Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Season has started

I thought the cold weather would keep babies safe a little longer, but I was wrong.  On 24 March an apple tree had to come down, and it housed a nest with three neonate baby gray squirrels.  The babies spilled out on the frozen ground as the tree fell and were lying there exposed to frigid temperatures.  The man didn't know what to do and left them on the ground as he went to call our police dispatch who in turn called Animal Control who then told him that she "doesn't touch wildlife" but may know someone who can help.  At least she called me right away and when I realized that the babies were still lying on the frozen ground I hung up on her and called the man.  He immediately followed my directions and whisked the babies off the ground and placed them in what was left of the nest for warmth.  Then he drove them over.

Normally I would try to reunite babies with their mother, but the freezing temperatures prevented that.  There was no way the babies could last for an hour or longer for mom to return and start transporting them.  And even a transport would have been risky and could have resulted in frostbite.  Neonates are unable to self regulate their body temperature and need a warm water bottle or heating pad on low underneath their bed to keep them from becoming hypothermic.  Once they are 7-8 weeks old they start to self-regulate, but not until then, regardless of how thick or thin their fur may be.  Hypothermia is a huge problem for us because until the babies are warmed up we cannot do a thing to help them.  Often finders try to feed an ice cold baby and then are surprised when it dies.  Never feed a cold baby, not even fluids, try hard to find a wildlife rehabilitator and only keep the baby warm.  A starving, cold baby cannot handle food, it needs the skilled help of a wildlife rehabilitator to bring it back from the brink of death.  Keep it warm and dark and quiet, and never allow children to handle a baby squirrel.  It runs on adrenaline, not food calories, and children can literally play a debilitated orphan to death.  I have had seemingly fine babies crash and burn once they came off the deadly adrenaline rush.  They need as much sleep as a human baby but hunger has kept them awake far too long already.

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