I was working in my study late Sunday evening when I began to notice a strange faint squeaking noise coming from someplace nearby. The sound would come and go, and at first I dismissed it as my imagination.
But as the sound persisted I began to become curious about what it might be. I listened carefully, and as the squeaking repeated I believed it was possible that the noise was emanating from my from my front porch. I suspected some kind of small animal—possibly a bird—and stepped out side to check.
Back inside about 15 minutes passed before I noticed the sound again. This time I decided it must be the television in the other room, and turned it off. Still the faint squeaking continued, and now I thought maybe my ceiling fan’s bearing were beginning to wear out, so I turned it off too.
There was silence! So that was it. The ceiling fan! I sat back at my desk and had just enough time to re-engage in my work before the squeaking began again. But this time there was no doubt about it—the noise was coming from out in my front yard.
I stepped out on my front porch again to complete silence. This time, however, I did not give up so easily. Within just a minute or two the cries started up again and they were clearly coming from a bush at the edge of my neighbor’s yard.
The bush was tall, and thick with branches and leaves. It took a good deal of searching with a flashlight to finally find the tiny little noise maker—a baby Fox Squirrel. The one week old squirrel had fallen from its nest and caught its hind leg in the crotch of a small branch. She was hanging upside down and calling out for help.
Just barely within reach, I was able to bend a branch or two and collect the infant squirrel. I quickly brought her inside and gave her a thorough inspection. She was uninjured and still well hydrated. She was active and strong. All good signs.
But she was not in perfect condition. A number of small red bumps indicated that the baby had been bitten or stung by insects a number of times. Fortunately, she was not in distress from these bites. All things considered the little squirrel seemed to be in pretty good shape.
So, now it was nearing midnight and I had a helpless baby squirrel on my hands. The natural question: Now what!?!
I called a friend of mine who works in wildlife rehab. “Keep the baby warm and feed it puppy milk replacement every two and half hours,” was the advice I received. “Find a rehabber in the morning,” she added as she gave me a couple of phone numbers I could call.
A shoe box lined with a towel and warmed with a heating pad set to LOW accomplished objective number one. Next, I was off to Wal*mart for some puppy milk replacement and eye droppers. No problem.
Back at home, I attempted my first feeding, and the baby squirrel ate heartily! She even wagged her tail while she was eating. A half of an eyedropper of milk later and she was full. I put her back in the towel-lined box and set my alarm clock for a couple of hours later. I went to bed to try and get some sleep.
When the alarm clock went off at 1:30 am I was confused and disoriented. What the hell was going on!?! Slowly, it all came back to me, and I dragged myself out of bed.
I went downstairs and boiled some water to use for warming the milk replacement. As the formula warmed I collected some paper towels and an eyedropper, and then went to feed the baby.
Again the squirrel ate hungrily with her tail a-wagging! And again she ate only a half of an eyedropper of formula.
All this for just a half an eyedropper of formula!?!
So, back in the box went the squirrel. I went to the kitchen to clean up the feeding implements. Then I reset the alarm clock and headed back to bed.
Too soon the harsh buzzing began again. I repeated the feeding routine two more times that morning before it was time to get up.
In the light of day, we first went outside to see if there was any hope of returning the baby squirrel to its nest. There was not. The nest was too high to reach and too protected by a dense tangle of branches to access even if we were able to get close.
Back inside I made a few phone calls and soon located a rehabber who could take our squirrel. So, I fed the squirrel one more time and we loaded up and headed off.
We reached the rehabber’s house less than a hour later. This nice man specialized in Fox Squirrels and had a number of other babies under his care. He gave our little girl a clean bill of health and then put her in with her new brothers and sisters.
We said our thank yous, left some extra puppy milk replacement and a small donation to help cover the expense of the needed care, and we were on our way back home.
A short time later we received a photo from the rehabber. The baby squirrel was doing fine! That’s her in the center of the picture!
4 Replies to “Fox Squirrel – Orphaned!”
That is a tiny little squirrel! My friend had a similar experience. Her dog came in the house holding something gingerly in its mouth. She held her hand down and the dog openned its mouth and a baby squirrel dropped into her hand! She called the vet and he told her the same thing you did. They kept the squirrel and raised it until it was old enough to release. It would come back and run up your leg for a few weeks when you went in the yard.
