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  • Phoenix Educational Article of the Month - Proper handling of Squirrels

Proper handling of Squirrels

Proper handling of Squirrels

Squirrels may look cute and cuddly, but they are Arizona animals and should be treated as such. Although it is not recommended, if you must handle a squirrel, there are rules to follow. Never handle a squirrel with bare hands! Each age group, whether a pinky, baby, juvenile or adult, requires different methods to ensure the safety of the squirrel as well as the handler. Newborns to 4 weeks are referred to as “pinkies” because they are hairless and pink in color. They are a few inches in length, and their eyes and ears are closed. They have no motor control at this age. Although pinkies are born with their nails intact, they have no teeth. When handling a squirrel this young, a delicate touch is most important. Lift the pinkie with a dry, soft cloth. Make sure the cloth is free of strings and debris. Cup the pinkie softly. At this age, there is little danger from bites or scratches from the squirrel. They do wiggle, quite a bit, so be careful not to drop them!

Baby Phoenix squirrels (5 to 6 weeks old) are lanky and thin with a sparse tail. Their eyes and ears will have opened. Squirrels do not have good close –up vision, and the baby’s senses aren’t sharp as an adults. Take extra care not to startle it or it will defend itself. They still get cold like a pinky, but have started eating food and are more alert. Be sure to wear gloves and use a thick towel to wrap him in. At this age parasites and fleas may infest the Arizona squirrel so be mindful of properly cleaning towels, gloves and your hands.

A Juvenile Phoenix squirrel (6+ weeks), has teeth, fur, and looks more like an adult. A frightened juvenile has the ability to badly bite or scratch you. To handle them use heavy gloves, long sleeves, and a thick towel or cloth is necessary. You still need to be on the lookout for fleas and parasites. If you find an adult Arizona squirrel and you can catch it, it is probably injured or diseased. Extreme caution should be used if you try to pick it up. As with the babies and juveniles, parasites and fleas are probably present. An adult should be moved to a box, or cage, or released as soon as possible. A Phoenix squirrel can spread disease through a bite or scratch and the wound can be very painful. Children should never be allowed to handle a wild squirrel. Make sure that you properly wash your hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds. Squirrels are not meant to be pets. They are wild creatures that are not used to be handled. Please ember and respect these rules to keep you and are woodland creatures safe!

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