Yesterday while working in the backyard, out of the corner of his eye Mike noticed something fall out of one of our trees. He walked over to investigate and found a young squirrel lying on the ground, unmoving and barely breathing. Being the animal lovers that we are, I was determined to help it. I immediately made my way to the computer and began looking up wildlife centers that would accept injured squirrels. Of course, it had closed 15 minutes before the squirrel had fallen out of the tree.
I did some more research to see if there was anything we could do to try to help it until the center opened back up this morning. The squirrel still wasn't moving, and wasn't making any distress noises, which wasn't a good sign. There was also blood around it's mouth and on it's chin, like it had landed mostly on it's face or head. Mike wasn't convinced the squirrel was going to live, and honestly, I didn't either, but I had to try.
I sent Mike to grab a cardboard box while I went inside and grabbed some old pillowcases we had lying around to line the box with. (By the way, if you ever have to save a little squirrel, don't put towels in the box. Their nails get caught in the loops in the fabric and they can break toe nails and toes if they get caught during a panic.) He carefully picked up the squirrel and put it into the box before we carried it into the garage.
Apparently when young squirrels fall out of trees, they can go into shock even if they aren't really injured, and this lowers their body temperatures. I filled up a large water bottle with warm water and wrapped it in another old pillowcase and placed it on one side of the box to provide heat for the squirrel to keep it's body temperature up and hopefully eliminate the shock. Not wanting to stress it out anymore than necessary, we put the box in the garage for the night, since it was really our only dark quiet place to keep it.
I knew enough not to feed the squirrel or give it anything to drink since all wild animals have very strict diets and any variation in that diet can kill them. Instead I spent my night checking on the squirrel every hour until bed, making sure it was still breathing and the water bottle was warm, replacing it if it wasn't. It's safe to say I didn't get much sleep last night because I was either worrying about the squirrel or downstairs checking on it.
It spent the whole evening and night curled up in a little ball next to the water bottle. It wasn't moving much, but it was alive and that gave me hope when I headed to bed. When I checked on it again this morning it was much more alert which was amazing to see. It started climbing up onto the water bottle and moving around the box when I was around.
As soon as the center was open I prepared the squirrel for transport. When I did that, it started moving around the box, trying to climb out the sides, and chirping in distress. I know that it definitely had a jaw injury of some sort because it's chirping was really quiet and it wasn't opening it's mouth at all, but hopefully that's something the vet at the wildlife center can fix. I also noticed it was holding it's left front paw a little strange as it moved around, so it might have injured that as well. I dropped it off this morning at the wildlife center, giving it it's best chance to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
I actually cried a little after I left, because Little Squirrel (as I started calling it last night) was just too cute. I mean, how could you resist helping this little guy (or girl - no idea)?
I don't care if some people think they are pests or don't like them. They are a living being and deserve every chance to live their lives just like we do. I don't care what kind of animal I find injured in my backyard, I'm going to do whatever I can to help it. I don't know how injured this squirrel was, but I'm going to believe that it'll be rehabilitated and then released into the wild to live a long happy life.
Update: We received a card in the mail from the Wildlife Center that told us that Little Squirrel had been fully rehabilitated and released back into the wild! The center backs up to a state park, so there is plenty of safe space for Little Squirrel to make it's home!