At the end of August, as Oak Bay resident Peter Wheaton was on his walk to work, he heard the cries of a baby squirrel in distress. The little guy had been attacked by crows. Wheaton picked him up and took him to his office where he called an animal emergency hospital.
While waiting for a ride to Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC), the squirrel affectionately became known in the office as ‘Rocky’.
At the time he was admitted to Wild ARC to begin his recovery, he was so young that his eyes were still closed. As he grew and became stronger, Wild ARC offered a number of natural food items in ways that would encourage him to forage, helping him prepare for a life in the wild. He also shared his enclosure with other young squirrels he could interact with and learn from.
After two months in care, Rocky is now ready to be released back into the wild.
When releasing squirrels, the SPCA says they must be released within a kilometre of where they came from. To ensure Rocky’s privacy and successful re-entry into the wild, the location of the release is being kept secret.
“He was released in a nice little quiet spot. Lots of trees,” says Wheaton, who was there for the release. “He was quite anxious to get out of his little cage there but he came out, walked down the path, picked up an acorn, and there he was right away, sitting there chewing to his heart’s content. Quite happily. Then he kind of looked around for awhile and then trotted off into the undergrowth. I think he’s going to be quite a happy lad.”
Many people are to thank for Rocky’s successful rehabilitation and release.
“It was a huge team effort to get Rocky back into full strength and full health,” says Kerri Ward, the Wild ARC volunteer that released Rocky.
Rocky would not be where he is today if it weren’t for the efforts of: Wheaton for rescuing him; Central Victoria Veterinary Hospital for holding him until Wild ARC could receive him; Wild ARC for rehabilitating him; and the public for donating acorns and funds to help assist Wild ARC in the work that they do.
“I also tried to collect some acorns for Rocky,” says Wheaton. “I had a box outside the office, but it disappeared over night with the acorns. I’m not sure what that was all about. Maybe one of Rocky’s friends pinched it.”