Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baby Squirrel Rescue

A heart-warming story from our friends in Florida

Got out to the farm, went to feed the goats and horse. I hear a baby squirrel calling for mom. I listened and had it narrowed down to one of two trees. Went to get Will and he came and listened. He told me which tree. We found the drey up at the top of the tree. I am standing there trying to figure out how I am going to get to them. I waited a few minutes and kept hearing them call. I looked around on the ground just in case.

I see a tail on the tree. A little girl squirrel (about 6 1/2 weeks old) let me pick her right up. She cuddled into my chest as I held her. I took her inside and get her some formula, put her into a Nutriberry bucket (all I had at the time) and went back out to listen. Just as I get to the tree, a loud thunderclap and the sky opened up. I could hear more babies so I was trying to figure out what to do while I was standing there getting soaked.

Next thing I know another little girl comes down the tree. She is smaller but the same age. She ran a bit from me but as soon as I picked her up she was fine. Stood there another minute and a little boy squirrel crawls down onto my foot. I picked him up and decided I would go inside with them as we were getting drenched. Got them some formula and put them with their sister (after getting them dried off a bit).

Went back out several more times after it stopped raining and didn't hear any more yelling. No more movement so I guess that was the litter. I am assuming mom get caught by one of the hawks out there. I found it absolutely amazing though that all three of them came down that tree directly to me and let me pick them up without any argument.

I am calling these three the miracle triplets. I can't figure out why they would come down to me from such a high drey and just let me pick them up. They are all doing well, eating great and nibbling on their squirrel trail mix I make. Karen

The Miracle Triplets

Read more here:

Lovely Lita's Sheltering Tree Foundation

Monday, August 29, 2011

After Irene at PCV

I went to PCV today to view the damage caused by Irene. Except for one area, things looked pretty normal with only a few downed trees here and there and lots of leaves on the ground. But the area in the northeast corner of PCV that I call "The Wind Tunnel" because it's always cold and windy there in the wintertime, had been devastated. The wind from the East River blows in through the opening between the buildings there, causing a wind tunnel effect.
This was one of the most picturesque parts of PCV. It's sad to see it now.

click on a picture to enlarge it

One tree over by Spunky's area that was a favorite of mine (and the squirrels) was also downed. It was a small, hollow tree with great branches and big holes that squirrels loved to run through and hide in. It's gone. This spot too has  a "wind tunnel" between buildings.


First of all I went looking for Patches. His nest was still up there in his tree, and he came right down to see me.

I'm fine Mom!
But hungry. Gimme some nuts!

Spunky was also fine and at the top of her game today, grabbing nuts as fast as I could throw them. She was faster than any other squirrel, and very dominating, chasing others away from the base of the tree where she was dining.

Pinky was fine too!
I'm alive and well and I feel GOOOOOOOOOD!

The squirrels were acting very hungry, even though there were acorns all over the ground everywhere you looked.

This little girl is finding acorns and feeding them to the squirrels.

But the squirrels are lukewarm on acorns and still crazy for peanuts.

Is that a peanut?

I'll just end by saying how blessed I feel that the little creatures I've cared for were safe and sound and in good spirits. As I said, Spunky has never seemed better, Pinky never happier and Patches -- well even his patch looked healed. 

But all squirrels haven't been so lucky. Here's a report about hundreds of baby squirrels that were displaced by Hurricane Irene

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Waiting for Irene

The storm is along the Jersey Shore right now, on its way here. The center is 280 miles from New York City and moving very slowly. This is BIG, roughly about the size of Europe. There is actually a tornado watch here right now until 5am tomorrow. I can hear the wind starting to pick up a little bit now.  Looks like it will really get going 'round midnight - 4pm, and the peak will be between 8am - 11am tomorrow, when it will be slashing through the five boroughs. 

