People often ask me what I do when I am not writing. We'll here's twenty-four hours of me not writing. Not typical, but few days are. This was the day in April when we found the baby critter that was so small I called him Peanut.
We only found Peanut because our neighbors were photographing something on the lawn. They left it there and we investigated. What we found was a baby gray squirrel that still had both eyes closed.
It made right for the sound of my husband's footfalls on the dried leaves. Peanut was taking a dangerous chance at heading for anything that moved. Luckily it was us and not one of the neighbor's three cats.
I am not in the habit of kidnapping baby animals and hoped that the mama would appear if we just made ourselves scarce. But mama didn't show and Peanut followed us as best he could. I put him at the base of a tree and he didn't climb. I put him in a bush and let him cry hoping that would attract mama. It didn't. I put him up in a tree that I know has babies every year and Peanut climbed up out of my reach. I remember thinking that I'd made a mistake because I couldn't retrieve him now and the sun was setting and it was getting colder.
We waited. No parent squirrel in sight and the ones we did see ran in the opposite direction. I scratched the tree trunk and Peanut descended to my hand. Okay, I've officially kidnapped a baby squirrel. And I am hoping that I didn't just create an orphan.
I removed my t-shirt to wrap around Peanut who was shivering. He stopped crying once in my hand and over the time I had him, he never bit me. I know squirrels make terrible pets, as do most wild animals. So my idea was to keep Peanut only as long as it took to pass Peanut to someone with training in such things.
The hunt for a rehabilitator began immediately with several messages left on several phones. But as the evening waned away, it was clear I had a squirrel for the night. Peanut slept on a heating pad, on low, in a sweatshirt in the kitchen.
There are lots of helpful web pages out there. Here is the link that I found helpful for assisting a baby squirrel: http://arcforwildlife.com/squirrels.htm
Here's what I learned about care.
1. Baby Squirrels cannot tolerate cow's milk.
Too much lactate and not enough fat. They need puppy milk found at a pet store (or presumably in a mother dog.)
2. Baby Squirrels cannot maintain their body temperature.
So they need a heating pad and something soft like a bath towel or sweatshirt to nestle in. It is important to have part of the cloth on and part off the heating pad so that the squirrel can move if it is too hot.
3. Don't feed a baby squirrel on its back.
The rehab person said that good intentioned folk often flood the infant's lungs with fluid trying to feed it like a human baby. Squirrels apparently nurse in an upright position. Give 4-6 ML of puppy milk every four to five hours.
I used a heating pad and sweatshirt in a box for Peanut, who was very tired.He did not want the cold milk we offered by syringe but did take water. My internet search revealed that we were using the wrong type milk and could have harmed him. My husband went out to the pet store just before closing for puppy milk or Esbilac. He returned and Peanut had a meal of 7 ml of warmed milk.
See a Vid of Peanut's breakfast feeding here:
After breakfast, Peanut gets a belly rub to help digestion and then he went right to sleep. I set the heating pad on low and headed to bed, too. But at 3 in the morning I recalled that that particular heating pad shuts off every three hours. I got up and turned it back on, woke Peanut and fed him again.
In the morning he was still alive, hungry and had one eye open!
See the longer 3 minute Vid on Peanut on my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/4OEQ5XhVqWU
The rehab person called us around noon and by mid-afternoon I was happily squirreless again. I left Peanut in a cat carrier in the kitchen of the Rehab person's home, on a heating pad. She told me that baby squirrels do very well being released and that Peanut would be a wild squirrel again in no time.
They just grow up so darn fast!
Good luck Peanut!