Tuesday morning started out in a typical, ordinary fashion. During the first hour I am up, I usually manage to accomplish quite a bit before getting FD off to work. But this particular morning, as I was setting our breakfast frittata’s on the table, the phone rang. The caller ID indicated a local number, but not one I recognized. I had a feeling it might be a wildlife rescue call, and it was. On the other end of the line was a nice young woman who had found a baby squirrel. She still needed to get to work in Oklahoma City that morning, but wanted to get this baby settled in where it would get some help from a professional. I told the woman it would be fine for her to bring the baby squirrel to my home. Even though driving here first was actually quite a bit out of her way for getting to work, she, like most animal lovers, was happy to do it.
Not thirty minutes later, another rescue call came in about three bunnies whose mother was killed while a farmer was mowing nearby. Apparently, this wild, country rabbit was used to the comings and goings of people, as she did not seem spooked by the caller and her young children who had actually observed her giving birth earlier in the day. After watching the birthing for a bit, the family went away to leave the mother rabbit to tend to her new ones in peace. Later in the day after noticing the nearby pasture had been mowed, the children discovered the unfortunate fate of the mother rabbit not far away from her nest. Evidently, she had been hit by the farmer’s mower. Fearing for the babies, the children went to the nest site to find them lying safely snuggled together in the hole they had been birthed in.
The woman calling had already cared for the orphaned bunnies for three days but, after learning it was illegal to keep them, she called me. Indicating that she was a stay-at-home mom and really wanted to raise the young rabbits, I told her how to contact the local game warden and emailed her the forms to apply for a license to rehabilitate wildlife. I also gave her the name and number of another wildlife rehabilitator in western Oklahoma who I knew had great success raising bunnies. I myself, had never raised rabbits, so I was relieved that I did not have to commit to raising this trio along with the baby squirrel that would be coming through my door at any minute. Still, it felt good to provide some manner of help to another individual willing to sign on as a wildlife rehabilitator.
Soon, Jasmine, the young woman who had called earlier, arrived carrying a little box that contained baby squirrel she had found. Jasmine had done her homework and had taken the initial steps to see that the baby was kept warm, while also attempting to re-hydrate it. Upon her initial discovery, she had inspected the young squirrel for injury but did not find any obvious issues. Providing a little background of her discovery of the baby, she mentioned that she had been outdoors the evening before when she heard a ruckus of squirrel chattering and squealing coming from a tall tree high above their garage. Then, all of a sudden, this little girl was cast from the nest and, THUMP, the baby hit the garage roof, and then tumbled down the roof to the concrete driveway.
My first thoughts were how traumatic it must have been for this four- to five-week-old squirrel to suddenly be thrown from the only home it had known. Now alone, and with its eyes not yet open, it only had smell, touch, hearing, and instinct to find its way around. Squirrel babies are timid and shy creatures, yet curious, anxious, and always on alert. Caring for a baby squirrel that has experienced the kind of trauma this one had just been through, requires much patience, quiet surroundings, and detail to creating comfort and security. Living here in nature, my mind thought about the scenario that must have taken place that evening. Likely a mother squirrel had her babies secured in her nest when a predator of some type threatened the nest. Like any good mother, she probably tried to fight off the intruder – likely a raptor of some kind, or perhaps a snake. In the fight, this baby was either knocked out of, or fell from, the nest. But then it occurred to me that, as tragic as the fall may have been, perhaps this single baby had actually been the lucky one. There was no telling what ultimately happened to the mother or siblings. And fortunately, this little baby was old enough to have been nourished well and managed to roll and tumble from the nest to the driveway without sustaining injury.
Over the last several days, little Punkin has made great strides as a survivor. Her appetite has improved thanks to quick delivery of squirrel supplies from an online distributor, where we stocked up on special feeding nipples and formula. After recovering from her initial, dehydrated condition, Punkin’s bathroom business is finally spot-on as well. Her eyes are open and she is acclimating to human touch. Making gradual improvements like these to get back in the groove of everyday life, is normal for any newly-orphaned wild animal, and Punkin has been no exception. She has been a delight!
And truly, experiencing life-changing events is not so different with humans. Our days typically start out like any other, but misfortunes, accidents, tragedies, and catastrophic events do happen. And, when they do, we are cast out of normalcy and must acclimate ourselves to whatever we have to work with. The struggle to survive can be a continued burden, or it can be met with resiliency that catapults us into creating something good or, at least, something better. The choice is always ours.
My feeling is that little Punkin will do just fine. Having been raised by humans, her early days will not be the same as for other squirrels, but that will not direct the course of her adult life. Soon, her natural, wild instinct will take over, and her desire will be to live the life of a squirrel – bounding from tree to tree in Daisy’s woodland, and cleaning up the kernels of corn she leaves behind at the feeder…
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…