One fine day, a neighbor posted in our apartment Whatsapp group saying that she found a baby squirrel outside her window. Since it was crying through the night, they brought it inside and kept it in a shoe box. They have a dog and was worried if the dog will do something to the squirrel. Overcome with compassion, I brought the shoe box and the squirrel home. I thought I would try feeding it and then if it was ok, I could keep the shoe box in the garden and let the squirrel go out by itself.
A few hours after bringing the squirrel home, it started getting active, peeping from between the flaps of the shoe box and trying to come inside the house. That’s how the tiny thing looked.
I had to go out for some time, and when I came back, the squirrel was lying listless on the floor.
I started panicking. Tried calling PFA(People for Animals) and CUPA. PFA office gave me the reference of ARRC, Avian and Reptile Rehabilitation center, based out of Hormavu. I immediately took the squirrel over and found a normal house with a tall compound wall. Rang the bell outside, and filled a form to hand over the squirrel. They were very professional about the whole process.
And I learnt a good lesson. Most of the stray and abandoned animal babies are killed by well-meaning people who try to feed it. All stray animals should be handed over to professionals as soon as you can. And we should not try to force feed them.
So I left the squirrel there and came back home. Messaged them a few weeks later asking if I could come and visit. They said a sweet but firm ‘No’, but sent me a short video of the baby squirrel.
Two months later, I got a call from ARRC saying that the squirrel was ready for ‘soft release’ where they keep the squirrel in a cage in a balcony or garden. Then they leave the cage door open for a couple of days. And the squirrel would go away by itself when it becomes used to the surroundings. They asked if they could use my garden for this. I was overjoyed at being able to see the little guy again.
And so it is, that I got a big cage with not just one, but two baby squirrels in my balcony.
They were really cute. ARRC also gave me food to give them for a few days, and fancy food at that. Papaya, Kiwi, Grapes, Bananas, Green peas, Pomegranates, all cut into bite-sized pieces. Also some dry grains and seeds. I was supposed to open the cage and keep the food inside. If the squirrels came near, I was supposed to blow at them so that they moved away. Apparently, the squirrels didn’t know that they were supposed to move away when I blew at them. They merely blinked and came closer to my hand. The very first day, one of the squirrels came out of the cage when I kept the food inside.
And disappeared into the garden. The other one was more shy, more friendly, climbing onto my palm, and hanging around the balcony for a week or so. And then it disappeared too.
And now, when guavas and pomegranates disappear from my garden, I know who the culprits are, and I know them by name!