I went through PCV earlier today, and there were no squirrels out, even though it wasn't raining. There was only one little gray baby who was digging energetically in the dirt, and ran away when I approached.  I'm wondering if they were already sensing the approach of Irene. I am so worried for all my poor little squirrels. I took a picture of Patches's nest. Will it still be there tomorrow? If it blows down, what if Patches is in there?

Even the tree itself might fall down. The earth is very soft now due to all the rain we've been having lately, which makes the trees unstable and more likely to fall over. Oh, the beautiful trees of Peter Cooper Village!

One nice thing is that they've learned a lesson from Katrina - the lesson being that many people will refuse to be evacuated without their pets -  and have allowed people to bring their pets with them to the shelters. Unfortunately there is only one shelter in New Jersey (in Oradell - yay!) that has allowed people to bring their pets.

Meanwhile, I'm listening to L.A. programming being piped into WBAI 99.5 here in  NYC and it's 110 in the Valley right now. They're havin' a heat wave!


8am - Irene has made landfall in Little Egg and is now barreling towards New York City. It seems like we're in the eye of the storm, as it is very calm with no wind at all blowing, It is raining, and it's high tide now. No sign of flooding here at Waterside, but we're still expecting a storm surge.

I'm hoping Patches is still safe in his nest.

9:00am - Irene has been officially downgraded from a category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm.

10:00am - looks like it's over.

11:00am - sun's coming out. What a fizzle.

12:00pm - it was like waiting for Godot.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

squirrels just wanna have fun!

On a summer afternoon

come 'n get me

double dare ya!

And girls just wanna have fun!

fun in the sun

Stuytown Lux Living

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

shake rattle and roll

A 5.8-magnitude quake struck the East Coast today. It was the largest quake on the eastern seaboard in over 100 years and was felt in 22 states. The quake hit sometime between 1:30 and 2:00pm while I was on my way to the doctor's office, so I didn't feel a thing. But within a minute all of New York was in a tizzy. The waiting room in the doctor's office was abuzz with the news.

As soon as I got out of there I headed over to PCV to make sure no little babies had been thrown from their nests by the trembler. Everything was calm and still by the time I arrived-- all present and accounted for. Just another beautiful August afternoon.

The National Zoo in Washington issued a press release about the unusual behavior of the birds and animals shortly before the earthquake.


Many animals reacted: apes climbed to tops of trees, lions stood still, lemurs sounded an alarm.  A giant elephant shrew hid in his habitat and refused to come out for his regular feeding. All the Eld's deer ran out of their barns and remained huddled in the pasture nearest the keeper.  Wild beavers and ducks immediately took to the water. Flamingos huddled together. Snakes normally still during daylight hours were writhing around. I wish I could have been at the National Zoo!

Barring that, at least I wish I could have been at PCV to observe what the squirrels were doing.  I was almost there -- I was walking through just minutes before what must have been a scene even more dramatic than what goes on when Riley the Cat passes through.

I spoke with a lady named Helen who was sitting on a bench by the east flagpole when the earthquake hit. She said that she never felt a thing, as she was outside, but she noticed that all the squirrels were suddenly acting crazy, running around and around in circles. She thought something was up, and shortly afterwards people came streaming out of her building and told her about the quake.

Nobody knows why the animals should be sensitive to impending earthquakes. One explanation is that these creatures are so highly tuned into their environment because they live in a multi-dimensional world, whereas we humans are one-dimensional. They say a great ape lives in a multidimensional world as it climbs through trees and branches, and so experiences events differently.  The same could be said of squirrels!

Later that evening I learned that nuclear experts had previously expressed concern about the effect of a quake with a magnitude of 6.0 on old nuclear power plants. It fell short of that, but 5.8 was too close for comfort. We need to close Indian Point now!

