A little over a year ago I rescued a Southern Flying Squirrel. My cats started bringing them in 2 Februarys ago, in their baby stages. The first one came in on the back of its momma and only lived a couple of days. I didn’t know much then, but I learned quickly.
Our next one was Tiny One. She was old enough to have fur, but wasn’t quite old enough to be romping around without mom. So we kept her warm, fed her, and soon she was tormenting the cats thinking they were playmates.
As she grew we eventually gave her one of the spare rooms in our house. Her and her sister (another that the cats brought in, but was intended to be released once the hard freeze was over) were constantly heard jumping around the obstacle course we created for them. Eventually, Little escaped, finding some space between the drywall in the closet to the attic. From there she chewed a hole and out she went.
Tiny stayed and moved back into her bachelorette pad that consisted of a towel folded over a clothes hanging rod filled with pillow stuffing. She loved June bugs and thought cicadas were the most prized delicacy when we were able to catch them for her.
In Little’s escape, another squirrel showed up and was caught up in the live trap we put up. Since there was a hole, there was a good chance she was going to come back, so into the room she went. Call placed to have the hole blocked and in that time, we suddenly had 4 babies join the family. So momma and kids stayed. Tiny eventually became the awesome aunt until it was time for them to go outside.
A couple of weeks ago, I started repeatedly catching another squirrel in the trap. So, same thing occurs. Call placed, waiting on the person to come patch the hole. But this time Tiny didn’t get to play the awesome aunt. We don’t know what exactly happened, but I found her unresponsive and I’m choosing to believe it was natural and not from a fight between them. I’m overwhelmed with grief, as during the short lifespan she was an anchor as I lost 2 cats that I’ve had for the last 20 years. Her squirreliness and love of climbing all over me, hiding nuts in my hair and all over my clothes, brought some kind of peace to what I was feeling.
Watching her learn to fly was even more awesome. Her and Little used to chase each other up my legs and onto my shoulders where they would jump and fly off to a shelf or the floor, then turn around and run back up. Just like kids who discover sledding or the most awesome slide in the world. The same went when I brought in her favourite bugs or nuts. You could see the absolute joy in her being when she realized what was in front of her.
I’m trying to come to terms with everything. Part of me is saying that this is just nature cycling, as the other squirrel has yet to return to my attic, despite the hole still being somewhere. The fact that it was on Imbolc when I found her and our running joke was that she put out in squirrel mail that we were awesome folks who were willing to take care of them during winter resulted in additional guests during the cold snaps.
But you never know what’s going to worm its way into your heart. And it’s hard to think I can’t walk into her room and have a face hugger coming at my head from the closet anymore (it was her favourite thing to do to us when we walked in). Or holding one of my cats and watching her jump on the cat’s face and sniff her then bound away.
I take solace in the fact that my cats no longer kill them and bring them in. My oldest brings me the baby babies (last one had just gotten its fur, but only lasted a couple of hours). But since Little, they haven’t brought any in that were harmed.