Three weeks into her convalescence from having bottom teeth growing into her upper gums, Mickey, the good-natured squirrel from Queens, is recovering well. The best sign for her was that one of her top teeth grew back. Then it disappeared again. But it’s an excellent sign that she’ll one day do fine in the wild, or at least the Queens community garden where she lives.
One of Mickey’s friends at the community garden, Peter Richter, says a couple months before he brought her in she had a bad fall from a tree after charging a red-tailed hawk. What I now think happened is she broke her top teeth, without which her bottom teeth grew out of control. The teeth grew both up and down and she still has a gaping hole in her chin that I really wish would go away. She had to badly infected digits–you can see one here covered in scab and peanut butter.
Personality-wise, she is still sweet, has never tried to bite hem, but she is done with me. That’s a good sign. She’s much more independent and intolerant of handling.
Over the last week she’s had a number of opportunities for a new life come her way. Twice I got calls about litters of baby squirrels needing a home. Mickey, an experienced mother, would be good for the babies and they’d give her something to do besides hide from me. Both litters fell through. (One, I think, went to another rehabber. The other turned out not to exist: a dead squirrel’s nest turned out to be empty.)
Subway vigilante/squirrel-lover Bernie Goetz called her “a prize animal” (both sweet and black) and wanted to breed her with his pet squirrel. We passed on that. In a country where hunters kill 16 million squirrels a year, I’m not going to get riled up about the handful kept as pets. But I still don’t want to do it. No matter how great Ben Franklin thought it was.
Mickey now has a fine cedar house for when she’s ready to move back to Queens. She has systematically avoided it except to pee on, preferring a grubby cardboard box. How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have an ugrateful squirrel.
Where to Go to See Unusual Squirrels