Pet squirrel, really?!

Well here I am officially the owner of a cat and a blind squirrel!  Had I been told  the squirrel part 3 mos ago, never mind ten years ago, I would have called the person telling me this crazy.  Sunday evening I headed over to Wanda’s home to pick him up.  She had a cage for me and all sort of squirrel related paraphernalia to get me by until I can find my own stuff.

The first few days I kept him in the pet carrier I brought him home in until he felt a bit more comf0rtable.  I figured a new person and new smells would be enough in the beginning.  On Tuesday morning though he was all over that carrier and seemed like he was ready for more space.  So I set up the large cage with all his little fleece blankets, his two nesting boxes and some branches I found while out on a walk that morning.

Last night he was crawling all around that cage in spider-man style.  He discovered his water bottle while hanging upside down from the top of the cage and spent about a minute and a half drinking from it.   I’m learning a lot and trying to see how I can get him to learn things. There is absolutely nothing online about training a blind squirrel, shocking I know.  He is used to being fed so in his little mind food appears right in front of him so he nibbles everything to see if it is food, this includes me.  He does not grasp the concept of food dropping out of his paws either, so he will continue chewing the air or his arm til he realizes that  it  isn’t right.  Formula feeding time is nuts.  He goes crazy!  He makes all sorts of squirrel sounds and writhes around in full body convulsions.  Also he is quite messy when being fed formula. This is  due partly to the crazy gyrations and partly to  me not realizing the tip of the feeder came out of his mouth.  This has resulted in formula laden fur.  I’ve started wiping him down after  feedings but  I have been unsuccessful removing the dried formula from previous feedings though.

So other than the weirdness of having such a pet things  are going well.   Even my cat seems fine.  She’ll show a mild interest when he moves around under his blankets but she ignored him when I was feeding him last night.  She was more intrigued with the formula in the container next to me I was giving him.  A hunter she is not.

Below are photos from yesterday.  I think the 6th image down on the right looks likes his imitation of the dramatic gopher on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8Kyi0WNg40.  Must be a common look for these type of creatures.  Came across this video mock with a dramatic cat, love it:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plWnm7UpsXk&feature=related

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83 thoughts on “Pet squirrel, really?!

  1. Oh gosh, how cute! I can’t imagine. Great photos of your new pet.

    My mom had a pet squirrel before I was born. I found pics of it out and about in her house. I couldn’t believe it. It was just sitting on the rug eating an acorn.

  2. Adorable photographs! I actually had a squirrel climbing around on the outside of my screen porch just yesterday … and I couldn’t figure out why the presence of the squirrel freaked my Chihuahua out so much — then I realized the squirrel was actually bigger than him! Congrats on being “Freshly Pressed!”

  3. Wow, you took some great pictures! And that’s such a sweet story! Best of wishes to you, your squirrel, and your cat. Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed! 😀

  4. I hope you have better luck than I did! A squirrel fell into an atrium in the middle of our house once and he didn’t seem to want to leave. So we fed him for a couple weeks because we didn’t want him to starve, but things didn’t end well.

    And I’m surprised at how cute your squirrel looks! Nice shots 🙂
    Kim
    http://photo-salsa.com

  5. My sister, who is incidentally now a zookeeper, raised a baby squirrel when we were in high school. She even managed to release him back into the wild, even though the transition happened somewhat accidentally. But he had full sight! We didn’t really train him — she would take him outside, put him on tree limbs as a baby, gave him nuts and acorns to investigate, and pretty much just let his instincts tell him what to do. As we kept his cage on the porch, and let him come and go as he pleased, he eventually “moved out” and became a wild squirrel, but for a few weeks when my sister called him each afternoon after school he would come down from the backyard trees to say hi. I imagine a blind squirrel will be a challenge! Ours “buried” the acorns he was given between the top and backing of my mom’s Persian area rugs, and decided one day to use most of a tissue box to make himself a little nest in a flowerpot. I’m sure you’ll have some great stories to tell about your squirrel too!

