What Should You Do If You Find A Dead Squirrel In Your Backyard


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Spending time in your gardens is a great way to get outside and connect with nature.

Bad weather is one way to rain on your parade, but finding a dead animal in your backyard can ruin a perfectly good afternoon pretty quickly.

What should you do if you find a dead squirrel in your backyard?

Do not touch it with your bare hands.

A dead squirrel can be carrying harmful pathogens that can make you sick. Instead, call your local DEP or DEC office for further steps on how to remove the dead squirrel from your property.

dead squirrel in backyard

Determine if the Squirrel is Dead or Alive

The first thing you should do if you find a dead squirrel in your backyard is to check if it’s dead first.

The squirrel could just be recovering from a big feast the same way you do after Thanksgiving dinner and needs a few minutes before going home.

The squirrel could also have fallen and didn’t land properly and could be in shock from the pain.

  1. Grab a pair of thick gloves that you can wash or throw away.
  2. Approach the squirrel. If the squirrel runs away, let it be.
  3. If you can get close enough to the squirrel to pick it up, look it over first. Don’t touch the squirrel if it looks sickly. If it is covered in sores, has patchy fur, or is missing hair, then it’s safe to say that it isn’t healthy and needs to be removed from the area.
  4. If the squirrel isn’t moving, but looks healthy, pick the squirrel up gently and look for signs of death. If the squirrel is dead, it won’t be breathing, it will have no heartbeat, it will have no blink reflex or twitching eyelids, and the body will be stiff.

What To Do If The Squirrel Is Injured

If you’re able to pick up the squirrel and hold it, but you can see the squirrel is breathing or blinking, it’s probably injured.

If this is the case, help that squirrel get comfortable. Line a box with an old blanket or towel, and put the squirrel in the box. Make sure the box has plenty of air holes and close the box.

The next thing you should do is call a wildlife rehabilitation center. They will give you more information on where to bring the squirrel.

Most often if a squirrel is in bad shape, they will recommend an animal hospital with a vet that can treat the squirrel. If the squirrel doesn’t need emergent medical assistance, they could also recommend bringing the squirrel to their rehab program.

Call Your DEP or DEC Office

If the squirrel is exhibiting signs of death, you should call your local Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

These departments may want to collect the squirrel for testing. If there is any suspicion that the squirrel may have been rabid, or if there is a mass squirrel mortality, the squirrel will be picked up by the department or the testing center.

How To Get Rid Of The Body

If the squirrel isn’t being submitted to the DEP or DEC office, and you want to dispose of it, you have three options.

Bury It

The first option is to bury the body. If you’re burying the body, it should be buried somewhere that it won’t contaminate the groundwater or surface water.

To do this, the body should be buried at least 2 feet deep, and it should be buried at least 200 feet from water supplies.

burying a dead squirrel

Bring It to a Landfill

Another way to get rid of the dead squirrel is to bring it to a landfill.

Use a shovel to pick up the body and place it in a bag. Tie the bag and then double, or triple bag it.

Let It Decompose Naturally

If you live in an urban location, you can bring the body to the edge of your property and leave it to decompose naturally.

This method only works well if you have a large property that isn’t close to a neighbor’s house. The area should be brushy or left un-mowed and should be far from any area kids or pets use.

Sterilize Everything

Everything that went near the dead squirrel, or touched it will need to be fully sterilized to kill any harmful pathogens the squirrel was carrying.

Start by making a bleach solution that is 1 part bleach and 10 parts water. Put your shovel, or any other tool you used in this solution and let it sit for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes are up, scrub the shovel and rinse it thoroughly.

Then sterilize your clothes. If you can’t submerge them in the bleach solution, spray them with a disinfectant and let them sit for 10 minutes. Then wash your clothes as you normally would.

This method isn’t as effective as soaking them in the bleach solution, but it will be less damaging to the fabric or colors.

The last thing to sterilize is yourself. Take a hot shower and wash your skin from head to toe with soap.

If you notice any bites or scratches, call your doctor immediately. You might be prescribed antibiotics as a precaution just in case the squirrel had any infections or diseases.

Final Thoughts

Nobody wants to find a dead squirrel in their backyard, but if you do, now you’ll know how to handle it quickly so you can go back to enjoying your space.

First, determine if the squirrel is dead or in need of help. Keep yourself safe by using gloves and shovels to pick up and move the squirrel.

Call a wildlife rehabilitation center if the squirrel needs help, or call the DEP or DEC if the squirrel is dead. These phone calls will give you all of the information you need to take the next steps.

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