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I rescued a squirrel yesterday.

Little, furry, soft, cute, completely unafraid of people, squirrel.  A baby (less than a year old), at that.  And pretty much touchably tame.  It wasn't sick - no sign of any problems - bright-eyed, inquisitive, and clearly hoping for snax.

I guess people had been feeding it.

Problem was, it couldn't climb trees - one front paw was folded over from what looked like an old break (the rehabilitator said they sometimes fall out of the nest when they're young, and can get hurt or killed), and the whole time I watched it, it made no move towards any of the many trees, even when people (we were out on a fire drill evacuation) made to chase it away (animal that doesn't run away = sick, to all those that don't immediately think animal that doesn't run away = Disney!).  It bothered me.

So, I went back out with a box and an old cardigan, and went to find it.  It was curled up at the bottom of a tree in the roots, half under the leaves, looking heart-breakingly sad.  I crouched down next to it, it sat up, came towards me, I held out the cardigan, and made to scoop it up, and it half-climbed into the cardigan.  Not afraid at all.  I put it in the box, closed the lid (big roomy box, air holes), and fought with all my might the idea of getting it a cage and keeping it for a pet.

I love animals.  I worry about sick ones, I want to help ones in trouble, and I love wild animals most of all.  But a wild animal that is unafraid of people and cannot climb trees like it is supposed to is vulnerable to traffic, predator animals (there are stray cats on the base, and at least one big raccoon), and people.  Especially people.  In winter, a squirrel that can't climb and build a nest will freeze to death.

And this little sucker was so damned cute.

I resisted, much to Bob's later relief, and took "Fluffy" to the Columbia Animal Shelter, to see if they knew of a wildlife rehabilitator (they did).  Fluffy might not ever be able to be released (the paw is a problem), but at least he'd be cared for, fed, and protected.  So, I put the box in the car, and started talking - then singing.  Every time I stopped, there was a restless scratching from the box, so I kept singing all the way up to the sanctuary.

I sang every song I knew, some twice.  Then I hummed and made up tunes.  When I got there, Fluffy was curled up asleep in the box, with his tail wrapped around his nose.  He didn't seem in the least put out by his journey - he sat up, alert, interested, and completely unafraid.

Damn, I want a tame squirrel. 

Of course, the sanctuary is the best place for him - wild animals are never meant to be pets, and squirrels can get aggressive if frightened (and Fluffy would be re-named "Bitey").  They get ringworm, distemper, parasites, and other nasty things.  People don't know how to take care of them properly, and they suffer when they're no longer little and cute.  They can't be re-released, because they no longer know (or never learned) how to fend for themselves.  And who wants to live in a little cage in an apartment all their life?

I'm firmly against trapping wild animals for pets, including turtles.  It disrupts the ecosystem, harms the animal, and can introduce diseases into the house.  I prefer to admire things going about their merry way without human interference.

But damn, I want a little tame squirrel that likes to listen to me sing, and will let me pet his head and snuggles quietly in my arms.

*sigh*

Comments

( 33 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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heatermcca
Oct. 10th, 2007 12:14 pm (UTC)
*hugs*
maricelt
Oct. 10th, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC)
You did the right thing. ::hug::
attack_laurel
Oct. 10th, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
I know - I debated scooping it up at all, but it wasn't going to have a good life come winter. It's much better off in a place that's not only certified as a sanctuary, but is run by people who really believe in the welfare of their animals.
thornbury
Oct. 10th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC)
That's very sweet, and I agree with everything you said... where they belong, why you shouldn't keep them, etc, etc.

The cuteness is hard to let go. I know it's the reason (some days) that Tommy continues to live. ;-)
loosecanon
Oct. 10th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you. You can visit him at the rescue, too!
hugh_mannity
Oct. 10th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC)
Been there, done that -- except once it was a rabbit and a couple of time fledgling birds.

