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November 20, 2008

Small Squirrel Tale

                                                                   (click on photos to enlarge)

Eight summers ago Mom and I were in enjoying a summer afternoon in Washington Sq.
Looking left, some fellow was trying to feed a nut to a tiny squirrel on the ground under a towering tree beside me. The squirrel baby was a fantastic miniature complete with fluffy tail. It didn't move and where was its Mum?

I tried placing it on the tree trunk, thinking that it might know its way home, no luck. It didn't go anywhere and looking down I saw ANOTHER one! Surely their Mother had left them and would be back soon. So we watched and waited three hours or so but no adult squirrel showed up.

Not about to leave defenseless squirrel tots to deal with park predators, I put them in my sun hat, escorted Mom back to her flat then stopped off for a hamster box for safe squirrel baby keeping until I figured out what to do next.

With some shredded bedding and a small box to hide in and pieces of cut peach and grapes they settled in quickly. They skipped the water in a jar lid, but licked the juices from the cut fruit. Tired babies slept curled together in their little gift box and popped their heads out, one on top of the other when they woke.

Advice I found on the net put me in touch with the wildlife rescue, rehab and release folks at Schuylkill Valley Nature Center. They were willing to accept my foundlings if I could get them there.... tricky without a car and on a Sunday from Center City.

So with the little Squirrels in a covered basket on my lap we caught a 9 bus to the end of the line.
A woman from the Nature Center met us in the McDonald's parking lot at the Andorra Shopping Center.

Looking the babies over gently and she told me they were a male and a female, likely brother and sister. She transferred them to her carrier along with their sliced fruit and with a thankful donation for the animal rescue's good work they were off to their new home in the suburban rehab center while I waited for the bus back to town.

In later phone calls the rehab folks assured me the squirrels were well and growing and at last were released into the wild.

Hopefully, their descendents are gathering acorns for this coming winter as I write.

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