This is an area in which I have much experience and expertise. It seems that anytime someone finds a sick or lost animal, I'm the one to whom they turn. Don't get me wrong; I've had quite a few baby birds die on my hands. But over the years, I've learned a good deal about rescuing sick, lost, or hurt critters.

Squirrels: I don't recommend rescuing adult squirrels; they can be quite nasty. However, I did once rescue a homeless orphaned baby squirrel. It was a little malnourished, but otherwise in good shape. A friend of mine who raises small exotic animals told me how to take care of it: Mix baby food (any vegetable variety will do) with soy milk and cereal in a blender. Feed the mixture to the squirrel through a medicine dropper whenever it gets restless or whiny (signs of squirrel hunger!) The baby squirrel will appreciate a rolled-up sock to sleep in; mine crawled in immediately and curled up. Keep it warm, but not too warm; you can put the sock in an aquarium with a heating pad on "low" beneath half of the aquarium. The squirrel will move to where the temperature is most comfortable. If your little critter has mites, a little sevendust will do the trick. After I restored my squirrel to good health, I gave her to my friend with the small exotics. You can probably find a wild animal rescue organization in your area willing to take your newfound friend for you.

Baby Birds: These are perhaps the toughest critters to rehabilitate. My first success was a baby Mockingbird who fell out of the nest before he could fly. I put him in a small birdcage because he could climb up the sides, and I didn't want him falling too far in a larger birdcage. I fed him a variety of food and tried to mimic what he would get from his parents. Birdseed, lard, and live earthworms were his favorites. After a couple of weeks, he got used to me, and I took him out of his cage and taught him to fly. Basically, this consisted of sitting him on my fingers, extending my arm, and encouraging him to jump, beginning near the floor and progressively increasing the height. In no time at all, instinct took over and he was whizzing around the room like a champ. As soon as I was confident in his ability to fly, I opened his cage in the backyard and he flew up to the nearest tree.

Kittens: Rescuing abandoned kitties is harder than it seems. The first thing you absolutely must do is take your new friend to a vet for a thorough checkup and a complete round of shots. If the kitten is too young to be weaned, you can purchase special milk at a pet store and feed her with a medicine dropper every hour or so. If the kitten has been weaned, it's good to start out with canned cat food mixed with Kitten Chow. Don't feed her bovine milk, or she'll get digestive problems. If you already have cats or dogs, make sure you are present for a few hours when they are introduced. Let them smell each other and hiss a bit; this is necessary for them to develop a hierarchy. Intervene only if the meeting gets violent. I had two adult cats when I rescued little Dink, and they fought a bit at first, but in three days, all three cats would curl up together like the best of friends.

Sugar Gliders: In the unlikely event that you rescue an abused baby sugar glider, there are some steps you should take to ensure good health and a friendship between you and the sugar glider. If your sugar glider is wounded, as mine was, look for redness and swelling around the wound. If it appears to be healing naturally, it's best to leave well enough alone. If there are complications, you should find a vet willing to treat sugar gliders (locating a good vet is a good idea anyway, since you may need one in an emergency). Make sure your baby sugar glider gets a good variety in his diet; hand-feeding grapes is a good way to make him your buddy, but ration his favorite foods carefully so that he gets all the nutrients he needs. Make sure you keep the calcium levels high and the potassium levels low in his diet. Make sure to keep him warm the same way you would keep a baby squirrel warm. Remember, sugar gliders are nocturnal; don't take one if you can't stay up with him at night for a few hours.

General Rules of Thumb: Always wash your hands after handling your critters; you can get all sorts of disease if you don't.
Websites offer a plethora of good advice for rescuing critters.
Don't take on more than you can handle. If you work 80 hours a week, let someone else take care of sick critters.
Your local pet store carries food for a variety of critters. You can even buy refrigerated live larvae for squirrels, baby birds, and baby sugar gliders.
When in doubt, call a vet.

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