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Friday, April 11, 2014

Just Another Day at the Office- by Jen Browne, Operations Manager

I don't think this is in Laura's job description.
Photo courtesy of Ben Teton
So, in walks our local friend, wonderfully helpful docent, licensed critter rehabber and recent graduate of our California Naturalist Program, Ms. Vicki Bingaman, with a small cat carrier...and we are excited!  We learn that inside this carrier is a baby squirrel!  It was found near the local vet’s office in Lebec (they called Vicki to come get it and properly care for it until it’s old enough to be released back into its natural environment.) 

Vicki is participating in pronghorn surveys for us and can’t take this little guy out in the field all day so, our staff offers to take care of it until she returns. Now we have an adorable little critter sleeping under Laura, our Stewardship Manager’s, desk!  Yay!

Lunchtime rolls around and it is feeding time! Laura happily warms up some milk and feeds the baby squirrel with the syringe...And we can’t take enough pictures! Ha! I bet all of us post photos of this on our personal Facebook pages! 

Ain’t it so stinkin’ cute?!?!  Laura wants to keep it now and we have considered its status as a Conservancy mascot...
Yep... Just another day at the office!
Did you know that despite having perfect vision as adults, baby squirrels are blind at birth? Many mother squirrels can have two to eight babies at once. These young ones must also depend on their caring mother for food and drink (mostly milk) for about a couple of months. After that, these individuals grow mature and can fully hunt for food themselves.  Baby squirrels are called kittens and kittens are born only twice a year.  Once in the spring time and once at the end of the summer.
Does it get any cuter? Photo courtesy of Ben Teton
Here are some more interesting facts about squirrels:
Squirrels can jump a distance of up to 20 feet. They have long, muscular hind legs and short front legs that work together to aid in leaping.
The hind legs of squirrels are double-jointed. This helps them run up and down trees quickly.
A male squirrel can smell a female in heat up to a mile away. Mating season is February through May with a 44-day gestation period. Typically 2-4 young are born per liter.
Squirrels have 5 toes on their back feet and 4 toes on their front. Their front toes are very sharp and help in gripping tree bark for climbing.
In addition to residing in the Eastern US, Eastern Gray Squirrels can be found in many Western states, Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa.
Squirrels in general are found on every continent except Antarctica and Australia.
Squirrels can eat their own body weight (approximately 1.5 pounds) every week.
Squirrels can fall up to 100 feet without hurting themselves. They'll use their tail both for balance and as a parachute.
The hibernating artic ground squirrel is the only warm-blooded mammal able to withstand body temperatures below freezing.
Squirrels eyes are positioned in such a way that they can see some things behind them.
The word "squirrel" means "shadow tail" in Greek.