Life with SQUIRRELS



I am an animist. I see the world is a place filled with sentient beings each trying to live the best life they can, from the crow, flying overhead, to the worm at my feet, the cedar tree across the yard…each a living conscious being with its own emotions, desires, and language. The animals and plants that share my environment enrich it with their presence.

And because of that I've always had a menagerie of animal companions.

When I lived in AZ i worked with a veterinarian and was a rehabilitator of raptors. We often had a house kestrel or owl. So one day when I was out and about and I heard a loud, sharp distressed cry, I went in search of the problem. I followed the sound to a pine tree and there on the ground was a nest made of an old dishcloth and some pine needles. The nest had been torn apart and at its edges were 3 tiny squirrels, wriggling on their bellies, struggling to flee in three different directions while a large crow sat a few feet away eyeing us. Now I love crows but i wasn't about to let this one eat a squirrel lunch so I scooped them up, folding them into my shirt, and took them home.






I determined they were 2 girls and 1 boy about 5 weeks old (born around July 14) as they were furred. Their eyes were opened. They crawled on their bellies and their ears were just beginning to open and uncurl from the sides of their heads. They didn't eat well but I gave them baths and stimulate their tiny bodies.






Baby squirrels need a diet high in fat, much higher than a can of puppy formula could satisfy.

I ordered food and snacks and squirrel-size nipples and I found a recipe for a goat milk starter diet which used 3 parts Goat milk, 1 part plain whole milk yogurt (the full fat variety with no added sweeteners), and 1 part heavy cream to try while we waited for the supplies to arrive from www.henryspets.com.

Babies need to have their genitals stimulated to trigger elimination. In the wild this happens when the mom licks them. This means that after every nursing they need to be gently wiped with a warm damp washcloth.





I began feeding them every 4 hours. Soon all three were eating and sleeping on schedule and with stimulation all three little guys pooped on cue!





I wasn't long before they began to explore their room.





I bought a large cage and put them to bed in it each night to keep them out of trouble.





They grew quick and soon were subsidizing their feedings with all sorts of fruits and vegetables. Squirrels need a variety of foods to stay healthy. Those who eat an inadequate diet can develop metabolic bone disease, a disorder caused by calcium deficiency, with symptoms that include labored breathing, low activity levels and appetite, seizures, paralysis and even death.

I offered them all sorts of things and found Rocky and Zena favored avocado and sugar peas, while Zoey preferred to eat greens and would eat a whole cup of baby greens in one setting.







At 8 weeks the babies started to ween. First Zena, the big female, lost interest in the bottle. Both Zoey and Rocky continue to suckle, though not as frequently, and not eating as much.

All three loved to eat, especially when it came to new foods. I introduced them to apples, oranges, sweet potatoes, spinach, lettuce, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin, broccoli, green beans, strawberries, blackberries, watermelon. And while they will nibble almost anything, they especially loved sweet peas, avocados, and grapes and were getting more squirrelly by the day. However they had no interest in their vitamin loaded squirrel blocks and were insulted when I offered banana.









They grew fast and quickly became little gremlins, fast climbing, temperamental creatures that would destroy anything within reach. They absolutely loved to run up your legs and around your body as if you were a tree and their nails are sharp and scratch painfully. I began to put a coat on before going into their room for protection.


As much as I loved having the little guys, squirrels are wild animals and soon demanded to be outside. We made them houses in the fir tree and let them out.







They joined the other squirrels in the yard and took mates. They still come around now and then looking for treats.