Squirrel Saga

I’ve mentioned before that we get all kinds of wildlife on the deck in our backyard; we always keep a dish of cat food out there and let’s just say that it appeals to a wide variety of animals (cats included).  In addition to the cat food, we toss bird seed out as well.  We don’t really have a place to hang a feeder, so the birds just eat off the floor, so to speak.  Since there’s no challenge, and because we also toss out peanuts for the blue jays, we get a bunch of squirrels as well.

We used to see the same squirrels on a fairly regular basis, until our backyard neighbor cut down their two huge trees (where most of the squirrels probably lived).  For a while after that, we’d be lucky to see one squirrel every few days.  Over the past month or two, the squirrels have started coming back.  They all kind of look the same, gray squirrels with fat, fluffy tails; some are fearless and come right to the patio door to beg for a peanut, and others run away as soon as they see us moving around in the kitchen.

One of our squirrel friends from last year -- this one was a baby.

One of our squirrel friends from last year — this one was a baby.

Last year we had a healthy mix of red and gray squirrels.  Then almost all of the red squirrels started showing up with big patches of fur missing.  It was easy to recognize them because of the various bald spots they sported, and we were able to see the disease(?) progress:  One day they’d show up with a patch of loose fur, and the next day it would be totally gone.

One fella was in an especially bad way and we really felt sorry for him.  We’d implore him not to scratch, and make jokes about getting him a little squirrel toupee.  Then one day I realized his fur was growing back.  We seriously rejoiced when we saw this; eventually his fur grew back completely and you’d never know he’d once had a bald spot.

This year, though, we’ve only had gray squirrels.  Dave thinks some kind of disease, maybe mange, went through the local red squirrel population.  At first it wasn’t as noticeable because we just didn’t have as many squirrels visiting as we used to.  Once they started coming back, though, we realized we were only seeing gray squirrels.  Until last week.

Last week, a red squirrel with a skinny little tail came bounding onto our deck.  He planted himself firmly in the middle of the bird seed Dave had just thrown out, and started searching out the sunflower seeds.  The top of his head was bald, he had a bald patch on his back, and it looked like his hindquarters were getting thin too.

We felt sorry for him and tossed a few peanuts his way.  He started coming to the deck every morning, hanging around for an hour or two, and then disappearing until the next day.  After a couple of days, he showed up looking really ragged.  It was misty and drizzly that day so I thought that was part of the reason he looked so rough, but he also had a patch of fur that looked like it was barely hanging on.  The next day he showed up bald along most of his upper back, as well as the side of one of his legs.

The weather has been mild lately, in the 40s and 50s, but we have a cold front coming in tonight.  I was really getting upset about this little guy, who needs his fur to survive the coming cold temperatures.  At first Dave put me off, saying that nature would take its course.  I’m a little bit stubborn though, and I checked out a local rehab place (Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn) to see if they took in sick squirrels.

I read the information out loud to Dave; basically they will take in a sick or injured squirrel, but they aren’t going to come and get them out of your attic or keep them from digging in your backyard.  I played it cool and just told Dave, “You don’t have to call, but it sounds like they might be able to help him.  If you want, you could call and see what they say.”

Dave is probably a bigger sucker than me for a sick animal, so of course he called.  They said that they didn’t have the manpower to send someone out to catch the squirrel, but if we could get him then we could definitely bring him to them.

So for the past two days, we’ve been trying to trap this squirrel with one of our small cat carriers.  Let’s just say that squirrels are fast and it’s been a challenge.

We did get him all the way in once, but before we could get the door shut he slipped out again.  It didn’t appear to freak him out, because he came right back and was hanging around the deck (and the carrier) again this morning.  It’s afternoon now, and we usually don’t see him after the morning hours.

I’m not sure we’ll be successful, and I’m not sure he’ll survive the cold weather that’s coming in, but we’ll take any squirrel trapping vibes you can send our way!


About wendiwendy

I'm a real-life bionic woman.

Posted on December 5, 2013, in Not Related to Hearing Loss and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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