A handful of Eastern Grey Squirrels are learning to live a tail-less life at the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC) after getting their tails stuck together with tree sap earlier this month.
According to Wild ARC in Metchosin, a member of the public found a group of five sibling squirrels that were stuck to the ground and each other, unable to free themselves. A Wild ARC volunteer cut the animals from the grass and brought them into the facility for care.
The distressed squirrels, which had likely been stuck together overnight, had tried to chew themselves free. It took Wild ARC’s rehab team more than an hour to separate the tails without injuring the animals further.
Once separated, the animals were kept in a warm quiet place to allow them to stabilize before exams could be performed to fully assess the extent of their injuries. One of the squirrels was euthanized to prevent further suffering as the rehab team found the tail would not have healed.
|One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Wild ARC)|
Wild ARC said the others had extensive damage to their tails. Blood flow was severely affected and their tails would become necrotic if they were not amputated.
For the next several days, the squirrels were put on specialized care to ensure they were stable enough to undergo surgery.
For three of the squirrels, Wild ARC said the surgery went well. These squirrels recovered quickly and have since been moved to an outdoor enclosure where they can practice navigating and foraging on their own, without tails.
The fourth squirrel had some complications, but Wild ARC is “optimistic” it will be joining the others outside in the near future.
Prior to the surgery, members of the senior rehab team worked with a wildlife veterinarian to make sure the squirrels would be able to live a full life without tails. The team found that after long discussions and further research, there was evidence to suggest it is possible.
Squirrels use their tails to balance but they are able to adapt and compensate for the loss when needed.
The three squirrels in the outdoor enclosure are now in a safe space where they can relearn how to move, climb and navigate their surroundings. Once they’re ready, the animals will be released back into the wild.
To make a donation to help Wild ARC cover the cost of care for these animals visit bit.ly/3dMDYfN.