Bouncing Baby Brattleboro Squirrels

I had an exciting squirrel Friday. It turns out that “our” squirrel – the one that hops over to say hello to us – is a female. And she’s a new mom, too!

Friday afternoon, one of her youngsters made the daring decision to follow her out of the nest for the very first time. It watched her hop to a branch, and did the same.

For the next three or four hours, the little squirrel alternated between sitting very carefully on the branch, and trying out some squirrel skills. Mom squirrel helped a bit, but also was tough and made the little one try things on its own. 

Mom squirrel spent her time biting off branches of the hemlock tree and dropping them below the branch they were sitting on. Was this to cushion a possible fall?  Clear a pathway for easy travelling?

She would also hop over to the young one every once in a while to say hello and do a bit of checking and cleaning. She’d do some grooming, hop over the kid, and try to get him to play a bit. And he did. He’d follow her a bit, then sit some more. 

She’d come over and pick him up and readjust him on the branch. Then she’d tease him a bit to come and play, and pretty soon he was able to jump from one branch to another and follow her around the tree trunk.

Mom would then run out to the end of a branch and jump to go back to the nest. Junior would follow, but stop near the end, not sure if the long jump was even possible. It would sit, then return to a safer part of the branch and sit some more. 

This went on for hours. Mom would come out, she’d say hello and groom junior, they practice running around the  tree and trying out different branches, then she’d show him how to hop back to the nest area. And, junior would go almost all the way, then decide not to try.

While this was going on, two other little heads peeked out of the nest. They weren’t ready to come out yet, but they were very curious and excited about their sibling and watched closely as their bolder nest-mate ventured out.

As it got near dark, the little guy still hadn’t made the big leap, so I piled up some leaves in the driveway under the jumping area, just in case it missed and fell 20 feet. I doubted they needed it, but felt it couldn’t hurt to have something to break a fall if necessary.

Today, I went out and saw mom and junior running about in the tree. Junior was more skilled than before and a bit more confident, but still a bit unsure about the big jumps. Whether he spent the night in the tree, or got back to the nest, we do not know. But little squirrel is fine today.

These young squirrels, by the way, look very much like grownup squirrels. They are slightly smaller, but have nice bushy tails. Their heads aren’t fully formed, and their eyes haven’t become full and round, but they are very much squirrels at this point. 

So, if you are curious about baby squirrels, now is the time to go look carefully at the nests up in trees. Look for the slightly smaller ones, a bit unsure of themselves.  

Comments | 9

  • Lucky you!

    What a wonderful thing to be able to see first hand. I’ve only seen a baby squirrel once and unfortunately he hadn’t survived a fall from the tree in our yard. It will be so exciting for you and Lise when the other two toddlers are brace enough to join in!
    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Sunday mid-day update

    The three young squirrels (the brave first one made it back!) are in the nest, peeking out. They want to come out, or at least look around, but seem unsure.

    Mom’s been out, showing them what she does.

  • Squirrely Fun

    Several years ago, we bottle-fed an orphaned baby squirrel. 4 had fallen after a big windstorm, 2 already dead, a female bleeding from her nose and mouth, and a male with an injured leg. The 2 survivors were small enough to fit together in one hand (or one flannel shirt pocket!). We got advice from One Stop Country Pet, Fred Homer, and of course the Internet. The female only lived a few days, probably had internal injuries, but the male thrived! His leg healed quickly, and he blossomed into an active, inquisitive little mischief-maker. We recycled old rabbit and guinea pig cages into a cage tower with branches to climb, cheered his learning to shell peanuts and acorns, laughed at his preference for shoulders and tops of heads. Never realized a squirrel could have so much personality; his tail especially would telegraph fear, excitement, curiosity, contentment. When he perfected the six-foot leap, it was definitely time to introduce him to the great outdoors. Cage went into the garage, then cage door left open. He came and went for food and water for a few days, hung on the screen door looking into the house a few times, then decided the trees were better than a cage. We knew he was still alive and well when he hung on a neighbor’s screen door later.

  • Tuesday Update

    All three were spotted today, peeking out of their nest and watching the approaching storms. (Tornado watch in effect….). I’m hoping they decide that today is not the day to come out.

    Other than the first intrepid explorer, it seems like they’ve all stayed in since that first outing.

  • Thursday update

    Mom and (at least one) kid came out and did some exploring today. It looked like she wanted to teach junior to cross the street, so I got their attention and she came over to introduce #1 to me.

    The kid looks a bit more alert and awake, eyes more open, and is better at running and climbing than before. Still tries to stay near mom. Doesn’t quite have the classic squirrel run down, though – kinda bounces and hops along sometimes.

    Mom will sometimes stop, hop over, and do some grooming sorts of moves. She’ll pick up the little one in her mouth and move it slightly, and clean its fur a bit.

    One of the others was peeking out of the nest.

  • Saturday update

    All squirrels seem to have departed. I haven’t seen any of them in 24-36 hours or so. Do mother squirrels take the kids out and help them find trees?

  • Sunday

    I think I may have seen one of the kids walk by today. Hard to tell. They grow fast. This one seemed suspect because it was a bit smaller than a full-grown squirrel, and had kind of a bouncy walk rather than a graceful one. It also seemed to be investigating things a bit more than the mature squirrels in the area.

  • A bit worried

    I haven’t seen any of the squirrels in days. I’m a bit worried. Our landlord is selling the house, and the squirrels were in the eaves. Many of the potential buyers were concerned about them being there, too. I didn’t see anyone come and get them, but it might have happened. Or maybe they are off in the woods.

    Hope they are well.

  • Mom's back

    Mom squirrel came bounding by today for the first time in a week. I take this as a good sign that she simply moved her kids out of the house and into the woods (as I had suggested to her a few weeks ago…).

    She came hopping down the hillside from the wooded area behind us.

    I have to say, it’s weird when you can recognize a squirrel. (No, that’s not ours vs. oh, yes, that one is ours…)

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