  6. Angela makes a good point. In the wild squirrel life spans are probably very short. We put peanuts out for them & have (of course) attracted quite a few through a few litters, but that can happen in less than a year’s time.

    How did you discover that the squirrel was blind? Was he/she flea infested? I’m always seeing my local squirrels scratching like crazy.

    Loved this post & especially the pictures.

  7. Ahh…your squirrel is gorgeous! Also, dramatic look squirrel = success. That’s a fantastic shot. Congratulations on becoming a squirrel mom. I’m sure taking in any blind animal would be an undertaking, but a non-traditional pet even more so. Perhaps you can create the number one source on the web for blind squirrel adoption information! Congrats on being FP’ed!

  8. I used to have a wild squirrel that would slowly inch its way down the tree and take a marshmallow off of the toothpick I held in my mouth. That’s about all the further our relationship went!

  9. cool, a pet squirrel, I see them all over my house all the time and think they are really cute animals, I wouldn’t mind having one as a pet. And helping one who’s blind is very kind of you. great photos too. good luck with your new pet.

  10. Really spectacular shots here! And it sounds interesting, yet coming with huge responsibility, to care for a squirrel! I certainly wouldn’t be able to take on the job.

    • I actually found him in early August and contacted Wanda since she is an experienced squirrel rehabber. He was only two weeks old when I found him, pink and eyes shut. Thought he was a possum or a rat at first. I have the photos on earlier posts. She thought something was a bit off and tested him by slowly approaching her finger to his eye. He never turned or blinked til her finger touched the eye by mistake. She then took him to a vet to verify what she thought.

  11. This is one of the nicest blog posts I have read in a long time. I saw the headline on WordPress and just couldn’t resist to come here and to read more.
    I do love watching and feeding the squirrels in my backyard and any post about squirrels of course will catch my attention. So I have bookmarked your blog and will check back often and hope you will keep writing about the poor little blind fellow.
    Btw, great pictures of the little fellow. Good Job!

  12. I just got a squirrel too! We rescued him from the middle of the road, and we are giving him formula, etc… It’s funny, because my husband and I keep wondering if he is blind…but how would you know? Ours looks like he is about the same age as yours in these pictures. They really are sweet little things…and my dogs are a little miffed, but stand-offish!

    • When I rescued Nutkin he was barely 2 weeks old and I was concerned about being able to provide proper care. There had been a storm the night before and he and his litter mate had fallen from the tree where the nest must have been. So I found a squirrel rehabber and she let me come visit him weekly and document his growth. From what I understand when she put him in the cage he would stay there and not move once his eyes were open (this is not normal). One day while her daughter was feeding him she used her finger and slowly approached his eye and ended up touching it and he never blinked until contact. She then took him to a vet who verified it. I would see by calling around to your local vets and tell them the situation and see if they would be willing to check the eyesight for free or a reduced rate since you are helping this wild animal. You can also try what the rehabber did but don’t wave your hand about because he/she will sense/feel that and preferably don’t make contact with the eye. I believe that was an accident on the rehabber’s part. Let me know how things turn out or if you have any other question let me know. All my info is through my rehabber friend but she is the best.

  13. Such adorable pictures and such an adorable squirrel!! Congratulations on becoming a squirrel mummy! Especially one with special needs…he (or she?) is very lucky!!

    • Ahhh thank you for the token shocking comment;). I’ll stick to cows, chicken and seafood for now. I may know some people that serve your menu requirements though. You just can’t take the south out of North Carolina.

  14. Great shots, great story.

    My wife is a squirrel lover—but we have a squirrel hater in our family–Mr. B.J., our miniature dachshund. When we moved into our new home in June the first thing Mr. B.J. discovered was the squirrel living in the large oak tree in the backyard. As the story goes, B.J and the squirrel got together at the base of the tree, pricked their fingers and swore to be enemies to the death. They’ve had a great time since, Mr. B.J. climbs into the crotch of the tree and gives the squirrel hell while the squirrel comes down to the lowest limb and prances around teasing B.J.

