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The Carthage Press
  • Squirrel babies find shelter in rural home

  • The Kittrell family is serving as surrogate parents to a family of five eastern gray squirrels, four of them found by friends who were remodeling a home.
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  • The Kittrell family is serving as surrogate parents to a family of five eastern gray squirrels, four of them found by friends who were remodeling a home.
    Don Kittrell, his wife Sandy, and their kids have been taking shifts feeding the growing babies, changing their bedding and doing the other things a mama squirrel might otherwise do.
    "We had some friends that were doing some home repair and they were taking out the soffit, which is around the roof," Kittrell said. "They thought there was a birds nest and come to find out there were four baby gray squirrels up there and they were going to try to put them back, but there was no room. They had essentially tore the nest down."
    Kittrell has cared for wild animals before. In 2009, when he worked for then McCune-Brooks Regional Hospital, he found a barred owl on the side of the road and cared for it, under consultation with state wildlife officials, for six weeks.
    Kittrell said you never know what animals you might find at his rural home west of Carthage.
    "I've done it many times before, It wasn't anything new for us," Kittrell said. "We started off feeding them about every two to three hours, then it expanded to every four to five hours and now they can go all night without being fed, but all day we end up taking them with us to work and feeding them or I will come home on my lunch hour to be sure they're fed, their bedding changed, or just to check on them."
    A few days later, Kittrell's family inherited a fifth young squirrel from a cousin whose dog had gotten ahold of it and brought it home.
    Kittrell said he plans to feed them for two or three more weeks, then ween them and let them get adjusted to the outdoors before releasing them in the woods west of his home.
    "We'll introduce them to the outside in a cage so they're used to it, but yet they're protected," Kittrell said. "Then we'll bring them back in for a few days. Ultimately we'll just turn them loose and leave a dwelling up in the trees so they have a place to call home."
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