Photo of the Week August 22, 2010

This past weekend, we had a bit of an adventure at our house. We've got several large trees in the backyard which are prime habitat for Grey Squirrel families. "Our" squirrels had a successful litter this spring, the evidence of which are the pair of awkward acrobats currently learning to leap limb from limb.

This past Saturday night, we learned we had another litter when a tiny creature fell over 30 feet from its nest to the back lawn. Immediately, the little fella began squealing for its mama in one of the loudest, high pitched voices one can imagine.

Here are the proper steps for making a surrogate nest when you encounter a squirrel fallen from its nest:
  1. Find a container such as a small box.
  2. Fill the box with leaves, paper towels or a clean, soft cloth. Place the nest in the tree or bush closest to where the animal was found, out of the sun and rain, as high up as you can safely manage. 
  3. Place the animal(s) in the nest (wear gloves) and leave the area.
This is precisely what we did. However, when we returned 2 hours later, the little fella had not been reunited with its parent. So, it was off to the warm garage for a night of 4 hour feedings.

On Sunday, we contacted PAWS who gave us information on contacting a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. We connected with Carol, a wildlife rehabilitator working out of Tenino, who was willing to help out our little friend.

If you should ever find yourself in our situation, be sure to check with PAWS or your local animal welfare agency. In Washington State, the WDFW maintains a referral list of trained licensed wildlife rehabilitators. Do not attempt to treat or raise a wild animal yourself; it’s illegal. Call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately and follow their instructions. All species are different in their capture, care and handling requirements. If you are not properly trained, you could make their situation worse or kill them. If handled improperly, animals may lose their natural fear of humans and become more vulnerable to predation or injury. These animals are referred to as “imprints,” a condition often irreversible, and which dooms the animal to euthanasia.