We saw the cutest baby squirrel at the park yesterday, Wednesday, after school. One of the women who does after school child care, and hangs out at this park a lot, told us that she had seen this squirrel around the same tree all week. It was super friendly. It kept following the kids around. It looked like it wanted to be picked up. At one point, it went through the fence to see our neighbour, Brian, and his dog, Rosie – I had to call out to Brian to pull Rosie back because the squirrel was going right towards her. On her way out of the park, the woman who does child care said that she would not be at the park on Thursday, but if the squirrel was still there on Friday, she would bring a box and take it to a wildlife centre.
We stayed around at the park a bit longer and the squirrel kept getting closer to us. And the sad news was that there was a dead squirrel, that looked to be about the same size, at the base of the tree where this squirrel was hanging out. We assumed that it was a sibling and the mother was also dead. After discussions with more neighbours who came through the park, we decided that we should move the squirrel out of the park. Soccer was about to start that night, with about 60 kids coming to play. And the park is quite often a place where neighbours come to walk their dogs. We just thought that the chances that this squirrel would make it until Friday were pretty slim.
One of our fantastic neighbours, Joe, was heading up to get his son at the daycare at school. He said he would try to find some kind of cage to put the squirrel in. He came back down with one of the mesh containers that the Kindergarten class had used to hatch butterflies. Joe helped me get the squirrel into the cage and I brought it home to my backyard. I opened the cage in my backyard and the squirrel walked out. But it looked so scared. It kept trying to follow me around. It actually tried to climb up my leg – which made me a little afraid. I put some bird seed out for it and some water. I kept checking on it. A few times it was back in the cage of its own accord.
I posted on Facebook asking if anyone had a more suitable cage for the squirrel to spend the night in. I was afraid to leave it in the mesh cage and bring it into my house, because I was worried that it would just chew its way out. Then another wonderful neighbour, Wendy, shared my post on a neighbourhood group. There was a lot of discussion about this squirrel online.
I called my fantastic friend Kate – because she has this kind of knowledge of natural things. As soon as her and her son got home from swimming lessons they came right over with a plastic container that she keeps for small animal rescues. She called her mom while at my house because her mom is the kind of person who has rescued many small animals and therefore the one that everyone calls when they have an animal needing rescue – and this would be why Kate has knowledge of these natural things. Her mom asked how big the squirrel was, and how long the hair was, and if its eyes were open. Her mom determined that it was probably not fully weaned yet, but it could probably eat some solid food. She suggested apples and dandelion greens. Kate had some apple slices in the plastic container and the squirrel went crazy for them. It went into the plastic container instantly. Kate then put in some fabric scraps so that the squirrel could make a nest. When the squirrel was done eating the apple and realized it was in a plastic container, it started to become anxious, so Kate covered it with a t-shirt (which is what you see in this photo – notice how Kate came prepared with leather gloves so that she doesn’t get scratched or bitten!).
We then agreed that Kate would take the squirrel home for the night and I would drive it to the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in the morning.
I called Kate this morning to confirm that the squirrel was OK and it was! So I took my kids with me and we went to the wildlife sanctuary – which is a good hour drive away. When we got there, we were welcomed by a wonderful woman named Megan (in the photo at the top of this post). She was so kind. I had to fill in a form with my contact info, where we found the squirrel, what we had fed it so far, etc. I then gave a $20 donation to help in the care of our squirrel. Megan confirmed that our squirrel was a girl, so my daughter named her Georgia. Megan also said that Georgia was probably about 7 weeks old. She told us that they will keep Georgia at the centre for a few more weeks to raise her until the age where she could survive on her own. They start off in cages in the Squirrel Nursery, and will then be moved to outdoor enclosures with less interaction with humans. Megan asked if I would be able to come back to get Georgia when she is ready to be released – they like to release them in a 15 km radius from where they were found. I said that I would of course do that!
Here is a photo of Megan, with Georgia in the plastic container that Kate had given us (there are air holes cut into the lid, don’t worry!):
Megan then took Georgia into the Squirrel Nursery. We got to look in the nursery through a one-way window. There were so many cages with baby squirrels. And there were a few women there feeding the squirrels formula with little droppers. Then they have to wipe off the squirrels chins, because the formula is sticky and will make them get bald spots.
These are not the best photos because they were taken through a one-way window, but here is a glimpse into the Squirrel Nursery:
Georgia is in the cage with the red bottom and white top on the top shelf in the middle of the photo:
Megan said that if other squirrels are found in our area, they will put them with Georgia as litter mates. Then we would release them all back into our neighbourhood together.
We then got to see the Raccoon Nursery. Again, there were so many cages of baby raccoons. Some were being fed from bottles. They were so sweet.
Megan mentioned that she is the Foster Care Coordinator. That is something I would like to look into when my kids are a bit older. She also mentioned that they sometimes have groups make nesting boxes for them – I think that this would be a great workshop for World-Changing Kids. Stay tuned to our World-Changing Kids Facebook page for details about this!