Squirrels are welcome neighbours to many treehouses and so they have found their way in our personal treehouse rules – rule #6: hug a squirrel. This does not mean to hug a squirrel literally, but rather to respect their natural habitat and to contribute to its preservation.
Did you know that even squirrels are having a hard time finding an apartment in Munich? They also often suffer a lack of suitable food and water places. A deadly mix. We didn’t know until recently.
At the beginning of November I was watching the fauna on our balcony from my desk, snitching the occasional nuts. A hungry squirrel was amongst them. But something was irritating me. Were there almond slivers hanging around its mouth? Curiously I squeezed my nose against the window. Those weren’t almonds … it was its too long teeth, which had curled up to under its eye and in the skin. On both sides. With each bite the teeth went into the flesh just under the eye. I’ve never seen anything like that before. So what now?
Animal welfare referred to the squirrel protection association. I didn’t know that existed until then. There I was told there are only two reasons for squirrels to grow crooked long teeth like that: they either fall out of their den as baby squirrels and get it from the impact on the ground, or they can’t find anything firm to the bite to grind down their teeth on. So their teeth grow, like with rabbits.
Right the next morning I borrowed a trap at the squirrel-transfer station. We placed it with the bait – a squirrel smoothie containing of sweet banana, apple and grated hazelnut – on the balcony. But the squirrel seemed to be smelling the rat. What if the wrong animal goes into the trap? A teethless magpie, a stray cat or a sonar-deaf bat? Nothing came. Everyone was suspicious. But honestly: as squirrels we wouldn’t have fallen for that either.
The morning sun was the first to discover the closed trap. With the right squirrel inside! Our toothbrushes still in the mouth Christopher and I slipped into our first available clothes and brought the wild child to the dentist, respectively the squirrel protection association. There it was freed of its fangs and its wounds treated with antibiotics. Sabine Gallenberger told us it is four to six months old and it would now get its teeth shortened every two weeks. Whether or not the teeth’s growth will adjust won’t show until in six months. It will stay in the aviary until then.
Here’s what everyone can do: provide hard nuts throughout the year – freely available or even better in a food box – provide means of escape in your rain barrels with a long stick for instance, build a squirrel drey and place it somewhere predator-safe, become a squirrels patron or donate. Nuts or cash, even peanuts count!