Monday, August 22, 2011

squirrel swatters

Swat me, I'm a Squirrel! 
The latest PCV sport appears to be swatting squirrels. What makes a good squirrel swatter? Why the New York Times newspaper of course, which conveniently serves a dual purpose.  As I watched a lady in a big hat who sat ramrod straight on the bench reading her paper, every once in a while she took a break from the important ideas of the day, rolled the paper up and took an angry SWAT at the odd squirrel that had happened into her vicinity. Then she unrolled it and picked up reading where she had left off.  She obviously despised the creatures that shared her park.

But what about dogs? After all they are as ubiquitous as squirrels at PCV these days. Oh, dogs are just fine and dandy. After all, they are officially sanctioned PCV pets now.  A second lady came by and stopped to chat with the lady on the bench, who was practically drooling over her neighbor's big dog. When her friend was finally ready to leave she tugged on the dog's leash, saying "Let's go girl", and then twirled around and hissed -- I kid you not, HISSED -- at a passing squirrel! Did she suddenly feel like a cat?  I felt like calling out to her, "Hey lady, you and your dog are standing on sacred ground -- in the middle of squirrel country -- and your dog is the nouveau bitch around here!"

a possible squirrel swatter

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A New Crop of Oranges

There are some new orange babies over by the Orange Tree!

We had a big family of oranges in that tree last winter, so we started calling it the Orange Tree. Patches was an orange. Even though he's gray now, he kept his beautiful orange tail until just a few weeks ago when it started turning silver. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Max: I Enjoy Being a Squirrel

I met a wonderful squirrel named Max today, who lives with a very nice couple named Sam and Sandy and their cat Suzie.


A year ago last May, Sam found Max lying on the ground after she had fallen out of her nest, which often happens to baby tree squirrels. Unless it's in a hole in the tree, a nest is not always the safest place to be. She was quite sick and dehydrated when Sam found her, and she was nursed back to health with tender loving care by Sam and Sandy.

Hello, World!
Do I really look like that?

Old enough to go outside with Dad
 By Christmas time Max is a bouncing, healthy squirrel who can't wait for Santa  to arrive. 

Did you give Santa my list?
Look what Santa brought!

Today she is so good-natured and relaxed that nothing seems to bother her.

I enjoy being a squirrel!
Max loves life. She loves everyone and is not at all fazed by Suzie, who shares the same space.

I'm Suzie
Max and Suzie enjoy a peaceful coexistence, thanks to a bit of clever engineering by Sam and Sandy. And Max is not at all bothered by strangers. She acted as if I came by every day, and just went about about the business of having fun and putting on a show for us. She's a bundle of energy who runs and jumps and plays all day, and does so without ever damaging the furniture! Okay, she's been known to nibble on a wire or two, but what's a teething squirrel to do? All wires are well hidden from sight.
Who says squirrels don't make good pets? Max is a source of great joy to her parents, who are so attached to her that their daily lives kind of revolve around her. She is more lively than the Suzie, who is barely more than a kitten. Suzie prefers to sit in or near her cage when Max is out and about. She seems to enjoy just sitting there and watching Max's antics from a nice, safe place.
Guess I'll sit up here just in case I need to jump in  
 My problem with having a cat as a pet is that while I love the playfulness of kittens, once they grow up into cats, they slow down and lose that wonderful playfulness that makes them so irresistable as kittens. I used to imagine using genetic engineering to create a kitten that would never grow into an adult cat. Endless kitten. Well guess what? Squirrels are a lot like that. They do not lose their quickness when they mature. That makes them more playful than cats, and therefore better pets in my opinion. And squirrels are actually more affectionate than cats, being more like dogs in that respect. But it's much easier to snuggle a squirrel than a dog!

I love you too Mommy!

The Life of a Squirrel

Wakeup Time
 What's life like for an apartment squirrel? Max sleeps in the bedroom with her parents. Her nest box is located up on top of a tall chest, which is where squirrels like to be. She awakens at 7am sharp each morning,  Then she wakes Sam up 
by running over him at 100 MPH, and will sometimes "bite" his hand when he's less than responsive. Actually Max never really bites. But she wants out of the bedroom now and needs Sam to negotiate that. You see, Suzie is often sitting on the other side of the door, so it usually takes a bit of maneuvering! 

