I arrived at the house last night glowing with the exertion of my ride home. As I coasted into the driveway, I saw the wife come out of the back door and walk to meet me.
She never comes to meet me, unless she has bad news. I gave her a very suspicious look.
“What did the children do?” I asked.
“Nothing. They’ve been fine.” she replied.
Okay, that meant it had to be something that was her fault. Before I could interrogate her further, the back door flew open and the girl bounced out.
“BABY SQUIRREL!!” she screamed.
“GET BACK IN THE HOUSE. I’m talking to your father.”
Oh. This was going to be bad.
It seems one of our neighbors found a baby squirrel in a tree they were cutting down. The poor thing had looked stunned and shocky, and of course my children had insisted that we take care of it. The wife had put it in a plastic bowl, with a little blanket, where it was still laying motionless.
“We’re not going to keep it.” I said.
“Of course not.” said my wife. It seemed that one of our other neighbors had rehabilitated injured squirrels in the past. It was hoped that we would be able to pawn it off on him. Unfortunately, he had acquired two Bassett Hounds in the meantime, either of which could have finished the little guy off in a single bite. So it looked like we would be keeping him at least overnight. Meanwhile, the wife and kids couldn’t stop ooohing and ahing at the little rodent.
In my opinion, a juvenile squirrel that remains that still and quiet while in the presence of this much hoopla and kerfuffle is not just in shock - - they’re not long for this world. I was thinking internal injuries, but my wife disagreed. By the time we went to bed, he/she/it was bedded down in a freshly cleaned and sterilized cage, on an old t-shirt, tucked under an old diaper, with fresh water and hand-shelled sunflower seeds close at hand.
By this time he/she/it had quit blindly staring into space, and was showing every sign of settling in and getting comfy, turning around under the diaper and curling up to sleep.
I don’t know if it ate or drank anything overnight, but this morning when we checked on it, it was under the diaper with just its whiskered nose and beady eyes peeking out.
Yes, it’s terribly, terribly cute. No, we aren’t keeping it.
And that’s final.
Well. The wife took our squirrelly houseguest to the Audobon Society, where they identified it as a Fox Squirrel. Unfortunately, Fox Squirrels are a non-native species here in Oregon, and they are, in fact, outbreeding the native species. As a result, the Audubon Society of Portland Wildlife Care Center does not accept Fox Squirrels for treatment. Which left the wife with something of a dilemma. In the end, she opted to euthanize the little critter rather than either releasing it into the neighborhood, or trying to reunite it with its mother. It’s a tough choice, but I think the right one.
Particularly since she will be the one that will have to explain it to the kids. Oy.