MacIntosh’s Rehabilitation Story
By Jane Seeker, Vice-president of WRAM and founder of Newhouse Wildlife Rescue
Macintosh is a leucistic eastern gray squirrel who came to us after he had been found lying on the side of the road. He presented with severe head trauma. He was barely responsive. In the coming days it became clear that he had no use of his back legs and was unable to urinate on his own. We went back and forth as to whether or not he could be rehabilitated. X-rays didn’t reveal any spinal fractures, so we decided to give him some time.
He was placed on anti-inflammatory pain medication. We expressed his bladder multiple times a day. He had to be hand fed because he could barely lift his head. Within three days he began to urinate on his own. We were happy to see this progress, though because he couldn’t move, this meant he needed to be bathed frequently. Each day we saw improvement – though very minor. He began to hold up his head easier and started to have more control over his front paws.
After 10 days we started to consider euthanasia as he still was unable to use his back legs and we began to think he never would. On day 11, Macintosh finally showed some movement of his rear limbs when he scratched his left ear with his left hind leg. We are all ecstatic to see this! This meant he really had a chance at a full recovery.
He had very limited control of his back limbs and his movements were not graceful by any means. It took months for him to fully recover – but he eventually did. Macintosh was released, in March, just four months after his accident.
1 in every 100,000 gray squirrels are white. I don’t know the survival rate of squirrels that are hit by cars, but I know there aren’t many that walk away from this kind of injury.
Macintosh’s story motivated me as a rehabber because it reminded me of what animals can come back from. It showed me how much determination they can have. It is difficult sometimes to know when to try and when to humanely euthanize. For me, as long as I see signs of improvement and the animal is not suffering, I always try. In cases like this, it is worth it and it reminds me of why I became a wildlife rehabilitator in the first place.