Creatures in our Backyard – Issue #2 – Baby Squirrel
Last month I talked about Toads which you can read if you missed it by clicking here. This month I want to talk about a squirrel, a baby one to be exact.
Every night I take the dogs to the front yard and let them get some exercise and play ball. Lucy, our Chocolate Lab, and Gracie, her pit bull/choco lab daughter, love it. Nikko, our Husky/German Shepherd mix is still quite an active boy and we don’t trust him to not run away when let him loose so I play with him on a long run. While I was playing with him (he also loves to play ball) I kept hearing a squirrel barking, which isn’t really unusual. I thought a cat must be irritating it so I wandered closer to see which cat it was. Then I saw the squirrel perched on a peculiarly low branch only about a meter from the ground and barking its little head off. Looking about I didn’t see a cat or even a snake, like I supposed afterward. The squirrel got too edgy and took off up the tree so I moved closer still curious as to what might have bothered it, thats when I saw a little gray ball moving about on the pine needles below the tree. I’ve seen baby squirrels before but they are usually still very young and pink and they never survive. But this one was not pink; it had short gray fur all over and the hair on its tail was white. Its eyes were still closed but it was a squirmy little thing. I found out later that baby squirrels don’t get their eyes open till they’re around four or five weeks old, which, compared to kittens and puppies is a pretty good while. The little thing wasn’t harmed and seemed to be all right so I left it expecting the mother to come back for it. Mum and I looked for the nearest squirrel nest but the only one we could find was too far away. They say a mother might drop her baby accidentally while moving it to another nest so we figured thats what happened.
The next morning I walked out to where the baby squirrel was expecting to see it gone or (cynically) dead. We’ve had some disappointing encounters with little animals like that; they never seem to survive. Anyhow, I found it still there and quite alive. So what did I do? Google! “What to do with a baby squirrel.” Everyone said the first and most important thing to do is warm the little thing up. Grabbing an old rag from the linen closet I scooped it up and put it against my chest. It was so cute! Then I came in and did some more research. Checking for dehydration is the next step, and after calling the vet and some other people we realized we had to make a decision. One lady told me that the mother might come back for the baby if left alone for a while and I wanted so badly for the mother to actually take it back to the nest. We decided to place the baby back where I found it and keep watch from a nearby window. Nothing… I considered giving it a Pedialyte-like mixture recommended by some people to rehydrate it, because feeding it formula before rehydrating it would most likely kill it. In the end Mum and I took it to an animal hospital where the woman at the counter told us she was expecting a hummingbird and already had another squirrel, slightly older than this one. Squirrels do better when with other squirrels so we were glad for this.
Sadly, no quality time with cute baby squirrel but now we’re sure the little thing will survive. Until next time…