What's for breakfast?

 After breakfast Max runs and jumps and plays away the morning,
Subduing a Stuffy
 then takes a nap between 11am and noon. When she wakes up it's time for lunch, then playtime for the rest of the afternoon. She loves playing with her stuffies. But she doesn't play with Suzie the Cat. They manage to carefully and cautiously and politely steer clear of each other.

I'm the Squirrel, you're the Stuffy!

By 4pm it's time for an afternoon nap. Max then wakes up like clockwork at 5pm, and goes to the front door, where she sits and waits for Sandy to arrive  home from work. Max knows as soon as Sandy steps off the elevator into the hall. It seems to be telepathy. I've sensed that kind of telepathy with my squirrels. Like how they know when I've arrived and will suddenly appear "out of nowhere". Unless of course, they're all sitting up there in the trees, waiting and watching all of us. Sometimes I wonder if I'm walking through PCV with hundreds of tiny squirrel eyes fixed on me.

After supper Sandy wraps Max in her "blankie" and croons lullabyes to her, which she absolutely adores.
Sweet Dreams
Then at around 7pm Max climbs into her nestbox and goes to sleep for the night. She normally sleeps through the night without waking up.

Max enjoys being smooched and cuddled by Sandy but she also loves Sam, who takes care of her during the day. It's somewhat unusual to see a squirrel that is equally attached to both "parents". Often it will be one or the other, with the squirrel liking one and taking a dislike to the other. A female squirrel may bond with the male in the house and ignore the female,  while a male squirrel will bond with the female and will even attack the male. This can be quite serious, as we've seen with Rama Rota, the King of Costa Rica. Trouble in Paradise
Rama has two loving parents, but one day he turned on his Dad, who had to constuct a helmet and mask to protect himself! But Max is quite even-tempered and gets along fine with both Mom and Dad. And I can attest to the fact that she is great with guests too.

Max's Diet

What does Max like to eat? She likes a variety of nuts - walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts.  Unlike most of the wild squirrels that go crazy for them, Max is not a big fan of peanuts. Of course an occasional peanut is nothing to sneeze at.

But Max also likes greens like lettuce and asparagus and stringbeans and avocado.  And she also eats carrots and corn.  I have not been able to get my "outdoor" squirrels to eat greens, carrots or corn, although Bernie has had some luck feeding corn to his squirrels at Union Square Park. I wish my squirrels had a more varied diet, but it's hard to get them to like new things. They're not overly fond of veggies. I've recently discovered that they will take an occasional piece of bread.

As for fruit, Max especially likes cherries and plantains. Here she is enjoying a piece of plantain.

And then there is "Forbidden Fruit". Nothing like the taste of cactus flower. Mmmmm.

Even cactus leaves are okay! Just have to be careful of the prickly parts.

Remembering Ruffles

Max reminds me of the first squirrel I ever befriended back in the winter of 2007, a squirrel I named Ruffles, because she had a "ruffle" of fur around her midsection. Ruffles was a big gray squirrel that looked a lot like Max. I was to learn that she was also an old squirrel. She was definitely an "old spirit". We often communicated via what may have been telepathy. She always seemed to know when I was in the area. And she was always smiling when she came over to see me. Ever seen a squirrel smile? Then one day something bad happened to Ruffles. I remember the last day I saw her. She came over to take a nut and to say goodbye. I saw that her paw was shaking when she took the nut from me. I wondered if she was having a stroke or had perhaps just had one. She did not eat the nut, but took it with her as she ran up a tree. I never saw Ruffles again.

When I met Max her calm, friendly spirit reminded me so much of Ruffles. I might have thought they were related if they didn't come from different parts of town.  Max is a very special squirrel. And also a very lucky squirrel to have such loving parents.