Paula Perry rescues child squirrels in her Mississippi residence

Paula Perry rescues baby squirrels in her Mississippi home


Paula Perry has a multi-page spreadsheet titled “Squirrels,” which particulars the well being and wellness of tiny, injured child squirrels she retains in her home. She names every one: Carlos, Lola, Hazel, Huey and Dewie.

Perry retains meticulous notes on the greater than 70 struggling child squirrels she has rescued and rehabilitated over the previous 13 years at her residence in Moss Level, Miss.

“They’re tiny little helpless issues, they usually’ll die,” mentioned Perry, 62, who, appropriately, is understood round her neighborhood because the “Squirrel Girl.”

Typically, the squirrels are very sick, just like the one she named Jinksie, who had double pneumonia.

“She was a little bit fighter,” Perry wrote in her spreadsheet. “She did very properly after every week and was on the mend.”

“They steal your coronary heart,” mentioned Perry, who finds the animals in timber, on roads and thru neighbors, and releases them in her yard as soon as they’re sturdy sufficient.

Perry’s spreadsheet chronicles dates and specifics such because the squirrels’ weight, consuming habits, mannerisms and progress. She has a postal scale to trace their progress.

“If I’m apprehensive about them not placing on weight, then I can weigh them,” she mentioned.

Perry’s rodent rescue efforts began in 2010, when her neighbor noticed a child squirrel hanging from a tree. Perry — who mentioned she has at all times had a gentle spot for animals — did what appeared apparent to her: She introduced the 3-week-old squirrel in for medical help.

“I might inform he was severely injured,” mentioned Perry, who named the squirrel “Wockey,” and took him to a neighborhood vet that gives wildlife care.

A 3-legged canine was struggling. A highschool engineering class stepped in.

Whereas on the Bienville Animal Medical Middle in Ocean Springs, Miss., Perry struck up a dialog with Trish Kinds, a veterinary technician, who advised her about wildlife rehabilitators — individuals who volunteer to accommodate ailing wild animals, and nurse them again to well being.

On the spot, Perry determined to develop into one.

“Paula is all concerning the squirrels,” mentioned Kinds, who has labored on the clinic for 22 years. “She does wonderful. She has the most effective, healthiest squirrels.”

There’s a want for wildlife rehabbers, Kinds defined, including that significantly after pure disasters strike, comparable to Hurricane Katrina, or different excessive climate occasions, many wild animals — together with birds, squirrels, raccoons and possums — get severely injured or displaced. Infants wrestle to outlive on their very own.

Changing into a wildlife rehabilitator entails getting a allow and attending annual coaching periods. Kinds interviews potential rehabbers, and if she determines they’re up for the problem, she provides them to her allow. She helps them, providing medical enter and different recommendation.

A doggy day care was on hearth. Neighbors helped save all 115 canines inside.

Though the clinic pays for meals, remedy, vet care, tools and important provides, “it’s a giant dedication,” Kinds mentioned, including that regardless of their small dimension, child squirrels want a devoted caretaker, as they should be fed each few hours, together with in a single day.

Kinds has about 25 wildlife rehabbers on her allow, and “Paula is one among my greatest,” she mentioned. “She goes the additional mile. She notices each little factor.”

For Perry, watching an animal’s situation steadily enhance is rewarding, she mentioned.

“When you see a child squirrel taking method from a syringe, they usually maintain onto it with their little paws, I’m sorry; you simply need to fall in love with them.”

“Even when they chew your electrical wires, which they do,” she added. “Lots of people don’t like squirrels as a result of they’re fairly harmful. I don’t care. I like them.”

Though squirrels can wreak havoc on properties and phone traces and are due to this fact thought-about pests, they’re not as harmful as rats and mice. In addition they serve an necessary ecological perform and have been known as “nature’s gardeners,” since they repeatedly bury seeds — which helps to develop forest variety and progress.

When Perry grew to become a wildlife rehabber, her daughter (Kati Perry, who’s now a reporter for The Washington Publish) had simply gone off to school.

“I believe it crammed a maternal want,” Paula Perry mentioned. “Whenever you’re one thing so helpless, you wish to assist it and feed it and ensure it thrives.”

Other than rehabilitating one child raccoon named Hope in 2014, Perry now sticks to squirrels which might be usually between 1 to six weeks outdated. She has realized to find out their age based mostly on numerous components, together with how a lot fur they’ve, and whether or not their eyes are open or closed.

Initially, the squirrels reside in a pet provider on her kitchen counter, till they’re able to transition to a cage within the yard, and finally into the wild.

“My husband is a really, very affected person man,” Perry mentioned. Nonetheless, “he put his foot all the way down to the raccoons and possums.”

Kinds will typically assign animals to her, however since individuals locally know Perry as “Squirrel Girl,” she repeatedly will get calls from associates and strangers who’ve discovered a struggling squirrel.

Homeless mother left her canine with notice, ‘please love me.’ A shelter reunited them.

The rodents keep at her residence for roughly eight to 10 weeks. Child squirrels require ample consideration, Perry defined, together with fixed feedings. Based mostly on their particular person situation, Perry should repeatedly administer medicines — comparable to antibiotics — and have a tendency to wounds and different considerations.

And a few squirrels demand play time.

“They get lonesome,” Perry mentioned, including that typically they prefer to cuddle on her shoulder, or sit on her lap. They snack on a cherry or grape as she watches tv.

“A few of them, I actually bought connected to,” she mentioned, explaining that a number of of her squirrels didn’t survive, which was devastating for her.

Mickey’s passing in 2015 was significantly painful.

After she launched him, “he was attacked by an animal of some type,” Perry wrote within the doc. “I cried and cried and cried. I miss him a lot.”

Perry tracks every little thing within the doc — together with persona traits and particular person quirks. For example, she described Sugar as a “very skittish squirrel” who “loves cookies and Goldfish.”

“Squirrels have a candy tooth,” she mentioned.

Past their snack preferences, Perry is most involved about their well being, and calls Kinds if one thing appears off. Perry has taken a number of squirrels to the clinic for medical consideration, and a few have acquired X-rays to find out if they’ve damaged limbs.

Whereas Perry usually solely has one squirrel along with her at a time, she has had as many as 4 in her home. In instances the place she’s taking care of a number of squirrels, she coordinates their names: Harry and Sally; Alvin, Simon and Theo; Rose, Blanche and Dorothy. If there may be multiple male or feminine, Perry places a dab of nail polish on their heads to tell apart them.

When she leaves residence for various hours, Perry brings the squirrels along with her. When she first grew to become a rehabber, Perry was additionally volunteering for Courtroom Appointed Particular Advocates (CASA).

“I’d simply take them with me once I had a court docket date, and put them within the CASA workplace,” she mentioned.

As she helps the squirrels heal and develop, they carry her pleasure. Letting a squirrel go can typically be unhappy, she continued, but it surely additionally provides her a way of pleasure and function.

“You may inform once they’re able to launch, as a result of they go loopy within the cage,” she defined.

Typically, although, they arrive to again go to her — which, she mentioned, is a significant thrill. She retains pecans and walnuts available to provide them with snacks.

“I believe they acknowledge my voice,” Perry mentioned, including that she will acknowledge them, too. “I at all times know that it’s one among mine.”

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