(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Talk about the wrong place at the right time — a dray of southern flying squirrels recently was rescued from a home’s attic and brought to Tamarack Wildlife Center. The center does not take in squirrels that aren’t injured, ill or orphaned, but for this particular family, an exception was made.
The flying squirrels were found when the home was being sold. They had to be removed from the home immediately. Tamarack Wildlife Center happened to have low patient numbers and agreed to take the furry critters in. The center noted that it was a special circumstance.
“Time resources, space and fairness to healthy wildlife are all reasons why we typically will not admit squirrels removed from human structures,” the center said in a Facebook post about the squirrels.
Southern Flying Squirrels have a range that spans about all of the eastern half of the contiguous United States, from Maine to Florida, and as far west as Minnesota down to eastern Texas. They’re also found in parts of Mexico and in Central America.
The squirrels are nocturnal. And they glide — they don’t fly; they accomplish that feat with a furry membrane that spans between their front and back legs. They also have a flat tail that helps steer while gliding.
“While flying squirrels are amazing (and cute!) creatures, with many fascinating adaptations, we recognize they can do damage to human dwellings,” said Carol Holmgren, executive director of Tamarack Wildlife Center.
Holmgren suggested homeowners follow Humane Society advice when dealing with squirrels in their homes. A Humane Society webpage offers a step-by-step remediation plan for homeowners dealing with their own attic squirrels. It includes finding the entry point, identifying if the scurry is a mother with babies, remove them (wait to move them until the young squirrels are old enough), seal the entry points with metal flashing and check for any damage the squirrels may have caused (including exposed wiring).
Animals of all kinds are brought into the Tamarack Wildlife Center. Some are brought by members of the public. The phone often rings at the center — they field about 2,000 phone calls each year regarding wildlife. About half of those calls are resolved over the phone (sometimes, it’s as simple as animals exhibiting normal animal behavior and people assuming it’s in distress, Holmgren said in a story published in 2022).
Staff and volunteers who answer the phones can counsel people on how to help wildlife. While it’s a lot of phone calls, it’s important that the public call the experts when they encounter wildlife they believe are injured.
“If you’re concerned, call the center,” Holmgren said. “They have a better prognosis if the public doesn’t try treating them on their own.”
It’s not just the core rehabilitation staff at the center that fields the calls — volunteers clock between 11,000 and 12,000 hours each year helping make the center run.
Tamarack Wildlife Center is at 21601 Stull Road in Saegertown.