Desperate Squirrel Brings Her Babies To The One Place They Can Get Help

Some animal species just don’t make good pets. Yeah, dogs and cats are always up for a belly rub and cuddle session, but some of nature’s more untamed beasts have earned reputations as generally bad roommates. But does that mean these animals can never fit in at home?

When a young, motherless critter found its way into the care of two wildlife rescuers, the human duo did their best to give the wild (and non-domesticated) animal a chance to live. They didn’t realize, however, they were about to embark on a heartwarming journey that thousands would follow online…

If you found a mother squirrel leaving her two newborns on your bed before disappearing into the night, what would you do? A New York man recently faced this very dilemma when he found a family of baby squirrels making a nest inside his house.

A bit shocked to say the least, he had no idea what to do. These little ones were so small they couldn’t even open their eyes yet! Luckily, their mom was around…for a little bit, at least.

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Mother squirrel visited them frequently at first, feeding her babies and building a nest outside; but at some point, she stopped returning. Here the man was, with two baby squirrels on his bed. He felt responsible for them.

Not knowing how to take care of baby squirrels, the man called wildlife rescue, who arrived quickly to assess the state of the babies. Fully aware they would not survive without the mother, the rescuers decided to intervene.

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Since there’s only one official rehabilitation center in the city, the majority of wildlife rescue is done on a volunteer basis. Local rehabber Arina Hinzen says she rescues about 75 squirrels per year, and during busy breeding periods in the summer and spring, juggles up to 40 animals at a time.

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“We’re really seeing the impact of climate change with the seasons going way longer,” Hinzen said. “The first year it happened we thought it was just an odd thing, but it turns out it’s not. We still get small babies in October, when the season should be over at the beginning of September.”

Wildlife rescuer Christina Reyes and her husband Michael took it upon themselves to take care of the squirrels. One of the babies was already weakened and didn’t make it very much longer. Would the remaining squirrel meet the same fate?

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All baby squirrels are born deaf and blind, normally opening their eyes at around five weeks old — but this baby squirrel, even after six weeks, wasn’t opening her eyes.

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But against the odds, the baby lived through her first few months in this world. The couple had talked about wanting babies themselves and completely fell in love with the squirrel while nursing her back to health. She was unfit to go back out in the real world, so they adopted her.

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“There are people who think if the animal can’t survive outside it should be put down, and we decided that wasn’t going to be an option,” said Michael, the squirrel’s new dad. “There’s nothing physically or mentally wrong with her, she’s just different.”

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They named their new best friend Thumbelina, after a fairytale by the famous Danish children’s book author Hans Christian Anderson. It’s about a girl no bigger than a thumb who must find her way through the woods.

Thumbelina isn’t the first squirrel to become a household pet; in the 1700s, pet squirrels were all the rage. When Mungo, the pet squirrel of Benjamin Franklin’s good friend, got loose and was killed by a dog, Franklin wrote: “I lament with you most sincerely the unfortunate End of poor Mungo: Few squirrels were better accomplish’d.”

Usually, squirrels tend to run around, jump from tree to tree, and have high amounts of energy that could become problematic in a household. However, Thumbelina had never met another squirrel that she could remember. Her only influences were Christina and Michael, so she walked slowly and stayed seated most of the time.

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Noticing her lack of squirrel-ness, Thumbelina’s human parents tried to introduce her to others of her kind; she was not a fan of it at all and didn’t see herself in her fellow squirrels. “I don’t know what she thinks she is,” her parents said, “but it’s definitely not a squirrel.”

Despite not having any other squirrel friends, Thumbelina – a now two-year-old Eastern grey squirrel as of 2018 – is having the time of her life living with Christina and Michael. In fact, one could say that she is living her BEST life.

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Thumbelina has practically turned into a stay-at-home-human-being. She watches TV, cuddles up in blankets, and even dresses up in costumes that her mom hand-makes for her.

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When the weather is nice enough for Thumbelina’s taste, she will sometimes go out with her mom in either a bag or on a leash. She won’t even do any dirty business in the bag because she is fully potty-trained and listens to her parents. Well, most of the time.

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Despite Christina and Michael loving her with all their hearts, raising Thumbelina is neither easy nor cheap. According to Christina, the couple has spent over $10,000 towards Thumb’s care over the past two years. There must have been a few vet bills, but where is the rest of all that money going?

In an attempt to earn some money back for more of Thumbelina’s needs, Christina has set up several social media accounts for Thumb, which have taken off like rockets. On these accounts, she promotes the sales of Thumbelina T-shirts, keychains, and other types of merchandise.

Little Girl Thumbelina/Facebook

The cute photos on Thumbelina’s social media pages are highly enjoyable, but what’s most important is that she is both healthy and happy. Everyone seems glad that she was adopted and recovered, including Christina and Michael and all of Thumbelina’s fans.

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For the most part, squirrels tackle their day-to-day lives without much human interaction. You can expect them to scurry up and down trees, bury some nuts, and make chattering noises. Other squirrels, however, completely rewrite the book on squirreling.

