OMG! IT’S A BABY SQUIRREL!!
He fell out of his nest, and I think maybe he was too heavy for momma squirrel to carry him back up to the nest. I heard a squirrel in a tree near the neighbor’s driveway making a sound that I didn’t recognize. It wasn’t an alarm, or any of the usual chatter that I hear squirrels make. It was a low grumbly, talky sort of a sound. I stopped to watch for a minute, and the squirrel was looking down at the ground, but I was in the middle of doing something and I didn’t walk over to see what it was. A few minutes later, I was in the back yard and I heard Preston yelling at Magoo to “drop it!” (Magoo is such a dog sometimes, cuz she totally dropped it.) Preston scooped Magoo up and I headed toward the little fuzzy grey form squeeling on the sidewalk.
Of course, I expected it to be bad. Magoo has a history of inappropriate behavior with small fuzzy baby wild animals. (the link is to an archived version of the page, with some wonky formatting, but it’s still worth reading). But I picked up this little guy, and I could see by his fur that Magoo had just been holding him by the scruff of his neck. He was small kitten sized, and his distress call was like a high-pitched kitten distress call, and I wonder if Magoo thought he was a kitten. In any case, I couldn’t see any puncture marks. Within a couple seconds after I picked him up, he relaxed and curled up. His little eyes weren’t open yet, but he seemed to fall asleep. Every minute or so, he would wake up again, give a little distress call, and then fall asleep. We brought him inside, put him in a little box with some towels and turned to our #1 emergency resource, Google. We learned that you should keep them warm, that baby squirrels have very high metabolisms, and that if you leave them under the tree where the nest is, momma squirrel will probably come pick him up within an hour or so.
I also knew, from an interview a year or so ago, that the local human society contracts with a wildlife rehabilitator, so we called them to get the rehabber’s number. Her name is Tammy, and she said that we could try putting him in his box with a jar of warm water at the base of the tree and see if momma would come get him, but it was really cold out that day, and she didn’t think we should just leave him out. I think the way this is supposed to work is that the baby is supposed to be concerned about his safety and making distress calls so momma hears where he is and comes to get him. But this little guy is pretty comfortable with the world, and as soon as he was warm, he just curled up and went to sleep with nary a peep. Momma never knew he was there, and we started to worry that he would get too cold even with the towels.
When Tammy got off work, she came by to pick him up. She has the resources and knowledge to raise him. But she and I got to talking, and it turns out that she needs a fair amount of help with web design, and marketing, and maybe even a certain amount of feeding baby animals. It came up that Preston surfs, and she said, “Oh darn, it’s too bad I didn’t know you all last year! I had a baby river otter and I really needed someone to teach him to swim.”
Can you even imagine how cool it would be to take a river otter surfing with you!? I guess they are not born knowing how to swim or how to catch fish. Tammy ended up using a rescued raccoon to teach him to fish.
Anyway, so I’ve been working on some web design for her, and some brochure stuff, and she works during the day at the local vet hospital so I’ve been stopping by in the mornings before work to say hello to the little baby squirrel, who she carries around in her pocket. So cute! His eyes are open now, and he tries to suck on my fingers when I hold him.