    Unfortunately the fun and games have been on hold lately as the squirrel hasn’t been seen for almost a week. B.J. still goes out several times a day, jumping into the tree and barking up a storm. After a couple of minutes when there’s not response from the squirrel, he jumps down and slowly wanders into the house. He’s missing his sworn enemy.

    Hope your little guy and your cat find pleasure in one another as B.J. and our squirrel have with each other.

  15. these shots r great im a movie maker who works with apple computers they r awesome!!! maybe we can do a piece!

    no just kidding im not going to share a movie

  16. Squirrels make great pets! I had one of my own. She knew my scent and whistle. Everyday when I left in the morning, she would nestle and sleep in my clothes. And when I’d whistle upon coming back, she’d come running right up on my shoulder! Miss Flower 😦

  17. Wow….I’ve gotta give you credit for taking on a challenge like this. I was at a friends house the morning after halloween 2009, and he had a squirrel he was taking care of from a local animal shelter. There was something wrong with this creature, it was autistic I think. So for an animal that is bad with humans, this thing was awful – jittery, frantic, and clawed everything. I managed to hold it though and afterwards told ALL of my friends that I had held a squirrel.

    Word to the wise, don’t trust your cat. I have had two, and they feign interest in something so they can catch you off guard. Do not underestimate them, you’re squirrel could be munched.

  18. awww, he seems so adorable! I have 2 rabbits my own and, even though rabbit are no so unorthodox as a squirrel, I had some trouble adapting in the beginning.

    Best wishes for both of you!

  19. Love your squirrel, very nice pics – you must have a good camera because i have a terrible time getting pics of my mouse standing still, let alone a crazy blind squirrel, so kudos for that! i also wanted to let you know that it is unlikely your squirrel will suffer if not getting “enough” formula, etc. – he will lick it off himself and eat other things (like his arm) until he gets hungry enough. maybe hide it in some junk food? this is how i get my mouse to take her meds. you are so lucky to be able to help this animal, and so after the water bottle dinging goes on, and on, AND on, and he goes ballistic when you clean his cage, or nibbles your fingers/toes/nose, just remember that he loves you. i will subscribe to your blog just to keep up on the news! thanks, jen

  20. Absolutely beautiful photos documenting Nutkin from the time you found him till now. I look forward to updates and more pictures of him. So glad you were able to take him in and make him a family member.

  21. Please get a very much larger cage, like half a room size. We’ve known pet squirrels that lived outside our kitchen window, and came down the avocado tree every time we had a meal, to see what they might get. But that was in Port Of Spain, Trinidad, where it is always,…. never winter. Wish you could see that freedom of a natural pet.

    • I would never have him as a pet if he wasn’t blind. It was suggested to me not to get anything tall since he can’t see. I let him out to run around some at times during the day. Can’t really make half a room size cage work, don’t have the extra space for that but will make sure he gets his exercise.

  22. Oh, we had a pet squirrel when I was young; rescued him from our dog. He lived inside the house, running freely. He would run up and down the living rooms curtains, inside and out the bird’s cage, and then up our leg to sit on our shoulder. (Ouch! If you weren’t wearing long pants!). He would lay on his back in our arms and go to sleep as you rubbed his stomach even! Once my mother tired of the squirrel poop (looks like rabbit poop) we started orienting him to the outside. Then he spent weeks going out during the day, and then jumping at the door to be let in at night. He finally started disappearing for days at a time, before he finally readjusted to the wild completely. Sniff, sniff… Such wonderful memories from my childhood!

  23. Fascinating post and beautiful photos! I don’t know the back-story on your adoption process for this little blind squirrel, but it should make for interesting blog posts! sounds like you are being a really diligent mommy. I assume from the formula adventure this is a baby squirrel, so how often do you have to feed him? Just think, he’s the most famous blind squirrel online now 🙂
    [you wouldn’t even know he’s blind by those beautiful bright eyes you captured]
    Congrats on being FP – best of luck to you and “The squirrel” [named him yet??] – MoSop

  24. Taking on a blind squirrel is a big responsibility. Kudos for you for doing this. If you have questions about feeding/habits, etc., you might contact your local Wildlife Rescue League or any veterinarian that deals with exotics. They’re a good source of information.

