Squirrels nuts about home Harmans man built them

May 04, 1992|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe

The baby squirrels were in peril.

Their nest was about to be destroyed for roof repairs on a house in Harundale. Their mother was nowhere in sight.

Just a couple weeks old and as big as your finger, their future did not look bright.

But that's where Henry Tuck, a 61-year-old construction worker, came in. A lesser person may have left the four babies to fend for themselves, or, worse yet, killed them.

But not Tuck. He wasn't about to drive off, leaving the babies to die.

"I could never, ever just leave them," he said.

So he bundled them up and brought them home to Harmans. Using an eye dropper, he fed them milk. He took one of his grandson's old sweaters and made them a warm, cozy bed on the back porch.

Still, he wondered, would they be safe there? They needed a more permanent home, Tuck thought, until they were old enough to fly the coop, so to speak.

And then it hit him. Where would baby squirrels be more at home than in a tree? So Tuck made them their own little home in an old tree trunk.

He drilled a hole in the front, so they could come and go easily. He hammered a piece of metal across the top so rain wouldn't get in. Then he fashioned a nest inside, using straw and the sweater to make it snug and warm.

But there's just one thing about making new arrivals -- be they house guests, door-to-door salesmen or baby squirrels -- too comfortable. The more they like their digs, the less likely they are to leave.

So it is with the squirrels.

After a month of being fed peanut butter sandwiches, lapping up milk from a floral dish and taking strolls along a white picket fence abutting their new home, the squirrels show no signs of moving on.

In fact, in squirrel circles, they're probably living the high life.

"They don't look like they're going anywhere soon," said Tuck's wife, Shirley, who watches them from her kitchen window. Although the squirrels are now almost fully grown and have started to climb nearby trees on brief excursions out, they always return to their tree stump.

But the Tucks don't mind. They'll just keep feeding the squirrels until they feel ready to move on. And if they decide to take up permanent residence, that's OK too.

"They're free to go whenever they want. Or they can stay," said Shirley Tuck. "My husband just loves them. He watches them all the time. They're the cutest things."

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