Meet Brawndo, the baby squirrel.
Annoying, but obligatory: please check out the raffle, pass it along, etc.
Sunday, I had the best of intentions to do laundry, clean up, basically pretend to be an adult. I go through cycles that can basically be summed up with this Hyperbole and a Half story, so when I feel the motivation upon me, I seize the hell out of it so I can enjoy a stockpile of clean underwear and a made bed.
First, my friend Felicia posted that her dog was missing after the fire department broke down their door while they were out (a fallen power line caught a small portion of their roof on fire). Demonstrating the amazing power of the internet, a ton of people who lived in the neighborhood replied that they would go out and look for her. Frank and I drove up and down the streets and allies for a long time. We didn’t find her, but eventually Sugarbear showed up at their back door on her own and all was well. But I still think it’s awesome that so many people immediately went looking for her.
Just before sunset, Frank heard an awful sound of something crying/screaming through the window. There was a baby squirrel in the driveway across the street. Now, I know you are not supposed to touch baby animals. I KNOW. But it was getting dark, the temperature had dropped 30 degrees in the past day, and we have a very healthy population of outdoor and stray cats. I did not like those chances. So we brought the baby inside and I immediately set about googling on how not to kill a baby squirrel and calling wildlife rehabilitation facilities. I first called our emergency vet clinic to see if they could help, they told me that they can only euthanize wild animals, and there are no facilities in my city. It took me awhile to get someone on the phone since it was Sunday evening, but eventually I talked to a lady (Gail) about an hour away who gave me some more numbers and said if I couldn’t get a hold of anyone, she would meet us and take him.
Brian and I found this page very helpful, and combined with what Gail told us, we put him in a large plastic container with some shirts on top of my heating pad set on low, and got him a jug of pedilyte and a baby syringe to feed him with. As for the other animals, Gozer spent his entire evening trying to run past us every time we opened the door because he knew we had something in there that he wanted. Chester looked vaguely worried that we had brought home a new baby, and Fatty tried to sniff him during a feeding, but other than that, didn’t care. The cats were trapped in the basement with their food and litter while we slept for a few hours.
Taking care of a baby squirrel is hard work, mostly because we had to give him pedialyte every few hours. I also had to rub his teeny butt and genitals (definitely a boy) with a wet q-tip to encourage him to go to the bathroom. Other than that, little Brawndo was a champ, he figured out the syringe quickly and as soon as we woke him up to feed he would start trying to suck on our fingers. He couldn’t jam the tip in his mouth far enough, so I had to keep pulling it back so he didn’t choke on it, which meant he kept crawling out of Brian’s hands and had to be repositioned.
We met Gail in Bloomington, which is where Brian’s sister lives. She was very happy with the state he’s in, he’s healthy and just needs someone to feed him and take care of him until he can be released into the wild. It was a great experience, and i’m glad I was able to get him into the right hands. I was also surprised when she told me I did the right thing by taking him, she said there’ a good chance he crawled out of the nest because mom didn’t come home, and to look out for other babies in the same area.
In the end, over two days I got almost nothing done on my to-do list, but I did things that were way more important.
So if you find a baby animal, keep in mind:
- The mom might come back for it, if you’re able to and there’s no imminent danger to it, just watch from a distance for awhile.
- If you touch the baby, you are responsible for the baby! That means getting it to a wildlife rehabilitation or if it’s injured, taking it to be put to sleep.
- You cannot keep the baby. Especially squirrels, it’s illegal in most states.
I would also like to point out that this is why it is important to give money to the people who take care of sick, injured, and abandoned animals and you should donate to Ride to Light already!
P.S. If you don’t know why we named him Brawndo, it’s because Brian and I have seen Idiocracy way too many times, and we kept joking about electrolytes while he was eating.