Blogs

Write new blog
Mrs B

Our Tiny Nutkins!

by Mrs B published on

A few years ago we became foster parents to a very unusual baby...

 

One afternoon, while sitting in the kitchen, the children and I heard the most almighty scream outside.  Running to the window we surveyed the garden for activity. The cat was under the hedge playing with a small creature of some description. Judging by terrible shrieks echoing around the house I thought that it must be a baby rabbit (as I have heard them make a similar sound when caught by a fox). We all went dashing outside and shooed the cat away.  There laying on the grass was the tiniest little squirrel, still making a lot of noise but seemingly unharmed by the cats advances.

 

I asked my son to run in and get an old tea towel, so I could pick it up, as I was unsure whether having human scent on it would somehow impede its mother's natural instinct on taking it back, as with birds. It was clear that this was a very, very young little squirrel, and needed to be back in its nest.  I rang the RSPCA for advice.  They were a little uninterested to say the least and suggested that I put it close to where I thought the nest would be and soon enough its mother would appear and take it back.

 

After laying it on a safe place in a tree we all waited patiently for the mother to return, periodically checking that it was ok. We waited.... Waited....and waited but there was no sign of its family and after 3 hours decided to seek some more advice.

 

I looked up squirrel rescue on the net, and found a place in Hampshire that was very helpful. The gentleman said that by the sound of it, the squirrel must be around 6 weeks old and therefore not yet weaned.  He also said that unfortunately the mother would not return and if we wanted to save it, the only hope would be if I became its surrogate mother! He went on to explain the recipe for its milk, and it would need feeding every 3 hours. We would also have to rub gently its bottom so that it would be able to poo!! (this, as you can imagine was very alarming to the boys)

 

I decided that I would take on this unexpected role and after the children made a nice little bed in an old hamster cage we had, proceeded to the local supermarket to get the ingredients; goats milk, natural yogurt and baby liquid vitamins. I also picked up a ‘dropper' from the pharmacy in order to feed it.  

 

We where dedicated as a family to getting our squirrel, now aptly named ‘Nutkins' to adulthood and so embarked on a regular feeding schedule. I remember having my alarm clock wake me up at 2am and then at 5, going downstairs and warming the milk and feeding little Nutkins in the dark of night.  I also remember going out for a day trip to Dover Castle, amongst others, having the cage with dear little Nutkins in the boot, so that I could run back and feed him! That baby squirrel was fastly becoming the best travelled in the world.

 

After a few months we put him in a large cage in the garden changed his diet to seeds and taught him how to open nuts (this apparently doesn't come naturally and is learnt from the mother... us)!

 

Finely, after several months we left the cage open, and he would go in and out, until one day he finely went altogether.

 

We were sad to see him go, but were so happy to have been able to save him. For a while he would regularly come back and visit us, and we would feed him his sunflower seeds (of which he was most fond) and he would play with us, climbing on our heads and running up our arms jumping through the trees, as if he were showing off his new skills... I am aware that many people veiw squirrels as vermin and woulnt have done the same, but as far as I am concerned, it was a little life that was well worth saving.  Although we haven't seen him for a while now, I like to believe he is now a father himself and is enjoying life in the wild which at times when I feel a little low gives me a warm feeling inside.

 

 

Bx

 

8 replies
Replied on

Yes cooking one that you have raised would be a little harsh I think... when it comes to duck though, Im afraid I would have to disagree with you tommonio. I love duck, cooked well. I use Gainsborough duck breasts. In fact it was this that I took up to Mr Ramsay for the Fword thing I did. I like them cooked in my own version of a five spice marrinade. If you know how to fry a steak, then you do the same with duck... rare, medium or well done! Medium rare is my recomendation for that recipe. If you are interested I posted the recipe sometime ago on this site named 'spiced duck breasts' on my recipe's!

me1
me1
Replied on

I was of course refering to gray Squirrel, it taste rarther gamey and very nice. However I still don't think I could bring myself to eat one I'd raised from a babay.

Replied on

Yes I did try wood pigeon once and I found it very boney! It's strange isn't it because many many years ago now, an old friend of my family cooked a duck dish and it was the best meat dish I'd had up to that point. However ask if I like duck now and I'd say no because I've had it many times since but the taste has always been poor. Duck then I assume is abit risky but can taste very good like woodpigeon I assume. By the way, I can't and therefore don't cook so I'm no expert in anyway shape or form. I burn pretty much everything!!!! I was just looking for ideas about recipes and stuff.

