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A Squirrel's Tale

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On the second day of school this year, the children came running to me saying, "Come quick! The kindergarteners found a baby squirrel by the sandbox!" I went to the sandbox to find a little circle of children looking at a baby red squirrel, who had apparently fallen out of a tree, curled up at the edge of the sandbox. I love these children because they were all respectful enough to just look at it, and to let an adult know that it was there.

It was obvious that this baby would not be able to survive on its own, and the children were very worried about it. They were also concerned because a stray kitten was roaming the school yard, and the little squirrel was so defenseless. A couple of my responsible children offered to keep watch for the kitten, and help other children stay far enough away from the squirrel that its mother might be able to find it, while I went in to call the vet to find out what to do with the baby. Other teachers, alerted to the situation, were having children come away from the squirrel.

The vet gave me the phone number of a woman who does small animal rescue, as well as the number for the nature center. I left a message with Lynn at the small animal rescue, and called the nature center. The woman at the nature center said to keep it warm because the mother would not find the baby if its body temperature dropped. A couple of children filled a quart ziplock bag with hot water. With gloves on, I lifted the baby squirrel and the children put the improvised hot water bottle under the tree that the baby must have fallen out of and covered the bag with a dishcloth. I placed the baby on its little hot water bed, and it curled up contentedly and fell asleep.

We had an hour left of school, and a kitten roaming loose somewhere, so two children offered to do their work outside so they could watch over the squirrel from a distance while they did their work. We all hoped his mother would come for him. I wasn't too hopeful that his mother would appear during the school day, and she didn't. After school, I called the nature center back because I did not want to stay there waiting for the mom to arrive and I was concerned about predators. They suggested finding a way to suspend the baby and bed from a tree. In the trunk of my car I had a little insulated bag I used for keeping food cool coming home from the groceries store. I put a new hot water bag in the bottom of the bag, covered it with a fresh dishtowel, put the baby in it, put a nail in the tree, and suspended it as high as I possibly could.

When I got home, I got a call from Lynn at the small animal rescue. She said she didn't know why the nature center would say the mother would come to get it, it was already too big for the mother to carry if its eyes were open. She was concerned about dehydration, as was I, and said to bring it right over. So back to the school and off on an 8 mile drive to bring the baby to the small animal rescue I went. Honestly, the baby did not look good. He was very lethargic and I was afraid he would die before I got him there.

When I arrived, Lynn had a syringe filled with pedialite and a long nipple ready for him. Poor baby was almost too weak to drink, but once he did, he perked up. He grabbed onto the nipple and drank and drank!

She thought the baby would be okay, and lucky for him, she had several other baby red squirrels about his age, so he even had nest mates.

The next day, the children wrote thank you cards to Lynn, and we are hoping that we can release him back to the tree where he fell from when he is old enough to be released back to the wild.

Another tale with a happy ending.

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