Notes From a Squirrel Rescue in Progress, Part Two

When I posted last about this hurt squirrel, I had just brought her inside. She was lying on a t-shirt in a plastic box. She seemed injured, and it was about 50 degrees outside, so getting her warmed up was the most important thing. I didn’t want to blast a space heater at her, and luckily there was enough of a data signal on the cell phone to look online. Within two minutes a wildlife rehabilitation site advised using a warm water bottle. It was another stroke of luck that I’d forgotten to turn the hot water heater off. I filled a plastic water bottle and tried to estimate a comfortable temperature and lay the bottle alongside the little girl. 

There was no telling how conscious she was, but she was alert enough to be terrified. Her eyes were wide and she was breathing hard. I didn’t want to handle her or mess around in the box more than necessary, but the water kept cooling off quickly and I had to add more hot water to it every ten minutes or so.

Roo was sleeping through all of this in her specially-made den beside my bed in the camper. It’s a good space for her, designed to be as private a hideout as possible in that tiny space. It had the advantage of keeping the fact, which would have been spectacular news to her, that a squirrel had been smuggled inside the camper. Apart from how late it was, Roo had also been feeling bad from antibiotics she was on for the cut she had on her foot, so she was crashed out. I wasn’t going to go to bed. Not that I knew what to do with the squirrel, but I was going to keep an eye on her and keep researching what to do with an injured squirrel.

Keeping the squirrel warm was the most crucial thing, and they all said no water or food. Just warmth and a dark place to rest until she could be brought to a wildlife rehabber who would know how to take care of them. The squirrel’s box was on the dinette table in front of me and I draped a black towel over it. I checked on her constantly. It seemed that she couldn’t see out of the box, which was a dull, though transparent plastic. Her wide eyes got smaller, though they never closed, and her breathing calmed down and before long she went to sleep and dreamed some little squirrel dream. It looked a lot like a dog’s dream. She was dreaming about eating something. Her little jaws worked and her whiskers twitched. It only lasted about five seconds.

After what must have been a couple of hours, I was standing a few feet away — there is no distance greater than that in the camper — when I heard a couple of cheeps from the squirrel and the sound of her bouncing against the plastic walls of her box. She had changed positions.

This was great news — I had been worried that the squirrel was paralyzed — but it also woke Roo. She went from snoring in her den to full-blown WAS THAT A SQUIRREL I JUST HEARD?! mode instantaneously. There’s no fooling a dog about anything like that. I wouldn’t every try. They’d never believe another thing you told them.

Roo was as interested as you’d expect, but she minded her manners. I didn’t even have to ask her to calm down. I confessed the obvious. There was a squirrel in the box. I told her she could watch, but that was it. She didn’t mind. Maybe it was all those times she’s seen mouses of various types behind glass in pet stores.

The squirrel had repositioned herself away from the warm water bottle and seemed to have gone back to sleep. She had her face buried in a fold of the t-shirt. Her positioned seemed anguished, though. 

Imagine how interesting this development was to Roo. She couldn’t believe our luck. Not having seen the squirrel coming in, she must have assumed that the squirrel had made a deadly miscalculation of some kind. As far as she was concerned, having a squirrel inside the camper was a dream come true.

Still, she understood the squirrel box was off-limits and though she was allowed a fewsniffs at it, she never seemed to contemplate getting in the box.

In the morning, I started calling around to find a wildlife rehabber. It had now been about four or five hours. I had been heeding the warning not to feed or water a hurt squirrel, but for this long? I needed better information. I needed to get the squirrel to someone who would know how to care for her.

There are lots of people who do wildlife rehabilitation, but they’re not always too easy to find. I called the game warden to ask for names or organizations. He didn’t even bother to make a suggestion and seemed to think it was odd anyone would so much as call to inquire about the well-being of a squirrel. I called the Humane Society, but only got voicemail. A wildlife sanctuary 80 miles away picked up the phone. They gave me the numbers of a few rehabbers closer to Brunswick. A hour or two later, one of them texted me and we arranged to meet when she got off work. She also told me it would be okay to give the squirrel water. I already had.

When I put the water in the box, the squirrel was in one of her quiet periods. I was leaving her alone, under the table, now, because I had figured out a good way to position a space heater for her. She couldn’t see that Roo was lying a few feet away, just staring at the box, her ears up, but perking up all the more any time the squirrel cheeped or made some noise by moving around in the box. Roo never had to be asked to leave the squirrel alone. She completely respected her orders to lay off the squirrel and never had to have them repeated.

Eventually the squirrel found the water. I don’t know if squirrels in general are any more concerned with neatness than this one was, or if this one just made a huge mess because she was so badly hurt and not in control of her movements, but she managed to splash water all over the inside of her box. The water revived her a little more, and by the time we were ready to transport her, she was moving more. She didn’t look well or happy or comfortable, but it wasn’t looking like anything was broken. And moving at all was a huge improvement over her earlier complete paralysis. But, after every time she moved, she would stop and curl up. The effort was hard on her. She would put her head down, curled so that the top of her head was flat on the t-shirt, under her belly, a little grey ball. 

This little squirrel was suffering, but what do you do? Could you leave a squirrel lying right outside your door in the cold? Could you bring yourself to kill it? I couldn’t. 

Roo and I went to rendezvous with licensed wildlife rehabber Deb Reed, who runs Lil Rascals Wildlife Rehabilitation. The hand-off is in the accompanying video. But, here’s the thing, Deb foots all the bills herself, and the vet she works with doesn’t cut her any breaks on the costs. Please check out her Facebook page. You’ll enjoy her beautiful rescue pictures, including one of this little girl. Here's the link for Lil Rascal's PayPal link for donations, and they are sorely needed, as they always are in rescue. Please send the critters a few bucks. Pretty please.

That’s there is for now. The little squirrel is safe, though she’s not sound. We still don’t know if she’s going to make it, but at least she’s getting good care. 

I’ll keep you posted.

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