The Adventure Begins
So small was this cute little creature, it was barely the length of my hand, including the tail! “How in the world am I going to take care of it?” First things first, make a soft, secluded spot for it to rest while my homework begins!
(Usually, squirrels are born in the early spring. The average litter
consists of about four kittens. Litter size can vary due to climate and location.
Sometimes a second litter can occur in mid-summer if there is an
adequate food supply.)
In recent weeks I had been knitting baby hats as a humanitarian project for one of the local hospital nurseries. Voila! I’ll crochet a small hat out of brown yarn (so it looked woodsy) so the baby will be snug and warm. What a success, the baby curled up in the hat and wrapped its tail around its cute little face and went to sleep.
Now to the emergency care, thank heavens for modern technology. I began to research the highways and byways of the internet to see what can be done to care for a newborn squirrel. One thing I learned is that one should NEVER feed a baby squirrel cow’s milk, which I was about to do with the aid of a medicine dropper. Their system has to become hydrated for a day before anything but a clear liquid can be ingested. Apparently their little bodies would dehydrate while trying to digest anything too heavy. Baby squirrels are so tiny that they can become dehydrated very quickly, especially after being in the sun on the hot blacktop.
(A baby squirrel will weigh about one ounce at birth, and is about one
inch long. They do not yet have their teeth, and are virtually blind for
about the first six to eight weeks.)
I learned that giving it Pedialite, would quickly help get the baby’s electrolytes in balance, then I could proceed with additional steps in saving its life. I didn’t have any Pedialite; our children are grown and had flown the nest many years ago! The nearest store is about a half-hour away, and our little creature probably wouldn’t survive long enough for me to make a dash to the store anyway. Wouldn’t you know it (bless the internet) I found a recipe, a home-remedy, to improve the baby’s electrolytes. I quickly made the recipe: 1 qt. warm water, 3 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. salt (liquid must be at room temperature)
We happened to have a medicine dropper in our medical kit, so its use was quickly employed. I gently held the baby in an upright position in my hand while slowly giving the life-saving elixir to the baby drop by drop. My internet information explained that baby squirrels could easily aspirate the liquid if it was fed in a reclining position. The baby was ravenous, and took to the dropper very willingly! We were on our way! This procedure was re-enacted every two hours for the next 24 hours. Good thing I worked from home, and could keep it in my office!
(To be continued.) © Jan C. Snow