(DO NOT FEED BABY SQUIRRELS COW’S MILK OR HUMAN INFANT FORMULA!)
I had heard another thing the baby could digest easily is goat’s milk. Where on earth could I get goat’s milk! I could envision myself sneaking out in some farmer’s field and trying to milk a goat – no way! Fortunately goat’s milk can be obtained at your local pet supply store, so off I went the next day to Squirrels R Us! Have you ever popped the lid on a can of goat’s milk? Whew, I never want to again, that’s for sure. Luck would have it that there was enough of this smelly substance in one can to raise a squirrel to adulthood as well as all it’s progeny for several generations to come! The only drawback was the baby didn’t like the smell any more than I; therefore a $4.00 can of milk went to waste and ruin! This was fortuitous because I read more articles about baby squirrels, and goat’s milk, it turns out, is also bad for squirrels. I’m glad the baby knew better than I!
(During their first seven weeks they will nurse on their mother’s milk
and then they will eat nuts.)
What to do, what to do! There were several false starts with foods that a human might think a baby squirrel would all but pounce on. WRONG. After several trial and error periods over the next 12 hours, baby’s first real meal turned out to be apple sauce! Who would have known? How much wood could a woodchuck chuck – or…how much apple would an apple-eater eat? About a half teaspoon was the maximum. Well it looked like I was having some success and the baby might survive, although it looked quite skinny and frail. When I gave it a grape to “suck” on, the grape wasn’t that much smaller than the baby’s head.
(The gray squirrel requires some salt in its diet,
and may find this salt in the soil along roads
where snow and ice may have been.)
When I would put the squirrel to bed I would softly massage its ears and use a small eyelash brush behind its ears. It seemed as though this relaxed the baby. Perhaps it remembered Momma’s loving grooming…
We never knew for sure what happened to the Momma squirrel. The general consensus was that a hawk nabbed her while she was transporting the baby, because the baby was way too young to scurry out into the middle of the road where Jack and I found it.
(There are over 365 species of squirrels in seven families. They
include the tree squirrel, ground squirrel, and flying squirrel. There
are also many squirrel-like mammals such as the gopher, ground hog
and prairie dog.)
Now that “baby” was doing better and quickly gaining weight, I dared to begin thinking of a name. Some kind of a non-gender name would be good, as I really didn’t know how to tell a baby boy squirrel from a baby girl squirrel. Let’s see….Zippy sounded good, however our “Zippy” hardly moved at all, and just slept most of the time. How about Zippy DooDah! That sounded good, but I soon got tired of saying such a long name, so the name was reduced to DooDah. Perfect! My, oh my-y, what a ha-a-py day. Plenty of sun-n-shine goin’ my way, etc., etc. From the looks of this critter, it could have easily been named the same as one of the Seven Dwarfs!
DooDah grew, began exhibiting a distinct personality, and generally began to be an individual in its own right. I could hardly believe how fast a critter could grow! DooDah’s eyes got bigger, ears got bigger and the tail grew longer and fluffier. DooDah definitely got fatter!
(An adult squirrel’s brain is about the size of a walnut.)
Over the course of the first couple of weeks DooDah taste tested apple sauce (mmmmm good), grapes, raisins, tangerine, orange, cranberry, blackberry jam, and a myriad other items that had been lurking in our refrigerator. DooDah seemed quite content, and even seemed to be growing enough fur to cover the bare patches of skin showing between the hairs of its coat. DooDah’s tail grew to be about a long as its body, and its head was about that long also, therefore the baby was quite within the accepted proportions of a normal baby squirrel
(To be continued.) © 2008 Jan C. Snow