we went out for a walk yesterday evening and came across a baby squirrel on the sidewalk. he was the tiniest baby squirrel i have ever seen, he didnt have all his adult coat yet and was still mostly covered in baby fuzz. we watched him for a while, wondering why he was out of the nest as it was obvious that he was too young to be on his own. then we saw another one. and a third. two black, one grey. mom should have been up in a tree yelling at us for being so close to her babies, but she wasnt around. squirrels are active during the day, and by this point in the evening, we figured that if momma hadn’t come back for them by now, she wasnt going to. and while the best momma to a baby squirrel is a momma squirrel, a wildlife rehab center is a good second choice.
the woman who lives in the house came by and said that there was a nest up in the roof of the house but she hadnt seen any adults around for a while. we discussed what to do about these three babies, and we decided that we would take them home and drop them off at the wildlife centre. we put the babies in a shoebox that the woman gave us and carried them home. it was late enough in the evening that we knew that we would probably be keeping them overnight, but we dropped into a vets office on our way home to see if they could take them. the tech at the desk said that she was a wildlife rehabilitator and had been feeding baby squirrels just that morning at the centre, so she gave us some advice for what to do with them (which, it occurs to me now, might be useful to pass on!) she said to call and leave a message with the wildlife centre and give them a detailed message about where we found the babies, what they were like (eyes open, not all their fur, clumsy, not afraid of people and willingly approaching us) and they would call us back when they opened in the morning. handle them carefully cause they do have sharp teeth! keep them in something other than a shoebox over night (we used a cat carrier) and dont give then anything to eat – they wont starve overnight, and its better that they eat what they are supposed to eat than we stuff whatever we think is appropriate through the bars, since likely these guys were not old enough to be weaned yet. give them a shallow dish of water, some old cloths or towels, and a heating pad or hot water bottle because they likely cannot regulate their own temperature. (unless you are keeping them over the weekend, then its different and you need to find somebody to tell you what to do) having provided them with their new guest house accommodations for the night, hey just curled up together in a ball and went to sleep.
these babies slept in the basement where its warm and dark and quiet, because while i do like baby squirrels, i dont really want to mix them with my babies or my cats. these babies had lice/fleas, something that i dont want in my couch! so the basement was a good set up for everybody. (also, it was quickly obvious that having them spend the night in kikis cat carrier inside was too much excitement for the cats.)
in the morning i called the wildlife centre, who asked a bunch of detailed questions and then confirmed that we had done the right thing and that they wanted us to bring them in. when i dropped off the babies, the two women at the front desk said that they had never seen baby squirrels who were this skinny who werent listless and really sick, these guys were active and pretty robust-looking, which was a good sign as their condition shows that they have been on their own for a long time. still, because they have been on their own and at least one them seemed to have pneumonia, they are not yet sure what their outcome will be.
(click for bigger versions so you can actually see them – its dark and they hide).
they are cute now, sure, but the vet tech showed us the scars on her hands, saying “they get a little crazy when they get older!”