Squirrels Are Mamas, Too.

baby-squirrelMother’s Day has just passed, but a couple weeks ago, something happened and I was reminded of the amazing power and devotion that stems from maternal instincts.  Instincts that aren’t just human, but are found in all animals.  Yup, squirrels are mamas, too.

I was doing what I do most of the time.  Working.  Lady, my junkyard dog, was resting on my office sofa, gazing out the French doors that overlook my backyard.  She wasn’t just being lazy.  Oh, no, she has a job to do.  She is forever on squirrel duty and takes her job very seriously.  Ahh, but this day she was quite tired from destroying another of her doggy toys that she’d managed to sneak outside, this one a stuffed squirrel.

You see, Lady is anti-squirrel, and I think she got too much joy ripping the toy to shreds as all the yard squirrels looked on.  Now, she’s a wonderful dog as long as you aren’t a squirrel.  Anyway, while it was a pretty day, blue skies and puffy white clouds, the wind had kicked up.  The strong gusts sent the trees dancing and the innards of the stuffed squirrel were strewn across my yard.

Then I heard it.  A loud thump, like a small tree limb hitting the ground.  Lady, ever attentive to the outside world, bolted to the French doors.  She stood there, her attention riveted.

Then, she came hurdling over to me and put her paws on the desk, barking, which she seldom does.  In doggy language that means, “I want outside…NOW!”

I went to let her out, but something gave me pause.  She was too eager.  So, I squeezed out the door, forcing her to stay inside.

I spotted the reason for her eagerness.  There, on my concrete patio, was a broken nest of sorts.  And outside the nest were four baby squirrels.  My stomach clenched as I drew near, thinking the fall had killed them.  But nope, they were all breathing, just too little to run away.  Lady whined behind me at the doors, anxious to come out and do her squirrel duty.

I stood there trying to think what to do.  I had to let Lady out sooner or later.  Right then a loud noise erupted—a half cry, half scream.  I looked around and there, clutching a nearby tree trunk, was another squirrel.  I knew that this was the mama.

I could hear the panic and devastation in her loud chirps.  Her babies were in danger and could even be dead.   I stepped back.  “I’m not gonna hurt them,” I assured her, and my heart hurt for her.  But was there anything I could do?

Since I knew squirrels weren’t like possums that could hang onto their mama’s back, and these babies were too young to climb, I imagined the worst outcome.  Her babies weren’t going to make it.  And from the heartfelt sounds she made, the mama squirrel knew it, too.   And bam, just like that, I remembered when they took my five-week premature son into surgery.  The fear, the heartache, I felt right then was as real as it was years ago.

Feeling helpless, yet desperate to help, I went inside and called my hubby, wondering if I should collect the babies and take them to the wildlife vet.  He didn’t answer his cell phone, so I started to go outside again, but a movement outside the window stopped me.  The mama squirrel had rushed to her babies, sniffing and nudging them with her nose.  What she did next completely surprised me.  She opened her mouth and stuffed a baby inside.  Even though it appeared impossible, she got the entire little body in there. With only the baby’s tail hanging out, she climbed back up the tree.  It wasn’t an easy climb, once or twice I worried she would fall.  She would stop as if to catch her breath.  It appeared as if she’d either found an empty nest or had just borrowed a friend’s nest in which to leave the first baby. Then, one by one, she collected the others. With maternal strength, she saved what was most precious to her.  Her babies.

With all her squirrels out of harm’s way, she skittered back down and started gathering items to help rebuild a new nest.  Oddly enough, she collected a lot of the stuffing from the toy squirrel. For some reason, that felt like poetic justice, though I wouldn’t tell Lady.  And I kept my squirrel guard dog inside, allowing the still panicked mama all the time she needed to do her work.  I’ve never seen a squirrel work so hard.

Lady wasn’t happy I’d kept her from her job of ridding the yard of squirrels, but I knew the mama squirrel was ever so grateful.  And it just reconfirmed what I’ve always known.  There is nothing like a mother’s love.

Now, I know I didn’t do very much to save those baby squirrels, their mamma had the toughest job. But I did keep Lady inside to give her time to save her babies. So, I felt pretty good about it. Have you ever saved an animal? If so, I’d like to hear about it. So, be sure to leave a comment.

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25 thoughts on “Squirrels Are Mamas, Too.

  1. Oh Christie, that was beautiful! I’m SO glad Mamma got them to safety. A Mom’s work is never done, is it? Your kids are always running off, trying to kill themselves!

    Great post!

  2. Such a sweet story! As a child I would bring home any animal I could catch, I’m not sure if I was saving any of them or not but a few cats stuck around. Lol!

  3. Well I was reading your blog and it sounded like I have read it before and I relemebered last week on your other blog. 😉 loved it shows the power of moms!

  4. I’ve only managed to save baby birds when they used to fall off their nests, but they never made it. I think I saved my hamster though because I bought her during fall and the coming summer of the following year was harsh and when I went to see the other hamsters they looked like they were dying of thirst. So I think I saved her 🙂 But the power of mom’s can be very powerful.

