Based on the date of my last post—July 14th—you would probably think that I didn’t have any more squirrels since then… Um, no.
Quite the opposite in fact. We had a major onslaught of squirrels at the Center during this year’s summer season, and I was kept quite busy with my little charges—so busy, in fact, I wasn’t able to post anything about them at the time. And even though I’ve been squirrel-free since the end of September, this is the first time I’ve had a chance to write about them. It seems especially fitting to do so today, since I’m very thankful I’ve had the opportunity to work with these brave little animals over the last two years.
Okay, so they’ve only been gone for a week, but it seems like a lot longer!
I took my two not-so-little squirrels to another volunteer’s home last Monday. She has an outdoor enclosure, so she’ll continue feeding them while they strengthen their muscles and skills so they’ll be in prime condition when they are released back into the wild.
They were certainly ready to make the transition. Often when we bring squirrels to an enclosure, they hold back in their carrier or cage for a while and, even once they venture out, it’s not unusual for them to run to one place and “freeze” for a while until they feel comfortable. Not these guys! The minute we opened the carrier door, they SPRANG right out and ran all over the sides of the enclosure. One even jumped from one side to the other, missing my head by about an inch I might add!
In case you’ve forgotten what they looked like, this video has some nice scenes of them thoroughly enjoying the natural foods (e.g. branches, twigs, leaves, weeds, etc. from my backyard) I stock their cage with, which is another sign they’ll soon be ready for life in the great outdoors.
So I’m rodent-free for a while, but I don’t know how much longer that’s going to last, since on Tuesday we got our first babies of summer season into the Center! One of them was too badly injured to save, but the other one is now in the caring hands of one of our other foster moms. Two more came in on Saturday—little pinkies between 20-25g… I’m not sure who’s taking them or if they’ll make it. But I do know they’ll be given every possible chance!
These guys aren’t going to be with me much longer. It’s not just a matter of their size (over 310g yesterday!), but they’re so obviously ready to move to bigger and better quarters, as you can see by their energetic antics in this video compilation.
I said goodbye to my Fox squirrel today. She gained about 15g while she was here, and started climbing, so I guess she did okay by me. But June managed to find a volunteer from another wildlife center who had taken in two small male Foxes in May, still with their eyes closed, and now my little one will be joining them.
Even though I only had her for a few days, I’m going to miss her. No matter how hard we try, you can’t help but become attached to a living creature that depends on you for its very life (and I think anyone who could stay completely detached wouldn’t be likely to sign up for this gig!). But we always have to consider what’s best for our furry friends and there’s no doubt that she’ll be a lot happier with two big brothers showing her the ropes.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I had seen a Fox squirrel in my backyard in the morning. Well, I saw him/her there again today and I managed to get a quick pic before it scurried off.
Even in the shadows, you can make out the distinctive red underside. They’re really quite lovely. I hope s/he sticks around a while…
Since we thought that squirrel season was over for the time being (ha!), I had signed up to start working a regular shift at the Center again. So I happened to be there on Friday morning when we got yet another squirrel in that was quite a bit smaller (129g) than should have been out there by this time of the year. And so, of course, I brought her home with me…
I mentioned last week that I had taken in two stragglers. Well, so far they’ve been doing very well. They have really healthy appetites, they’re peeing and pooping the way they should, and (knock on wood), no one’s come down with any kind of illness. There’s just one thing…
Welcome to Life in Squirreldom!
I began chronicling my experiences fostering orphaned squirrels for the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley on my other blog, Embrace Adventure, but have decided that these little guys are interesting enough to warrant their own blog. 🙂 If you’d like to see how it all started, check out this page that tells the story of the first set I raised, right from the beginning.
Now to what’s new… Last week, I released the set I fostered this spring into my backyard. It was bittersweet, because one of the squirrels had passed away while it was in the outdoor enclosure, where we put them for a few weeks between home care and release. We don’t know what happened. I also don’t know which specific one it was, but that’s probably just as well. They’re all special and the loss of any one is definitely a sad occurrence after we’ve put so much time into getting them to that point. But unfortunately, sometimes they have internal injuries or some other condition that doesn’t show up until they’re older.
But the other five were more than healthy, as our squirrel coordinator, June, could attest to when she tried to catch them to put them in carriers so I could bring them home. They gave her a real run for her money, which is the best possible sign that they’re truly wild, and that we’ve done our jobs correctly!
I took my last two squirrels of this season to the Center today to join their four “siblings” in an outdoor enclosure for the next few weeks until I can release them all back into the wild.
Speaking of wild, that’s the way we’re describing this season after the huge onslaught of the wee critters we received. I don’t know what the final count is (and there could still be stragglers), but we usually get around 50 in March. This year there were more than 80!
I’ll write more about this season’s squirrel adventures later, but for now I’ll just post a few pics to remind you why it is I love doing this!