Stinky: baby squirrel
After dining at a local restaurant one evening, my boyfriend and I were walking back to my apartment. We were headed down the sidewalk near an exit from the interstate highway when we discovered a small furry lump in the sidewalk. The fuzzy tail gave it away as a squirrel, which we then assumed must have been hit by a car. But when we bent down to see, it moved. I tipped it sideways to see its head, at which point we discovered that it was only a baby! He was just a lifeless droopy fuzzball. I looked for a nearby bush to place him in for his mother, but there was no such foliage around. So I scooped him up in the newspaper I was carrying and brought him home.
At home, I placed him in a clean garbage can with tall sides. I wasn't sure what to expect, not knowing much about squirrels, especially baby ones. Since my mother was bitten by a squirrel when she was young, I was afraid that he might bite or scratch me, and I didn't know if he might carry a disease. I gingerly placed a bottle cap full of water near his head but he didn't move. I thought he might need to be warmed up, so I set my hair dryer on low and blew it into the can. It was then that I noticed his skin crawling with fleas. After a while, he began to squirm around. I pushed him to the water with a spatula but he refused to drink.
I then remembered how I had fed my cousin's 3-week-old kitten. She needed to be held while a dropper went in her mouth like a bottle. Then she would need to have her bottom wiped so she would urinate. I began to wonder if this might be a bigger problem than just warming him up and giving him a water dish. I attempted to call several animal shelters but their phone services were closed for the night. I decided that I would have to be his mother for a few days. But how would I care for a creature so small and so unlike me?
I Googled for "baby squirrel" and came up with this wonderful care site. I was relieved to discover that they are fairly easy to care for. My boyfriend and I rushed out to get to the pet store before they closed and buy the $15 can of powdered puppy formula we needed to feed this tiny baby. We then stopped at the grocery store and bought a small carton of heavy whipping cream that he would need mixed with the puppy formula for adequate nutrition. I picked him up in a rag towel and he began to feed ravenously, spitting up bubbles. While he was eating, I picked off fleas and killed them.
Over the next several weeks, we tried calling animal shelters, but were turned away due to the high volume of squirrels already in the shelters. Some shelters had as many as 200, such that once the last one was fed, they'd have to feed the first one again. We suddenly found ourselves becoming squirrel parents, teaching the tiny furball how to climb, eat hard foods, and make a nest from leaves. By the time he reached six weeks, he had a mansion home of an enormous birdhouse (left over from my parakeet days) complete with branches of cherry trees for climbing, a swing to practice his balance, and and a hammock for afternoon naps. A heating pad underneath kept him warm at night.
He was an adorable bundle, keeping us entertained and taking our minds off the recent death of a beloved pet. He made the funniest faces, and did the silliest things, especially since he wasn't very coordinated yet. And he was so cute when he ws sleeping, curled up in a tiny little ball. It was very sad when he eventually grew up to be a wild animal and disowned us as his parents, but we knew it was best. By the time we gave him to the local wildlife rehab center, he was a very unfriendly little creature - just as he should be.
We'll really miss our four-week old baby.
Stinky at five weeks. He liked to play in the bathroom, where he would jump onto the ends of hanging towels and pull them off their hooks.
He ate a combination of whole milk and puppy formula until he got strong teeth at 6 weeks, then he was able to eat Cheerios, cauliflour, and rat food. He liked his Cheerios.
The latest in fashion accessories: it's PocketSquirrel. (Taking a nap)
All that activity can make a baby squirrel very tired!
We miss you, Stinky! Hope you're having a wonderful life.