It all started on Tuesday night while I was waiting in the customs line at JFK, fresh off a flight from London. My phone began buzzing at a rapid-fire pace with a series of frantic text messages.
Joey was at our home in Portland in his basement studio when he heard some faint squealing and rustling at the base of our furnace. We live in an old home with two chimneys — one is for the fireplace while the other is for the furnace and rarely gets used and the noise was coming from there.
“I have to pull off the metal duct and save it,” he said, still not knowing exactly what kind of animal was actually lurking in there. I responded with, “Sure, do whatever you have to do. I don’t want it to die.”
Ten minutes later, another text message popped up. He’d found a baby squirrel, covered in soot and barely clinging to life. It was still so young that its eyes hadn’t even opened yet. It fit into the palm of his hand and had a noticeably bulging belly. We decided to name it Chubby.
Poor little Chubby must have been living in a nest on our rooftop when he fell a solid 20 feet down the chimney. Joey washed him off in the sink, did a quick post to Facebook asking what he should do and after some Googling, he picked up some goat’s milk and Pedialyte (little Chubby was very dehydrated).
I was in New York for the next few days as more photos of Chubby came through. My friends couldn’t stop laughing. I had no idea that when I left home for a few weeks, I’d be returning to help raise a baby squirrel.
We haven’t been able to find Chubby’s mother so we’re raising him until we figure out what to do next. He’s moved onto drinking puppy milk replacement formula out of a syringe and is getting stronger by the day. Both of his eyes have since opened. Interestingly enough, Rocky, who once took great joy in chasing squirrels up trees now watches out for Chubby and licks his face as we’re feeding him.
During the day, Chubby hangs out on my desk in an oversized plastic bin while I’m working and nestles into a pile of old t-shirts. He’s still only a few weeks old but he’s getting more active and climbing up our arms as we feed him.
I keep saying to Joey, “Chubby chose the right chimney to fall down.” If Joey’s studio hadn’t been in the basement, his little squeals would have never been heard. More than anything, I am so thankful he’s okay.
So, there you have it. Chubby is the newest, though slightly unexpected member of our family. As he gets older, we’ll have to figure out what to do next.
Have you ever cared for a baby squirrel? Were you able to release it back into the wild? Any tips are very welcomed.