Some residents in my immediate area believe me to be a Jack Hannah, of sorts. The neighborhood children love to show up at my house with news of a lost puppy, orphaned kitten, or worse, the beast itself. They know that I will either take in the stray, try to find a home for it, nurse it back to health, or turn it over to the Humane Society. Without revealing my exact location (due to city ordinances I couldn’t possibly be in violation of), I will say that I have three dogs and two cats living at, in, or around my home. I’ve begged one of them, in particular, to run away, but she will have none of it. I’ve tried the same thing with my kids, but have had no success there, either.
Yesterday should have been a quiet Sunday morning, or, at least as quiet as it gets around here. I didn’t have to drink my breakfast, so things were off to a good start - until I heard a commotion in the backyard that required my attention. One of my dogs had jumped the fence (again) and was in the neighbors’ yard, playing with a new toy, a baby squirrel who had fallen from a nest. After extracting my dog from the yard and appropriately trash-talking her, I stooped to inspect the tiny critter. It appeared to be expired, so I did the first thing that came to mind and looked up that old family recipe for squirrel and dumplings. No, I didn’t. The baby appeared to be okay, so I called my friend, Melissa, who lives a few doors down, because I figured she would know what to do. Other than cursing the little tree-rats for eating all my birdseed, my experience with squirrels is nil.
Melissa, experienced in squirrel rehabilitation, came right over, armed with a towel and a small box. She fearlessly plucked the squirrel from the ground and, in no time, triaged it identified it as male, and reported no obvious signs of injury. I just looked at her. Now what?
“I think we should name it Rocky,” I suggested.
“Well, obviously he can’t fly,” Mel said, as we looked way up the tree at the nest.
“Do you have any hay or straw lying around? We need to warm it up,” she told me. We live in the suburbs.
“Yes, we harvested some just last week. I’ll go grab a bale.” She threatened me with bodily harm from the other side of the fence.
Once we had enough dead grass and a heating pad, we took the baby inside and discussed what we needed for supplies. Melissa, more than a little nervous about leaving me with said squirrel, went to Wal-Mart for puppy formula and whatever else. Struck by sudden inspiration, I dug out an old sling I had for a shoulder injury. With a little rigging, it became an ideal rodent toter. I hung the sling from my neck and tucked it down inside my shirt, to keep the critter warm.
Since Melissa, the experienced one, swore we had a male, we named him Simon. From online research, conducted a short while later, we determined our squirrel to be about a 4 to 5 week old female. She weighs three ounces (nice serving size - kidding) and her name is now Lucy. We used my old Weight Watchers food scale to weigh her.
Lucy resides in an incubator we put together per online instructions, complete with a heating pad, reading lamp, and her own plush toy. She is eating well and will be moving into a larger, more posh critter keeper shortly, once she grows a bit. From there we hope to raise her until she is ready to be set free or a local wildlife rehabilitation service can take her. Please don’t call us if anything other than a leaf falls from a tree in your backyard. We don’t make house calls.