Wildlife and hurricanes: What you can do to help
In preparation for hurricane Ian, Back to Nature (BTN) will be closed to the public until further notice starting Wednesday, September 28. Our facility will reopen once it has been deemed safe and operational to accept animals post-storm. The safety of our staff, guests, and animals is our number one priority. Follow us on Facebook for more updates and tips on how to help injured or orphaned wildlife.
During hurricane season, it’s not uncommon to encounter wildlife in need after being impacted by a powerful storm. And while your first instinct may be to intervene, it’s important to evaluate the situation first.
BTN typically experiences a surge of wildlife intakes during this time of year, especially squirrels, and more so after a hurricane. We have received ~408 baby squirrels this year and 194 of them are currently under our care, that’s more than half! and we expect this number to rise after hurricane Ian passes. So what can you do if you find an injured or orphaned baby squirrel? We first suggest exhausting every attempt to reunite with it back with its mom before bringing it to us. This will allow us to devote our time to those that are truly injured or orphaned.
If you find a healthy, uninjured baby squirrel, please FIRST, try to reunite the baby with mom. She always has more than one nest, in the event you find a nest down, too. Next, look around for others, listen for cries, and note if you find any deceased adult squirrels in the nearby area. Bring your pets inside. Place the baby or babies at the base of the tree that they came out of and make sure they stay warm.
- Play this squirrel distress call video loudly to help mom locate her babies. You can go
- Do not give the baby any food or water.
- Keep the baby warm. Place uncooked rice or birdseed in a sock and warm it in the microwave for twenty to thirty seconds. Then, wrap the sock in a soft towel and place it next to the baby.
- Place the baby in a box or basket lower on the tree (you can hang from a branch if you use a basket) or at the base of the tree where the nest is located (in the shade)
- Observe from a distance (through a window is best) for the next four to eight hours. Watch for ants and bring inside if the weather changes to extreme heat (move to nearest shade), cold, or rain. Reheat the rice/birdseed-filled sock every two hours in cooler temps.
- If the mother does not return, the baby is orphaned and will need to be brought to a wildlife rehabilitator.
- Do not leave the baby out overnight. After the sun sets, bring the baby inside and keep it in a quiet and warm place. Do not handle it and do not give it any food or water. Try re-nesting it after sunrise the following morning.
If a baby squirrel is visibly injured, covered in fly eggs (which look like small grains of rice), cold, wet, and/or vocalizing with no mom returning, then it needs immediate attention. We are utilizing the Central Florida Squirrel Rescue page to help locate wildlife rehabbers who are closest to your location. HOWEVER, you can only bring wildlife to a licensed rehabber (by the state of Florida) so please be sure you have found someone who is legally able to assist you.
For more information on how to help injured or orphaned birds, turtles and tortoises, raccoons, opossums, rabbits and more, visit our rescue page.
Contact Us for Assistance
We require all intakes to be called ahead so we can best assist you: 407-568-5138
Text with brief description and one single photo to: 954-415-8948