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Tumble - The Red Squirrel Kitten Who Fell To Earth 09 Dec 2015

After 10pm Monday 30th June this summer, I arrived back home and locked the car only to puzzle at a screaming sound up in a Copper Beech tree at the front of the house.  Struggling to determine the very nature of the creature making it and assuming it to be avian, there was then the sound of something falling through the branches, said “thing” hitting the moss-covered wall top in front of me, before bouncing off onto the ground with a splat at my feet.

Reaching down to pick it up, I could see that it was a very young red squirrel kitten, eyes still closed and barely covered in fur.  The tawny owls were all around, within 30ft, and so it was not an option to leave the squirrel there, as he would be taken in moments once I had gone.  There was also little prospect of the mother recovering her lost kitten as you don’t see them about so long after sundown and so I took him inside to ponder the next step.

  A very careful inspection of him revealed that, potential unseen internal injuries apart, he had escaped with no broken bones and the merest nick on his hairless underbelly.  Previous experience had shown us that the temperature in an open container at the back of the Aga was perfect for hatching pheasant eggs and so must therefore be pretty close to the temperature inside a squirrel drey where there are other little bodies keeping the temperature constant.  A call to our local Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group  warden put me in touch with another colleague of his who had some experience in raising Red Squirrels gave me some pointers, more specifically what to feed him.  Not being a dog owner, our pantry was understandably devoid of any puppy formula milk and so the very next morning saw a mercy dash to our nearest pet shop in Kirkby Stephen where a tub of Lactol was bought and a small syringe given to aid the feeding process.

What followed next was a blur of 2-hourly feeds and worrisome periods of parenting that you can track in the pages of our Facebook site.  Now christened ‘Tumble’, our lives were completely ruled by this tiny little bundle of joy until his eventual release back into the wild some 6 weeks later.