  5. I used to save baby birds all the time when they would fall out of their nests. Some made it if they were older but some didn’t… I also had the privilege of saving a kitten that was abandoned by its mother in the bushes. When I used to go to my grandma’s old house there was a group of cats that would run around and one day one of the kittens was left. Her neighbor said the kitten was hers now but never really left any food out so I used to come and feed and pet the cute little cat 🙂 it was my favorite part if coming to see my grandma because the kitten stayed in the area after it grew up and I always saw it and sometimes got to pet it again 🙂

  6. Just yesterday, there was a frog stranded on our driveway. Knowing it would probably be squashed, I got over my animal squeemishness and picked up the frog. I got it to our backyard and tried to get it to go to the pond. It failed, but I did get it out of the driveway.

  7. Whe ni work at the shelter during the summer, there are many sick cats and dogs that come in. During the summer is the worst because that is where there are the most diseases. Well, almost all of the cats were sick and had all of these medicines we had to give them and all the healthy cats were in this one room so they wouldnt get sick. This year was also the year of the drought for Indiana. One day, this kitten came in that lost her momma and was very weak from no water and the heat. They said they found her on the high way. The workers told my mom and i that she would die from being to weak and all the diseases in the shelter. My mom felt so bad for her, she let us take her home to foster her. Her name was Alphia. Alphia was so weak that she would just sleep and not move, and her rib cages were showing. Every hour we fed her and she ate so much, but she just would grow. We also went to the shelter every two days to get an IV in her. The lady told us every day she would die and we were wasting our time, but my mom and i wouldnt give up on the little kitten. Soon, she started walking, and fighting the IV going into her. WE knew she was getting better, so we helped her every hour on the hour and stayed up with her at night.
    Alphia got adopted the next month and is now a very energetic, fat cat who has three other roomates in Arkansas. Even through the parasites in her tummy, and all the horrible bathroom problems, she lived because of me.

    • that is so sweet I have tears in my eyes. I’m glad you dident give up on her and that she managed to survive through everything with your help.

  8. Thats sooo sweet and precious! And at first i thought the mother was going to eat the babies! Oh thank the heavens she isn’t a hamster.

  9. That’s an amazing and scary experience and probably won’t ever get to see again so I think that’s cool that you got to see that happen.
    I remember when my sisters and I found a bird and it couldn’t fly it was still young and we think it lost its mom. So we tried to help it learn how to fly and it was getting there but we didn’t know where it would go. Eventually a bird came by and landed where the younger bird was and we assumed it was a parent because they soon left together.

  10. I’ve had three rescue dogs which are great! I’ve also helped nurture two birds that fell out of the trees at my mom’s work, a school. I had to take care of them until the vet was able to get them. I’m in college right now to become a veterinarian. Animals are my passion.

      • we were walking to pick up her sister from the library and that fool walked in the street then a car started coming and wasn’t even trying to slow down so I hurried up and pulled her away since she wasn’t paying attention

  11. Wow! What a beautiful story!

    I have saved an animal once too. It was a little bird that fell from the nest. It survived the fall but it couldn’t fly back up. So i took it to the vet, and they told me his left wing was broken. They proposed that they could take it in, but i couldn’t just leave it there! So i brought it home with me and so far his wing has been getting better! In 2 months, he should be able to fly again. 🙂

  12. that I so sweet that poor squirrel momma was probably terrified. I have a cat, she technically belongs to my boyfriend but she loves me more, and she is at the age where she could have kittens if she wasn’t already spade. she has started bringing in baby rabbits to her cat bed and cuddling with them they arnt dead she is very careful with them and gets upset when we bring the babies back outside until we figured it out she only goes to bring in the bunnies inside when she sees my boyfriend go to the shed for the lawn mower. we realized she was only trying to protect the bunnies from the lawn mower. she is tryin to help but I don’t think the momma bunnie appreciates it

  13. That is an awesome story. Definitly something you will remember. I’ve bottle feed several kittens throughout the years but recently I helped save 5 baby possums. The mother and one baby had been hit by a car on a street near me. Both were killed, but there were 5 living babies all trying to nurse off the dead mother. A kid found them and happened across me and asked for help. We got to hold and pet the little things, They are sooo cute when they are tiny! We sat with them on the side of the road, shielding them from the wind and passing cars until animal control got there to take them to a rescue center. Did you know that possums have pouches??? Like kangaroos! I had no idea until the mom’s body was moving and a little tail was sticking out of her tummy. We pulled 2 babies out of her pouch. It gave us an interesting tidbit to share with family and friends!

  14. My dog Shadow was like Lady except for foxes. And there were a LOT of foxes at my house growing up. One time, Shadow got out and attacked a family of foxes. It was horrible. There were three babies and the mom wasn’t there, so Shadow got the best of them. My family didn’t know what to do so we took them to the animal hospital down the road. They were able to save the foxes and raise them until they were ready to be independent, so we released them back into the forest they came from. I don’t know what happened after that, but I like to think positively.

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