Rocky the squirrel rescued from a murder of crows is nearly ready to head outdoors while healing at the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Metchosin.
Peter Wheaton was walking to work on Oak Bay Avenue in late August when he heard a squeaking noise desperately echoing from under a tree nearby. He found a tiny baby squirrel surrounded by a murder of crows. He took the baby to work – where they dubbed the critter Rocky – at Athlone Travel (now Maritime Travel) before he was transferred to Wild ARC.
Now about eight weeks old, he’s tripled his weight since heading for rehab, said Christina* Carrières, Senior Wildlife Rehabilitator at Wild ARC.
They expect he’ll join the others in the outdoor enclosure in the next couple of days, where he’ll remain for at least two weeks. They tend to release squirrels in bunches, once they’ve all been acclimatized to the outdoors for a couple weeks.
“Once everybody’s ready to go everybody gets released at the same time,” Carrières said. “Because our volunteers work so hard at caring for them one of the rewards are to be part of the releases as well.”
They attempt to return all the squirrels close to home.
“In the case of Rocky we’re going to try our best to coordinate a day that’s going to work for Peter to be there for the release,” Carrières said.
To release this species, the SPCA must first sterilize them, ear tag them, and release them within a kilometre of where they came from. They release about 70 a year.
“We see a fair number given that they are urban species,” Carrières said. “There’s more risks also for the parents to be a victim of urban activity which results in lots of orphans.”
The media attention Rocky garnered with his rescue, returned dividends for both Wild ARC and Rocky’s own care with donations to BC SPCA program.
“At this point we’ve admitted over 2,600 animals this year,” said Carrières.
Another, non-monetary way residents can help – particularly this time of year – is to gather acorns as food stock for the animals. Squirrels, deer, beavers and some birds eat them both fresh now, and dried through the winter.
“We give it to a wide range of species and it’s good and healthy for them at this time of year,” Carrières said. “We use them throughout the year. It’s a natural item as well that you can’t really buy.”
Call 250-478-9453 to learn more or drop them off at Wild ARC 1020 Malloch Rd. in Metchosin.