WOW! So much has happened in our squirrel division this week. The three adorable babies we received last week have already begun to look much more like the energetic adults we see in our yards everyday. They however now have some new neighbors as well. We received two new litters this week, the first came in on Monday weighing right around 15 grams and the second set came in last night and are almost four weeks. We usually try not to name our patients because it is our goal to not grow too attached and to not imprint them so they are releasable. Since we are sharing this journey with all our readers though we should probably assign them names to help keep who is who straight. If you have any names to suggest please leave them in the comments section below. In the meantime here is your weekly update!
The Original Litter (Two boys and a girl)
Now weighing in between 45-50 grams each this little cuties have started to get in their hair. Their bellies are still bare and pink but the rest of them covered in a nice soft fuzz. They have started to recognize their feeding routine and start searching for the nipple when we open their box. Now that they have relaxed into their new surrounds we have also seen their individual personalities begin to develop. The little girl who started as the smallest has begun to pass her brothers in weight because when it comes to feedings she does not mess around while the boys are much more relaxed and don’t have the same appetite (never fear though they are eating plenty). In the next week to week and a half these three should be opening their eyes and moving out of their baby box and in to a toddler enclosure where they can start to climb and hone their squirrel skills.
Monday’s Litter (One boy, one girl)
These two are the tiniest squirrel babies we have had this year (the smallest babies we have had were a pair of evening bats). They came in after their nest fell out of and tree and landing in an ant pile. They each weighed less then 15 grams and had their umbilical cords still attached. When eastern grey squirrels are born they generally weigh somewhere between 10-15 grams and their umbilical cords naturally fall off when they are around 10 days old. Due to how young they are when they first came in we had to be very cautious when starting them on formula. We use two different specialized formulas for our squirrels and which one we use is determined by their age. One formula is made for squirrels less then four weeks old, but it can still be too rich and harsh for a day old baby. We had to dilute the formula for several days and make sure that both babies were gaining weigh as well as producing waste (urine and feces). These babies require feedings every 2-3 hours as well as a warm baby box to call their nest. So far both of this tiny babies are doing great and but they are still not in the clear.
Last Nights Litter (One boy and two girls)
This litter came in after a family in Wesley Chapel had a tree removed from their yard. They appear to be around 3-4 weeks old (eyes open in the fourth week) which is slightly older then the original litter. Their eyes are still sealed shut but they are completely covered in soft fur. They each weigh between 50-55 grams. So far they have begun a hydration process to make sure that their systems are working and they are ready to start formula and to ease them over to it. Since they have only been with us for about 12 hours now they are not use to being syringe fed, weighed, and examined so every time we interact with them they sound their alarms. They still appear weak but we expect them to perk up later today as they will be getting a minimum of four meals a day at this stage of their lives.
Aside from the eight squirrels we currently have in our care we are also caring for a wide variety of other mammals, birds, and reptiles. We have a fawn, a bat, a fox and nearly 20 opossums as well as three gopher tortoises and a very large number of birds.
Taking care of all these babies is a rewarding responsibility but it is also a costly one. On average it costs us approximately $150 to raise a dray of three squirrels which covers their specialized formulas, feeding accessories such as, sterile oral syringes and nipples, solid foods (both fresh & dried), hygiene & housekeeping products and a nesting box to help them safely and easily adapt to life in the wild. If you love watching our babies grow we encourage you to consider making a donation to help cover the costs of their care and many of the other babies we are currently raising.
If you happen to find an wildlife in trouble please make sure you report it to a licensed rescue facility like Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife so that it can receive the care and treatment it needs. We also ask that you consider making a donation to Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife so that we may continue our work which includes the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wildlife in the Tampa Bay Area.
And remember to follow our blog to receive updates on these cuties and see what else is going on in our nest!