August 14, 2008

Sometimes life brings you small surprises

Last night was not a typical night for me. I'm in the habit of walking straight to the back yard to check on the tomatoes as soon as I arrive home after work. Last night, I had taken about three steps along the path toward our back yard when I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. Right there, in the middle of the concrete walk, was a tiny baby squirrel so young that her eyes hadn't yet opened for the first time. Poor baby. I immediately starting thinking about what I could do to help the little one.

Looking up, it became clear that she had fallen from a nest located about ten feet above our roof. Well, there went option number one, which was to put her back in her home. After a bit of thinking, I decided that moving her off the path and toward the base of her home tree might make it easier for the squirrel-mom to find her, so I retrieved my trusty garden gloves from the garage and gently lifted her up. She grabbed onto my finger with all four feet - awwwww - and didn't really want to let go when we got to the tree. I left her there and went on to my evening routine for the next couple of hours.

When it was starting to get dark, I went back out to see how she was doing. Wow! There she was, clinging to the side of the tree almost three feet above the ground! I decided to let her try to get home on her own.

Another hour passed before I went back out. By this time, it was nearly 10 pm. I scanned the area with my headlamp and discovered that she had fallen from the tree and was just lying there, breathing hard. Hmm. I was skeptical that I could find anyone who would be interested in helping a squirrel, especially at this hour. I wasn't sure what to do, so I left her there and went straight to the computer. After searching "animal rescue squirrel st. louis missouri" I came up with a number for the wonderful folks at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic. After listening to my story they agreed that, for whatever reason, the mother would probably not come back in time to save her baby. They asked me to find a shoe box, line it with paper towels, and gently place the squirrel inside.

While I was getting her settled in, they checked to make sure they could admit the baby. They called back a few short minutes later to let me know that a volunteer would be coming to my house in about ten minutes. To say I was surprised by how fast they were willing to work would be an understatement. Fifteen minutes later, the squirrel had been inspected (she was covered in fly eggs, cold, hungry and somewhat dehydrated), moved into a warm and fuzzy pouch that had obviously been used for just this purpose many times, paperwork had been filled out, and the volunteer was on her way home to care for the squirrel. Apparently, her prognosis is good now that she's been brought to the right people. Thank you, Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic!

Here she is, just before Stefanie the volunteer came to pick her up. She was so tired from the ordeal that she didn't even flinch when the flash went off.

You may be able to see some white stuff that looks like sawdust on her fur. Those are fly eggs (ick!) - apparently the flies didn't expect her to make it through the night. I'm very glad that she got to spend the night in a place where people can take good care of her.

Good luck, little one.

Note: For those in the St. Louis area, this organization accepts just about all wild animals except deer, birds and reptiles. If you find a lost or injured rabbit, squirrel, raccoon or any other little critter, please just give them a call.


Melinda said...

So cute!! I'm impressed, too - amazing - the organization must truly care! I'm glad the little 'un picked your tree to fall from. : ) Hey, um, did you name the squirrel "cat"? Tee hee.

Melinda said...

Sorry, should explain that joke. Lori once had a cat named "Squirrel."

Lori said...

I was definitely pleasantly surprised that we have not one, but three animal rescue organizations who will take squirrels in this metro area. The folks I spoke with on the phone and the woman who came to pick "kitty" up were friendly, concerned about her welfare, and extremely helpful. I definitely think she's in good hands.

- Lori (the one who, at different times, has been mom to turkey the parakeet, squirrel the cat, and jackrabbit the dog)

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Aw, that poor little squirrel. I would say its sad, but you saved her. You should be very proud of yourself, taking the time to make sure she was alright and trying so hard to find someone that could help her. This was a very touching post, and I am sitting here at my desk, smiling at the kindness that people show to other creatures (and to each other). Thank you for sharing this story, we get so much bad news so often, it's nice to hear an uplifting story.

And I'm glad to hear that the prognosis on her survival is good. Aw..

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

Thanks for such a heartwarming post. Not only is it nice to hear that you looked out for the little one, but it's also great to share the resource with others so they know there's a good option if they see an animal in need of help.

Lori said...

I'm just sad it took me a few hours to decide to look up a rescue place. Apparently if I had waited just a few hours more, she wouldn't have made it... Before this happened, I had no idea that there were places that would take such a tiny squirrel, but once I found out, I had to tell others who may find themselves in the same situation.

Green Bean said...

Ohh! That is the sweetest thing ever. As Melinda said, thank God it was your tree he fell from.

Bobbi said...

Such a heart-warming post!

Kimberly said...

Oh my gosh, Lori ... that post just made my eyes tear up ... what a sweet story!

As a lover of ALL animals, it warms my heart to hear about someone going above and beyond to care for such a little guy in need ... you rock!

And thanks for sharing the animal rescue information ... I'm sure it may come in handy one day!