Monday, 4 February 2013

Our Tryst With Jack and Jill

 When they first came to us they were puny and smelt bad. They were so tiny that they snugly fit into our palms. Their skin was soft and furry and they loved it when we rubbed underneath their necks. Soon Jack and Jill acclimatized themselves to be held and petted by human hands and stoically bore with us as we lavished them with cuddles and kisses. But never once in their six months stay with us did they lose their identity of being squirrels and did a thorough job of chewing up our cupboards and curtain rods.

Our first interaction with squirrels occurred when our nieghbours asked us to take care of two new born squirrels as they were going out for a vacation. I was apprehensive and excited. After my pet cat died, I never had an opportunity to take care of animals and was looking forward to the little ones. But sadly they both died.  My daughters and I were inconsolable and my husband had his hands full comforting three tear y eyed women. With a heavy heart we buried them and placed flowers on their little graves.

When I came back home I told my husband that we had to get two squirrels and give it to the nieghbours. We contacted a lady from the Blue Cross and were over the moon when she told us that she had two orphaned baby squirrels.  We jumped at the opportunity and thus Jack and Jill entered our lives. Though we took them with the sole purpose of giving them to our neighbour’s daughters, we realised that we could not part with them. Our joy knew no bounds when our neighbour became less keen on having squirrels as pets.

This time, Subashini, the Blue Cross lady was there to help us out. She taught me how to feed them milk with 1 mm syringes and gave them homeopathic medicines as supplements. Very soon they became healthy and very active. Their home was a blue basket and they rollicked in it. As they grew a little older, we started giving them solid food. Their favourite was curd, coconut, chickoo and apple. During meal times, we would leave them on the dining table and place the fruits on it and they would run around and grab them and eat. They were caged only during nap time and had free access to our hall and bedroom. They would climb up the curtains and sit snugly on the rods and chew them to their hearts content. Soon we segmented their blue basket into sleeping and bathroom quarters and they understood that if they had to pee and poop they would have to come to the bathroom segment and do it. They learnt quickly and made me a proud momma.  Their favourite toy was Goofy and their favourite perch was Goofy’s nose. There was never a dull moment and we relished each and every moment that we spent with them.

Soon it was time to initiate them into the wild. My heart was heavy with the prospect t that they would leave soon. Jill was the leader and Jack always followed her. She quickly went up and down a rope which I had tied from my balcony to a money plant kept on the ground floor. But Jack was literally shivering at the prospect of climbing down a rope. We coaxed him, but he was so scared that he darted into his basket and hid under his bed covers.  I realised that Jill was capable of surviving in the open, but Jack was a gone case.

The next day I took them to the neighbour’s house and let them loose on a huge tree.  Jill darted immediately and scurried up; Jack hesitated and then quickly followed her. I left their basket on the tree with food in it. I was happy that my plan worked. My babies were now ready for their new life.  I visited them for a week and was glad when I saw them darting among branches.  With regular updates from my neighbour I was finally at peace knowing they were still together and free.

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