Saturday, June 2, 2012

I Left Her Alone Too Long

I lost Lady Squirrel today. I heard from Bernie this morning that he had seen a  nursing female gray squirrel that was very sick by Lady Squirrel's tree. She tried to eat a nut but was unable to chew. He caught her but then dropped her in pursuit of his own squirrel, who had jumped off his shoulder and sprinted away after he caught her. He had no carrier with him, and trying to hold two squirrels at once was just too difficult!  She ran into the bushes and he didn't see her again.

As soon as I heard I went over there and spent the entire afternoon in hopes she'd come out so I could rescue her.

Looking back
She was a nursing mother when I first saw her in April.

When I first started feeding her she looked raggedy. She had one badly infected nipple, but that got better after a few days. I thought she was in much better shape. I had no idea she was sick!

Here Lady Squirrel was greeting me by the lilacs
She got her name "Lady Squirrel" because she always loved hanging out in the rose bushes.

She loved her "special spot" under my cart.

She felt protected and cared for when I showed up every other day or so. When it comes to the well-being of squirrels I feel that there is a huge psychological component. Those squirrels that do the best are mostly the ones that get names. I think that when I didn't show up for over a week that she felt abandoned and that this took its toll on her health. Had I been paying attention to her? No! I had been over in Brownie's area twice, feeding Brownie and Mother Red Tail, and another little red-tailed urchin I'd become attached to. The rest of the time was spread between Alphie and the Orange Tree squirrels and the squirrels in Spunky's area over on the east side.

The truth that I had to face was that Lady Squirrel had fallen through the cracks. And fall she did.

While waiting for Lady Squirrel I saw my "pet" mama. I felt a little guilty because it was after I started paying attention to her that I lost track of Lady Squirrel. She looked good.

Lady Squirrel had crawled into these hedges that morning and I suspected that she was still in there.

While I waited for her patiently (sitting shiva, it turned out),
quite a few squirrels went in and out of the hedges at this entrance.
When Bernie crawled in there later he said it was amazing - very spacious. There were two small squirrels that could have been Lady Squirrel's  babies crawling in and out. They were old enough to go up and down trees and eat nuts (although still young enough to run away when thrown a nut) so I don't know if they'd still be nursing.

While I was waiting around I also met a new mother squirrel who is very young, barely a baby herself.  She took a cherry.

She has a very sweet face

She's very relaxed with me

And she likes those cherries

But as you have surely guessed by now, Lady Squirrel never showed up. Later that evening Bernie crawled under the hedges and found her dead.

RIP Lady Squirrel
Bernie brought her over to show me.

I think it is Lady Squirrel. It's hard to tell with the dead squirrel. Lady Squirrel was much fatter, but she could have dehydrated. The fact that she never made an appearance today makes me think it has to be her, but I do not actually recognize her.

I'm blaming myself. The last time I saw Lady Squirrel was the day the rogue squirrel bit me (he has not been seen since, by the way) and Lady Squirrel jumped out from her hiding place under the cart to chase him away. I'm realizing now that it's been over a week since I'd seen or fed her. I'd been spending more time in the area by the playground and less time by the flagpole. But Lady Squirrel lived by guardhouse, and I hadn't been spending time in that area since I was bitten.

How could I have neglected her? And what will happen to her babies?

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