It's hard to do the right thing when they're just *so* cute. Congratulations on doing it though.
sarahbellem
Oct. 10th, 2007 01:30 pm (UTC)
::sniff::

You so did the responsible thing, and I so understand. My nurturing instincts only seem to kick in with small, defenseless animals, but I would have done the responsible thing, too.
fiberferret
Oct. 10th, 2007 01:31 pm (UTC)
You're a strong woman, it's hard to do the right thing when it comes to cute fuzzies. Whenever I watch Animal Planet my heart breaks a little, I can't imagine how the film crews resist interfering.
jillwheezul
Oct. 10th, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
Another 16th century costume fanatic and ferret freak (me) has added you as friend :)
yeah! - fiberferret - Oct. 10th, 2007 05:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
pirategirleee
Oct. 10th, 2007 02:03 pm (UTC)
You did exactly the right thing. Besides, perhaps the nice people at the sanctuary might let you visit the little guy from time to time. :)
belfebe
Oct. 10th, 2007 02:16 pm (UTC)
That was the right thing to do, and those people at the sanctuary will know what to do.

And kudos for taking the time to look after "Fluffy." Many of us would not have known what to do.
odettedamboise
Oct. 10th, 2007 02:18 pm (UTC)
If you really really want a cute tame squirrel, they do sell domestically bred and hand reared sugar gliders.
attack_laurel
Oct. 10th, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
No pets. :) Well, maybe a hedgehog someday. Right now, we have nowhere to put one.
runolfr
Oct. 10th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC)
I had a bad experience with a squirrel as a child. At one of the nature parks in Florida, they seem to expect the tourists to feed them peanuts. The park even sold bags of peanuts, possibly for that purpose. I went to feed one of them a nut, and the little tree-rat took the peanut, bit me, and then made off up the tree.

Needless to say, there were tears involved. My grandfather was there; if he'd had a gun, that squirrel would have been splattered.

Despite that particular little ungrateful pest, I rather like squirrels, and I'm glad to hear that this one is going to get good care. Just thought I'd relate a story about why wild animals don't make good pets.
attack_laurel
Oct. 10th, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC)
They really don't - and squirrels have *very* sharp pointy teeth. One of the reasons I wanted to get it out off the street (as it were; the base is quite green and has lots of lawn space) is that being unafraid of people, it was less likely to run away if someone started messing with it and more likely to bite. And while I know most people won't harm an animal, there are people who will, for fun.

But mainly it was because it couldn't climb, and squirrels who can't climb don't live long.
(no subject) - halowenslut - Oct. 10th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Oct. 10th, 2007 04:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Oct. 10th, 2007 04:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
eleanors_closet
Oct. 10th, 2007 03:07 pm (UTC)
AAaawww!
attack_laurel
Oct. 10th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC)
You were with us in Williamsburg one time, weren't you, when Vic offered a dried apricot to a female squirrel? It sniffed the apricot, gave Vic a very dirty look, and smacked her fingers in disgust. We were in hysterics.
spranglady
Oct. 10th, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC)
we had a similar incident a few weeks ago. It was so very hard to let the little critter go, it was so cute!!!! And she cuddled up and wasn't the least bit afraid of us. The squirrel rescue lady who took her off my hands said that baby squirrels really don't have any fear of humans, so they are fairly easy to rescue. But if they're out of the nest that small, then it's a very good thing that you did rescue the little guy and take him to a sanctuary. He'll be much better off there, and if he's out of the nest, that means Mama isn't around to take care of him. Apparently, when Mom doesn't show up in a certain amount of time, they go looking for someone to help them out. Neat survival trick! :P Apparently, they do that when they're hurt, as well. :)yay you for doing the right thing, despite wanting to keep the fur-ball.
attack_laurel
Oct. 10th, 2007 03:18 pm (UTC)
He was old enough he would have been out of the nest for a couple of months; the base is full of people, and there's at least one person that feeds the squirrels regularly, so it hadn't developed any fear of humans.

He/she/it (didn't know, so defaulted to "he") wasn't bothered in the least by the car ride or by being picked up, so I assume he'd learned to rely on food dropped by people. The trouble would start in winter when it's not so nice outside, and food competition gets fierce. And when it snowed, he wouldn't be able to get up to a nice dry nest. He's better off with people who can help him.
tudorlady
Oct. 10th, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC)
You did absolutely the right thing. They're wonderfully soft, aren't they?

I have a huge, very old walnut tree in my back yard, which qualifies it as Squirrel Heaven, so I see an awful lot of the little critters.
bantiarna
Oct. 10th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
When I was growing up, a cousin of mine had a Squirrel for a pet. It was found under similar circumstances, injured as a baby and was hand raised. When they were out somewhere it would lay in my cousin's coat pocket and only come out when called. He wore a small harness, like I guess for a ferret and walked on a leash. He was a very neat pet, you could pet him and he would do small tricks for nuts.
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