Squirrel Heroes: New York City Squirrel Rehabbers

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This is “Ashley,” the big mama squirrel who lived on the roof of my building in Astoria. She spent hours running back and forth across the gigantic green ash trees that lined our street.  I always liked watching her, and if you made squeaky noises when she was around, she’d get close and watch you. (I discovered this while sitting on my patio with my dog, who I often shower with high pitched noises and coos. The clamor attracted Ashley, which is how I get this photo of her.)

I thought of her as I read this week’s issue of New York Magazine, which includes an item about the city’s nine licensed squirrel rehabbers. Apparently they take in abandoned squirrels and raise them back to health from their own apartments. Wow. That’s dedication.

As a resident of New York, I can tell you that, besides pigeons, rats and feral cats, squirrels are the only wildlife you can regularly see in the city. And, unlike all the other wildlife, they usually seem clean, healthy and thriving. Perhaps because squirrels live in trees, away from most human filth. And, even though they are surrounded by human food garbage, they still stick to a healthier diet of nuts. As a result, they neither transmit or catch many human-animal vector diseases.

Which makes them perfect for rehabilitation when a mother gets killed, or a big storm blows through the city and knocks squirrel babies out of their nests.

“Squirrels are just wonderful, intelligent, cheerful animals that want to live—unlike bunnies or birds, which always seem to want to die,” one rehabber says in the article. “They greet every day with wonderful curiosity.”

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