Yesterday afternoon, Wil and I were walking up our street when we saw a squirrel dart in front of us and race up a nearby tree. We watched her jump through the branches and then heard what sounded like baby birds squawking. As we approached the yard the tree was in, we discovered the squawking was actually four baby squirrels who were on the lawn below the tree branches, making noises to their mom because they had all just fallen out of their nest. All four of these tiny, hairless babies appeared unhurt, but with unopened eyes and all in different spots on the ground, they were obviously scared. Concerned about being exposed to possible predators on the leaf-covered lawn, Wil scooped up three of them and I picked up the fourth. The little guy in my hands held onto me with his tiny little feet, and tried crawling around, as if to find his siblings. He made the squawking noises again, so I rubbed his tiny head to calm him down and had to REALLY resist the urge to kiss his face. But then you know, the thought of plague and fleas and common sense kicked in, so I didn’t. He calmed down briefly, but I knew he was scared because he was alone in my hands, so I put him in Wil’s hands with the others. Being all together, they immediately calmed down and the mom, still up in the tree, watched and squawked at them so they would know she was nearby.
We recently had a momma opossum in our backyard who was walking on our wall when my dog saw her and raced out to bark at her. She took off running, dropping a couple of her babies that were holding onto her into our yard. We got our dogs inside and heard the mom rustling in the bushes when she heard her babies crying. We hoped she would come back for them, but she ended up taking off, so we found a local person who took in the babies and bottle-fed them until they were big enough to be released. Unsure if squirrels would do the same thing, I decided to run home and grab a box so we could put the four baby squirrels into it and tuck it up into the tree, safely out of harm’s way in the hopes the mom would come get them and take them back to her nest.
The momma squirrel sat up in the tree, watching what we were doing. After securely tucking the box into the tree, we sat on the curb across the street to see what the mom would do. I had decided that if she wasn’t going to retrieve them, I didn’t want to just leave them there to die, and if she did come get them, I wanted to take the box down so that neighbor wouldn’t come home and wonder why the hell there was an empty box in their tree. The mom looked over at us, and then cautiously came down the tree and looked in the box. She peered in at different angles and looked over at us one more time before climbing in, grabbing a baby, and running back up the tree with it. But she didn’t take them into the nest they fell out of. She ran to the top of the tree and then JUMPED with the baby in her mouth to a tree in the yard next door. There was another nest up there, and she climbed in it with her baby. Wil quickly looked up on his phone about baby squirrels and found that a mom will move her babies from nest to nest if she feels the nest is unsafe or if it gets infested with fleas, so we knew that’s what she was doing. She was moving around the nest a lot and we watched as leaves fell from the center of the nest. I was worried the nest wasn’t secure and her baby would fall through it to the ground. I guess she felt the same, because after several minutes, she ran down the tree, baby still in her mouth, and into the backyard of that house.
Wil had to get back home, so I waited on the curb across the street by myself to see if the mom was going to come back for the other three babies. A few minutes after the momma squirrel left for the backyard of that house, she came running back up their driveway. She stopped at the end of it and looked at intently at me, tail waving behind her. She didn’t look freaked out. I swear she was looking at me like she was thanking me, so I told her “you’re welcome” (because why wouldn’t I) and she darted up the tree and into the box, grabbed another baby, and ran back down the driveway with it in her mouth. After momma squirrel came back for the third baby, the owner of that house came out, looking a little confused as to what she was witnessing in her backyard. She saw me across the street, and asked me if I saw what that squirrel was doing. I waved her over to me so I could explain, because there was still one more baby in the box and I didn’t want the momma squirrel to come out and see people near the tree and just bail on getting her last baby.
The neighbor came over and I explained what happened. “You mean, you were just walking by and babies fell out of the nest and you rescued them? What are you, Doctor Doolittle?” she laughed. I also laughed and replied “Yeah. That seems to happen to me a lot. It’s like THEY KNOW.” She told me she was looking out into her backyard when she saw the squirrel running up into their tree to a nest that is securely tucked between some branches. She saw her leave and come back so many times, she wondered if the squirrel was putting babies in there, which is why she came out front to investigate. I told her there was one more in the box and I wanted to make sure she got them all, so we both waited and watched. The squirrel returned one last time, taking the fourth baby with her to its new home in the backyard, so I walked back to the tree and took down the box.
I know things happen in nature for a reason. Animal instinct is either to leave their babies if they aren’t healthy or if they feel their own life is in danger. As an animal lover, there’s no way I can walk away from something like this. Or with the baby opossums in my backyard, or the baby birds that fell out of their nest on our porch a few years ago, or the baby tortoise a crow dropped in my yard once, or with Lucy, the tiny puppy I took in and found a home for. Sometimes nature just needs a helping hand, and I am happy to oblige.