Squirrel Love – When coming out on safari our guests at Kings Camp are very excited to see the ‘BIG FIVE’. Our guides do their best to find these majestic special animals but at the same time they also win guests over with the smaller animals that are just as wonderful. I have a firm favourite – The Tree Squirrel!
Tree Squirrels are found everywhere in the reserve and are often seen around the lodge grounds, guests can be entertained for hours watching them. They live in small family groups and you will often see them in the morning sun socking up the rays to warm up for a busy day of feeding, grooming and running around.
Often on very cool days you will struggle to even find a Squirrel as they don’t like the cold and will stay curled up together in their nests which are normally hollows in trees. If only we could do this and stay in our PJs all day in winter! They do spend most of their time in trees but will come down to the ground to forage for food.
They also enjoy thatch roofs and on occasion babies fall out of these nests and are found by humans. The Mum’s will often come back to find them and put them back in the nest, so it is always vital to leave them for at least 24 hours. Unfortunately, sometimes the Mum’s don’t come back as they are prey to many predators (even Leopards have been known to catch them) so sometimes they just never return, and the babies can’t survive without Mum’s milk and the warmth of the nest for long. In this case babies are often taken care of by trained Wildlife rehabilitators. This is not an easy task and should not be attempted unless you have advice/training as there are many things that can go wrong, and babies need to be feed every couple of hours so it’s a very time-consuming job and one that the rehabilitators must commit to 100% right up until the babies are ready to be released.
I have raised many Squirrels, all of which came from different situations – any Squirrel I raise I release back into the wild, they do become very attached to their ‘Human Mum’s’ as they are very social animals, so they will often hang around close to this area and do their best to make this their territory. Squirrels are highly territorial, and the males will defend their families’ territory.
I’ve added a few photos above to show you all a few of the different Squirrels I have raised over time. Next time you are on safari be sure to ask your Guide to find you a Tree Squirrel and enjoy watching these beautiful creatures and their crazy antics.
Signing off now as I have a baby Squirrel to feed!
Hayley Cooper – Kings Camp Assistant Manager