By John Ramos
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SAN JOSE, CA (KPIX) – Last week, as temperatures soared to 110 degrees, local wildlife hospitals were inundated with baby squirrels who had fallen from their nests in search of relief from the heat. Now, the heat is on the hospitals and they are trying to take care of them all.
Things calmed down a bit, so the local wildlife had a chance to unwind. At the Silicon Valley Wildlife Center, it was the last week when things started to get a little crazy.
“Last Monday, we got 14 squirrels in within an hour. It’s a tidal wave, yeah,” CEO Laura Hawkins told KPIX 5. “People were queuing outside the gate to get in when we opened.”
The center was inundated with young squirrels, which the audience found all lying under the trees. The staff believed that the children were moving around, trying to comfort themselves in the three-figure heat, and fell out of their nests.
“We actually have about 203 sponsorships,” Hawkins said. “We came 34 a little over the weekend.”
The same is happening in wildlife hospitals across the Bay Area.
At the wildlife center, the 250 volunteers pull shifts to hand feed four times a day.
Andy Young is new to the hospital and has been surprised by the behavior of the supposed “wild” animals.
“Some of them are really docile,” Young said. “Like, you wouldn’t think about it — that some of them would just lay there and happily feed when they were younger. It was really interesting.”
Squirrels usually spend the first four months in the nest, but one in the center is still eyes closed and may be no more than six weeks old.
Others had concussions from falling from trees.
“They came with a swollen head,” said staff technician Lavanya Kothandharaman. “If it’s mild, we treat them with anti-inflammatory medications, give them fluids, and they’re pretty much back to normal.”
There is no way to get them back to their nests, but the staff said that when they are old enough to be released, they should have no problem returning to their wild ways.
But the center warns the public not to try to take care of yourself. Hawkins said people of good will may be tempted to feed baby squirrels with information they get online.
“Don’t rely on the Internet! It will tell you foolish things!” Hawkins said. “So, yes, please contact us or your local wildlife center for more information.”
The Silicon Valley Wildlife Center said – especially now – that it could always use more volunteers and donations. For information, visit wcsv.org.
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