One day in late August, I got off the bus after work and found a black squirrel sitting at the edge of the lawn a few feet away from the bus stop. He was just a baby, with a tiny body and a long tail, and seemed to be taking in the world around him for the very first time. He didn’t react when I started walking toward him, so I crouched down and, for some reason, held out my hand for him to sniff as if he were a dog or a cat. He showed no fear, and I was utterly charmed when he rested his paw on my finger. I was worried that he might dash out into the road – it’s not a very busy road, being residential, but buses do go by and there is a fair amount of traffic during rush hour – and since he seemed so trusting, I scooped my hand beneath him and carried him a few feet to a nearby tree. He seemed perfectly content to sit in my hand as I brought him to the tree (which did in fact have a leafy squirrel nest at the top) and held him up to the trunk so he could climb up it. While he was hanging onto the tree for dear life, I took this picture with my cell phone.
The squirrel showed no interest in remaining in the tree. No, he climbed right back down to the lawn and parked himself at the edge of the sidewalk, much more interested in exploring the big new world. The thought of leaving such a small, defenseless baby there alone made my heart ache. I know that all baby birds and mammals eventually have to leave the nest and make their way in the world, but he seemed so small and trusting that I had to go back and attempt to move him to a safer place one more time. I bent down again and scooped him up, and again he allowed me to carry him to the tree. The lowest horizontal branch was just above my head, but I reached up and managed to place him on the branch.
He ran down the tree again, and this time he decided to run across the lawn toward a small evergreen. I decided it was time to go, even though I could have spent the rest of the day hanging out with him. I’ve never attempted to hold a squirrel before, let alone carried one around, and I doubt I will ever hold a baby squirrel in my hand again. Hopefully he will quickly learn to avoid the cars on the road and the neighbourhood cats and survive to a ripe old age.
Maybe he will even visit my yard sometime and raid my feeder.