Who is Willow...
Willow is a male, Fox Squirrel (a tree squirrel), born July 31st, 2012. His nest was invaded by a pack of raccoon, killing his mother and siblings in the middle of the night. At age 5.5 weeks, Willow was the soul survivor.
|Willow - 5 1/2 weeks old - his first night with me|
Willow escaped virtually unscathed except for an occasional head tilt which may be the subtle result of falling as he attempted to escape. These days, we rarely see that tilt return (sometimes when he first wakes from a nap). Willow refused release and continues to show no interest in living in the trees (he prefers the climate control and warm comforter on the fluffy bed snuggled up beside Brooklyn).
|Willow - Napping in Mom's Hoodie|
Who is Brooklyn...
Brooklyn is Willow's mom in human form. She has been a wildlife rehabber and animal trainer for film & TV, for two decades. She once hosted a radio show called The Truth About Pets&People, acting as an advocate for animals, both domestic and wild, and answering callers seeking advice. She is also an author and screenwriter and produces Replica-Rock stage shows for Las Vegas showrooms and touring companies.
|Honey Badger don't give a shit!|
Can't Get Enough Willow?
Willow has his own Facebook Group called, WHAT DID WILLOW DO?, where he's stealing hearts with his tenacious antics, cheeky photos, and entertaining videos. We also enjoy a lot of cool wildlife facts and interactive conversations there too. Come join us!
More Videos Below!
How Can I Get a Squirrel?
(Bear with me...if you REALLY care about animals, you'll read the not so fun parts too)
The Truth... Squirrels are illegal to keep as pets in most U.S. States and other countries. The sad truth is, someone will eventually turn you in, get nipped and report it, or your squirrel will inevitably become ill at some time in life, and upon seeking veterinary care, will be confiscated by the veterinarian (who is obligated to do so by law).
All squirrels raised by humans ARE PUT TO DEATH, deemed unacceptable for release, when confiscated. They are not an endangered animal and therefore destroyed.
While it may be tempting to keep a fallen baby squirrel, you are simply setting yourself up for heartache later by attempting to keep a squirrel as a pet. The most unselfish and kind thing to do when you find a baby or injured squirrel is to seek a licensed rehabber on line, or via your veterinarian (who probably keeps a list of local rehabbers) If you really want the experience of rehabbing a squirrel, work WITH a licensed rehabber who will talk you through the process correctly and teach you how to properly prepare them for release.
(I promise...more fun stuff to come; please keep reading)
|My little Boogeyman creeping out from beneath my bed|
Willow is specially licensed for education purposes. But the sad truth is, while I post really cute videos of Willow, he is still a wild animal and I spend my life covered in claw marks. Squirrels DO NOT do well in cages and typically survive 1 to 5 years in a cage; yet they have a 20-year life-span if not caged. Willow lives free in my home like a dog. This means, I have few visitors (as squirrels are typically possessive and do not like anyone entering their "tree" - some mature squirrels have even been known to attack visitors) and I am constantly needing to replace wood furniture, electrical cords, and items around my home, which he regularly destroys.
I would not be a true friend of animals if I did not share with you all of the above.
I'd like to feed the squirrels in my backyard; what can I feed them?
70% of squirrels die before they reach 1 year of age due to starvation, so feeding your neighborhood squirrels is a fun and kind thing to do. I never understand why people love to feed birds (who can fly and find food more easily) but get angry when squirrels eat the birdseed?
Nuts are a fun treat for squirrels, as are sunflower seeds and corn; they love it, but too much is not healthy for them. So please limit these as treats so they will continue to forage for more healthy natural foods. Feed your squirrels TREATS, not meals, or they can become dependent and over breed causing more to starve when you move or stop feeding them. Feel free to offer them over ripened fruit or uncooked vegetables, you might otherwise throw away. Grain products should also be used as treats, like cereals and breads. Avoid salted or sugar-coated seeds and nuts! Another really nice thing you can do is to place a wide, low container of fresh, cool water beneath a tree each morning. Also, if feeding them on the ground, please do it at the base of a tree as birds of prey and cats grow wise to the pattern fast and will come looking for the squirrels who might be busy eating and not paying attention. Feeding at the base of a tree allows them a quick escape route.
Click to watch more Willow videos on Youtube!
You said Willow lives free in your house like a dog; where does he go to the bathroom?
As an infant, I fed willow on washable wee wee pads which can be purchased at medical supply stores. I kept one folded on my table while bottle feeding him. In the middle of feeding he would stop to be stimulated and urinate (squirrels need their bladder and intestines stimulated to potty during the first several weeks of life), then happily go back to his bottle. Over time, the look and feel of these pee pads became familiar to him and as long as there was one close by, he returned to it when he needed to potty. Over the first year I cut down the number of pads around the house; he now has two and uses them without fail. He is completely potty trained.
You mentioned that a rehabber raises baby squirrels in a specific way to prepare them for release; what does that mean?
If you raise a squirrel not to fear humans (cats, dogs) or to be accustomed to being indoors then try to release them, they will usually not survive. When hungry, they will opt for the easy (and familiar) route and enter people's homes through screen windows or back doors. Not everyone is happy to see a squirrel in their house and this often ends in disaster. Rehabbed squirrels are also likely to jump on unsuspecting people, climbing their legs and backs, which is often misunderstood and deemed "an attack". As you can imagine, this too often ends in disaster. Some people try to release far into the woods. This is also a problem because during the transitional period, properly rehabilitated squirrel's need their diets supplemented (remember, 70% of squirrels die from starvation in the first year). They need to explore new foods and get used to foraging while still coming back for extra nutrition until the rehabber sees they are ready for full release. We also move them out of the house and into a very large outdoor cage for several months before allowing them to test out the world. We stop handling them like human babies and allow them to develop a bit of fear toward humans and other animals to aid their chances for survival.
More to come!