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Wounded by an owl at just four weeks old, this squirrel ended up in the care of Brantley Harrison. As a professional rehabilitator for wounded wild animals, the arrival of this female squirrel in 2009 was just another day on the job. The family even named her Bella.

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Brantley raised Bella alongside three other squirrels—Larry, Moe, and Curly—and fed them fruits and veggies all throughout the long winter. In the spring of 2010, when the squirrels were healthy enough, Brantley released them back into the wild as usual.

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More often than not, when Brantley sent her rehabilitated animals back into the forest—able to live on their own for the first time in their lives—she’d see them periodically over the next week or so. Then, they’d be gone forever. But Bella did something different…

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At first, Bella returned looking for some treats. To the Harrisons, that was par for the course in animal rehabilitation. Of course, it would take time for Bella to get used to life on her own. Except, time after time, Bella kept coming back!

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Now, eight years after she was rescued, Bella still returns to the Harrison household regularly. “Bella sits right at the front door waiting for someone to notice she has come by for a visit,” Brantley told WYFF 4 News. But why had this squirrel become so attached?

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Bella’s behavior was a bit strange. After all, while she was in Brantley’s care, she hadn’t been particularly lovey. The family hadn’t done anything special, either; they treated her just like every other squirrel. Still, other squirrels didn’t keep returning like Bella!

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Bella doesn’t like to be petted. She doesn’t ask for belly rubs or tail brushing; all she wants is a little bit of attention. In fact, the Harrisons make sure to have some walnuts on hand in case she becomes hungry. The squirrel has another pastime, too…

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“She comes almost daily for a little loving, treats, and to torment our dog, Cid, through the glass door,” Brantley said. You can see just how badly Cid wants out! Besides her general propensity for being adorable, Bella has another trait that’s made her a sensation…

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Bella likes wearing hats! So much, in fact, that she doesn’t mind wearing one while cameras are rolling. “I can’t believe she lets me do it,” Brantley said. “I could not love this squirrel any more than I already do!”

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Brantley started chronicling the adventures of Bella the squirrel on an Instagram account called CidandBella. Many of the photographs consist of Bella sitting in laps, wearing hats, and chompin’ on nuts—truly the perfect life.

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Recently, Bella’s relationship with the Harrisons even paid off for her in a big way when she injured her foot and she needed help—again. Luckily, she had somewhere to turn for some assistance.

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Unfortunately, even injured, Bella was not easy to recapture. On one Instagram post, Brantley wrote, “My first few attempts at catching her have failed. She has lived in the wild for over eight years so she is a smart squirrel and it is not easy to trick her.”

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Finally, the family managed to catch Bella and bring her back into their home for some rehab. They gave her antibiotics and a comfortable cage. Right before they released Bella back into the wild, though, she surprised the family again!

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Inside the Harrison family home, Bella gave birth to three little baby squirrels! After raising and nursing Bella, the Harrisons got to see her raising and nursing children of her own. “It was truly amazing to watch the baby I raised raise her own babies,” Brantley said.

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Bella was so special to the Harrison family that she actually changed people’s perceptions of squirrels. “She is a very special squirrel and has always had a large local following,” Brantley said. “She has changed the way many of my friends think of squirrels.”

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Sometimes, it’s easy to think of squirrels as bushy-tailed rats, but if nothing else, Bella’s story shows that squirrels are capable of love and dedication on par with some of the most beloved house pets. They’re animals that should be showed love and compassion.

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That’s a sentiment Brantley echoed: “If Bella can teach at least one person to have compassion for all living things, no matter how big or how small,” she said, “then we have done what we have set out to.”

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So the next time you see a squirrel in your neighborhood, remember that these little creatures might surprise you. In fact, with enough love and care, they might reward you with a kiss on the cheek!

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They might even give you a kiss on the lips! The Harrison family had no idea they were starting a decade-long friendship when they took in Bella back in 2009, but sometimes surprises come in bushy-tailed packages!

When a family in Finland spotted this poor little squirrel on the side of a road in 2007, he showed no signs of life. Had he been struck by a car? Attacked by another animal? The family was frantic; they never saw a baby animal so sick, and they wanted to do everything they could to help him survive.

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They took him home and immediately tried to nurse him back to health. After a few trips to a veterinarian, the little squirrel not only began to recover, but he really started thriving under the careful ministrations of the family…

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And wouldn’t you know it? All of their tender love and care worked! Before too long the little fellow was up and about, eager to explore the fascinating new place where he lived. The family couldn’t get enough of watching his antics.

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However, there was one small dark cloud obscuring the squirrel’s happy ending. “We realized that his eye would never heal completely and he wouldn’t survive on his own,” said Reddit user Priami, whose family adopted the squirrel.

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While they were heartbroken to learn that the squirrel would never be able to return to his natural habitat, the family was happy to take in the critter as one of their own. After all, he was already as good as family to them, and they couldn’t let him go…

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Once they made the decision to officially adopt their little squirrel friend, they realized that they were going to have to give him a name. They named him Arttu, or “pretty much the Finnish version of ‘Arthur.'” He wore the name well!

