Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The King of Costa Rica: Trouble in Paradise

Once upon a time in the faraway land of Costa Rica, there lived a little bit of a squirrel  who had fallen from his nest as a baby.

He had been rescued by a good-hearted American couple who found him on the ground unhurt, named him Rama Rota (which means broken branch in Spanish), and took him into their home, where they cared for him and grew to love him dearly. He was not hard to fall in love with, as he was a most beautiful variegated squirrel, of the type that can be found in the forests of Costa Rica.

Rosie (who goes by the name RamaMama) and Stosh (who goes by the name Dad) were devoted to Rama Rota. He was treated like a King, lived in a roomy castle, could sleep as much as he wanted, had all kinds of toys and stuffies to play with, and was fed a constantly changing diet of the finest and most various fruits and vegetables to be found in Costa Rican markets.

Many of us began following his charming tale from day to day on  The Squirrel Board, having become addicted to his pictures as well as the words of his doting Dad, who had an uncanny gift of being able to interpret for us exactly what was going on in the little squirrel's head.

All was well for about a year. Then one day, shortly after his First Birthday, trouble arrived. Rama was closely bonded with RamaMama, who could do anything she pleased with him.

While Rama remained slightly more reserved with Dad, he would still play with him most of the time, in return for treats.

So what went so terribly wrong? Let Dad tell us in his own words:

It all began on December 31:

I really hope that this PHASE is temporary...but I am almost resigned to the fact that the KING is turning into a one-person squirrel . RamaMama still can charm him, and I on the other hand, have lost his affection. Earlier this week, after playing as usual for about 10 minutes, I took a good bite to the face. A few, harmless, warning little nips in the last few days and then today, for absolutely no apparent reason, I got attacked and bitten multiple times. I saw it in his eyes and his movements, but it was too late. He leaped on my head and started biting my hands, hard, as I tried to cover up.

I found myself in the kitchen , watching him hiding under the furniture, and afraid to even try to return him to his cage. RamaMama came down a few minutes later and eased him, gently into his castle, so that I could enter the room safely. I am devastated. I can't begin to believe that everything is different- FOREVER.

I actually had just written the short essay below, as I sat on the couch, watching Rama's peculiar behavior. I put down my pen -just in time to be leaped on... ??????????

Suddenly…I am the enemy.  I have been eliciting warning barks and bites to my fingers for no apparent reason. Playful one minute and aggressive the next. Nature running it’s inevitable, but in my case, regrettable, course. Nature at its worst. I can’t redirect the instinct to wild-up and self protect, but I darn sure will regret it.

I love a little critter that no longer lists me as a friend. Having raised him from the size of a flashlight battery with care and joy, today is the saddest day I can remember. The power of positive thinking doesn’t include being able to reverse the normal, maturing process of a wild animal.

I am sure I will always love him, but for now I don’t like him, one bit, and keeping my distance from a speed demon squirrel is a scary job. The dread of being bitten, again, affects my every move when he is in the same room as I am. His “friendly” stare now portrays a warning, and his “cute” chatter isn’t conversation…it’s a threat.

The atmosphere is confrontational and I am extremely sad. He was my Softie Boy.

Even treats… I hand them to him with fear, arm extended, watching his every gesture, fearing that he will leap and bite-in a split second. It is a terrible, terrible way to feel about a friend.

There must be a way to return to yesterday, or last week, or sometime other than today. Yesterday it was fun and now it is dread. He perceives things and people in a different manner. I watch him from a (safe?) distance and wonder –WHY ? My eyes mist up in the fear that my last playtime with him, yesterday, will actually be my LAST for all time. That is truly a depressing thought.
I sing his morning song again…

He’s a Golden Little, Furry Headed, Rat Faced Boy,
He’s a GOOD BOY, He’s a Rama Rota,….He can be a SOFTIE BOY…
--------------and start to cry.

Next thing we saw was a badly bitten Stosh:

Was this the way of all flesh? We have sometimes heard stories of squirrels who had been house pets that were glad to get back into the wild. Was this the problem with Rama? Of course Rama had never been in the wild. His eyes weren't even open when he fell from the tree.

January 3: What To Do?

Well, I fed Rama his Fox Valley today,( by syringe--he's a spoiled KING) 4 1/2 syringes and he was "civil" but refused to sit on my hand , as is usually the routine. Two minutes later he got on my shoulder and started the LOUD, & rapid chatter...A clear warning...and refused to get off. I was using the metal kitchen strainer as a face guard--as he went from one side of my face to the other--back and forth-looking for an "OPENING"-- RamaMama got a small nip on her hand trying to remove him...but then he was gentle and sweet with her the rest of the afternoon. Soooo it is no doubt that it's a GUY THING. I'm BUMMED. Seriously BUMMED.

I WILL continue to play with Rama-with protection-- and I think I'm going to fabricate a Hard hat and wire mesh --"Head Dress" --to free up both hands.

I'm praying his HORMONE time is short-lived.

I miss my SOFTIE BOY. I can't tell you--HOW MUCH.

What to do, what do do? But Stosh was not about to give up on the little squirrel  that he had raised from a baby.


A Quick Fix for the time being--Duct Tape, Hardware Cloth -and Cardboard--

--Sir Cringe-A-Lot >>>>...fer sher.

TSBers were cheering him on, extending their best wishes, sending prayers and hopes for a happy ending , sharing old wives' tales about errant squirrels suddenly going nuts. Sone even suggested that maybe it was time for them to let the little guy go. As if that would ever happen -- HA!

The big moment inevitably arrived when the King would confront the trembling Knight, for treat time was already long overdue. We waited with bated breath for pictures, wondering: what would Rama do?

Rama confronts Dad:

I wish I could tell you that this story had a happy ending. But you will have to check in at The Squirrel Board from time to time because there really is no ending. But we can assure you that with the help of his Dad, Rama Rota is almost 100% back to being a Softie Boy!


  1. Could we PLEASE have an update? Rama is breaking my heart!

  2. Rama Rota is fine...he just turned 6 years old in December. He now has 5 other squirrels "to deal with" in our house in Costa Rica. Each has his own cage and never do 2 get to run around together. PLAY-time is always a solo routine.We have 2 extra bedrooms-devoid of any furniture...stocked with treet trunks, branches and fresh limbs with leaves.
    ---STOSH the keeper of the KING (Rama Rota)

  3. Stosh if you please update me on The Kings behavior with you I'd greatly appreciate it. I have been raising a chipmunk named Mazin since 1-2 weeks of his life. He was my precious little man who's life was flaunted online by followers through my Facebook. Very loved and well cared for. He recently turned 8 months and yesterday 11/27/2017 he attacked my cheek for no reason or a reason beyond my understanding. I am feeling your same emotions sad, confused and what happened to my friend? I am wondering if this is hormonal and this will subside over time? Did The King (RamaRota) ever allow you to get close to him again without any armor?

  4. three years since an update.....2019...4 squees in the house .Rama Rota is fine. We have LUNA & a feisty guy named J.D. Marx. #4 is a sweet girl named MANCHA...who is scheduled for release any day now...I love her but I will give her , her chance to be free. Stosh (The Squirrel Whisperer)

    1. Stosh, wonderful to hear from you, and so glad to hear Rama Rota is fine! Sounds like you have a houseful...where can we learn more?

  5. Awesome. I'll be checking it out.