provided by CROW
In the spring months, the baby room at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is filled with the sounds of hungry baby birds, but in the late summer and early fall, a different animal fills the incubators. This is the season when dozens of baby squirrels are admitted to the clinic.
Many of the squirrels are blown from their nests by strong storms and are typically eastern gray squirrels, the most commonly found squirrel in Southwest Florida. When they are unable to be reunited with their mother, they are raised at the clinic until an age that they can survive on their own. Like many baby animals, they require around the clock feedings and care by staff and volunteers.
Did you know there are actually three species of squirrel that call our area home? Currently, all three species are being cared for at CROW. On October 5, a juvenile mangrove fox squirrel, the largest of the three species was admitted after it had reportedly fallen from its nest. The squirrel was found to have an older, healed fracture in its tail. For the fox squirrel and the gray squirrel, their tails are an important part of their body. They use it for balance when moving from tree to tree and as a means for communication with other squirrels.
While the fox squirrel and gray squirrel have some similarities, their appearance is quite different. Gray squirrels are smaller, more abundant and as their name implies, they have gray fur. Fox squirrels are much larger and range in color from buff to gray with a black face and white nose and ears. Interestingly, the gray squirrel has 22 teeth, while fox squirrels only have 20.
The third species of squirrel found in our area is quite different. While the other squirrels can be seen foraging during the day, the southern flying squirrel is primarily nocturnal, meaning it is active at night. They have large eyes that help them see in low light. Flying squirrels have excess skin that connects their front and hind limbs, called a patagium, that when spread out, helps them glide (they don’t actually fly) between trees. Their flattened tails are used to help them maneuver while gliding.
On October 6, a young female southern flying squirrel was admitted to the clinic. It was believed to be abducted, a term used by wildlife rehabbers when an animal is brought to the clinic unneccessarily by well-meaning rescuers. Sadly, this is something that happens often with young squirrels that are displaced from their nest, but can easily be prevented by following a few simple steps.
Just because a baby is on its own, does not necessarily mean it is need of help. In the case of squirrels, they are very devoted mothers and if one nest is destroyed, they often have another nest or safe place where they can relocate their babies if given the chance. If a baby squirrel is found on the ground and does not appear to be injured, it can be placed in a box at the base of the tree it fell from and monitored from a distance for mom to retrieve her baby. Be sure she will be able to get in and out of the box and keep any pets away from the area.
If the young squirrel has an injury or has been in the mouth of a cat or dog, it will likely need medical attention from a licensed rehabilitator. It is always best to contact the wildlife rehabilitator BEFORE intervening to help to ensure the situation necessitates rescue or determine if it will be possible to reunite the baby with its mom.
THIS WEEK AT CROW (9/30-10/6):
There were 94 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including 11 eastern gray squirrels, six gopher tortoises, four red-shouldered hawks, a merlin, a summer tanager, a snowy egret, a blue-winged teal and an eastern glass lizard. Recent Releases include an eastern meadowlark, a white ibis, a black racer, and five red-shouldered hawks. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases! Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year! Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road.
About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond. Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to http://www.crowclinic.org. If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.