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After they named their new friend, it was time to help him get acclimated to his new forever home for good! They quickly discovered that Arttu had quite the personality, which shouldn’t have been surprising in such a spirited squirrel.

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Arttu loved to joke around: “He liked to have playful ‘fights’ with our hands (you know, like cats do) and he was smart enough not to bite too hard.” You have to love an animal with a playful heart and a bright spirit like that…

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Arttu loved hanging out with his human family so much! When he wasn’t crawling all over them, he was making the most of people’s hoodies, nestling into a temporary nest inside them so he could be nice and warm.

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Arttu had quite the appetite, too. The family tried many different snacks to see what would please the little guy and they were delighted by his tastes. “We fed him nuts, fruits, berries and mushrooms.” (And pine-cones!)

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Arttu loved eating his snacks outside with his family while they sat enjoying each other’s company. While he obviously couldn’t communicate with them, he made it clear with his contented presence that he loved every minute he spent in their company.

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Arttu was so comfortable with his adoptive family that he could turn any place into a cozy nest that was perfect for his next nap. From sweatshirts to their cupped hands, Arttu was always ready to snuggle up with his humans.

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While Arttu couldn’t spend his days jumping from tree to tree like other squirrels, that didn’t mean that his adoptive family didn’t give him time to explore. They loved taking him outside and letting him climb around as nature intended… with proper supervision, of course!

When the time came to go back inside his house with his people, they made sure to always let him bring back a little piece of the outdoors with him. His favorite? Pinecones, of course!

When December came around every year, the whole family had to prepare themselves. With Arttu in the house, the Christmas tree needed to be extra secured since he’d inevitably climb to the very top!

Luckily Arttu seemed to understand that trees inside of the house were different from trees he might find outside of the house. Luckily, he got to spend some time appreciating the ornaments on the indoor tree.

Of course, owning a squirrel as a pet has its own special set of challenges in addition to all the joy it brings. Because he wasn’t living in the great outdoors, Arttu regularly needed to have his nails trimmed, which wasn’t always an easy feat.

While other animals might have acted out after being groomed in this fashion, Arttu always took it like a real trooper. He knew that the sooner he allowed his new family to trim his nails, the sooner he could get back to having fun!

Arttu lived with the family from 2007 until 2013, when he passed of old age. They found him curled up in his “nest” as if he was sleeping. It was difficult for the family to come to terms with the fact that their unusual pet had a relatively short lifespan…

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But however short, it looked like Arttu’s life was very happy. Now he probably has all the nuts he can handle in squirrel heaven! His family did something touching with his leftover snacks, too. “We fed other squirrels all the food we had stored for him before he died.” How sweet!

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Squirrels are such a common sight to most people that we rarely stop to think about how truly amazing they actually are. From their different shapes and sizes to the way they hide food, they’re endlessly fascinating. Just read these incredible squirrel facts and you’ll never look at them the same way again!

1. While albino squirrels do exist, there are some non-albino Eastern gray squirrels who are just white: These squirrels have a rare recessive gene that causes their fur to be white. Technically, they should be called white squirrels, not albino, but that has yet to be changed.

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2. If a squirrel looks fat to you, it’s probably for a good reason: One way squirrels stay warm in the chilly winter months is by gaining upwards of half their own weight in a protective flabby layer. How’s that for a winter coat?

3. Male squirrels masturbate: Yes, and they do it quite often to boot. Researchers have found that the males will do this as a means to flush out their old sperm and to help get a higher quantity of seed for the next time they mate.

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4. They can be domesticated… but probably shouldn’t: You can make a squirrel a pet, but you’ll probably wind up regretting it big time. You will never be able to stop them from doing things like burrowing holes in your furniture to store food.

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5. Twenty-five percent of all the food squirrels hide is stolen: Squirrels spend three-quarters of their day hiding food. They wouldn’t have to do so much if a huge portion of their reserves weren’t constantly being snatched up by birds or other squirrels. It’s just too bad many of them use the same hiding spots!

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6. Squirrels adopt orphans: If you needed a reason to love squirrels even more, this is definitely it. While squirrels can have biological children, if they find an abandoned newborn squirrel, they will happily make it a part of their family.

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7. Their front teeth never actually stop growing: Like most rodents, squirrels have to gnaw to keep their teeth from growing out of control. The word “rodent” actually comes from the Latin rodere, which means to chew or gnaw.

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8. Squirrels excel at finding food: A squirrel can find food under even a foot of snow! Researchers believe this is because their noses are so close to the ground, making it easier for them to smell food that’s fallen. No peanut is safe!

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9. Spring is Baby Squirrel Awareness Season: It’s common during the spring months to find baby squirrels who have fallen from the nest. The best thing you can do is make them a temporary nest and leave them by a tree. Don’t handle them too much; their mother will come find them!

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