Baby squirrels frequently start to wean around the 7th. to 8th week of life. They normally don't completely stop, but rather slow down in the frequency of feedings. I usually only offer formula a couple times per day when I see them start to refuse regular feeding.By the 8th week they are usually ready to start various solids and are in need of teething objects since their incisors are developed to the point of needing hard object to gnaw on to keep them wearing down because rodent teeth grow continuously. In squirrels, their incisors continue to grow until their 7th to 8th year of age. Since most squirrels life expectancy in the wild is only 4 to 6 years, they rarely reach the age of having to deal with teeth that have stopped growing.
We usually introduce Oak and Maple twigs for teething purposes. Babies enjoy shredding twigs and it is good exercise for their teeth and jaws. It is humorous to watch a squirrel chew on hard objects such as hickory nuts. They will exert so much pressure trying to wear a hole in a hard shell, that they will have to take frequent breaks due to muscle fatigue. The muscles in their jaw will get so fatigued, that when they take a break their jaw will continue to quiver and they often click their teeth in the process. I like to start my babies off on sweet potato. I do this because a baby has to learn to swallow solids. Baby squirrels almost always shred their introductory foods much in the same way they will shred twigs. By using sweet potato, it is easy to see the bright orange pieces of shred on the floor of their cage. When I stop seeing the shredded sweet potato, I know that they have learned to chew and swallow, so I start introducing other foods at this time.
It's important to keep in mind that once a squirrel stops taking formula, you need to continue to provide them with a daily source of calcium. If they do not get calcium, by the time they reach the age of 6 months they will suddenly lose the use of their back legs and their bones will become brittle and prone to fracture. This is a condition called Rickets or Metabolic Bone Disease and is deadly for squirrels if they go untreated.Squirrels are predominantly herbivores with the only variation being that they will eat an ocassional bug or worm. In the wild they will instinctively eat a diet that will keep them healthy as long as their is an abundance of the foods they normally eat. If natural food sources are absent, they will revert to their rodent ancestory behavior and eat whatever is available to stay alive. This is why they have been known to raid dumpsters and other atypical food sources.I rescued a pair of starving babies from under the eve of a roof that were so hungry they were eating the tar paper from under the shingles. They pooped tar for two weeks before their doodles turned normal. The bottom line is that squirrels will eat anything in a starvation situation.
They will also eat anything that tastes good to them, which can be a bad thing.Somewhere along the line, someone came up with the idea that field corn and peanuts were an ideal diet for squirrels. From a nutritional standpoint peanuts are not a nut at all, but rather a legume. They contain protein and fat which is marginally nutritious because the fat in peanut oil is not of the same quality as the fats contained in true nuts like hickory, walnuts and beechnuts, etc. Field corn is almost pure starch. Starch is converted easily by the liver into sugar. A steady diet of peanuts and field corn will make a squirrel fat, but it has almost no nutritive value. Contrary to popular belief, a fat squirrel is not a healthy squirrel. They can easily become diabetic and suffer from heart disease, neither of which is a pleasant way to die. Unfortunately,so many people get squirrels so hooked on peanuts and corn, that it is nearly impossible to get them to eat a healthy diet. But, squirrels will eat a variety of vegetables and fruit along with all kind of true nuts.
Squirrels also have their own personal likes and dislikes. What one squirrel will eat, another one will not touch. So, a “one size fits all” menu for squirrels does not work. At SquirrelNutrition.com, we offer food lists for squirrels. There's a list of foods that are suitable for squirrels, and another list of foods that should not be fed to squirrels.
You just have to experiment with different foods until you find the ones that a majority of squirrels like.We've developed a couple of products for wild and captive squirrels. Our Squirrel Nut Square Mix is designed for captive squirrels to provide them with their daily source of calcium. It's easy to feed a healthy diet to a captive squirrel because you don't have to compete with the corn and peanut crowd.
We also provide a free recipe for making a product called "Squirrel Biscuits." This is designed for wild squirrels, and is a sneaky way to get them to eat vegetables. It's a pecan meal based recipe, that is designed to be mixed with ground up vegetables and dried into crunchy kibble. All of our recipes are copyrighted, but we provide them free for your personal use. There is a request form at the bottom of our Homepage for requesting one or both recipes.
In addition to premade mix for Squirrel Nut Squares, we now make a daily supplement for your favorite wild squirrel(s) called, Squirrel Veggie Squares. These are the same base mix as Squirrel Nut Squares, but we include three capsules of our exclusive fruit and vegetable powder that adds a squirrel sized dose of 24 different fruits and vegetables. If your favorite wild squirrel(s) are hooked on eating peanuts and corn, this is a great way to get some fruits and veggies into their diet, as well as provide a healthy dose of calcium and other vital vitamins and minerals.