Friday, April 15, 2011

Raising Squirrels...It's Kinda Like Raising Kids

Three weeks ago, we encountered some very windy weather here in Arkansas.  The patio umbrellas and cushions had to be secured, the windows hatched, etc.  The blustery conditions were tolerable, however, because they were accompanied by unseasonably warm temperatures and lots of sunshine.  It was perfect kite-flying weather.  Too bad we don't own a kite.

Let me back up a few more weeks before I jump right into my squirrel story.  A very silly squirrel decided to build a big fat nest at the very tip end of a scraggly thin tree branch on one of the big oaks in the backyard.  While sitting on the patio during the evenings, we discussed the irrationality and squirrel logic that drove the rodent to arrive at such a location for setting up housekeeping.  But humans don't understand squirrel logic.  The hubs doesn't understand logic period.  He argued with me that the squirrel nest was actually a hawk nest.  Silly husband.

Anyway, we spent the greater part of one gust-filled afternoon doing yard work and cleaning up the boat for the summer season. During the course of the day, I brought attention to the fact that the squirrel now had babies that needed "tending".  She wasn't a very attentive mother and her children complained loudly for most of the afternoon.  Maddie was so frustrated by the constant squeaking that she asked that we get them down and allow her to breastfeed them.

Later that evening, Don and I were enjoying a cold beverage on the patio while Maddie played quitely on her swingset beneath the big oak.  We looked up when we heard her shouting for assistance in catching a turned out to be two.  The wind had blown the nest apart and two of the babies were dislocated.  At this point, the hubs concurred that indeed the nest was that belonging to a squirrel.

Thus began our adventure in squirrel rearing.  It is a bit like raising kids.  You have to nurse them with a tiny bottle (they prefer puppy milk to kitten milk - avaiable at your local pet store), but strangely (and I learned this from a friend on Facebook), you have to wipe their bottoms to make them go to the bathroom.  This differs in that the wiping precedes the pooping for squirrels.

Maddie named the squirrels, "the baby angels" and she takes care of them dutifully, never complaining, like a good little mommy. They are now weaned and we are trying to figure out what to do with them.  They aren't afraid of humans or house cats (in fact, cats fear them) so we fear for their survival.  They reside in a well-appointed cage on the lower patio that swings from our upper deck.  They eat shelled pecans and prefer red grapes to green.  They adore Maddie but growl at everyone else who attempts to pluck them from their human-made nest.

Perhaps we will leave the cage door ajar next weekend and see what happens...

I hope kicking "the baby angels" out of the nest works out better than our attempts to transition our oldest to her own place...