Peggy Jenkins says it was time for the little squirrels to fly, literally.
The owner of Heaven’s Wildlife Rescue near Oil Springs recently release four rare flying squirrels back into the wild after nursing them through the winter.
Jenkins says the squirrels were orphaned late last summer and weighed only 14 grams when she first saw them. That’s smaller than a human thumb.
Jenkins says over the winter volunteers took turns bottle feeding the squirrels with bottles every two hours. “We had special formula that we used for them and special nipples-neo-natal nipples,” she says adding “it was very tedious” since it took 45 minutes to feed the little animals.
“They’re so small, they have to be kept warm,” says Jenkins. A little towel was placed on the feeding table and a coffee cup warmer kept the formula at just the right temperature through the long process of feeding.
“They were so tiny, a week later you would ask ‘have they grown at all?’”
But it was all worth it when earlier this month the four were taken into the woods. “. Now that the leaves are out on the trees it was a perfect time to release them. The leaves help to hide them from predators such as owls and other large birds,” she says.
Flying squirrels are quite rare in the area and only recently came off the endangered species list. Jenkins says the squirrels don’t actually fly, but glide up to 250 feet usually at night.
“We took them to the release site in a closed crate and take the whole box,” says Jenkins. Once the door was opened, the squirrels were off in a flash, she says adding they are “super fast.”
Jenkins expects the squirrels will do just find in the wilds of Lambton County. The wildlife rescue has a 92 percent success rate of nurturing wild animals back to health and releasing them to their natural habitat.