    Congrats on making freshly pressed!

  25. Pingback: Pet squirrel, really?! (via ) « Front Page

  26. What a fine and healthy looking fellow! You are wonderful to take care of him. How did he become blind? Is there no way to correct it?

    Your photos are terrific. And how nice you are featured on the word press blog. Kudos!

  27. You’re so lucky to have an adorable pet squirrel! Something I’ve been dreaming of for so long! Thanks for sharing the great photos, and congrats for being in the Freshly Pressed today ^^

  28. It’s awesome to have squirrel as a pet. You are really lucky. I love squirrels. Your squirrel is really sweet. Squirrel photographs are amazing. I really enjoyed your blog as well as these superb pictures. Nice work.

  29. very cute fellow—I have 2 pet squirrels—both have fine vision—However Digger has suffered a broken wrist -they are great pets Little Miss Bobtail lost half a tail several years ago they are now friends with people

  30. I am very excited to find this blog about other persons that are supporting blind squirrels!

    Little Ray Charles was found wobbling around on the side of the highway. I’ve done “neo-natal” and rehab with other baby animals so he was brought to me. While I’ve raised baby mice, birds and rabbits, this is my first squirrel. My plan was to raise him until he could crack a pecan and them let him go in the woods with a squirrel house and feeder available. Though he was eating and growning, his development didn’t seem “normal: leaning to one side, not tracking movements, balance off. I was lucky enough to have a vet that is also a wildlife rehab person and he agreed to evaluate him for me. He checked his physical development, hearing and vision and confirmed that he is blind, can’t be released in the wild, and about 12 weeks old. The good thing is the blindness doesn’t seem to be bothering him and he has a good disposition. He isn’t afraid of cats and is actually curious about them.

    I’ve found there isn’t a lot of info about the care and feeding of blind squirrels that can’t be released into the wild. The vet told me to start adding rice baby cereal to his formula, make timothy hay available, give him new growth of oak and willow trees (for calcium) and make sure he gets some sunshine for vitamin D. He also suggested I feed him rat pellets. He warned about giving him too much fruit which cause diarreah and no dried fruit because of the high level of sugar. Broccoli and some sweet potatoes would be good. Apparently actual nuts are like candy to the squirrel too.

    Since I rehab other animals, I have a large “cat condo” that has 1″ square mesh and three levels. I’v added sections of a tree I had cut down for Ray to explore and gnaw. This condo is narrow enough to be able to take it outdoors and stand it among bushes and trees so he can experience the outdoors with his other senses.

    I have some differently abled cats so I know that what a person would call a disability, animals just accept it as part of their abilities. I’ve also noted that wild animals that are hurt or born disabled are usually killed in the wild. Perhaps that is why Little Ray was wondering around on the highway alone. While he won’t have as full a life as a sighted squirrel, he will have a life full of stimulation for his other senses and as many experiences as possible outdoors in his natural habitat.

    Looking forward to hearing how Sophia’s squirrel is now.

    • Hi,
      It sounds like you got a lot of good info from your vet. I realized after reading your post that it is not very easy to find the corresponding posts I made about Nutkin on my blog. I will add links to each post for future readers but thought I would give you the sequence of the posts I created each week to document his growth for you to be able to do a search on my blog in wordpress:
      “interrrupted Thursday Morning Walk”
      “New Home, New Name”
      “Visit Three”
      “Visit Four Then Off To Savannah”
      “Back from Savannah For Visit Five”
      “Eyes Wide Shut”
      “Pet Squirrel, Really?!”
      “Nutkin, Yet Another Move”

      After having him for one week I realized he needed a bigger cage and space that I did not have where I live. Where I live in NC there seems to be a lot of rehabbers and I managed to get in contact with one who is now taking care of Nutkin. Though he is blind he ran around the 2 foot long (width not height) cage like he could see. Blindness did not slow him down. So I wanted to find him someone with the resources to give him a happier more active life than I could. So how is Ray doing?

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