The Problem With Animal Rehabilitation

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation
Cuddling with three sleepy squirrels after feeding time.

It is difficult to be pleased with the state of Animal Rehabilitation in our state these days. Saturday, we came into possession of 3 baby squirrels that had been abandoned by their mother. We contacted every Rehab facility within an hour and a half of our home to find appropriate care for these babies.

Of all of these, only one responded by email. It told us that we were not as able to care for squirrels as a Mama Squirrel (no kidding) and that they were full, so contact the nearest rehab center. Unfortunately, they were the nearest center and that left us with little help. The Georgia DNR website indicated that all facilities were overrun with baby squirrels right now. Great.

Ideally, wildlife doesn’t need human help or intervention. We totally understand that. It was never our intention to do anything other than try to reunite babies with their mama or a trained and appropriate caregiver.

Apparently, in the absence of a trained, qualified Animal Rehabilitation Specialist, one simply should do (per state law) nothing. Just let them die, I suppose. That didn’t feel right to me.Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation

Fortunately, hubby got a call through to a friend at Atlanta Audubon who happens to be a Rehabber. Unfortunately, she was out of town, but she obviously didn’t think that these babies didn’t deserve care and gave us instructions as to exactly what she would do.

And that gave us a great deal of hope for these 3 little squirrels.

We immediately followed her initial instructions and put them in a basket, affixed to a tree at the same level that the original nest was at with high hopes that the mother squirrel would return to care for her young. But, she didn’t return in enough time to keep the babies from being weak and dehydrated.

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitationIn a highly technical sense, this makes us criminals. But, isn’t it more likely that the criminal offense is in not having enough people available to help these little ones when they are in need? Actually, I don’t feel very criminal at all in that our friend told us to feed and care for them. And she is a professional.

Another Hatchett Job, gray squirrels, animal rehabilitation centers
This is what our squirrel babies will look like when they are adults.

So, we have been feeding, keeping warm, and cleaning these poor little critters. Night time feedings were definitely not what I had planned to do with my sleep hours, but tiny tummies need to be kept warm and full of quality food.

The kiddos help out with the warming while we feed and are amazingly gentle and protective over them. It makes me proud that they are kind to even the littlest of creatures. I grow even prouder when they don’t stop being kind when being pooped and peed on. It’s a lot like being a parent, sometimes!

By our best estimate, these squirrels are just between 4 and 5 weeks old. So, in 6 to 7 weeks, they will be released into our back yard, very near to where they were found.

I choose to believe that no act of kindness is ever wasted and this one is worth every moment.  So, we will forever put some squirrel food out and hope to catch a glimpse of our three baby squirrels.

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitationAddendum:  The day after I wrote this post, we did receive a call from Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary.  They did ultimately take our baby squirrels and are raising them along with several other babies that were orphaned.  Ultimately, they will receive appropriate vet care and be released on their 500+ acre property where hunting is forbidden.  We seriously miss them, but will be able to visit them often in their new home this fall.  While a part of me would like to have raised them myself, I know that they are better cared for by a staff that is trained to get them prepared to be released back into

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation
Squirrel wrangling at feeding time.


What is your favorite encounter with wildlife?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett


6 thoughts on “The Problem With Animal Rehabilitation

  1. We rehabed a crow who broke his wing. Did you know Crow was the most polite bird I’ve ever met. I’ve raised lovebirds, and Crow was so much less demanding and quite sweet. He’d peck one time if his water was low and then back away so I could fill it.
    We did release him when he was ready. He ended up flying with a limp.
    I’m so glad your squirrels are getting the care they need.

  2. Isn’t it amazing the things that animals do? How fun that your crow was so polite! I do miss the baby squirrels, but am happy that they will be well cared for and released somewhere safe.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. At least this story had a happy ending! It seems that our attempts don’t do very well… Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. Our new link up is up and running if you would like to join in again this week 🙂

    1. Well, I think the happy ending was due to professionals taking over. Who knows what may have happened if we had kept caring for the babies.

      Thanks for stopping by! I am definitely linking up again this week!

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