Replied on

Yes Tommonio, I would avoid eating squirell myself although they are very sweet looking I fear that they would be a little bony and sour in flavour!!I have however tried wood pigeon at a resturant in London and thought it was very nice indeed...ever tried it??

Replied on

Im not sure if I would choose to eat squirrel. (Prior to Reading this I hadn't give it any thought!)The only meat I choose to avoid when possible is rabbit, partly because on the rare occasion I have eaten it, I wasnt taken aback by the taste, and also I'm not eager on the screaming noises they make when you shoot them! Now chicken, beef, lamb etc, I don't care how furry and friendly they are, I couldn't do without the taste.Yes I'm one of those very, very annoying meat lovers who prefer to not know!! Would you now choose to avoid squirrel mrs b?

Replied on

Well done you! I had a similar experience with the RSPCA, not sure what they do with all the donations except make more adverts to appeal for more donations. You should be very proud of yourself.

me1
me1
Replied on

This is the sort of thing childern remeber from their child hood, and its not something you can buy from the toy shop.

I can understand what you mean, many would have peoberly left the baby squirrel under the tree. I have tryed Squirrel and liked it and would given the opertunity have it again, but I know what I'm like and if I'd have found it under the tree I'd have been up at 2 and 5 to feed it.

Reading your story reminded me a few years ago coming home from the shops with my youngest in his buggy we saw a female black bird fly into a van and bounce to the side of the road. we watched it for a while but it wasn't coming round much, there was no where safe to scoop it up and leave it so I pushed the buggy home one handed with the bird in the other. With an old tea towel we made it a litte nest in a fruit bowle and left it with some seeds and water alone in the utility, having a little look every hour or so but by the evening it was dead.

But from then on when we are out they are always on the look out for an animal to help, I've lost count of the amount of worms we've had to rescue from puddles.

Replied on

What a lovley story!

