I so wish I had wonderful pictures to share with this post, I have some but none the quality I would love to have captured with my cameras. Spoiler: I found a baby squirrel...but we didn't know what it was at first!
It all started at dusk a few days before I found a baby. We heard all of these high pitched squeaks that sounded as if they were birds. I assumed that was what it was and thought: "Man, we have a lot of birds in the trees in our backyard."
Today our two "lazy" dachshunds were pawing and walking all around the tree we have in our back yard. The trunk splits into several trunks very low to the ground so there is ample stick and leaf debris in the middle where a human would not typically try to reach to clear out (and I, in fact, had not ever tried clearing it out!) It wasn't your typical squirrel nest up high.
My step daughter decided to take a stick to investigate because the dogs were going crazy at the spot. Very quickly after she started moving leaves a baby wrinkled mess fell out....and within a nano second my dachshund picked it up and had it in his mouth. I put my hand around my dog and he let go of it onto the ground. The baby squirrel started the high pitched cry I had heard a few days before and we were scared it was hurt by the dog.
I more than half expected the baby to have puncture marks on the side of its body that was against the ground that I could not see. The baby is so young that it does not even open its eyes yet. We grabbed a shallow cardboard box and very carefully lifted it off the ground into the box so we could look at it better.
This thing was strange looking. we didn't immediately know if it was a rat, raccoon, mole, squirrel, or some other mutant creature. After looking at the head from the right angle we were pretty sure it was a squirrel and google images confirmed without a doubt that is what we had.
The first thing we quickly read to do was leave the baby and see if the mother comes back for it within an hour. We reluctantly left the squirrel in the box next to the place we had found it. We thought that perhaps the nest was high in the tree and the squirrel fell into the middle of the tree, got hurt, then found by us. We waited no more than 6 minutes before a momma squirrel came near the tree. We couldn't believe it! My step-son said it ran away with the baby in its mouth.
Our celebration was quickly not as happy as we thought. It turned out she was moving the whole nest of babies and the baby we saw her with was not the same one. We believe to our count there were 4 total babies (they typically only have 2-3). We spent the next 20 minutes glued to the window. I took some pictures, but please know that my back window is covered in dirt, grime, and cobwebs. A great shot was just unrealistic. It was amazing to see this mother squirrel hold the baby in her mouth and navigate the trees and ground to relocate her young.
For wildlife, it was also apparent to me that the mother wanted to take the baby we had left for her. What we had read was that smell should not matter to the mother. She walked around that box and the area for eight minutes just trying to figure out what to do. We will soon see if she ever came to get her baby. If not, I might just be writing a story soon about our family raising a baby squirrel!
Update: I now have the baby squirrel in my house with a heating pad because the mother did not take it...there will be a story and actual personal pictures coming soon!