Tuesday through Friday I usually start my morning with a walk. The time varies based on how late I was up the night before. The routes also vary based on how far I want to go and if I need to stop at the store before getting home. I rarely do the same walk two days in a row but I broke my rule this morning and I am glad I did.
I was walking on the street where the nearby middle school and high school are located, perspiring because it was already 80 degrees and quite humid. Abruptly I stopped. There in front of me on the road are two seemingly lifeless, hairless……things. Momentary panick and a flurry of thoughts run through my mind,”Oh no! are they dead?”, “What happened?”, “What the heck are they…rats, possums?”, “What should I do?” Then one moves. So I speak to it, you know because hairless mutant things understand English. And it moves some more. Alright, check, he is alive. I look to my right at his sibling. No movement. Again more thoughts, “Do I touch him to see if he moves?” “What if he is full of germs?”. I eventually decide I’m going to have to put aside my concern of germs and prod him, no movement. Once again, still nothing. My heart sinks. I pick him up by the tail and put him on the grass knowing it would be better there then just smooched on the road and wasted. I watched the Lion King, it’s the circle of life.
Anyhow back to the moving thing. I’m still a little concerned because this guy is needing more than a finger prod. To help him I will have to pick him up and take him home. I see what I believe was most likely their nest (it was a tight bundle of leaves, dried grass etc) and think to myself I’ll use this to carry him. I take a look at it and it is crawling with ants, caterpillars and other things. That’s out. So I call my friend Jeanette who is a Vet tech. No answer! So I text her and send her a photo asking her what it is. I was certain this was a possum. And though I don’t understand this, Jeanette loves possums, so she would know. It was ugly and had a long tail, must be a possum. After she saw the photo she calls me back and informs me it is a squirrel. A squirrel! How did I not think of that? Most likely because I have not seen a baby squirrel. Yeay! Even better, I love squirrels. Not that I would not have helped it if it was a rat or possum. Circle of life people, everything has its place.
So I scoop him up in my hand and he fits right in my palm and try to warm him up. It is hot out but in the shade it was quite cool considering his hairless condition. Thankfully nothing has gotten to him (it’s a him….really obvious despite the fact he is only a couple weeks old). So he is in good condition despite spending some time on concrete with no protection or warmth. My house is about 1/2 a mile away. So I speed walk along with my cupped hand against my body and listen to Jeanette as she tells me the next steps to take.
I get home. I get one of my plastic shoe boxes and some hand towels. I have no hot water bottle so I fill up a Ziploc freezer bag and fill it with hot water and place it under the towels. (This does not last long. I later learned that it is best to heat up uncooked rice in the microwave and put it in a sock. It retains the heat longer and won’t take away body heat once it cools off like water does, Genius!). Once Nutkin (like squirrel Nutkin from the Beatrix Potter books) is all warm and comfy I take my breakfast and some books with me back to the scene of the incident. I try to find the spot where I came upon him but I have a little trouble. I finally locate what I think was that bug ridden nest but there is no sibling left. This raises concern because a mother squirrel will not recognize her baby if its body temp is not where it should be ( I read this online). So I can only assume something came up and grabbed it for lunch during the 20-ish minutes I was gone!
The next step is to place him where I found him and see if the mom comes back. So I do this.. Luckily across the street is the school parking lot with bushes blocking me from view. Jeanette had told me to jostle him about to get him to make the loud “mom, where the heck are you sound”. I do this to no avail. He just flops around a bit and lets me do it, no sound. I give up and just go across the street to commence my stake out. I anxiously wait. “What if the thing that took its dead litter mate comes back and I don’t make it out of my car and across the street in time?” A man and his two dogs walk by. One of the dogs has a good long sniff at the nest on the road and starts to head for the shoe box but the man pulls him away and walks on. During the last 15 minutes of my hour long stake out I start to collect phone numbers of squirrel ladies. There is seriously a series of people equipped and capable of taking care of these animals properly. I think they even speak squirrel! This thought saddens me because I want to be the one to raise Nutkin. But as any rodent-like animal will eventually do, biting happens and I do not know the signs of distress if he starts having problems. As a child my hamster bit me, not fun! Must be realistic and think of the animal first.
So I find a squirrel lady as close to me as possible and meet her in the back of the Target parking lot. That is where all the squirrel exchanges occur :). Her name is Wanda. She has me fill out info about how, and where I found Nutkin , etc. I asked her if I could visit Nutkin to see how he is doing as he grows. She tells me I can. That is the end of the story for now. I am a shoe box and four microfiber towels lighter but I would not have had my morning go any differently. I have plans to finish my workout tonight by attending a Zumba class.
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Here a few photos of Nutkin: