Pet of the Day

January 19, 2000

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Alex, the Pet of the Day
Name: Alex
Age: Eighteen months old
Gender: Male
Kind: Eastern Gray Squirrel
Home: Pennsylvania, USA
   I received a phone call from a country store about half an hour north of me. Someone found a baby squirrel, would I please come get him because they had no idea what to do with him. They had my phone number because I order my outdoor squirrel nest boxes from them. I had already raised one baby squirrel who was injured. Seamus had died suddenly two months before they called about Alex. I feel he was sent to me because of the grief I had over losing Seamus. The night before they called me about Alex I talked to Seamus and said please come back, my life is so empty without you. Someone upstairs heard me that night and the very next day Alex T. Squirrel came to live with me.

    Alex was four weeks old, not old enough to be away from his mother. He had to be fed special formula with an eyedropper, every two hours. I mixed the formula myself, the recipe is at Alex's Treehouse on the Dr Alex Orphan Squirrel pages. The people who found him said there were no other squirrels in sight. I think maybe Alex, being the very bold squirrel he is, went on an adventure and was lost. Raising a baby squirrel is almost as much work as raising a human baby. They are very demanding and need a lot of care. The first month he spent here he slept in a small basket in the crook of my arm. When he started to get bold he had to move into his cage. But I will always remember that teeny little face poking through the baby blanket in his basket when he woke up.

    Squirrels are very unique in that they have virtually no waste. They use 99% of what they eat. They have no ammonia in their system so when they do pee it is just water, no smell at all to it. Also their little poops are about 1/4 the size of a raisin and hard as a rock, no smell either, just pick them up and throw them away! Alex does not have an odor at all, when you enter my house you cannot even tell I have a pet. I have litter on the bottom floor of his cage, corn cob pellets actually, and that is where he also buries his stash. This part of the cage has a kind of musky smell, but it is not unpleasant. When I am not here and at night are the only times Alex's cage door is closed. But even in the cage he has enough room to jump and play and work on his nest etc. His nest is inside a ferret hot air balloon. His cage is also a ferret cage, four stories with ramps and ladders and toys and anything a little squirrel could possibly want.

    His favorite game is Squirrel and Tree, he is the squirrel, I am the tree. And then we have squirrel practice, where I do my best to chase him around like another squirrel would. He is very smart and plays tricks on me at night when he is in his cage. He will cry a little bit, he knows I will open the cage door to see if he is okay. Well as soon as that door is open he is out of there at warp speed up to the loft and out on a beam where he knows I cannot reach him. This is one of our games. He looks down at me with a look on his face that can only be described as a smirk. He gives kisses on demand, his kisses being a little nip on the nose! He is a wonderful roommate. I even brought my daybed into the living room so that I can sleep in the same room as him. He also loves the camera and will pose for hours for me while I get pictures of him. In fact one day I was trying to get a picture of him in mid air while he was jumping onto me from the top of his cage. He must have did the jump about 25 times until I got too tired to try anymore. He is very fast. He just looked at me like, "dumb mom, you are way too slow to catch me in mid air."

    Alex is special because he is my best friend. He is a very intelligent squirrel who has helped me to cope with a very rough illness. Alex found me when he was only four weeks old and brought such joy to my life. He gave me a reason to live, to keep getting up in the morning. Alex is a very special squirrel.

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