Nestling grey squirrels displaced and kept in home

September 1, 2023

A baby limpkin and two grey squirrels were among the sixty animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital this past week. Other admissions include a common ground dove, a red-shouldered hawk, an anhinga, a red-bellied woodpecker, a Florida red-bellied turtle and a marsh rabbit.

The baby limpkin was found struggling in a pond with no adult limpkins or other babies in the area. The rescuer contained the baby and brought it with her to work, then called the wildlife hospital from work intending to bring the baby to the wildlife hospital on her lunch hour. Hospital staff was concerned for the baby’s health as it had been struggling in the water, so volunteer Critter Couriers Ron and Gaylene Vasaturo were dispatched to transport the limpkin to the Conservancy. The Vasaturos received directions to the rescuer’s place of business and the box with the bird was located and transported to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for care.

Baby limpkin getting weighed
Hospital staff handle a baby limpkin to weigh it as part of its morning treatments. All orphans cared for at the wildlife hospital are weighed daily to track their growth.

The nestling was vocal, alert, walking well and was in decent body condition when examined. Limpkins are precocial, meaning that after they hatch, the babies are mobile and follow their parents around to be fed. Staff created a recovery habitat for the limpkin that included multiple water bowls for drinking, leafy branches to perch on and hide behind and makeshift “dens” to retreat into for cover.

By the third attempt at feeding, the limpkin began to eat the diet offered by staff. Limpkins primarily feed on apple snails as their curved beak is designed to remove the snail from the shell. The diet offered to the young limpkin contains various invertebrates and different sources of protein.

The woman who rescued the limpkin did everything correctly — she took immediate action when she saw the limpkin was in danger of drowning, safely contained the bird in a ventilated box and called the Conservancy to ensure the limpkin received appropriate care from professionals.

If you find an animal you believe is injured, sick or orphaned, please call the staff at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital immediately. Staff can assess the situation and determine the appropriate action needed to ensure the animal receives the care it deserves.

Nestling squirrels displaced from nest

Two nestling grey squirrels were found when a homeowner was cleaning his gutters. The homeowner was not aware of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital, and thus cared for the babies for two days, feeding them puppy milk replacement formula whenever the babies cried. When a neighbor told the rescuer about the Conservancy, they transported the babies to our facility for care.

The nestling squirrels were dehydrated, thin and wet from their own urine, and their eyes were just barely open. The squirrels had raspy breathing and were sneezing. While the homeowners did the best that they could to feed the babies, the syringe used was too big and caused the nestlings to aspirate milk into their lungs, which required antibiotics. The babies received electrolytes and were placed on supplemental oxygen in a warmed animal intensive care unit.

Due to their young age, the squirrels required multiple feedings throughout the day and night. Since they had received puppy formula, the switch to squirrel replacement formula needed to be gradual to avoid intestinal upset. Over the course of several days, staff slowly increased the concentration of squirrel milk replacement formula the babies were fed at each feeding. Each day the squirrels’ health has improved and the siblings continue to recover in the nursery at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

Nestling grey squirrel being fed

If you find an active nest in your yard, please call the wildlife hospital staff before taking action. In a situation such as this, there is a strong likelihood that staff could have worked with the homeowner to remove the squirrel nest from the rain gutter in such a way that the mother could have relocated her babies to an alternate nest and continued to raise them herself. Many wild animals, including squirrels and raccoons, have multiple options for nesting. If one nest is disturbed, they may relocate their babies to the other nest.

If you find a baby animal you believe has been orphaned, or you hear of a co-worker or neighbor who has found a wild animal, do not attempt to care for it at home and advise them to bring it to the Conservancy. The recovery process is hindered greatly if there is a delay in the time an animal receives professional care. Wild animals, particularly baby animals, have specialized nutritional and husbandry requirements, and without proper care, nutrition, and access to antibiotics and pain medications when needed, they can suffer greatly and sometimes die. The von Arx Wildlife Hospital is open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you care about helping wildlife and want to get involved, become a volunteer! The rewards of helping animals in need are beyond compare.

Recent Releases

Three eastern cottontails, a chicken turtle, a great blue heron, a striped mud turtle, a loggerhead sea turtle, an eastern screech owl, a Brazilian free-tailed bat, a Cooper’s hawk, an anhinga, a magnificent frigatebird, two raccoons, three laughing gulls, two northern mockingbirds, four mourning doves and a fish crow were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Visit the Conservancy website at to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Volunteers help in many different capacities. If you could dedicate one shift a week to help in the hospital, contact our volunteer office and get involved. Your volunteer time, donations, and memberships are truly vital and allow us to continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.