Three years ago in February, Mother Nature dropped a helpless, baby squirrel into the path of my husband, who was out of town, 4 hours away from home. He called saying he’d found a cold, nearly-dead squirrel while out on a call, and I knew he was going to ask if he could bring it home. My husband, the animal whisperer, has had many encounters helping wildlife. This was only another adventure for him. One he admits to hoping for most of his life… raising a squirrel. FD named him Frosty. For the very tip of his tail was frostbitten. The tip fell off after a couple of weeks, leaving him with a funny blunt end to his fuzzy tail.
I got online immediately and researched what we needed to do. Finding appropriate syringes was a problem, and mixing the Esbilac formula with just a bit of cream became a daily chore. Every 4 hours or less we fed him, helped him potty (rubbing a tissue gently on genitals to help mimic a mother licking), and cleaned his shoe box.
In no time at all he was demanding more milk and spending more time awake. FD often carried him around on his body.
Frosty had a particular liking for human hair. He especially loved hiding behind my long tresses. And, he had no clue how razor-sharp his claws could be. We looked like we had been in a fight in the bramble patch most of the time! One client at the accounting firm I worked at commented, “Look at those arms! Now THAT is a hard-working farm girl!” I hated to tell him the truth. It just doesn’t seem too impressive to tell people you hang with a squirrel!
Eventually Frosty moved to a wire cage. FD fashioned a hole in a cardboard box and filled it with batting. Frosty had a “gorilla” toy that was his, uh, girlfriend I guess. He pulled her IN the house every night and pulled her back out in the morning.
During the days, we’d take him out and feed him outside of the cage and let him climb around on the back porch, acclimating him to unprotected life. He rebelled the cage more and more. Soon it was apparent, he was ready to venture out.
And so, Daddy built a house of the finest wood, with a tree limb post entry and a sitting stoop. Still safe on the back porch but free to venture into the woods whenever he wanted… which is exactly what he did most of the day. We could call and he would come running, carefully, from tree to tree, always alert of danger.
It’s funny how instinctively they know when it’s time to go. He came back to Daddy to finger wrestle, eat those pecans that only Daddy seemed to have hidden in a pocket, or when he heard us yelling his name, when we thought he “forgot” to come home just before dark. There was no reason to stay… we knew he was bound for the woods. And so it was on Mother’s Day, 2008 that we last saw him scampering off to the northwest. My heart was broken, but my boy was free. For the next 3 years we wondered, hoped and prayed. A large percentage of squirrels never make it past the first year. Predators and disease are the biggest threat. But then… he returned. This winter was a hard one weather-wise. And so the prodigal son made an appearance. But that’s another post…
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…