In addition to being a complete waste of money, puppy and kitten replacement formulas will also kill orphaned wild critters, squirrels in particular.
Squirrels do not have the ability to digest albumin (which is a protein found in eggs, commonly found in most manufactured replacement milk). Here is a simple homemade wildlife milk replacement formula that is tried and true.
To be perfectly honest, most wildlife “rehabilitation” books & guides are not designed to actually save lives, they’re designed to end them. It’s a fact, albeit a sad one.
While we obviously recommend that you bring any orphaned baby to a rehabilitation specialist in your area, that’s not always possible. This little girl below was discovered by a neighbors dog who very proudly carried her home, she was in rough shape, dehydrated and cold.
When To Feed an Orphaned Critter
BEFORE YOU START: Do not feed a cold animal!
If you just found an orphaned baby critter, be sure the animal is warm BEFORE you feed it. If it is cold, it will be unable to digest the food and will die. Place a towel over a heating pad and gently & slowly warm the critter before feeding.
First and foremost, if you have a pet nursing bottle, throw it away. It will NOT work for your squirrel. What it WILL do is cause them to aspirate formula and give them pneumonia (which is essentially SLOW drowning).
If you aren’t sure whether you can control the flow of the syringe or not, I recommend practicing with warm water so you don’t accidentally drown the baby critter you’re attempting to help.
Having a vast variety of animals (horses, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, ferrets, fish, squirrels, etc) we keep several sizes of oral syringes on hand. They’re very inexpensive, you can pick them up for a dollar at places like Tractor Supply, Paris Farmers Union, Farm Supply Stores.
In the event that you don’t need them in an emergency for a critter of some sort, you can always use them to fill strawberry jello shots!
Wildlife Milk Replacement Formula Recipe
a 1 ml Oral Syringe
1 c. Whole Cow’s Milk (yup, straight from the gallon in the fridge, and don’t use that nasty low fat or 1% stuff!!)
4 drops of Vitamin E (from a 200 IU capsule) poke the capsule, squeeze gently
Scald the milk– if you’re not familiar with this term it means to heat the milk just to boiling point but do NOT boil it! Remove from heat, add the vitamin E, mix with the handle of a wooden spoon.
Feed warm formula every 4 hours, round the clock. It is imperative that you do not skip nighttime feedings as your baby critter will die.
How to Scald Milk
You can use the traditional method of heating milk on the stove just until the boiling point, as I mentioned above. If you don’t have time to wait, you can also use the microwave method.
- Measure 1/3 c. of milk into a mason jar (uncovered) heat on high for 25 seconds.
- Stir the milk with a wooden spoon, heat additional 25-30 seconds, or until milk starts to appear a bit frothy.
- An easy way to tell whether the milk is properly scalded is that begins to form a thin skin on it from the cool air. (Do not remove this skin, just mix it in!) Let cool until lukewarm.
Do Not Neglect to Scald the Milk or your baby critter WILL die. Scalding the milk breaks down the proteins Do not feed your baby critter crap like “Commercial Puppy Formula or Esibilac, which IS toxic to it and they WILL die.
Please note, depending on how young the baby squirrel, rabbit, etc is, you may need to stimulate it to go to the bathroom following a feeding. You can do so by wetting a paper towel with warm water, (ring it out thoroughly) and washing the critters’ genitals very gently, stimulating it in the same way its mother would.
If you find this abhorrent, then you should immediately call a Wildlife Rehab specialist in your area as the little one you found is likely to die otherwise.
Wildlife Formula Replacement for Vegetarian Animals
Scalded Milk WITHOUT egg yolk (unborn chicken) is recommended for ALL vegetarian animals, babies, or adults, including deer, rabbits, mice, rats (wild and domestic), hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, as well as all types of tree squirrels or ground squirrels including flying squirrels, prairie dogs, chipmunks, groundhogs, marmots, beaver, and nutria.
Wildlife Formula Replacement for Carnivorous Animals
Carnivorous animals, such as possums, raccoons, kittens, and puppies do well on Scalded Milk with one or more raw egg yolks added per cup of milk. The “rule of thumb” is to omit the egg yolk with vegetarian animals but to add it for carnivores.
Whether or not to add Karo (white corn syrup) depends on the consistency of the feces of the animal. Most often, it should be completely omitted to prevent diarrhea from occurring. It is inadvisable to use Dark Karo as it has twice the laxative power of the white or clear kind.
For a Full and Complete Detailed Rehabilitation Guide for Raising Orphaned or Injured Baby Squirrels (& rabbits) please see This Amazing Resource by Clarissa Summers. We have used her guide to successfully raise 23 squirrels (that’s a 100% Success Rate folks) and 2 baby rabbits.