In the wild,
squirrels make their nests of dried leaves and branches. They
often have multiple nests, in case one is destroyed. A strange
natural accident that sometimes occurs is sap from pine branches that
the nest is constructed of can adhere to the squirrels' tails and
ultimately to each other's tails. Squirrels normally have litters
of 4 to 6 babies. As they are fed in the nest, they are
quite "squirmy" and move around frequently. Once their
tails become stuck together, movement is limited amongst them and they
jump under and over each other trying to reposition themselves. In
the process, they literally knot or braid themselves together. The
squirrels pull in many directions, thereby worsening the situation.
They can actually live quite a long time like this, as the mother
continues to feed them.
If you come across this situation, cover the squirrels completely with a
large towel or blanket. Using HEAVY leather gloves, or a shovel,
carefully place the entire group of squirrels into a box. Cover
the box with a lid and tape it shut. Punch air holes in it.
This is an example of how the animals should be contained:
licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately for help!
Once the rehabilitator receives the animals, they will continue to
provide the requisite care. The group of 6 squirrels pictured above was found dragging around 3 of its dead
siblings in a garden.
turnover to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, it requires two people to
resolve the situation. As in this case, one rehabilitator covers the
heads of the squirrels that are still alive and controls their movement.
One of the rehabilitators should use gloves and take care to
prevent the other rehabilitator from being bitten as well as allow that
person to work freely either barehanded or wearing thin gloves, as
this is a delicate procedure. A squirrel's tail is composed of
tiny bones and can easily be broken or torn off by the rehabilitators
trying to help it, or by the other squirrels who are attempting to escape
in all directions from the sheer terror of the predicament.
Here all the debris is first removed.
It is easier to improve the situation by removing the dead bodies from the
entanglement. This is done by removing the tails of the carcasses
at the base. If no squirrels are dead, then the procedure is
even more complicated and the likelihood of breakage is even greater. Although
a squirrel can live with a shortened tail, it is used for warmth while
sleeping, as well as for balance, and communication.
photos of this twisted tale of twisted tails,
please check out this printable
montage in PDF format.