04 April 2009
It could be argued he was never meant to make it, after all. And it could be argued that we were wrong for taking him in and giving him the six additional years he had, especially when, by following the laws of nature, he would likely not have had six more hours on that July day in 2003.
But we rescued the neurologic young adult squirrel from the front lawn in a nearby community after an elderly homeowner, concerned for his safety, trapped him beneath a large flower planter. And we brought "Nero" home, finding him to be gentle and charming. He was also a little loopy, owing likely to some head trauma that knocked him forever off kilter from his course in life.
He never recovered his balance and would always tip over if he got too active but he lived stress-free with us, in the company of other, healthier squirrels who would come and go over the years on their way to freedom. And he looked forward to the times we would come over to his cage offering a nut, a piece of fruit, or one of the nutritional biscuits we often feed the youngsters when they are first weaning off formula.
At night he would tuck himself in tightly - wrapping his T-shirt around him, secure in his nestbox.
He was not in there on the morning of March 31. I found him dead, quite unexpectedly, beneath the ramp of his double-decker hutch. He had already rigored. He had not been visibly ill, though the day before I did note he had a curious, somewhat glazed look in one eye. Perhaps his time was through and that long-ago head trauma caught up with him at last.
It could be argued we should have simply let nature take its course so many years ago when predators were threatening him on that July day, prompting one man's care and concern. Ultimately, nature did run its course, just not that way.
I would like to think we did the right thing.