My dilemma

I really should have taken my camera out with me yesterday to illustrate this post, and I had a funny feeling I should need it, and I did!

I went walking with my partner and the dogs in the woods, and after a while Fletcher (one of my dogs not my partner!) darted whilst on his lead and chased a tiny baby squirrel up a tree, he very nearly had it as a snack. Meanwhile Penny is stood at the foot of the tree, oblivious that there is another tiny squirrel sat at her feet unable to move. So I grab both dogs (Fletcher has seen that one by this time too) and my partner picks it up.

How could you resist a cutie like this? Picture from suvodeb on Flickr

The little thing was squeaking quietly and he tried to get it to climb the tree but it couldn’t. It shouldn’t have been too young to climb as it’s sibling had managed it, but it was either in shock from falling out of the tree, or broken its legs, or both. At this point we had to make a decision- did we take it home and hope to be able to look after it until it is old enough and strong enough to be released into the wild again? Did we let Fletcher end it in a quick flick of the head (the most humane tool we had to hand)? Or did we take it away from the footpath close to the trees set it down and cross our fingers that it would come to its senses and be close enough to the rest of its family to get home?

My partner would have quite liked to have taken it home, but we didn’t know if it was weaned or have the resources to create a quick home for it when we got back, plus last time we rescued an animal from a dog- a pregnant mouse- she miscarried and died a few hours later from the shock of her situation. I know Fletcher is a quick killer and wouldn’t have let it suffer, but I didn’t want to see or hear that- fair enough to chase adult ones, but this was an unfair game and it didn’t feel right. In the end we left it a bit further back, but I do wonder if it survived the night and if we did the right thing 😦



  1. Posted April 6, 2010 at 7:38 am | Permalink | Reply

    We had same thing with baby owl. Fell down chimney after fledging from nest in our roof. Ended up putting it in a tree outside but we had rain the next day. Found it shivering in the drain and it died. Wish we had hand fed it in hindsight but nature has a higher mortality rate than we are used to.

  2. Posted April 6, 2010 at 8:08 am | Permalink | Reply

    We used to have a cat which was originally a farm kitten – and lived near neighbours who had big overgrown gardens, plus some scrub land. So we had plenty of “adventures” with field mice and the like *in* the house.

    They essentially all died – even when rescued – they just can’t cope with the stress! 😦

  3. Posted April 6, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I used to wild life rehabilitation. It probably had what we called wolf teeth. They get about that age, the teeth grow in and then they can’t eat. The teeth are suppose to grind down on what they eat but the one’s with wolf teeth do not. So they die in the end. He was probably too weak to climb because of lack of food. The mama pushes them out when they get like that. it’s sad. I doubt it made it.

  4. Posted April 10, 2010 at 5:00 am | Permalink | Reply

    I hope your little squirrel made it through – these sort of dilemmas are heartwrenching, aren’t they?

    We had the same dilemma with a native bird we found sick and injured in a park, and ended up taking it home and calling the wildlife rescue hotline for advice. They took the bird in, but they weren’t optimistic about it’s chances. I never heard what happened to it, but figured we did the right thing and gave it the best chance possible. :\

  5. Posted April 12, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    oh my that squiggle is soooo cute!
    i think it was just scared/shocked – i’m sure you did the right thing – at least the dogs weren’t loose or the two babies would’ve had no chance.

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