Tenacious survivor

Tevya Lewis, Somerset West

A while ago, during a converstation with Bolander editor Carolyn Frost, she suggested that I write a little something about my quirky obsession with a squirrel (after telling me that she, too, had memorably raised squirrels on a couple of occasions).

I had hoped to submit it before the Hospice Open Garden, in case anyone saw her and wondered why I had a squirrel in a cage.

When I was asked why I “didn’t just wring the rodents neck”, perhaps you might answer that for yourself.

This little girl found me. A while ago my husband Fred had brought home a little handful of pink, hairless, wriggly things, needing care.

Thank heavens for Google – and by the time I traced one of the wonderful rehabilitators, the little ones had wormed their way into my heart and we managed to raise the five little kits until release a year ago.

We had already lost too many of our fur babies (kitties too) on the busy road in front of our home, and my wonderful husband decided to have signs put up alerting people to a pet’s crossing.

A year later a cyclist came past and saw the sign.

Jean had picked up this little one on the road a few days earlier, and brought her to us.

Stevi was the only survivor of her nest being raided, and had crawled, blind and barely alive, onto the road.

I still had the equipment from my first encounter and felt a little more sure of what I was doing, but her eyes were damaged and that brought a whole new set of challenges.

Our walks are full of gathering toys for her, twigs, pods and branches, and trying to give her a taste of the outdoors within a safe environment.

We so enjoy her playfulness and curiosity, admire her strong instincts.

To me its essential to learn from nature and watch her intently.

Our dogs and cat, all rescue children, see her as one of the family, and it’s nothing for her to use any one of us a handy perch. Poster family for live and let live.

This fearless, firecracker-type energy meant she soon needed a bigger enclosure during the day.

She had already shredded my house and skin and hoarded my schedule.

We spend time together in the garden for outside-time. One day I had run inside to answer the phone, and returned with the handset to watch her, but she had gone. My garden is rampant, she just disappeared.

Constant searches of our and neighbouring gardens by day and torchlight still left nothing.

Hours spent envisaging her battling dogs, hawks, people, traffic, rats and just her confusion were agony.

Two days later Fred happened upon a Facebook notification that a dear couple had her safe – they’d heard their dog barking and fished her out their swimming pool.

She had travelled an amazing three blocks, Mountain and Gordon roads, crossings with all the walls, fences, gardens, hurdles and pools inbetween.

Stevi’s large cage outside allows me to leave her to busy herself, and her free time in the garden is never unguarded again.

The idea that there are obstacles that can’t be overcome, is not part of this squirrel’s outlook on life, nor is giving up – try different methods, ninja style!