by Dani Nicolson, licensed wildlife rehabilitator
As the long summer days grew shorter, I eagerly awaited the start of the fall baby squirrel season. The weather reports were suddenly filled with news of a hurricane. The track of Hurricane Irene was right up the east coast. This news spelled trouble for the baby squirrels and other babies that would soon be born. My volunteers and I started preparing for the distinct possibility that we would have more than our normal number of babies. We also faced the possibility of losing power. Supplies were stored and we waited for Irene.
The storm wasn’t even over before the hotline phone rang. A nest of baby squirrels was blown out of a tree and the mother was dead. Would I take them. Fortunately, we never lost power, but all the roads around us were impassible. It took a day to clear the downed trees from the driveway so we could even get to the road. Trees and power lines were down everywhere. It took hours to reach the pickup point where the family was waiting with the baby squirrels. Call after call came in, all with the same concerned voice on the other end of the line, “ I found some baby squirrels and I don’t know what to do”. A volunteer stayed at the pickup point all afternoon so people could give him the baby squirrels they had found so they could get the care they needed. Fifty babies came in that first afternoon. This continued for several days. Soon the nursery was packed with babies.
It is common for a percentage of babies to come in with problems, but these babies took that to a whole new level. Most were in bad shape with upper respiratory problems, pneumonia, Bordatella spp., and physical trauma ranging from head trauma to broken bones. Intensive care nutrition was need to turn them around. Exotic Emeraid was invaluable instead of formula. Energy levels rose within the first few feedings and little tummies had no constipation or diarrhea issues. Everyone was put on Emeraid feedings for at least the first two weeks. Many needed a little more time. This diet not only turned them around, but helped them thrive. A nursery full of large beautiful healthy sassy squirrels were later released.
Six weeks after Irene we had a rare October snow storm. There was terrible damage all around this area, especially to the oak trees because they still had their leaves. Almost every tree in the yard came down or lost most of their limbs. Power was out for 10 days. Some late babies came in, but most were juveniles. Again Emeraid helped us get these squirrels back on their feet so they could be released.
Spring 2012 baby season started early due to the very mild winter. Baby squirrels started coming in, but the numbers were down by 75% in areas where the tree damage from the October storm had been the worst. It is now time for the fall baby squirrels to come in once again, completing the circle. Here’s hoping for a better baby squirrel season this time around. I am always well stocked with Emeraid, just in case. The first fall infant squirrels just came in tonight, a month early.