We have speculated about how this little girl found herself outside of the nest. Its hard to say since the nest was still intact. It had not been damaged by a recent storm or by landscaping activities. It doesn’t look like the nest has been disturbed by a predator. The insect bites may be a clue… maybe the baby was trying to escape from ants or something. I suppose it is also possible that the mother inadvertently dragged the baby from the nest when she exited… that might be the most likely explanation. Or maybe the baby just found a weak spot in the nest’s structure and fell through.
A cruel fact of nature regarding Squirrels: A mother squirrel somehow knows when her litter is bigger than her milk supply, and will push out the smallest and least able to compete with siblings for a milk teat, (usually the runt.) If they are all equal in competing, she will select one and throw it out and not respond to it’s calls for help.
There is also the possibility that this baby squirrel was her only baby, and that she was inadvertently killed. In that case, when baby gets hungry, they venture out of the dray looking for food and usually fall from the tree and are either found, eaten by predators or die. But, these babies are usually quite obtunded and dehydrated from several days without fluids.
My guess is that this squirrel was selectively culled by it’s mother, given the fact that it was well hydrated and very vocal.
In case you haven’t guessed, my passion is squirrels. It has been since I found a dead, frozen, ten day old Eastern Gray Squirrel in the snow on March 17, 2008, and with my wife’s help, successfully warmed and resuscitated her with CPR. She is now almost 7 years old and my constant companion.
When that little girl took her first breath, I bonded with her on a level that few people would understand. I knew nothing about squirrels at that time and was totally dependent upon the Internet for help. Unfortunately, some dirt bag that claimed to be an “Expert Squirrel Rehabber,” told me to feed her a combination of milk, Karo syrup and egg yolk. In my ignorance, I did it, and within 3 days my little girl was in full blown seizures, reacting to the egg protein.
Being a Emergency Room Nurse, I recognized what was going on, and managed to get her through the seizures. It was at that point that I vowed in my spirit, and asked God to help me learn all I could about how to properly care for squirrels.
I am now in a unique position because my little girl, Lucky, was left with limited eyesight and was unreleasable. Most rehab’ people know squirrels up to the age of about 14 to 16 weeks. To date, I’ve had Lucky almost 7 years and have raised and released several dozen baby squirrels.
Unfortunately, Lucky has suffered a number of life threatening conditions, and on more than one occasion, she had nearly died. The next to last major health issue, ( self mutilation due to a skin/ hair fungus called Dermatophytosis,) she chewed a hole in the side of her abdomen so deep that her intestines were visible.
Our Vet was able to close the wound, but having worked as a surgical nurse, I could tell by the way he acted, that he sent her home with me to die.
My wife and I took 3 hour shifts and held her around the clock in a squirrel body suite to keep her from re-opening her wound. We prayed, cried, and asked God to please spare her life.
God answered that prayer! Today, Lucky is as healthy as a squirrel with limited eyesight can be. In retrospect, every time God let Lucky go through a health crisis, and He guided us through it, someone would contact me through my SquirrelNutrition.com website, because they had a squirrel that was going through the same health issue. If we had not gone through it, we would not have known how to answer them.
Some people call me a “Squirrel Whisperer,” but my theory about any animal “Whisperer” is that they are so lovingly bonded to the animal of their passion, that they are enabled to think like that animal.
I always tell people that God has a special love for animals, because he created all of them before he created man and woman. In fact, according to Genesis chapter 1, God brought the animals to Adam and had him name them, and Adam and Eve’s Job One would have been to tend the perfect garden and care for all the animals!
If God lets us have what we want on the New Heaven and Earth He promises to create, I would like a garden full of the squirrels we’ve raised, and all the animals he let me love here on this earth. If He can raise this earthly body and reunite it with my spirit, it would be nothing for Him to give us back everything we truly loved here on earth.
I Corinthians 13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
The fellow we took this little squirrel to was a kind and gentle man like yourself. It takes a special person to dedicate themselves to the care and rehabbing of sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife. It can be a thankless job. I get asked sometimes why do people do it? I usually answer that it is simply a good and kind thing to do. That is reason enough, I think, but I can tell you have a much deeper calling.
Squirrels are some of my favorite animals. They are bright and engaging. I never fail to be entertained by their antics. You are a lucky man to get to relate to them in an even more personal way. I am always amazed at the bonds that can develop between two different species of animals. Friendship is a universal concept it seems.