Saturday, August 30, 2008
How I got into rescuing squirrels and some cute stories and pics of squirrels we have had. Story of poor little Lazarus-
The pics above are- me with Fay after a feeding- Soleil sat on my shoulder the whole time and watched but never had any intent on hurting or even coming near the squirrels. Fay was the smallest squirrel we got. The next picture is of Gabriel eating. The next is either Lucky or Sadie, I can't remember which. The last picture is Lazarus before he died. :(
April and August are squirrel nesting and "hatching time" in Florida. April is a very stormy month with high winds and August is of course, hurricane season. So we get a lot of squirrels who fall out of their nests in these two months. Fay was particularly brutal for the babies this August. I called some local vets and gave them my name and cell phone number for rescuing baby squirrels. I am not a licenced wildlife rehabber, but I certainly have done my share of rescuing baby squirrels and raccoons over the years and have known how to do it since the age of nine, when I found a baby flying squirrel in my yard.
My folks were in Mexico and I was in the care of our dear black maid, Naomi. Now, Naomi did not care for critters of any sort, so I knew when I found that squirrel that I was on my own. I thought in my nine year old mind, "Who would know what to do?" So I called the zoo- looked up the number and asked for someone who knew about baby mammals. This dear person told me exactly what to feed and how often and that baby flying squirrel, whom I named Skitterray, thrived for a week. He would glide from my shoulder onto a hanging rug in my sister's room and scamper all around- he ate well and was very healthy. He was fond of sleeping with me and being nine and loving all animals, I let him. One morning I awoke to him under my knee, dead. I was devastated. I looked him over for any signs of respiratory infection, blood, etc. I knew that he had suffocated and I was just crushed. I went outside to bury him and on my way back I heard a squeaking, and there on the ground was another baby squirrel- a regular grey one. Even at that age, I thought surely God had placed him there just for me, to ease my pain, so I picked him up and proceeded into the house with him, much to Naomi's dismay. He then bit me very hard and ran off. I decided that he was NOT in any danger, and needed to be outside. So I freed him and he was fine- wet and angry, but fine. So from that day on, I have rescued squirrels. People who know me know I know a bit about wildlife, so over the years we have gotten calls from folks with baby raccoons in their garage, squirrels on their grass, etc. Jon and I have nursed many mammals back to life in our bathrooms. It's such a joy.
This year, we were inundated with squirrels. I have two friends that help me with the squirrels- one is Becca, my dear dear bird friend and the other is a new squirrel friend named Alana. One woman had kept the baby squirrel she had found, bathed him, and fed him for two days. She described him as "healthy and running all around and eating great." When she got here, and I took the squirrel out, Jules immediately said, " Oh gosh, Mama, he's SICK and he smells WRONG!" The lady looked at her like she was out of her mind. I said, " Yes he is, baby." " I just changed that bedding though." I explained that the smell was not urine but necrotic tissue- rotting skin. I asked if she had seen any wounds when her DOG BROUGHT IT TO HER. She answered no. I turned this precious baby over and there were three gaping wounds, one on his stomach and one under each armpit. I told her we would do the best we could and I would get back to her. Upon further inspection, we discovered (don't gag) that this baby had maggots in all three wounds. So we immediately went into action- Emily held the flashlight, Jon held Lazaurus still and I picked out the maggots with tweezers. It was AWFUL. I called a friend who is equipped with antibiotics (Alana) and she came immediately. We worked on him for 40 minutes. He had over 50 maggots under his skin. She said, " He needs to be euthanized." I agreed but it was Sunday afternoon and all the vets were closed. He lived for two more days. No one could have saved this squirrel- his wounds were just too bad and he was too weak to endure SURGERY and you don't sew up puncture wounds anyway. It was just an example of how people think they are doing good and they don't realize that there is more to it than just feeding the squirrel.
On the other hand we have had great success with the rest of the squirrels- they have all lived and are now with Alana and will be released into the wild when they are ready. Here are some pics of them - they are so small and frail and precious. Thanks to Becca who took them from me one night when I had a sinus infection and a migraine and was throwing up and kept them alive until Alana could take them. I LOVE YOU BECCA!!!!