Josh was at a job site and noticed a tiny baby fox squirrel laying on the ground. He decided to leave it there to be reunited with its mama and would check again the next day. As he returned, it was still there on the ground, so cold it was shaking like a leaf. Josh decided to pick it up and put it in his warm truck. He wrapped it in a towel and put it in a cardboard box. He brought it home to our zoo of dogs and kids.
I was home, on a work call when he carried it in and just put the tiny, baby squirrel on my lap. The poor thing was pretty lifeless and incredibly tiny. I was concerned about it losing its mama but Josh explained how he left it over night and Mama squirrel still hadn’t found her lost baby. It hadn’t eaten and was really cold. Next I was concerned about diseases or whatever it could possibly bring into our house. Also, how do we feed this tiny little thing? So, we researched / googled and learned everything you need to know about feeding and caring for her- and we found out it is a female. She is harmless, doesn’t carry any disease and isn’t a theat to our health. Our plan is to care for the squirrel with the intent to get it ready to live on her own, not to keep obviously. We learned that she should be ready at about 10-12 weeks of age.
She had only 1 eye open and we didn’t know if the other was injured since she also had a cut on her paw on that same side (image below). The next day we were so happy when she opened that eye and we determined she was about 5 weeks old based on size, color and her eye opening.
We bought puppy formula to feed her through a syringe. She slept a lot and loved our warm electric blanket. She didn’t have a lot of fur to keep herself warm yet. She burrowed into a ball where her little chin reached her big, long feet.
Imagine the excitement of the boys when they first saw the “surprise”.
“A baby squirrel? Can we keep her?!
No buddies, saddly she lost her Mama and can’t live on her own. We are going to nurse her back to health and get her strong enough to be able to live outside on her own. They were so excited and immediately told all of their friends, teachers and class. I had to send photos for their teachers to show their class as the boys explained to their fellow classmates how we are saving a baby orphan squirrel at home. While I know all of this is pretty strange, a bit weird and of course we don’t have time for a bottle feeding baby BUT it has been pretty fun for our family this spring. Plus it has been a great science and care giving lesson for our boys. They adore her.
So here we are on week 4 and she is about 9 weeks old. Squirrely, as we call her, has grown so much and is really turning from a little baby to a brave, climbing, foot thumping, nut crunching squirrel. Today is day 2 where she hasn’t had any “bottles” of puppy formula and is surviving solely on nuts that she feeds herself. We have bird seed mix, peanuts and sunflower seeds from Rural King (sold by the pound). Her favorites are peanuts, corn from the bird seed and then sunflower seeds. She drinks water out of a tiny pink bowl.
How does she live in the house with 3 boys and 2 dogs, you ask? I know, I know. We are already busy, and loud and exciting. But honestly she probably couldn’t find a better home outside of her own nest. Our dogs have been trained and know not to hurt her, of course. They stare at her, especially our 2 year old black lab Grace, but won’t hurt her. As for the boys, Hunter is an excellent older brother and care giver and can hold her in a blanket for an hour or longer if he had his way. Wyatt is a little rough and wants her to “ride” his stuff animals. (We all have to keep an eye on him.) Deacon loves her and helped Hunter make her a cardboard house/ obstacle course complete with tunnels (cardboard paper towel tube). This was her rehab center where she learned to climb, or at least the boys tried. I think it was a lot more fun for them than it was for her.
That’s where we are now. We are confident that she is healthy and mobile. The next step is to let her live outside on the porch in a cage where she can venture out on her own and can return to the cage for safety. She should have minimal human interaction once she goes outside so that she can know not to depend on us and have a healthy fear of the unknown (and be skittish like a squirrel).