• Severe weather, like hurricanes, can push baby squirrels out of their nests.
  • If you see a grounded squirrel, don’t intervene right away, experts say.
  • It’s best to give the mother squirrel enough time to retrieve the baby. You can also consult a licensed wildlife professional.

Across the country, people may see a growing number of baby squirrels that have fallen from their nests. And wildlife experts point to severe weather.

During hurricane season, storms produce heavy rain, high winds and tree cutting in the aftermath – which “can lead to young squirrels and their nests falling out of high perches,” the North Carolina Wildlife Commission wrote in a release Thursday. 

On Friday, Hurricane Ian was on track to hit the South Carolina coast and move through North Carolina by Saturday, causing even more catastrophic damage in its path, including likely disruptions to wildlife. 

There are more baby squirrels this time of year, the wildlife commission notes, which adds to increased sightings.

Gray squirrels, North Carolina’s state mammal, are also found throughout much of the eastern U.S. They have two litters a year – one in the spring and one in late summer. Right now, the animals are raising their second brood of the year.

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In short, especially during hurricane season, there’s more baby squirrels in trees, and severe weather can be powerful enough to push them out of their nests. This isn’t anything new or isolated to North Carolina; over the years, rescue groups have worked to rehabilitate baby squirrels that have fallen from trees after hurricanes in Virginia, Florida and Texas.

What can I do if I see a baby squirrel that’s fallen?

If you come across a grounded baby squirrel, don’t pick it up right away. “Leave them be, and call a professional,” the wildlife commission says.

You first want to give the mother squirrel enough time to retrieve the baby. If more action is needed, call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. 

“A good practice is not to assume immediate intervention is the best way to help,” Falyn Owens, extension biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, said in the release. “Pausing long enough to consult a wildlife professional before moving or caring for the animal can greatly increase its chance of survival.”

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Owens also said that when a baby squirrel falls out of its nest, its mother works as quickly as she can to find it and bring it home. If the nest was destroyed, the mother will rebuild it first, then take the baby squirrel back.