Glut of gray squirrels drop from Peninsula trees

- Baby squirrels are dropping from trees faster than you can say bushy tail.

While cute and acrobatically sound, more than 100 of the furry rodents have required rescue over the past few weeks, with the most recent group entering the Peninsula Humane Society Tuesday night. Animal shelter staff have been going nuts caring for the wildlife, keeping them warm in blankets and nursing them back to health with eye droppers full of special squirrel formula.

“Many of the squirrels have fallen out of their nests, have been caught by cats or have lost their homes due to people trimming their trees not realizing there is a squirrel nest in the tree,” said Peninsula Humane society and SPCA’s Communications Manager Buffy Martin Tarbox.

It’s common for the animal shelter to welcome higher droves during breeding seasons, but this glut of gray squirrels is unexplainably high. Never before has Tarbox witnessed this many arrivals in such a concentrated time frame.

“I wish I could give a solid answer for why,” Tarbox said, addressing the massive influx. “I really don’t know.”

The majority of the rescues are eastern gray squirrels, which have litters twice a year. They generally breed during late winter and midsummer, so right now nests are ripe with youngsters. The nests are generally high up in trees therefore making falls dangerous. And if an injury takes place, the squirrels are vulnerable to predators.

Cats, tree trimming and simply falling from nests are the “unfortunate trifecta” that’s requiring the society’s team to nurse the bunch back to health. A convalescent period of two or three months is required before the squirrels can return to the wild.

“Caring for baby squirrels is time intensive and the smallest of our squirrel patients need to be hand fed,” according to Tarbox.  “We feed them by hand a special, mother’s milk replacement formula using a syringe until they are ready to self-feed on seed and nuts.”

These squirrels are among the more than 1,300 wild animals the facility rehabilitates and releases every year, in addition to the thousands of dogs, cats and other pets the organization saves. They’re encouraging people to postpone tree trimming until the late fall to help prevent disrupting squirrel nests.  Should someone find an abandoned baby squirrel, please bring the squirrel to the Peninsula Humane Society Wildlife Care Center at 1450 Rollins Road in Burlingame.

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