping hand nature sometimes needs.

Whether it’s a simple sprain or something more serious, you’ll be equipped with the know-how to make a difference. Let’s dive into the world of wildlife care and see how you can contribute to a squirrel’s second chance at life.

Assess the Situation

Before you dive in to help an injured squirrel, stop and evaluate the surroundings. Your safety is crucial. Check for hazards such as traffic, predators, or anything else that might pose a threat to you or the squirrel.

Once you’re certain it’s safe to proceed, take a moment to observe the squirrel’s behavior. Look for signs of injury or distress, like bleeding, limping, or difficulty breathing. Watch how it moves and responds to its environment; this will give you valuable insight into the severity of the injury.

Next, gauge if the squirrel is a juvenile or an adult. Younger squirrels may require different care and are often more vulnerable. If it’s a baby squirrel, check if the mother is nearby. She’s usually the best chance for its survival.

Minimize Stress for the squirrel by keeping the area quiet and calm. Loud noises and sudden movements can exacerbate its condition. Approach the animal slowly and speak softly if necessary.

When it comes to handling an injured squirrel, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. Contact local wildlife rehabilitators or a vet who is experienced with wildlife before attempting to move the animal.

Remember, your goal is to support the squirrel’s recovery without causing further harm. If you’re not equipped to transport the animal safely, maintain a safe distance and protect it from further danger until help arrives. Provide helpful details to the rescue team, such as the exact location and the squirrel’s condition, so they can be prepared.

By taking these steps, you ensure that you’re not only acting out of kindness but also wisdom, providing the best chance for the injured squirrel’s recovery.

Keep Yourself Safe

When dealing with a potentially injured squirrel, your safety is paramount. Squirrels can carry diseases, such as rabies, and their sharp teeth and claws can cause serious injuries if they feel threatened. Always wear thick gloves and long sleeves if you’re forced to come into close contact. Protect your eyes as well with safety glasses.

Evaluate the situation carefully. If the squirrel is showing signs of aggression or erratic behavior, it’s best to maintain a safe distance. Keep pets and children away to avoid any unpredictable situations. Remember that a squirrel’s behavior can be unpredictable when they’re injured.

If it’s necessary to move the squirrel, use a tool like a shovel or a broom to gently guide it into a box or container. Never try to grab or hold the squirrel directly; a frightened animal will be inclined to bite or scratch, defending itself at all costs. If you’re unsure about handling the situation, it’s wise to wait for a professional.

Before attempting to restrain or transport the squirrel, be certain you’ve contacted a wildlife rehabilitator. Time is critical, but acting hastily can put both you and the squirrel at risk. Wait for instructions from the experts.

Here’s a checklist to ensure your safety while assisting an injured squirrel:

  • Wear thick gloves and long sleeves
  • Protect your eyes with safety glasses
  • Keep a safe distance if the squirrel is aggressive
  • Avoid direct contact—use tools to guide the squirrel
  • Keep pets and children away
  • Contact a professional before taking action

With this guidance, you’re better equipped to aid an injured squirrel without compromising your own safety. Remember to monitor the squirrel from a distance while you wait for professional help to arrive. This allows you to provide valuable information to the rescuers while ensuring that the situation remains under control.

Contact a Wildlife Rescue Organization

When you’re facing an injured squirrel scenario, your next move is to reach out to a local wildlife rescue organization. These groups specialize in the care and rehabilitation of wild animals and can offer the best guidance or take over the squirrel’s recovery.

Find a Local Rehabilitator
Start by searching online for wildlife rehabilitators in your area. You can also call animal shelters, veterinarians, or check with the humane society to get contacts. These experts are licensed to care for wild creatures and have the knowledge to address injuries properly. They’ll instruct you on safe capture methods or advise you to wait for a professional’s arrival.

Gather Necessary Information
When you contact a rescuer, be prepared to share:

  • Your location
  • Details of the squirrel’s condition
  • How you found the squirrel
  • Any actions you’ve taken

This information helps them prepare for the situation and provide specific instructions based on the squirrel’s needs.

Understand the Rescuer’s Approach
Wildlife rehabilitators often use a gentle, minimally invasive strategy to avoid stressing the animal further. They might share tips on how to create a calming environment or what to feed an injured squirrel if immediate assistance isn’t available.

