Last Wednesday started with a squirrel caper. I was still rubbing the sleep from my eyes and about to make morning coffee when my boyfriend, Tadd informed me that I had to “help him with a squirrel.” I went outside still clad in my nightshirt and found he’d taken apart a drain that ran from the top of the house to the ground. The bottom half had been removed and he was in the process of taking apart the middle so he could retrieve a squirrel trapped inside. “I need you to catch it,” he said and presented me with a big trash can that contained a folded blanket at the bottom. He proceeded to beat on the top of the drain until it fell on top of me. Naturally, I ducked instead of catching and the drain hit the ground with the squirrel still stuck inside.
The very end of it’s fluffy tail could be seen sticking out of the jagged edge and the pipe was hot all the way around where it contained the animal. It had bent inward right where the squirrel was trapped and I feared the worst. I was certain it had been crushed when the pipe hit the ground. I started to tear up thinking of how I’d failed the poor little guy after it had probably spent hours scratching and fighting to free itself. I forced myself to touch the tip of his little fluff tail and to my relief, it moved. I retrieved a pair of plyers and pulled the metal pieces apart until I could see the face. It was looking right at me. I picked up the drain and tried to shake the squirrel loose but I wasn’t strong enough to dislodge him. Tadd picked up the pipe and gave it a mighty shake that sent the squirrel rocketing out the other end. It looked around for a minute and then shot toward the trees apparently uninjured. After we finished congratulating we heard the very distinct sound of nails on metal from a different pipe. Multiple trapped squirrels? We wondered how they could be so dumb.
After pulling this drain apart it was apparent that the squirrel was trapped in the section that went under the ground. We couldn’t see anything but the scratching was very clear along with the little growls of frustration emanating from the animal. I coaxed the squirrel to find its way out and it finally got far enough up for me to see it was a baby! It was too little to climb all the way out and the sides of the drain were slippery. I put a stick into the hole and after a few attempts and many frustrated growls on the part of the baby, it was able to grab onto the stick and allow me to pull it out. I walked around with the baby squirrel attached to night shirt for two hours while we tried to figure out which tree it might have come from. I placed it into a tree in the front yard only to have it emit a bird like screech as soon as I put it down. We backed away hoping that the mother would show up to claim it, but no such luck. Since the baby didn’t like that tree I tried on the back yard. When I put him down something heavy landed in a tree branch opposite and I was surprised to see hungry white owl staring intently at my rescued baby. It was before noon and I didn’t even know owls were awake at this time of day. I scooped up the tiny squirrel and decided I wasn’t putting him down for anything. His little claws clung to my shirt and he seemed more content walking around my shoulders than he had in the tree.
I realize the obvious thing would be to keep this little guy and try to raise him myself, but it wouldn’t really work with 4 cats in the house. Just as I was looking around for a cage to temporarily place the baby in, I heard yet another scratch come from the drain in the ground. I looked down to see another baby squirrel face looking up at me! I was at a loss for what to do until I remembered a strange flyer we’d received in our mailbox about a month prior. It was from a neighbor who had lost a pet squirrel. In the flyer the neighbor offered a $25 reward for the return of the squirrel but warned that she would recognize her pet and not to bring her any squirrel. The flyer had been so amusing Tadd had kept it on his desk. He called squirrel lady and told her our story and the fact that we now had not one, but two orphan babies. “I’m putting my shoes on now,” she said. and came right over.
Squirrel lady’s name was Abbey and she was a stay at home student. She had time, specific squirrel experience and an empty nest since her former pet had decided to go back into the wild. She immediately took ownership of the baby I’d been protecting. She had long hair past her shoulders and the baby nestled into it to hide. Abbey told us that the squirrel mother had likely made a nest inside that drain and she asked us to show her where the baby came from. When we got back to the drain the struggling scratches could still be heard. As we peered into the hole there were now two tiny faces staring back at us! One of the babies had climbed onto the others back in an attempt to get out. We were all amazed and excited at how special this day had become. The two siblings were close enough to the surface that I could simply reach in and grab them both. Abbey claimed all 3 and wore them on her shoulders like a fur necklace. We gave her a pet carrier with a towel but the squirrels seemed to like her shoulders better and decided to stay put on the ride. The “ride home” was only two houses down so they didn’t have far to go.
One week later we received this picture and an update. The babies are fine and she is planning to keep them until they are old enough to be released.