Snapshot: Baby Squirrels

It's raining baby animals at the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island.
Photography by James Jones.

Dr. Chi Chan is an aloof foster mom. The volunteer veterinarian for the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island doesn’t snuggle or play with her tiny charges; they remain untamed to ensure a successful release. Even if Chan or one of her rehabilitators wanted to show affection, it’d be nearly impossible: Baby squirrels, for instance, require feedings every two hours and they’re rescued — or, in some cases, kidnapped by kindly homeowners — in droves every spring. Then comes the baby shower: bunnies, racoons, ducklings, songbirds, skunks, woodchucks, possums, foxes and fawns — around 3,000 in all. “The squirrels die down in May and come back in fashion in August,” says Chan. “Just when we are all dead tired, we come raining down with squirrels again.” While some consider squirrels a nuisance, Chan says there’s no shortage of good Samaritans who still help them. “We wouldn’t be getting 800 baby squirrels if people didn’t care,” she says. “It’s a life they are saving.” Not all need rescuing, however; Chan recommends homeowners “humanely evict” animal families from attics or garages with loud music, light or smells like ammonia. And babies who are discovered alone might not be abandoned; help them by wearing gloves — mothers often reject babies with a human scent — and placing them in a box with a hot water bottle. True to her tough love practicality, Chan also suggests pinching mammalian babies just hard enough to elicit yelps. That way, their birth mother can do all the rescuing. If you discover a baby animal this spring, call the Wildlife Rehabilitators hotline at 294-6363 or visit