The Unexpected House Guest: Chubby The Squirrel

Nubby Twiglet | Meet Chubby The Squirrel

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.”

Nubby Twiglet | Meet Chubby The Squirrel

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.

Nubby Twiglet | Meet Chubby The Squirrel

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.

43 Responses to The Unexpected House Guest: Chubby The Squirrel

    • Shauna says:

      Kat — RocknRollBride: It’s more common that you might think! We’ve found a few Youtube videos of people that had similar things happen. Strange but true. ;)

  1. Didi Fitch says:

    Love this story!

    You might check with the Audubon Society (on NW Cornell Road) to see if Red Squirrels can be released back into nature after being hand-raised. We took an injured Band-tailed Pigeon into them a few years ago. They nursed it back to health and gave it back to us along with another they’d rescued, to release from our place, so they’d find their flock.

    BTW Squirrels can be pets, I just don’t know if wild Red Squirrels can. Please post a follow-up and let us know what happens.

  2. vanessa says:

    This is off topic, but i really like your blouse. Can you tell us where it’s from?

    ps: i second contacting wildlife rescue.

  3. Gemma says:

    I have actually cared for a baby squirrel but it was fully healthy – we phoned the RSPCA & they recommended just leaving it outdoors so that it could just scamper back home. I would definitely not recommend that because ours was unfortunately killed by a stray cat.
    xo

    • This is all too common. That’s why baby squirrels are raised by grown-up squirrels… so they can learn survival habits for the outside world, which you don’t get from a plastic bin on a desk. Most of the time, reintroducing “domesticated” animals to the wild is as good as never caring for them in the first place.
      (not faulting you, commenter! your insight is poignant.)

      • Shauna says:

        Lindsay Is Broke: While I agree with you that it’s best for squirrels to be raised by their parents, in our case the squirrel was near death, its eyes weren’t open and it couldn’t yet walk on its own. While this isn’t an ideal situation, I’m glad Chubby didn’t die.

  4. Emily says:

    My aunt saved a baby squirrel and kept it for a few years and eventually gave it to a small eco zoo in the area. I would recommend to not keep it too long, despite being sweet, wild animals pretty much always become aggressive if kept in captivity. I had a baby skunk when I was a teen and though I was his mom from the time his own mother was killed in a barn, eventually he got a little nasty and I let him go – which was SO hard to do.

    There is surely somewhere you could call, there might even be like a squirrel sanctuary near portland (as crazy as that sounds)

    But man, is he cute!!!

  5. Laura says:

    I found some teeny baby squirrels in the park across from my house, and cleaned them up but then didn’t know what to do with them after that. A friend pointed me to a woman who only rehabilitates orphaned squirrels. This was in Atlanta, but if Atlanta has something like that, surely there’s something in Portland!

    Like this! http://squirrelrefuge.org/ Maybe they can help?

  6. FayAnn says:

    Heartmelt moment. So adorable, and you’re right about falling down the right chimney! Looks like a thoroughly well-cared for baby squirrel :D

  7. Jenn says:

    Some friends of mine found a baby squirrel on campus and brought it to one of the professors who proclaimed the little guy was not going to make it. Thus, Toast was christened. He actually attended my bridal shower as the girls had been told the best place to keep him warm was to nestle him in their bras. I’m still not sure they weren’t being punked, but they cared for him a week or two, I believe. Unfortunately, Toast lived up to his name and didn’t survive.

    Another lady in my old knitting group routinely rescues and raises squirrel litters (?) abandoned around town and releases them back into the wild. Chubby is awfully cute, so I hope his fate is a positive one :)

  8. Sara says:

    What a cutie! Glad you’re able to help take care of him. My mom’s friend did a lot of wildlife rescue over the years and even ended up with a pet raccoon once because she rehabilitated him, but he couldn’t be released into the wild again. If you need advice, maybe I can put you in touch with her. Feel free to send an email if you feel you need more guidance. Best of luck with Chubby!

  9. Ciana says:

    Bless your heart taking care of this beautiful creature! It brings a sentimental little tear to my eye each time I see people going above and beyond to care for an animal. Well done.

  10. Sarah says:

    I cared for a baby squirrel when I was little. I called him Nutty and he used to sit on my shoulder (what a DREAM for a young girl). He lived under our back deck until he was able to scamper off to live in the trees, but hopefully you can get some more clear cut advice from a wildlife expert. I’m glad Chubby found you. Good luck with everything! xo

  11. beth says:

    LOVE!!! My college house roommate came back in august with the tiniest baby squirrel that her uncle had found without her mama. She fed her with a bottle and kept her in her front shirt pocket. So CUTE!

    Quincy grew up with us and when she got older she would go in and out of the house like a cat — tapping at the window when she wanted in. She’d hang with us on the couch.

    Eventually she wanted to stay out more and more and we got her a little house with a hole and she had a nest in there.

    People thought we were out of our minds, but living with quincy was awesome.

    Good luck to your little guy!

  12. Noor says:

    I have from east TN and things like this happened to us a lot lol. I have never cared for a baby squirrel, but I have dealt with skunks and racoons so I am sure it’s a bit the same. After you are done caring for him and he gets strong I would call the local animal department (not a pet store) and they will take care of releasing it.

    That is so sweet of you and he is so cute :)

  13. Emily says:

    This just happened to us, but with a nest of 3 babies, so so young that they still had umbilical cord scabs! (the tree they were in got cut down) Portland and its squirrels..I benefited from calling a few wildlife rehabilitators in our area – pg. 2 for PDX listings:

    http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/rehabilitation/docs/wildlife_rehabilitators.pdf

    I suggest talking to one of them on how to proceed. I turned ours over to the professionals in the end, but in the meantime I gleaned a lot of useful tips and information. Importantly, I learned that squirrels in general do very well with re-introduction to the wild when they are strong and healthy enough. Hope this helps, and good luck!

  14. cheyenne says:

    poor thing! though that second picture is just too adorable. coincidentally, i just heard about someone i know finding a baby squirrel as well! i think they’re still taking care of it at home, as far as i know!
    xo, cheyenne

    • Shauna says:

      cheyenne: Since my husband and I posted about Chubby we’ve heard of so many folks in similar situations! We’re lucky he survived the massive fall down our chimney and though I wish it had never happened and that he was with his mom, we’re doing the best we can. I hope your friend’s squirrel is doing well!

  15. Pingback: The Week In Pictures: 8.15.14 | Nubby Twiglet

  16. Stephanie Moody says:

    Hey there,

    I’m not sure if you still have Chubby or not. But, if you have any questions I’d be happy to help.

    I rescued a baby squirrel, Jill, after Hurricane Isaac 2 years ago. She lives in a “mansion” in my house and I even managed to potty train her!

    Check out Henry’s Pets (http://www.henryspets.com/).
    A great selection of squirrel food blocks and vitamins — and a fast shipper.

    • Shauna says:

      Stephanie Moody: Yep, still have him! Thanks so much for offering some help, I really appreciate it! I’ll be in touch if I have any questions! You’re so sweet.

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