Wildlife rehabilitation technician Anne contacted me when one of her rescued squirrels Dalai ingeniously managed to escape his habitat. Dalai had been missing for 24 hours and Ann was concerned for his health.
When I communicated with Dalai, I learned something interesting about squirrels. Squirrels pay more attention to humans and activities in their physical environment than you might expect from a wild animal. Squirrels pay particular attention to potential sources of food and also, who “owns” the food.
Dalai showed me that he had been watching an elderly gentleman sit outside at a round table on his porch. The man appeared to Dalai to be putting little black things that looked potentially like food into a round dish on the table. When I thought about the image Dalai showed me, I realized those were not little “black pieces of food” on the round dish. Instead, Dalai did not understand the concept of smoking cigarettes, and so he mistook the man placing cigarette ashes in ashtray as the man putting “black pieces of food” in a dish.
Dalai was still close to where he got out, but he was feeling vulnerable, so he was hiding.
When I relayed to Anne what Dalai had showed me, Anne was very impressed because as we spoke on the phone Ann was able to look out her door and see the elderly man smoking cigarettes as he sat at a table on his porch which, Anne reported, was the man’s daily routine.
Unfortunately, at that moment Anne did not see Dalai, but she felt encouraged that he was still alive and still nearby.
Anne and I were able to confer on some techniques to help Dalai trust Anne. By the next day, Dalai was home and safe in his habitat again.
Anne of Fairfax, Virginia writes: “I am a very "science" grounded wildlife rehabilitation technician but know there are many things yet to be discovered. I believe you found and helped me get Dalai back. Your suggestions and advice are genius.”
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