Raising Peanut....The story of a baby squirrel.
I was always told that when you find baby animals in the wild to leave them alone. In most cases, the mother is usually nearby and will care for the infant after your unwanted presence is gone. But in THIS case, I had put a 'hit ' out on the babys parents.
I had squirrels in my attic. If anyone has had this problem, you know the damage a family of squirrels can cause. Piles of insulation littered the attic floor as they tore it up for their 'homes'. There was one pile in particular, very large, that they made their den in. But the whole attic would have to be reinsulated. Angry, I called a wildlife removal service. What I DIDN'T know was that removal meant extermination.
The deed was done..the next day, as I went down my front steps to do some gardening, I heard a strange noise. It was coming from some bushes on the side of the steps..a pituous mewling sound. I searched for the source of the crying and lo and behold, the most unbelievable sight met my eyes...a baby squirrel, no more then a week old, was lying on the ground in back of the bushes..
I was a murderer now. I left this poor baby an orphan by having its parents 'removed'. How this little one ended up outside on the ground is anyones guess. I picked up this little baby, sick with guilt and remorse, and carried it gently into the house. Calling a vet, I found out that infant cat formula was the closest thing to squirrel milk. Putting the baby, which I name Peanut, in the front pocket of my shirt, I went to buy the neccessary supplies.
Feeding Peanut turned out to be easier then I expected. Once she (I found out the gender later), got a taste of the formula in the tiny syringe, she suckled it like a pro. I was in love. I took this little baby everywhere with me. She slept alot, and only popping her tiny head out of my pocket once in while. When she did, though, how startled people were to see this furry little head pop out of my pocket!
Peanut grew very quickly, and was soon ready to wean off of her formula. To get her used to solid food, I soaked a little bread in the formula and she quickly learned to hold it in her little paws and suck the milk out, then eat the bread. How she loved to eat! But when I introduced her to peanut butter, she turned into a growling little beast. At first she sniffed it, looking up at me suspiciously, and tentatively stuck out her tiny tongue and tasted. Well, you would have thought she was a baby wolf the way she flattened herself out and growled warningly at me. I was a little more then shocked at her behavior. Worst part was when I put my hand near the peanut butter, she attacked it! I chuckled at her ferociousness and let her eat in peace.
Peanut grew very quickly, to say the least. She loved to hang out on our shoulders, and especially loved my long red hair. She loved to scamper up our legs, but her little needle-like claws were very sharp and unless you had thick pants on, her rambuncousness HURT. Baby squirrels are amazing little creatures, affectionate, sweet, and VERY wild. It's not like having a puppy or kitten. Squirrel babies have food aggression, will destroy each and every plant in your house, and ...oh wait a minute, I guess it IS like having a puppy or a kitten!! lol!!
Not too pretty when they're wet! It looks sort of like an alien!
Peanut thrived under our care and grew to be a beautiful squirrel with a red stripe down her back. But she was getting to be too much in the house. Too destructive. Not only that, but it was really starting to HURT when she decided to jump on our heads or climb up our legs. I knew it was time to start preparing her to be introduced back into the wild where she belonged. On my back porch, after foraging in the woods for just the right branches and long pieces of wood, I built a mini forest. She needed to learn how to navigate her way in the trees. You never saw a happier squirrel!!! She chattered and chirred happily as she jumped from branch to branch, finally flattening herself down on a limb to nap from happy exhaustion.
Summer came, and Peanut was nearly full grown. Too much for me too handle anymore. Not to mention, calls from a male squirrel outside were beckoning my baby girl. The more he called to her, the more interested she became. I knew it was time. I made my little kissy sound that she responded to, and cuddled with her one last time..The kids said goodbye as well. Then I opened the window. Hearing the male call to her, she jumped onto the ledge excitedly, looking back at me as if asking for my permission. "Go!" I said, "He's been waiting for you!" Needing no further coaxing, Peanut jumped out of the window and out of my life...Needless to say, I cried like a baby...
I only saw Peanut one more time after that. I was out in the yard and I saw her with her new mate. I did the kissy noise and she came down the tree to see me, not in the least bit afraid. Just when it looked like she was going to jump onto my shoulder, the male started chattering angrily. Oh was he mad!!! He probably was wondering if his mate had flipped her lid, coming to me like she did! She stared at me for a second longer, indecision making her hesitate, and then turning back, she went to her mate. He must have moved her to a safer place, because I never saw her again...I was SO happy to have that one last experience, though.
Thanks for reading my story. Remember, though, if any of you out there find a baby animal, make sure that you KNOW it is abandoned before carting it away.