To leave a response to the post you will need to be a registered user. Sign-up here or Login here
@rivercottage
  • @adamtyrer Whoops, sorry!
  • RT @jamieoliver: Lovely people, we're nearly at 1 million subs on @jamiesfoodtube! Let's cross the line with this tweet! SUBSCRIBE http://t…
  • RT @SoilAssociation: It's #OrganicSeptember! We're encouraging people to make #smallchanges and support #organic - stay tuned for blogs, ev…
  • You don’t need qualifications to become one of our #apprentices. Last places remaining link @RCChefsSchool
  • “I didn’t think anyone would employ me, and now I’m being offered two jobs” #apprenticeships link @RCChefsSchool
  • Our young chef hopefuls have been interviewed and we now have our five lucky finalists for #RisingStar 2014! WATCH: link
  • RT @BloomsburyCooks: You'll be able to take a 1st look at recipes from @rivercottage #LightandEasy in tomorrow's @thetimes - GET. EXCITED. …
  • RT @CornwallCollege: Looking forward to seeing entries for #EdenRisingStar chef competition! @edenproject @rivercottage Entry details here …
  • RT @edenproject: Interested in a chef apprenticeship with us? Watch this video: link #EdenRisingStar @rivercottage @Cornw
  • Did you know you can get paid to train at our @RCChefsSchool? Last places remaining: link link
  • RT @johnmushroom: @thepamthejam @rivercottage Quite right. When I rule the world, hedgerow-cutting dates will be taken under my personal co…
  • @thepamthejam @johnmushroom King John, gosh - now there's a thought!
  • RT @RCHQEvents: Beautiful day for a #wedding, congratulations Vicky & Paul! link
  • Join us next week for the highly anticipated launch of Hugh's book, River Cottage #lightandeasy. Last tickets left! link
  • RT @GSeabright: Enter #EdenRisingStar competition for chef apprenticeships with @edenproject @rivercottage @CornwallCollege https://t.co/e1…
  • @chellemars Yes our @GelfAlderson made it! The recipe isn't online but you can learn to make it on our course! :o) link
  • . @BBCRadio2 @achrisevans absolutely, we are ready! #TFIPieDay link
  • @RachaelWedd Enjoy! We can't take all the credit though, our @johnmushroom is the brains behind that one :o) @BloomsburyCooks
  • Time for another classic #Hugh recipe - cooled lettuce and radish soup: link @JamiesFoodTube link
  • RT @edenproject: Aged 16-24 and interested in a chef apprenticeship at Eden? Enter our #EdenRisingStar competition! Find out how http://t.c…
  • RT @RCChefsSchool: **TONIGHT** #Apprenticeship open evening here at @rivercottage HQ. 6.30pm - 8.30pm. Please share! link
  • RT @crowdfunderuk: Great catch up with @LeedsBreadCoop 1 year since their #crowdfunder campaign - did you pledge? link ht…
  • RT @RCHQEvents: Just announced, @FBPocketOrch will be joining us for Hugh's Late Summer Party! Grab one of the last tickets now: http://t.c…
  • RT @JamiesFoodTube: Start your morning right, with some classic @rivercottage. link
  • RT @crowdfunderuk: Guest blog: It’s been an exciting year for @SuttonFarm since their #crowdfunder campaign! link http://…
  • Our Hugh's a master in the kitchen, but he's #AtYourService for #StandUpToCancer. Book him to do anything you want! link
  • RT @RCHQEvents: Last places left for our One Day Cookery Course this Fri + Sun, call the team now for a late deal: 01297 630314: http://t.c…
  • @lucysiegle Absolutely, just follow us back and we'll send you a DM. Enjoy the pizza!
  • @lucysiegle Oh no! So sorry to hear that. Can you DM us more details so we can address the problem?
  • @BloomsburyCooks @PaulHollywood looks absolutely delicious!
  • VOTE: Support your favourite #RisingStar budding chef with just one click: link link
  • RT @starservice: A rustic @rivercottage meal from Hugh would be divine. But wouldn't it be SO much better if he read your nan a book? http:…
  • Get your hands on a signed copy of Hugh's new book and meet the man himself at our Late Summer Party. Book here: link
  • Chicken with lentils, rosemary + carrot cornbread. Sound good? It's on the menu at Hugh's book launch. Book now: link
  • St Clements polenta cake with blueberries. Salivating? Come and try it at Hugh's book launch on 4 Sept. Book here: link
  • RT @debsthelawyer: Fab day this week at @rivercottage HQ making bread and building a clay oven! link
  • Come along to Hugh's Late Summer Party on 4 Sept - meet Hugh & get his new book signed: link
  • Tweet your support for your favourite Rising Star hopeful and we’ll RT the lot! Get voting, folks! link
  • RT @GiulsMat: Vote for my friend CHLOE RIDE in the #RisingStar2014 competition for #RiverCottage. Here is her video - MAD SKILLS https://t.…
  • @lamornadavies You should be able to translate the website... it's in Danish :o)
  • Danish friends! Fancy a Booze masterclass with @johnmushroom? You are in luck! Don't miss @FoodFestivalDK https://t.co/eUucCIqDA1
  • Voting has just opened for this year’s Rising Star competition. See all the entrants here and pick your best! link
  • RT @KloEllaDeVille: Twitter buds! I'll be forever grateful if you could vote for me in the @rivercottage #RisingStar competition! http://t.…
  • And that's it! Entries for #RisingStar 2014 have closed. But you can still apply to be an #apprentice, more info: link
  • Just under an hour left to get your #RisingStar entries into us! Check out all the competitors so far, here: link
  • @charlotteella Even just a quick film on your mobile, talking about your pie and why you'd want to be our #RisingStar might be enough!
  • Four more entries overnight for #RisingStar! The deadline is midday today. You still have (just enough) time, GO! link
  • Tonight's the night, if you want to enter our Rising Star competition. Closes tomorrow! link link
  • WATCH! Only 24 hours to find 10 mins to enter Rising Star - it turned Sam’s life upside-down: link link
  • Only 24 hours to go to enter this year’s Rising Star and show us what you can do! RT, and spread the word! link
Login or Sign-up

Login & Sign-up

Forgotten your password? Retrieve it here
Or connect via Facebook
Connect with Facebook
Join River Cottage
Close
Shopping basket: 0 items £0.00