Remember, your safety is paramount. Even with the best of intentions, handling a wild animal without proper training can lead to injury. By involving professionals, you’re not only safeguarding yourself but also ensuring the welfare of the squirrel.

To keep the squirrel stable until help arrives, you can:

  • Place it in a well-ventilated box
  • Keep it in a warm, dark, and quiet area
  • Avoid feeding it without professional advice

Bear in mind, rescuers work diligently, but their response times vary. Patience is important as they handle many cases daily. Your adherence to their guidance will contribute significantly to the squirrel’s chance of recovery.

Provide Temporary Shelter

If you come across an injured squirrel, it’s essential to create a safe space for it while waiting for professional help. Your first step should be to find a suitable container. A cardboard box is often ideal since it’s readily available and easy to ventilate. Make sure it’s large enough for the squirrel to turn around but cozy enough to provide a sense of security.

Ensure you poke holes in the box for air before gently placing the squirrel inside. Soft material, like an old T-shirt or towel, can be used for bedding — this gives the squirrel something to hide under and feel secure. Avoid using anything with loose threads or loops to prevent the injured animal from getting tangled.

Here’s your safety gear checklist:

  • Thick gloves
  • A sturdy cardboard box
  • Soft, non-looped material for bedding

Place the box in a warm, quiet area away from pets and children. Minimizing noise and interactions reduces stress on the squirrel, which is crucial for its recovery. If the squirrel needs warmth, fill a water bottle with hot water, wrap it in a cloth and place it in the box. However, be careful not to overheat the animal or burn it.

When you’re setting up this temporary shelter, keep your safety in mind. Make sure your gloves are on at all times to reduce the risk of bites or scratches and to protect yourself from any pathogens the squirrel might carry. If the squirrel seems agitated, use gentle movements to avoid further stress.

Keep an eye on the squirrel periodically. You’ll need to assess its condition and ensure it hasn’t gotten worse while waiting for the professionals to arrive. Remember, your goal is to maintain the status quo and prevent any further injury. Your intervention should be minimal — the real assistance will come from wildlife experts.

Assess and Treat Injuries

When you encounter an injured squirrel, your first step should be to assess the extent of its injuries. Observe if the squirrel has any visible wounds, such as bleeding or broken limbs. Check for signs of shock, which include listlessness, labored breathing, and a weak pulse. If you’re trained in wildlife first aid, you may proceed with basic treatments.

If the squirrel has open wounds, clean them gently with saline solution to prevent infection. Do not use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, as these can cause further tissue damage. Use a soft cloth or gauze to dab the wound and apply a veterinarian-recommended antiseptic if available. For broken limbs, it’s best to avoid any splinting as improper handling may worsen the injury; this should be left to a wildlife professional.

In cases of shock, gently wrap the squirrel in a soft, warm towel to keep its body temperature stable. Place the animal in the prepared container you’ve set up, ensuring it’s in a quiet environment to help reduce its stress levels. Remember, shock can be life-threatening, so keeping the squirrel warm and calm is crucial.

Monitor the squirrel’s condition while avoiding unnecessary handling. Look out for changes in behavior or any worsening of the injuries. If you’ve provided first aid, record what you’ve done and relay the information to the wildlife rehabilitator once they arrive. Having a clear record can aid the professional in providing continued care.

Keep in mind that any first aid provided is only temporary. The goal is to stabilize the animal until you can get it to a wildlife rehabilitator or vet. Don’t attempt to treat serious injuries or administer medications without consulting an expert, as squirrels are wild animals and require specialized care.


Remember, your quick thinking and compassionate action can make a significant difference for an injured squirrel. Keep calm and follow the steps you’ve learned to assess and provide initial care. But don’t forget, the ultimate goal is to get the animal to a professional who can give it the best chance at recovery. Trust your instincts, but lean on the expertise of wildlife rehabilitators or vets. You’ve got this – with the right approach, you can be a lifesaver for our furry friends in need.

Paul West
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About Paul West

Longstanding and passionate about really having family fun in the backyard. I'm no expert but I've picked up a thing or two along the way!