A baby squirrel grabbed my leg today, looked up at me, and wouldn’t let go. I looked down and waited. But still it didn’t budge even as the mother was scampering furiously at safe distance.
It first came over when I got back from the Kita with the young lad, bounding over across the path from the bushes. I figured it was just really friendly.
The mother was always around though and something was wrong. The young one kept scurrying around outside the door after it let go of my leg. It didn’t move much out of the way when other humans came along. If a dog came along it was history.
Then there were the cars. It ran across the road after I brought Fionn upstairs and stopped in front of another doorway, where it remained even as people were trying to enter. I brought over some broccoli and milk. They eat broccoli apparently. But it didn’t touch either, just sat there with its head bowed. The mother remained under a car nearby, helpless.
I didn’t know what to do so I turned to Twitter. Bring it to a vet, was one suggestion, but I wasn’t sure if I should handle the animal or if that’d make things worse, especially with its mother nearby.
Then @textgruen pointed out there was a squirrel hotline at eichhoernchenhilfe-berlin.de, so I gave them a call when I was back upstairs.
“Oh Jeminee!” said the woman when I told her the story. But she was at another squirrel emergency so she asked me to call another number. There a man told me his wife’d call me back when she was back from another squirrel call-out. It was squirrel carnage out there.
I looked down from the balcony and a crow was circling a car ominously, so I figured the little squirrel was underneath. I went back down to try find it but it wasn’t there. I saw the mother up a tree eating nuts or sticks or something.
Then I saw it up the road. Bounding again. I went towards it. It came over again. Your wan from the squirrel hotline rang just as the baby squirrel curled up between my feet.
“I’ve a squirrel between my feet,” I told the woman over the phone. “I don’t think it’s well.”
I told her the address, expecting her to send a squirrel ambulance over. But she told me to pack it in a box and bring it to a vet on the other end of the city.
The mother came over when I picked up her little one. It was terrible. I’m sure she feared the worst.
Off I went in the S-Bahn, with the squirrel in a basket Jenny found upstairs. The noises must have been terrifying. I didn’t dare try look in case it tried escape on the train.
When we got off at Bundesplatz I had to tie my shoelace. Anyone who’s ever had to tie a shoelace while attempting to keep the lid on a live squirrel will know how difficult this is. But I made it and we continued.
The vet was a veritable animal hospital. The nurses had blue uniforms and the patients were all barking or miaowing. Mine was emitting little grunty noises, and hiding in the corner under the newspaper. I could see its little heart beating like mad.
The vet has a squirrel specialist who’d handled five squirrel emergencies today alone. Apparently they were all young too. The long winter has taken its toll. Maybe the mothers are too hungry to do anything but eat. I don’t know, I’m no squirrel expert.
Of course the first thing they asked me to do was fill in a form. They didn’t even look at the squirrel. Welcome to Germany.
Eventually a nurse examined it, agreed something was wrong. She wasn’t sure what, thought it may have been a trauma. She said they’d keep Sammy in overnight for observation. By this stage I’d ascertained the squirrel’s name. We’d formed a bond. And Sammy the Squirrel is on a form – it’s official now.
The nurse put Sammy in a comfortable-looking basket with a little blanket and handled him* very gently. She said they’d give him medication after an examination by the specialist. If Sammy survives, he will be released back into the wild through a sort of halfway house.
I asked about the mother but apparently mama squirrels quickly lose interest in their babies if they’re sick or injured. I guess they have to survive.
It was hard to say goodbye to him, but I wished Sammy “Gute Nacht” and all the best. I’ll get a progress report in the morning, before the nurse finishes her nightshift. I just hope the little critter pulls through…
UPDATE: Next day – Sammy survived the night. The nurse rang this morning, said he was doing much better. They couldn’t find anything apparent wrong, but she said he was very malnourished and small for his age. I guess he told her how old he was.
He’d been introduced to four other little squirrels and they were all getting along very well apparently. A volunteer from the squirrel rescue crowd was to collect them all once they’d been given the all-clear.
The nurse is back on duty Monday so I’ll get another update then.
*I’ve assumed Sammy is a boy because she said “he” but it doesn’t matter, Sammy covers both. Once Samuel or Samantha the Squirrel is well, that’s the main thing.
UPDATE: Monday, April 15 – Sammy’s leaving the squirrel hospital today! The nurse called, said he’d been recovering very well and that someone from the squirrel rescue team was picking him up so he’ll be released back into the wild.
Well done Sammy! Best of luck!