Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Squirrel's Advice On What To Do When It's Cold Outside
You may have noticed that I'm rather fond of squirrels! I always have been but four and half years ago, I became particularly fond of them when H. and I found an orphaned baby squirrel on the sidewalk outside our house. Long story short (I'll blog about it another day), after finding only one shelter to take her and finding out that they would euthanize her because she had a broken leg AND after many unreturned calls to local wildlife rehabilitators, we realized we were on our own. So our squirrel family began. The bond between us and Squirrelly is amazingly intact after these 4 1/2 years. She recognizes us from afar and will sprint down the sidewalk to greet us. She answers to her name and will come running when she hears my voice or H's. We were always clear from the get-go that she was not a pet and she was never confined or caged. As a result, she is truly a wild animal..who just happens to think that her mom and dad are sort of non-grey big overgrown squirrels who don't look anything like her friends in the backyard. I was always cringe when people say she's tame or that she's a pet. This animal has a mind of her own! And smarts that put us humans to shame. For example: Here's some squirrel advice on how to make the most of your winter!

Stay inside!
This house is home to three squirrel kids and their mom, Squirrelly. We like to toss almonds in their doorway and hear them squeak and squawk as they all try to claim their gifts! It gets so loud that more than one passer-by has asked us what on earth is going on in that tree. Stay warm, conserve energy and stay inside!

Better yet, stay in bed...
This is Squirrelly as a baby under my pillow taking a nap. I'd put her in the little nest that we made for her but she'd always wiggle her way out. She'd make a beeline for our bed because she figured it was the family nest and that's where she should be. I can't describe how it broke our hearts to have to put her back in her nest for fear that we'd roll over and squish her in our sleep. But she'd come right back. We would repeat this exercise several times before she got tired of it. And usually by 2am or so, H. would be woken up by Squirrelly climbing under the sheets, nibbling on his toes. There was no arguing with that squirrel! Nowadays, when it's really cold out, our squirrels can't even be bothered to get out of bed. If we can get them to pop their heads out of the door, it's a big thing on a cold, snowy day.

Snuggle with your buddies...
Another Squirrelly baby picture. Since we don't know what happened to her siblings, we needed something to help socialize her to other animals her size. So that led to the introduction of "Purple Squirrel" who was actually just a Beanie Baby purple moose that we used as a puppet. She didn't mind. She had tons of fun wrestling with it. We brought it out several months after she moved outside and she still recognized it! In the winter, squirrels who may or may not be related will nest together to keep warm. They, like us, get a little irritated with such close contact with each other and it's not unusual to hear them bicker! Right now, Squirrelly has her summer babies with her who are now about six months old. Her spring babies from last year who were born mid to late March, live on the other side of our parking lot and the three of them are nesting together. By end of March, if Squirrelly is pregnant again, she'll send her summer babies packing to make room for her pending newborns.

Eat lots of yummy vegan snacks..
Is Squirrelly vegan? Well, she hated anything with dairy in it when she lived with yeah, besides some possibility that she's eating something that I don't know about, Squirrelly is pretty much vegan. This one was what we called a "monkey biscuit"..special ordered from a zoo supply catalog. They are typically made for chimps but squirrels do quite well on them!

Build a snowfort!
Then when you're really bored, put on your snowsuit, build a snowfort and play til your toes get numb. This is an actual snowfort built by Squirrelly and/or her friends. She was proud as punch to show us the tunnels! I was told that rats also build tunnels in the snow. We couldn't really see the purpose to these tunnels except for the squirrels to have fun and they certainly did, sliding and popping in and out several sunny afternoons.

Now, don't you feel like snuggling into your nest?!


Jes said...

Squeeeee!!!! The cuteness! Squirrels in beds, squirrels with mooses, squirrels eating (ok, just one squirrel, but holy rodent cute)... !

Tara said...

This has got to be one of my favorite posts of anything by anyone, ever. The adorableness! You and H. are such wonderful people to take care of Squirrely like that. What kind of squirrel is she? The only ones we typically see in Alaska are red squirrels.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Squirrelly!!
What kind of shelter kills rescued animals for having a broken leg? *Lame* (the shelter, not the squirrel!)
You and H are wonderful squirrel foster parents! I hope you are very proud of your girl, she's beautiful.
How totally brilliant to have a wild squirrel for a friend?
I'm just overwhelmed with warm and fuzzies now, you have made my day! >:o)

Amanda said...

Thanks guys!! You made MY day with your comments. I'd like to agree with you that we're good people for adopting Squirrelly but in reality, it was so much fun! I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Totally self-serving ;)

Tara-Squirrelly is an Eastern Grey Squirrel..I don't think they are on the west coast but could be wrong. We do have some red squirrels here but I've never seen one. The red ones are very sassy but the greys are better at foraging so in places where both live, the greys tend to rule and hence, you rarely see reds anymore. My grandpa has one at his house but the little guy never appears when I'm there unfortunately. Reds are really sassy and loud..whereas Squirrelly and her kin are rather quiet and mild-mannered--most times. When nuts are involved, common courtesy goes to the wind of course!

Becks (fellow rodent lover!)..I KNOW! I was horrified when the only shelter who would take her said they'd put her down. Her leg healed in a less than a week. The shelters treat wildlife not as well as domesticated animals/pets unfortunately!

For the Love of Guava said...

AWW... Squirrelly's such a doll baby! What fantastic foster parents you are ... with that face I think I'm the one that would have anxiety letting her out of the bed... or I might be trying to crawl into that tree! teehee... I have to get better at this as I'd like to foster rescue doggies when we get a bigger place... awww... **hugs your whole little squirrelly gemusing family**

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Cutest. Post. EVER!

VeganCowGirl said...

Do you know that you are my hero! I love love love this post and I think you and H are amazing people. Totally impressed. Thank you for sharing your special family member with us.

Jeni Treehugger said...

So much Squirrel love going on here - I LOVE it.
Squirrels are ace and it really pee's me off when people call them tree rats as an insult. How can you insult a squirrel for gawds sake!!

River said...

OMG I am bookmarking this and showing it to my husband in the morning!

This is the cutest thing ever! If we did anything like this, our ignorant neighbors would panic and tell on us, so I will just live vicariously through you.

The first picture, with the little squirrel poking his/her nose from under the other squirrel is adorable! What am I saying, they're all adorable! Wow, you're awesome! I am adding you to my blog roll right now!