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Little Squirrel Lost March 30, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Urban Wildlife.
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Sunday – I woke up this morning worrying about my book club brunch. It wasn’t until noon, but there was still lots to do. That is, until the first guest arrived unusually early and with a splash. My husband, Richard, first saw the baby squirrel frozen behind a big pot. He was soaked. We realized he’d fallen 25 feet from his nest in one of the queen palm trees that surround our pond. Suddenly, running out to buy more orange juice seemed oh so unimportant.

After ten minutes the baby squirrel had managed to climb two feet up a tree. My husband tried to be optimistic. “At least it’s the right tree.”  But then he fell off the tree (the squirrel that is, not my husband). “I think I better get dressed,” I announced. I could see the future, and it involved squirrel wrangling and a very long ladder.

By the time I was dressed, Richard appeared with the squirrel attached to him. “He jumped into my arms!” he said, holding him tight.  So much for squirrel wrangling. He passed the squirrel to me, and yes he (she?) was adorable. I love squirrels. They always look like they’re having so much fun and they’re naturally caffeinated. Think about it. Have you ever seen a squirrel that looked depressed (unless it’s lying flat by the side of the road)?

We could see another baby squirrel peering down from the nest, but no mother was in sight. When this happened last year (different tree, no aquatics), the mother squirrel came down the tree and after scolding her errant offspring, and checking him out to make sure he wasn’t injured, grabbed him by the nape of his neck, and carried him back up to the nest. Just watching how attentive that mother squirrel was left both my husband and I in tears. So where was this little guy’s mother?

Richard woke up our son Ian, who’d worked the late shift at the restaurant.   Ian staggered out and I watched The Two Stooges try to round the corner of the house with the 30-foot long aluminum ladder. By then I’d gone into full maternal mode and named the squirrel Wet Willie. Our two dogs were very interested in our visitor, but their motives were suspect.

With the ladder positioned, Richard took Willie and made the slow climb to the top of the tree. He reported there were two other babies in the nest then climbed back down.  The ladder was put away.  Ian went back to bed. Richard ran out and bought more orange juice.

We had a lively discussion at book club, and no squirrels toppled onto the umbrella on the patio. Success! Later, I was googling information on abandoned baby squirrels, as the mother had yet to appear. I was relieved to read that mother squirrels will take their babies back even after humans have handled them. Mission Accomp…. whoa, not so fast!  At dusk, I looked out the window and saw Richard cradling something.  Something small and furry. Willie is obviously precocious.

I called the Pasadena Humane Society, and they had one of their officers call back.  She suggested we put Willie back in the nest, as squirrels settle down at night.  Out came the ladder – again.  Richard made the slow climb up into the tree – again.  He  said Willy sleepily slipped down inside the nest.  So he’s safe – for now.

It will be daylight in 12 hours, and that’s when squirrels start to act – squirrelly.  But, we’re no dummies.  We left the ladder tied to the tree.  

Monday – The question today was not “Who’s your momma,” but, “Where’s your mama?”  The Pasadena Humane Society is closed Mondays, so my husband’s calls went unanswered.   Richard located a great site on the internet with information on what do do if you’ve found a baby squirrel: Squirrel Rescue.  Did you know it’s illegal to keep a wild squirrel for more than 48 hours?  (Not that I know anyone doing hard time for this crime), but the intent is to get wild squirrels into professional wildlife rehab ASAP.)  Another great site is 911 Advice for Squirrels.

Late this afternoon the woman from the humane society finally called  back. Bless her.  She said with no mother to keep the baby squirrels warm (their body temperature should be around 99 degrees), they might not survive the night.  She gave us instructions on how to keep the babies safe until they can be dropped off tomorrow morning. There’s no room at the inn, what with 42 baby squirrels already being cared for, but she agreed to take them. 

So, Richard put a backpack on his front like a pouch and, as the sun set, climbed up the ladder one last time. That’s when he saw there were not three, but FOUR sleeping babies.  Three were scooped into the bag without a fight, but there was one stubborn one.  I heard some wild squeaking as I stood down below doing the really important work – holding the ladder steady.

And Willie?  To be honest, all the baby squirrels look alike.  We popped all four of them into plastic pet carrier with a pillowcase (no towels cause their claws get stuck).  Richard filled syringes with Pediatric Electrolytes (fancy Gatorade according to Richard, minus the sugar) and I fed them.  With their tummies full, they promptly dozed off.  (Note to self – Do not wear a cable knit sweater when feeding squirrels).  The carrier is now sitting atop an electric heating pad in our bedroom.  The squirrels are getting a good night’s sleep. And now that they’re fed and en route to a safe haven, we can get a good night’s sleep too.  Finally.  I wonder if I’ll dream of acorns

Tuesday – Before our baby squirrels were sent packing to the Pasadena Humane Society, Richard fed them some bites of avocado.  His assistant, Michele, let them try a banana and they took to it like sharks to chum.  The woman at the humane society said as soon as our squirrels are “of age,” they’ll be returned to us so they can be released.  Which begs the question – How will I know if they’re OUR squirrels and not somebody’s else’s?  Willie? Where’s the indelible ink when you need it?