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ginamaxwell 10-06-2008 10:05 PM

Blind Squirrel
Nine weeks ago a friend gave me a 4 week old fox squirrel. He had fallen out of her tree and mom did not come back for him. Long story short - he's blind. I think he can see changes in light in his right eye, but other than that, he's completely blind. I teach 4th grade and I take him to school with me each day. I let him run around the classroom. He has been awesome for my students. What perserverence!! He goes around to every student to be scratched. (they're not allowed to pick him up) They've also noticed how he has adapted to his disability. It's been a real learning experience for everyone. He also gets daily playtime outside where he's learning to dig holes and forage. His indoor cage is 3X5X4 and made of two by fours and quarter inch mesh. I have rehabilitated & released many possums, but he's my first squirrel, so I have several questions - especially since he's not releasable.
1. His daily diet consist of 2 orange slices, a thick apple slice, a couple of bannana slices (all bite sized pieces), several cracked pecans, one or two raw peanuts and sunflower seeds. I can't get him to drink any water, but he pees several times per day. What do you think? 2. Can blindness cause him to be off-balance? He has a difficult time standing on his back feet. He's gradually getting better and he's learning to turn and catch himself when he's falling, but it's really sad to watch him eat? 3. Will he always stay this lovable and tame? Do I need to get him fixed? What age? Does he need vacinations? Any other suggestions?

Helenmary 10-07-2008 01:02 AM

Re: Blind Squirrel
Wow, what a saint you are! Taking on 20-25 4th grade squirrels and then adding another squirrel...and this one's blind!!!!
1. The fruit is providing him with fluid to pee but he needs to learn to drink water. Try different methods (bowl vs. rabbit watering bottle) and ingredients (flavored pedialyte vs bottled water)
Add a few seasonal vegetables.
And go ahead and add unshelled nuts even though he might not "get it" at first. Gotta keep those teeth in check. (If he won't try the nuts, find something hard that he will chew on. Sticks, rabbit chew sticks, bird seed stick...I had one thought that my cell phone was her best bet...)
2. A lot of things can cause a squirrel to have a balance problem. Check the Emergencies Only forum.
3. I'd wait on vaccinations and neutering and consult a vet when you can. Since he has reached puberty (unless that development is also slow), he probably will be sweet. Or not, they're squirrely like that.
Finally, I just wanted to thank you again. Although I'm a firm believer in "rescue and release", I don't think your baby would have made it without you.
Good Luck!!!

MissDolittle 10-07-2008 08:55 AM

Re: Blind Squirrel
I second what Helenmary said!

One issue does concern me though and that is the legal side of it. Even if you had a rehab permit, you'd not be allowed to take the squirrel to school, not even for educational purposes, since this requires a special educational and/or display permit. At least here in Texas. What State are you at?

I'd hate to see you get into trouble the way I did and disappoint a bunch of children on the way.

ginamaxwell 10-07-2008 07:26 PM

Re: Blind Squirrel
Helenmary & MissDolittle,

Thank y'all for replying so quickly. I will start giving him some veggies and uncracked nuts. He found his first acorn in the yard by himself Sunday and finally got it cracked and eaten. It took him forever, but he did it.
I guess I look at the balance thing as trying to stand on one foot with your eyes closed - you can't do it for very long - at least I can't.
He does have a water bottle in his cage and won't use it. I'll try a bowl and flavoring.
When do squirrels hit puberty?

As for the legal side of it. I know, I know, I've been playing this roulet game for years with the possums. I've never been told 'no', but someday...

I am a Texan. As a matter of fact MissDolittle I spent many years in and around Erath County. Especially Chalk Mountain. I have many family members there. Am I allowed to mention names? I'm new to message boards and blogging - but it is fun.

Thank you again for being there for me with support and advice. I'm sure I'll have more questions as he grows

Helenmary 10-08-2008 12:15 AM

Re: Blind Squirrel
Great news on the acorn. That's how they all start (and that's good!). Maybe he was just a bit slower than some (in part or completely due to his vision difficulties), or younger than you thought, or some totally unknown "thing". It's just so sweet that you are willing to take this on for the long haul...
As far as squirrel puberty:
In all my ignorance, I still have never failed to know when it's time, and you won't either. If he starts getting mean and territorial (even towards you) and doesn't seem like the cute toddler who was scratching your arms (just a bit harder) last week, it's about time.
But your baby is a special case and probably wouldn't make it in the wild. As long as he's got room to move around (and it sounds like you're doing a great job!), he will probably be happy. If it gets to the point that he isn't, then you may want to talk to a vet about neutering. (Good luck with the vet search...)
Good luck with your adventure! And thanks for caring so much.

MissDolittle 10-08-2008 01:59 PM

Re: Blind Squirrel
Aaah, so you are kindof a local then :). I don't know about mentioning long as it is in a positive manner, I don't see a problem :).

I am from Germany and only live in Stephenville for the past 7 years (I'm in the States for 16 years though), so I don't know my way around that much.

Do you still live in the area? Then I could definitely help you with your permit.

ginamaxwell 10-10-2008 06:22 PM

Re: Blind Squirrel
I live by Belton Lake which is 90 miles from Stephenville. I checked into getting a permit when I took in my first possum. I was afraid I would get more than I could handle. I usually put in about 70 hours a week doing "school stuff" and more than 1 or 2 babies at a time would be too much. I've done possum litters of 3 & 5, but they're pretty easy. Would I be looked down upon if I could only handle 1 or 2 babies at a time?
So, how did you end up in Erath County? That part of the country is my favorite place to be. It just feels good. My youngest brother has a place between Fairy & Hico. That's where I release most of my possums. It's 4 miles from a road with 1000 year old oak trees, big tanks & old barns they can live in. My maternal grandmother lives on top of Chalk Mountain; in the house by that old store on HWY 67. She still opens the store every morning. My paternal grandparent's house is on a mountain between Chalk Mountain & Walnut Springs. Do you know any of the Jacksons there in Stephenville?

MissDolittle 10-11-2008 10:23 AM

Re: Blind Squirrel
I had the same concerns that once I get my permit and a reputation, my name and word out there, that I would get overrun. Didn't happen. I even have an ad on TV running, am in the newspapers on regular basis, all vets have me on speed dial and law enforcement and animal shelter as well.

So far I did not have to turn down a single animal. But of course that is all up to you. There is no limit, minimum, or restriction of what you can or cannot take in, so it's totally at your discretion. You can say turn down any animal whenever you want.

Your family's places sound like a dream to release animals at. If I would not always have to rely on somebody else to drive me...

I know somebody with the last name of Jackson...nice couple, adopted 2 yellow lab puppies I raised for the shelter. He's a horse judge and she's a teacher. Do they belong to your family as well?

ginamaxwell 10-11-2008 11:23 AM

Re: Blind Squirrel
Thanks for the encouragment. I think I'll look into the permit info again this summer when I have time to do the classes. Don't I have to take classes? I'm kin to most of the Jackson's in Stephenville, but I haven't kept up with the distant cousins. I keep in touch with Ronnie & Alma and Joey & Wynell. When I come to visit my grandmother, am I allowed to bring my squirrel to your place? Or is that against the rules?

MissDolittle 10-12-2008 07:11 PM

Re: Blind Squirrel
Usually you need to have a permit to transport wildlife, but I'm not going to tell anybody if you don't lol. I'd be happy to take him though.

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