Another Mouth To Feed


About a year ago we put our names on the vet’s list of “foster parents” for orphaned wildlife. I figured whatever we ended up with would be the best nature study we could possibly get. Two weeks ago, they finally called and offered us a baby squirrel. I don’t know how he became an orphan and the vet was very skimpy on instructions for raising him. We got 98% of the information we needed on the internet. We named the little rodent Frisky, and I have to admit, we have all fallen in love. Doesn’t he make a nice fall decoration in the tea cup? He thinks this is normal squirrel habitat. 


Technically, Frisky is a wild animal and should be minimally handled. However, that is just not realistic. It probably isn’t healthy either. Since he is an only squirrel, who would he bond with? Could it be psychologically beneficial to ignore him except for brief feeding sessions? How will he learn social behavior? We threw that advice out the window as soon as we got home. This doesn’t mean he rides around in my pocket all day long, but we do give him a bit of attention every time we feed him. I know we are going to have to feed him all winter and he will think humans are friends. If he decides to live on our property, we will all be friends. We have not let Frisky and Chance be formally introduced. I think it is better if they just don’t know about each other as long as possible. 


I guess Frisky is close to five weeks old. We feed him kitten formula from a syringe 3-4 times a day. He currently lives in a small cardboard box that is zipped inside my tote bag. We took him to church the first Sunday we had him, because he needed to eat more often and we couldn’t see skipping church for a squirrel. Doesn’t that sound like a lame excuse? No one knew what I had in the bag unless we told them. He also went to two dinner parties. He sleeps most of the time, which makes him an ideal unexpected dinner guest. It only takes about 10 minutes to feed and cuddle him at this point in his infancy. We have a rice bag that we heat up at every feeding and place under a towel in his box. (Donna Farrell- we are going to need to replace this when he is finished with it. Could you send us directions to make a new one? Is it just rice or is there something else in there?)


Future plans for Frisky include moving his box to the dog crate, once he starts living up to his name. By that time he will not need to be hand fed. Then I think we will place the crate on my  balcony and leave its door open when he is old enough to venture forth. If he wants to make a nest there, or just stop in for a snack, great. It will be a safe place, away from most predators, but he definitely will have the freedom to scamper about and be squirrely.

Later-


Frisky has outgrown the cardboard box in my tote bag. I moved the box into the dog crate in the garage and stopped hand feeding him. He munches on nuts, acorns and corn. He has a water bottle hanging from the door of his crate. His tail is getting fluffier and he leaps from one end of the crate to the other faster than the eye can follow. He seems to want attention, but his heart beats so fast when I hold him, I am afraid he will have a little heart attack. If I do not hold him, he will leap onto the wire door and visit with me. When I put him on my shoulder to carry him in to show Ryan, Frisky got nervous and tried to crawl up underneath my braided hair. I never wanted to wear him as a hair accessory, but I still think he is adorable.  



The chickens and garden have been less satisfying than squirrel rescue. I strongly suspect that Myrtle took advantage of my poultry ignorance. Ten of my hens look like roosters. I only wanted one rooster. Three of them crow, so three for sure. Three of the thirteen look like hens, and one rooster woke up dead, so that leaves me with nine chicken dinners. Well, eight dinners, as I still want the one rooster I asked for. We have named the ones that crow Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Noodle, and Chicken Pot Pie. As soon as we are SURE we have a rooster, we put a zip tie on his leg to mark him for the big day. This is “Dumplings”. He crows his little bird brains out all day long. He sounds like he has a sore throat. He never says “cock-a-doodle-do”, rather imagine throwing up when you have strep and say “Ugh-uh-UGH-uh-UUUGGH!” He is first on the chopping block. When Noodles crows he says “Ar-UUU-gah” just like an old fashioned horn. He is smart enough to only crow every now and then, but it doesn’t matter. Queen of the Farmette says, “Off with his head!”



I’ll have to tell you about the garden later. It is too discouraging to show you pictures just now. 

© Being Fruitful, 2012