Hurricane Ike Squirrels

  WR&E Rises to the Challenge - with a little help from our friends! The Wildlife Center was spic and span for our Annual Open House when all eyes shifted to the Gulf and Hurricane Ike. Any Gulf Coast hurricane makes rehabilitators anxious, but Ike seemed determined to follow in Rita’s footsteps. Executive Director, Sharon Schmalz evacuated to the Wildlife Center Friday (9/12) and with the help of some volunteers prepared the center and its animals for the storm. Saturday morning, Sharon reported minor damage and began shifting animals around by flashlight. By noon, people began showing up with baby squirrels.    Without power, it was difficult to care for the wildlife already in residence, much less the injured and orphaned by Ike. We are affiliated with the Houston SPCA  and they  invited us next door where a huge generator was providing power. That afternoon we received 100+  babies. All four HSPCA veterinarians and vet techs helped triage, administer fluids and feed. Sunday, additional rehabilitators and volunteers were able to make it to the Wildlife Center to help with another 100+ squirrels. Monday brought another 300+ squirrels. Power was restored Tuesday afternoon and WR&E’s volunteers poured in to help. HSPCA volunteers not needed for companion animal care were quickly trained and supervised. We began accepting volunteers from the general public and wound up training 160 emergency wildlife caretakers. Wednesday passed in a blur with over 100 more squirrels. Sixteen hour days, worrying about how to find gas to commute from a house that probably didn't have power began to wear. We were able to keep up at that point but started worrying about the next several days. Our phones finally started working on Thursday and [...]

Squirrels, Squirrels Everywhere Squirrels

By Cyndi Bohannon   Fox Squirrel Squirrelly –adjective; eccentric, cunningly unforthcoming, reticent, odd, crazy, unpredictable, jumpy, restless or nervous…….a pretty unflattering description all things considered.  However, the adjective actually describes behaviors that with respect to evolution are extremely advanced. The squirrel’s bizarre zigzag / double back flight from danger seems random and indecisive, but is brilliant  in light of millions of years of evolution against  “death from the sky”. Once a raptor has committed to a strike, there is very little that can be done to change direction, successfully dodging this threat yielded more zigzagging squirrels. Unfortunately, this strategy actually makes them more vulnerable to cars, dogs or cats. Evolution gave squirrels large eyes that are high on the skull to provide an extremely large field of view; just what a tasty morsel needs to evade being someone’s dinner. Unfortunately,  this eye placement severely limits frontal vision and depth perception. To compensate, squirrels constantly scan for threats and perform complex “bob and weave” behaviors to triangulate distance. People sweat, dogs pant and squirrels get wet feet. Locating sweat glands on their feet, between the foot pads and on their paws between the toes seems an odd manner to regulate temperature, but in combination with scent glands,  it allows the squirrel to constantly lay down a scent trail, thereby claiming all they touch. Squirrels also appear to lovingly rub nuts on their face before caching. What appears as a cute behavior actually allows scent glands on the cheeks stamp the nut as “mine!”. A large proportion of the brain is dedicated to spatial memory. Contrary to folklore, squirrels really do remember most of their cache locations (and I can’t even find my keys!) This [...]

Go to Top