Thursday, August 16, 2007

I Save Who I Can

We are having another bipolar sick-day here, and that's about all I want to say about that, because it is emotionally exhausting (says the person who doesn't even HAVE the disease; imagine how my husband feels) and depressing (bipolar disorder is depressing--oh, the cruel irony), so for now I'll just follow up the fried raccoon story by telling you about how I saved the life of a squirrel earlier in the week. Yeah, I know, all you Pulitzer voters are readying your nomination forms NOW.

I have super-duper hound-dog ears. So does my sister. Please don't talk about either one of us in a room smaller than a football stadium, because we will hear you. And then we'll probably cry and wonder why you don't like us, and get sick to our stomachs, because we're sensitive like that. It was my super-hearing that picked up soft sounds of distress the other day when I let the dogs out. That's right, I heard it over the ruckus of a half-dozen dogs running around on potty-break, and the dogs themselves didn't even hear it--I'm THAT GOOD. I pinpointed the location as an unused metal horse-watering trough across the yard in the small horse enclosure on that side of the house.

Because of the still-very-fresh raccoon terrorism, I was expecting to see another raccoon when I went out there to look, and I'll admit, my first instinct was not one of humanitarianism. But it wasn't another masked bandit this time. At first, I thought it was a big ol' watersnake, but nope, just your garden-variety big honkin' Arkansas grey squirrel, fighting a losing battle with several inches of water at the bottom of a deep, smooth-sided tank.
#1. Squirrel in Crisis

The poor little thing was making panting, gasping noises, and trying desperately to get a toehold on something so he could stop swimming. He must have been in there for a while, because a layer of mud had dried on his little nose already. Most likely, he'd been trying one of those typical maneuvers of squirrel gymnastics they use when drinking (drinking water--I'm not trying to imply anything about the sobriety of this particular squirrel, NECCESSARILY), and slipped off the smooth edge of the tank. I got a stick of firewood and stood it on end in the tank so that he could climb out. Only he didn't climb out. He did grab the life-line, but it seemed that he was so exhausted, all he could do was hug that log and catch his breath. As I watched, amazed, he seemed to actually pass out, unresponsive to any noise I was making.
#6.  before he had to take a break...

Well, this was just not gonna work for me. I wanted to see Mr. Squirrel on dry land before I left him, so that he wouldn't fall back into the water and drown. I have fished a drowned squirrel out of a horse-trough before, and I didn't want to do it again. So I had the genius idea, since the rodent was so deep in slumber, to just lift out the stick of wood, squirrel attached, and set it on the ground, at which point I'd walk quietly away and keep the dogs inside until he'd had time to rest and make his way back home. I was such a hero, there inside my head.

I am here to tell you: Mostly-drowned squirrels who appear to be unconscious...may not be. And also, they are much less grateful than you might reasonably assume. When I picked up that log, the movement provided just the shot of adrenalin that Mr. Squirrel needed, and he immediately exhibited the might-have-been-more-useful-earlier power of flight. Directly at my face. Naturally, I dropped the log, and it and the squirrel splashed back into the tank together. The now insanely-frightened rodent made another couple of leaps, but couldn't clear the edge of the tank. And this was when my brain finally kicked in, and I did what I should have done in the first place, and just heaved to and tumped the whole mess over, toward the downhill side of the yard: water, log, and waterlogged squirrel.

He was rolled over several times in the rush of water, and thoroughly soaked, but our squirrel protagonist managed to gain his little feet, and griping at me all the way, scampered a few feet up the first tree he came to. I kept trying to take his picture, but every time I'd approach, he'd flee to the non-visible side of the tree and climb a little higher. He finally attained a safe height and a horizontal limb, and if you look closely, you can see him in this last shot, a bedraggled lump of wet fur, clinging with all his might to a high limb, scolding at and dripping on me as I watch from below.
#8.  And all's well that ends well.

Click any of the pictures for a better view, or click to see the whole series of the squirrel saga. Moral of the story? Anytime you have a large container of wet squirrel, the best course of action is to just tump the whole mess over onto the ground. You'll thank me. Now if I can just get Bella home without anyone dropping anything on her head, and my husband gets to feeling better, I'll count the day a success.


  1. Belinda~~ I went out on a beautiful morning many summers ago and heard much the same sounds as you described. A squirrel had fallen into our above-ground pool. I got a skimmer to fish him out, and when i laid him on the ground, he appeared to drop dead right in front of my eyes. I thought the stress of the near-drowning had killed him. As I took a step closer to confirm his demise, he dove into the air, chattered something foul at me and ran up into our Oak.

    For my troubles........he and his family are now devouring the wooden top of my garage.

  2. I have a story about my heroic efforts to save a squirrel, would you like to hear it? Ok then, go get a snack and a blanket. I'll wait.

    So, I was about 16 and over at my best friend's house. We were making dinner when we heard an awful, primal noise coming from outside. We went out searching for the source and found her cat in the sideyard. It was obvious it had something with it and we went closer and spotted a tiny baby squirrel on the ground. The squirrel was making such a horrible noise that it was actually frightening the cat so much that the cat never attacked it.

    We decided that the squirrel must have fallen out of a nest, so we scooped it up to take it inside. It must have been on the ground for quite a while cause it was covered in bugs. We gave it a little bath and kept him in a shoebox with blankets and a reptile heat lamp. We named him Rocky, naturally.

    All night we fed it children's Pedialyte through a syringe. The next morning we went to a pet store and bought squirrel formula. Why that was so easy to find at a pet store I have no idea. That morning we watched X-Men cartoons with him while we ate fruit loops and he opened his eyes for the first time. We were such proud mamas.

    Alas, we knew we couldn't keep Rocky forever so we took him to a wildlife rescue not far from home. They were so harsh about it, just grabbed him from us and were, like, "Thanks." End of story. No saying good-bye or getting to tell them that he really liked grape Pedialyte.

    The End.

  3. AWWWWW! That is so sad, Miranda! Godspeed, Rocky...and I'm glad that Avalon had a similar experience with a rodent ingrate. Keep the squirrel stories coming!

  4. Being in the family business we get a never ending supply of orphaned squirrels. After storms and hurricanes, people come in with the naked little creatures that blew out of the tree. I think one year my mom had about 15 come through her house, not all of them made it.

    The ones who survived stayed, as my mom is that way and once you come to our house you never leave. She is now down to one squirrel that lives in a big, especially made for them, cage with ladders and fun things to entertain.

    So, now, if someone brings a squirrel into the clinic we send them to the lady in town that raises them and releases them, my dad's orders:o)

    If you want to see more of what it is like at the clinic check out my post today and see how crazy it can be.

  5. I recently heard about someone's pet flying squirrel drowning in a toilet. Oh, and another story about a squirrel falling in someone's sunroof while they were barreling down the road at 50 mph. What's the odds, right? Neither of these stories happened to me. I am squirrel-story-less.

    Glad you saved the little guy. But interestingly enough, not until you'd taken plenty of pictures while he was still in mid-drown. haha

  6. I was *thinking* while I took the pictures. I went out there with no idea what I was going to do, and as you read, it took me a while to reach the most obvious solution.

    We also have a family story about a squirrel who came down my uncle's chimney, through the fireplace, and then raced around the house...with its tail afire. That's a really good one, but I wasn't there, so wouldn't do it justice.

  7. God Bless the little fuzzies of the world.

    And hugs about dealing with Bipolar Disorder. It's tough, that.