Simone Serfontein from South Africa went to meet a friend when she saw a baby squirrel falling out of its nest. The baby squirrel fell on the yard and cried for its mother. But there was no squirrel.
Simone decided to take the baby squirrel home. She named her Dingetjie.
Simone told The Dodo:
“We honestly did not think that this tiny thing would make it, but we needed to try and help this baby,”
“When we picked her up her body temperature was very cold, and she was very scared. Her eyes were still closed … We kept her nice and warm, and she eventually stopped screaming.”
“I did not know anything about raising a baby squirrel and had to do a lot of research. I never knew that raising a squirrel could be this hard.”
Simone and her boyfriend Christof had to learn a lot about how to take care of a baby squirrel. Serfontein made a warm little nest for Dingetjie in a shoe box but the tiny squirrel preferred to sleep with Simone in bed.
“She did not like the idea of being in a cage at all. It was only a matter of time until she refused to sleep in the shoe box and preferred the bed with me.”, Simone said.
“She went with me to work every day for the first three months. I normally fed her when I woke up and then get ready and then she got into my scarf, shirt or anywhere warm close to my body and off we went to work.” Simone said.
Simone and her boyfriend always knew that the day would come for them to release the tiny squirrel and say goodbye. After a few months, the right time came to reintroduce her to the wild.
The couple took Dingetjie into the yard and put her down on the grass to see what she would do as they wanted to see if she can survive among so many dangerous animals.
“We live in the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa and everything is wild around us. There are many dangerous animals around us that she can run into and she needed to be ready for that.”
“Next thing, she got into a tree and her natural instincts immediately kicked in. It was pretty amazing and sad at the same time.”, Simone said.
You might be thinking that this was the ‘Happy Ending’. But, that was not the end!
Dingetjie would come back again and again as she didn’t forget the couple who saved her.
“Every day for the first few months was a bit stressful saying goodbye; I always thought that this could maybe be the last time I see her. But then every day when I came home, she would be there either waiting or maybe she’d see me walking home from a tree or something and then a few minutes later she will run inside to come and say hello.”, Simone said.
When Dingetjie was 6 months old, Simone noticed a change in her appearance.
“We realized she was picking up a lot of weight. We knew she made a few squirrel friends but also thought that she was not yet sexually active. We then discovered that she was pregnant.”
Dingetjie decided to give birth in a toilet paper nest that she made in Simone’s drawer. But unfortunately, the baby was stillborn because she was barely 6 months old.
Just over a year later, Dingetjie was again pregnant. This time she returned to Simone’s house and gave birth to a healthy baby girl squirrel.
“We never thought she would stay with us. But she chose to.”
“There is so much trust. She allows us to look, touch and hold her baby.”
“I really think that it’s impossible to ever explain the relationship we have with her and the relationship she has with us. It’s honestly the most incredible thing I have ever experienced.”, Simone said.
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