The cuteness cannot be denied. But all that cuteness comes with a price: Acorns. Lots of acorns.
A Northern Michigan animal rescue needs donations of acorns after taking in 18 orphaned baby squirrels who are too young to make it through the winter in the wild.
The Association to Rescue Kritters (“A.R.K.”), a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Maple Valley, cares for a variety of injured and orphaned creatures throughout the year. Each year, well-meaning individuals or tree cutters bring several orphaned young squirrels to animal rescues.
Squirrels typically have two litters of two to four young each year; the first is in the spring, the second in late summer. The second litter spends the winter with the mother.
It’s an unromantic life; the male leaves the female after mating and she is left alone to raise the babies. For the eastern gray squirrel, gestation is approximately 45 days. Born naked, toothless, and blind, the young are weaned at around seven to ten weeks of age and stay with the mother for several more weeks to learn the ways of the wild.
This year has seen a bumper crop. The new little arrivals–all 18 of them (so far)–are no more than a month old, far too young to survive in the wild. Volunteers are providing foster homes where the little guys receive bottle feedings and 24/7 care. Once they are more than a month old, they will be moved to a larger indoor space at A.R.K. Next, they will transition to an enclosed outdoor area with nesting boxes to adapt to the cold. Shivering stimulates fur growth; the goal is to grow a nice, thick coat to keep warm.
Feasting on a diet of monkey biscuits (grape-sized grain pellets), sunflower seeds and acorns, 18 hungry, fast-growing little squirrels aren’t cheap to feed. Donations of acorns and sunflower seeds are desperately needed to get these guys through the winter.
Bring your donation to A.R.K. at 3878 S. Maple Valley Road in Saint Helen, Mich. 48656 and leave it by the door if no one is around at the time. Financial donations are welcome, too, and may be mailed to the same address.
The A.R.K. Association to Rescue Kritters helps rehabilitate animals in Roscommon, Crawford, Ogemaw, Gladwin, Clare and Missaukee Counties.