Man saves squirrel found in bag of mulch

November 28, 2013 • 6:39 am

Since most of us will have our blood diverted from our brain to our stomach today, don’t expect substantive or thought-provoking posts. Here, instead, is a heartwarmer to precede the inevitable heartburn.

Several readers sent me links to this strange but happy story, posted in many places (these picture come from Slightly Viral).

It apparently began in February of this year when a Florida man opened a bag of mulch—organic material laid over the soil to fertilize plants, keep down weeds, and conserve moisture. But this bag of mulch, which looks like it contained wood bits, also contained a baby squirrel. As the site reports:

The baby squirrel appeared to be only days old when he found it.  It was so young, [the man] initially mistook it for a mouse or rat.  But he decided to take care of it, and lucky for us, document his its development.

1-squirrelIt was force-fed, and developed like a champ. Here it is after two weeks:

3-squirrelOne week later, its eyes still closed:

4-squirrelIts eyes opened in the fifth week:

5-squirrelAnd it bonded with its rescuer:


With a voracious appetite (I can vouch for that in young squirrels), it grew quickly (is that a cookie?):



Now it’s mature, and the man named it “Zip”:


I don’t know how it got into a bag of mulch (presumably it fell from a tree, or its mother sequestered it in a mulch factory), but we can give thanks that a kind-hearted man decided to invest a big effort into rearing what some people would see as an annoying rodent.  I can’t help but think that animals like squirrels do value their own lives (they’re evolved to), and we should respect that.

I don’t have any information on Zip’s current state, though some people would try to return such an animal to the wild. Squirrels don’t make the best of pets—they have to be kept in cages much of the time or they’ll chew up your house—but at least Zip got a chance.

In honor of Zip, I’ve given my own (outdoor) squirrels an extra ration of hazelnuts and almonds today, along with fresh water and unsalted sunflower seeds. Winter is coming, and they’ll need food.

30 thoughts on “Man saves squirrel found in bag of mulch

  1. Lovely. Didn’t realise the claws were so prominent. Do the claws need to be used a lot or they grow to long? From the “they’ll need food” link above ~ I had no idea providing healthy squirrel nutrition was so complex!

    [BTW the “they’ll need food” link is not accessible for me, returning a “403 Forbidden.” This could be due to my UK ISP has been blocked by the squirrelboard server for some reason. The whole squirrelboard is inaccessible. Anyone else has that trouble HERE’S an accessible Google cache version of the link]

    1. I suspect the claws would grow too long if not used as this happens with guinea pigs (who hate having their nails clipped & will actually throw little squeaky tantrums).

      1. I think I would throw a squeaky wobbly too if a giant creature tried to clip my nails with the equivalent of a pair of garden secateurs 🙂

        1. Yeah, I don’t blame them! I once had a cute guinea pig who never would bite even when scared. She once got fed up with the clippers and actually squeaked, shook her head & pounded her little front feet. I just waited until she was finished. 🙂

  2. “I can’t help but think that animals like squirrels do value their own lives (they’re evolved to), and we should respect that.”
    I would extend that to all our fellow creatures from squirrels through to worms etc, even aphids!

    1. Obviously a gardener. Do you extend the tentacle of species friendship to Arion hortensis as well… 🙂

      P.S. I read speculation in the NS that the pea aphid may be unique among animals ~ it possibly photosynthesises

      1. “I read speculation in the NS that the pea aphid may be unique among animals ~ it possibly photosynthesises”

        That’s astonishing! I don’t suppose you have a link? Is this a new article?

          1. Indeed fascinating, both the Nature piece and the speed of transition from squirrels to photosynthesis.

    2. At the risk of being branded a curmudgeon, I’m going to quibble about the use of the word value in this context.

      Certainly animals evolved to protect and preserve their lives, and I’d go so far as to say they enjoy them. But value, it seems to me, suggests a degree of introspection and contemplativeness beyond what squirrels (let alone aphids) are able to muster. It implies an ability to conceive of what-if counterfactuals in order to conclude that being alive is better (more valuable) than the alternative.

      1. “… value, it seems to me, suggests a degree of introspection and contemplativeness…”

        But wouldn’t you agree that a dog protecting a bowl of food from perceived competition values that food? The instinct to protect a resource (including life!) seems to me to plainly display a sense of the value of the resource without depending on an ability to introspectively contemplate alternatives.

        1. I don’t think the cases are comparable since the dog has firsthand experience of hunger and knows what that feels like.

          But it can’t know what death feels like, nor (I claim) can it conceive of such a condition. So its ability to value life is limited by that ignorance of the alternative.

          That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect the lives of animals. But we should try to respect them for what they are, not for what we imagine them to be.

          1. The discussion seems to me, at this point, to hinge on the definition of ‘value’ one is employing to argue one’s case. Professor Coyne’s statement did not, as I read it, depend on a notion of ‘value’ as the result of a conscious weighing of alternatives. I suggest that anything (nourishment, territory, reproductive opportunities, life itself) for which an organism is prepared to contend has inherent value to that organism. I further put it that value defined in this way is in keeping with generally accepted meanings of the word.

      2. I feel that squirrel mums value their young & it doesn’t require an understanding of death, as an alternative to life, for mum to do so. A human can see further ahead & appreciate the branching “what ifs” of life lived & choices yet to be made, but nevertheless I suspect squirrel mum does indeed value things with some amount of emotional intensity.

        Perhaps the emotional life of a squirrel is more binary compared to our own & perhaps more intense as a consequence. Rather like how I remember my [self-centred mostly] emotions as the toddler Michael.

  3. Some friends of mine in Missouri adopted a baby raccoon; their young son became especially attached to it, to the point where it would sleep with him. Finally, it matured to the point where it was getting into everything and getting a little “bitey”, so the father decided it was time to kick it back out into the wild. The day after they barred it from the house they came home to find that it had chewed a large hole through the siding (right outside of where the boy’s bed was) and was busy pulling out the fiberglass insulation in an effort to get back in!

  4. That cute little rodent looks more like a ground squirrel rather than a tree squirrel. That would fit better with its presence in a bag of mulch, too.

    Since I live from from Florida, I have no idea what species.

  5. Man saves squirrel

    Ha! Take that, Christians! Your Jesus can only save humans and only if they’re Christians and only after they’re dead, but this dude just saved a living squirrel.

    Man: 1
    Squirrel: 1
    Jesus: 0



  6. I read something a while back about a local organization. Thesis was that pet squirrels are obese and clueless about finding food in the wild. The organization has a large enclosure with some wild squirrels. They put in rescued/abandoned pet squirrels and let the learn by watching wild squirrels.

    I wouldn’t mind having a pet squirrel, a wild one habituated to humans,and receiving an occasional peanut or pecan. Sort of like what Jerry is doing, but with some physical contact.

  7. “…animals like squirrels do value their own lives (they’re evolved to), and we should respect that.”

    An admirable sentiment, and one with which I wholly concur. I suggest it is equally applicable to the unfortunate creatures whose carcasses in their millions adorn holiday tables.

  8. Hello,

    Thank you for sharing my story to the world. I just noticed your page and the information you shared. Most of what you said was accurate for Zip’s case. You can find the original post I made for her on Go there and type “cut open a bag of mulch and found this… and raised it”. You will see my user name on the post and tons of info in the comments.

    Zippy is now a mother of two sets of babies that are all happily living in the two big Oak trees out in the front yard. She actually transitioned back into nature quite well. Her instincts were very strong. She comes down almost daily to say hi (and probably wanting snacks) along with her wild babies! They have taken a liking to us humans as well.

    Hope you all enjoy her story. Any questions, feel free to ask.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *