On July 14th a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologist contacted PAWS Wildlife Center for help. The biologist had been studying a small population of the threatened Western Gray Squirrel on the Fort Lewis army base south of Tacoma. One of the female squirrels involved in the study had died, leaving behind four orphaned kits. Several days had passed between the time the mother died and the time her body was discovered, so the four kits were in very poor shape. We asked the biologist to bring the kits to PAWS right away, and about two hours later they arrived in our care.
Wildlife Rehabilitator Nicki Rosenhagen and Assistant Rehabilitator Ashley Bobst performed the squirrels' intake examination. Three of the squirrels were female and one was a male. All four kits were thin, badly dehydrated and very lethargic. They were also cold, so Nicki and Ashley rehydrated the squirrels with warmed fluids delivered subcutaneously and then placed them in an incubator. All four squirrels initially began to perk up after their treatment, but by the next morning we had lost one of the females.
With additional supportive care and nutritional support, the remaning three squirrels gradually gained strength over the course of the following days. As their strength grew, they were able to move from the incubator to a terrarium. They began to eat more eagerly and were soon putting on weight. As of this writing, all three squirrels were stable and working toward a return to full health.
If you would like to learn more about this rare Washington native, you may do so by reading the Washington State Recovery Plan for the Western Gray Squirrel on the WDFW website.