26 November 2007

She has a name, and a future

This is the last kind of report I expected to be able to write about the little creature who, until two days ago, was simply known as "the driveway squirrel." Almost exactly a month ago I found her flat-out and unconscious, at the base of my driveway, not sure where she came from, though I suspect it may have been a fall from a branch or power line above. She was unresponsive and she didn't seem to have much of a chance.

But Miss Daisy (a name this delicate but hardy creature seems to have inspired) is doing fine. Recovering her consciousness within the first week was the least of her battles, however. She proved to be spastic, and had little coordinated use of her limbs. And she developed a huge abscess on the side of her face which required a vet's lancing, with followup of repeat doses of antibiotics.

She was, believe it or not, a trouper. She permitted enough handling so that her wound could be cleaned daily by me, and her medicine given, as the vet prescribed. She was vocal but she was also cooperative. I think she knew we meant no harm.

The infection is gone. Better still, she is starting to climb on the sides of her low hutch, making me think she is coordinated enough to climb - and may well warrant a regular sized cage at some point. Miss Daisy has a good appetite, and a great prognosis, I think.

In the spring, when the leaves are back on the trees and she can count on leaf cover to protect her from predators, I think she can look forward to climbing back into her life.

19 November 2007

Born to be mild

There is something gentle and forgiving about baby animals.

As adults, dogs and squirrels are natural adversaries. As infants, puppies and baby squirrels keep the peace with one another, they are accepting and warm and life-sustaining, and give one another comfort.

These photos, posted here, first circulated more than a year ago when little Finnegan the baby squirrel was "adopted" into her litter by a nursing Papillon. The mother dog took in the little rescue who, presumably, eventually grew up and was released, hopefully with the knowledge that not all canines are as selfless and nurturing as his adoptive mom.

Looking at these photos again, however, I think to myself, "this is what unequivocal acceptance looks like."

It isn't forever but while it lasts, it's a priceless commodity - for all of us.

13 November 2007

On campus, another tragedy

Much earlier in this blog, I'd reported the news of a white squirrel who met with a senseless death outside a Wisconsin elementary school. The animal was much-loved and the killing - a malicious act by someone in the area - was preventable.
This story referenced below, which marks the death of another beloved white squirrel, took place on a college campus and was not as avoidable, sorry to say, and might even be called a fact of nature: Whitey the squirrel was killed by a hawk. His white fur probably made him an easier mark than most squirrels.
I'm not a fan of hawks by any stretch of the imagination - they kill squirrels and other small animals below them in the food chain - and I find the article's accompanying photo upsetting and gruesome.
It's hard to love nature sometimes.

South Oval-kill - Campus

When squirrels watch us!

It's something of a comfort to see the good folks at Northwestern University watching squirrels watching us. It's even more of a comfort when a respected educator and researcher conducts a class on animal behavior and determines what a lot of us rehabbers have known all along - squirrels, as a prey species, are not an attack species. Still and all, when that finding comes from the academic world, we can all appreciate it that much more.

Squirrels at NU: Are they nuts? - Campus

So squirrels think we humans are animated vending machines? What's so bad about that?
Besides, I could use the extra coins.

11 November 2007

In Memoriam

I don't ordinarily hang onto squirrels when they come into my care. A rehabber's job is to prepare an animal for return to the wild. But 9 years ago, after at least 3 failed attempts to get one male squirrel acclimated to living in the wild, we had to concede he wasn't going to make it out there on his own. He was somehow not communicating well with the others - just didn't play well with other squirrels, was always getting beaten up and, frankly, preferred the comforts of a hammock and a modest-sized cage.

He stayed with us, in our care, after we healed up his wounds from being attacked by other squirrels in the wild - and Mr. Friendly became a fixture, and a true friend, until the morning of Nov. 6, 2007, when I found him at the bottom of his cage, dead. He seemed healthy, active and vibrant right up until that morning and so it's not clear whether it was just his time.

Regardless, we miss him terribly. I have created a video montage for him at OneTrueMedia, to help me remember him and to share a squirrel who was, in every way, larger than life.

Click here to view Mr. Friendly's video.

03 November 2007

A post from London


I found this lovely photo the other day on digg.com

Winter is getting closer with each day and everyone is putting on their winter coats - including the squirrels in the park near my home. It's also sunny, which is nice - but no sign of nutty sunglasses yet.