Adult Squirrels in Care at WildCare
The modern world is a challenging place to be a wild animal. These squirrels’ stories illustrate the hazards an animal must navigate on a daily basis to get food, find shelter and simply survive.
In January alone, WildCare has admitted six adult squirrels. Two of the squirrels were trapped in chimneys, three were struck by cars, and one came in emaciated and ill for unknown reasons..
This Western Gray Squirrel was one of the three hit by cars. She arrived at the Wildlife Hospital with head trauma, severe lacerations on her face, and with her top two front teeth broken clean off! This is a very severe injury, and for a wild animal that isn’t a rodent, it would likely be a death sentence. However, rodent teeth grow continuously throughout the animals’ lives, so broken front teeth can regrow, given proper care.
Watch her in the video below receiving a supplemental feeding of nutritious gruel to help her keep up her weight as her teeth regrow.
This Western Gray Squirrel was hit by a car and lost her top two front teeth. In this video she is receiving a feeding of
nutritious and easily-digestible gruel. Trouble viewing the video? Click to watch it on YouTube.
Fortunately WildCare’s Medical Staff has extensive experience with squirrel dentistry. It is very common for baby squirrels to land on their faces when they fall from their nests and break their teeth, and adults frequently lose teeth when they are hit by cars. The important thing is to keep the opposite teeth trimmed while the broken ones regrow.
In the video above, this squirrel is very heavily medicated, and still suffering from head trauma. This made her very calm during this feeding session, but as her health improved, she got more and more difficult to handle. Fortunately, after three weeks in care, this squirrel made a full recovery. She is returning to the wild today (Thursday, January 25) and (if all goes as planned) we’ll film it for Facebook. “Like” WildCare on Facebook (facebook.com/WildCareBayArea) for this and other great stories!
This Eastern Fox Squirrel (right) came to WildCare after having been trapped in a chimney for more than a week! It took that long for the homeowners to realize that they were hearing the sounds of a trapped animal, and then to get him out.
When he arrived at WildCare, he was severely dehydrated (as you would be if you had been trapped in a chimney for seven or more days!) and emaciated. Medical Staff warmed him up and gave him subcutaneous fluids to hydrate him. He was slowly introduced to solid foods, and he gained weight quickly. He was released back to his territory last week, after WildCare made sure the chimney had been capped to prevent him or another wild animal from falling in again! Do you have an uncapped chimney? Prevent yours from becoming a hazard for wildlife by calling WildCare Solutions at 415-453-1000x 23.
Another Eastern Fox Squirrel (below) was admitted after he had also been hit by a car. While his teeth were okay, he had such severe spinal trauma on intake, he was unable to use three of his four legs!
It took him nearly four weeks of recovery time, but after intensive supportive care, syringe feeds and anti-inflammatory pain medications, you would never guess that this squirrel had been so badly injured. He made a full recovery and was able to be released.
How can you help wildlife like these squirrels? What can you do to make their challenging lives a little easier?
1. Drive carefully along roads that don’t have overhead tree cover or telephone wires for squirrels to use as “highways.” North San Pedro Road in San Rafael is a good example of a street that isn’t squirrel friendly– there is nowhere for squirrels to cross the street safely overhead, and one sees dead squirrels almost daily.
One of a squirrel’s natural defenses to evade being captured and eaten by predators is his lightning fast speed and zig-zag running pattern. This tactic works great to avoid an agile hawk, but when the same tactic is used to escape an “attacking” car (which travels forward in a straight line), the results are often deadly.
Please obey speed limits and always keep your eyes scanning not just the road in front of you, but also sweeping along the roadside to watch for darting squirrels. Anticipate that if a squirrel does bolt out in front of you, he is likely going to zig-zag, and as long as you continue moving toward him (acting like a stalking predator) he’ll keep changing direction. The best thing to do (if it is safe for you to do so) is slow and stop, giving the squirrel time to dart away.
2. Cap your chimney! WildCare admits many animals every year that have fallen into chimneys and aren’t able to get back out. Getting a cap installed on your chimney is an inexpensive way to prevent injured wildlife. Our WildCare Solutions technician can install a chimney cap for you. Call for more information 415-453-1000 x23.
3. Don’t trim trees in spring! It’s still winter outside, but spring is coming! Squirrels and birds both use trees as their nurseries, and WildCare admits dozens of baby squirrels every year that have been orphaned when their nests were cut out of trees. Please delay non-essential tree work until autumn (that’s a better time for the trees too!), and always check carefully for nests before doing any trimming or pruning.
4. Donate to WildCare! We help as many as 4,000 wild animals like these squirrels in our Wildlife Hospital every year, and we can’t do it without the support of people just like you! Consider becoming a monthly donor (making a small donation monthly) to give us ongoing resources to care for the animals that need it most!