Adventures While House Sitting




Last fall a local Carrabelle realtor contacted us to care for his personal fishing cabin, two dogs and a flying squirrel, while we had never sat a squirrel before, let alone a flying squirrel, we had raised an Alaskan Red Squirrel from infancy. Apparently abandoned and vulnerable it fell a good 25 feet from its nest perched in a large white spruce tree at our Alaskan home. Our female malamute, with strong mothering instincts, found the little bundle first and drew my attention to it. Its eyes were still closed and it was bald as a baby mouse. I fed it goats milk with an eye dropper and kept him warm in my otter skin booty. He survived and we dubbed him "Chippy." He seemed healthy and active, and as he grew found new ways to amuse himself as well as us. He loved to tear around the house and play with the two malamutes we had. Chippy's favorite game was hide and seek in the couch cushions. He spent hours at my jewelry table playing with findings. The cute little guy was surprisingly clean and odor free and didn't complain about being in a box for the night. We buried his native foods around the house and he had no problem figuring out what was and was not edible. I took Chippy outside regularly so he could adjust a little at a time to living wild. He climb trees and started searching out his own native foods. The day finally came when he jumped off my shoulder, ran up a tree and decided to keep going. He stuck around our neighborhood and would occasionally startle a visitor by running up their leg. But, it was obvious he was becoming wilder by the week and we were happy for that. In the fall we departed for a ranch sit in Oklahoma. The following spring we returned home and could no longer recognize which squirrel was our little buddy Chippy. 


Caring for the flying squirrel was fun. He had a large cage with two wooden cabins, natural branches, a wheel and other toys. He was fed a small bowl of nuts twice daily and drank water out of a second bowl. We could tap on the side of his cabin and he would peek out. In the evenings he was set free, while confined to the screen porch, and ran around burning off energy. While we never saw him fly, his arm flaps were sometimes visible. He was a nice playful little creature with huge black eyes. While watching him I thought of the flying squirrels i'd seen soar from tree to tree while living in a remote cabin in the Forty Mile River drainage of Interior Alaska back in the 1980s. And then I thought of and missed our little Alaskan buddy... Chippy.

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