Woman Finds Abandoned Baby Squirrel And It Changes Her Life
Simone Serfontein was just going about her day to day life when she found a newborn squirrel all alone and decided to rescue it. Little did she know that the little squirrel would become her best friend and love her unconditionally. The little squirrel would even sleep in her bed! You might not usually think of a squirrel as a great pet, but based on Simone’s story, they certainly can be. Together, the two went through some great times and some difficult times, then something amazing happened that no one ever anticipated. Read on to hear about the amazing tale of how Simone rescued a baby squirrel and all the incredible things that came after.
1. Not Your Average Couple
Simone Serfontein and Christof Schoeman aren’t your average couple. They live in the biggest wildlife reserve in South Africa, Kruger National Park and absolutely love animals, as well as each other. The couple has been together for years and has a wide array of pets.
They were going about their regular routine as usual when something extraordinary happened, something that would bring their family together, closer than ever. They never expected what would happen to them next and how it would affect their lives completely.
2. A Day She Would Never Forget
Simone was on her way home one fateful day when she noticed something out of the ordinary under a tree just outside her friend’s house in the yard. As she moved closer she could see something pink squirming and crying on the ground.
There, just under the tree, she spotted the little thing. It was a newborn squirrel. Based on its location it must have fallen out of its nest in the tree. Simone stood, paralyzed, not knowing what she should do given the situation.
3. A Newborn
The newborn squirrel was tiny and hairless, and its eyes hadn’t even opened yet. The tiny thing was shivering from the cold and Simone knew that she had to do something, otherwise the innocent baby squirrel would perish.
The newborn squirrel cried for its mother non-stop but she never came. The little thing was left helpless on the cold ground. Simone knew she had to move quickly if she was going to save the tiny squirrel’s life.
4. Stepping Up
Simone Serfontein made the decision there and then to save the baby squirrel’s life herself. If the mother wasn’t going to come back to save her baby, then she would step up to the plate and take on the responsibility herself.
“We honestly did not think that this tiny thing would make it, but we needed to try and help this baby,” Simone later told The Dodo. But what she didn’t expect, was that the little baby would end up saving Simone instead.
5. What To Do
Simone made the decision to save the newborn squirrel but what exactly did that entail? Simone didn’t have the slightest clue as to how to take care of a newborn squirrel that hadn’t even opened its eyes yet.
That wasn’t about to stop her. She took to the internet to find out what one needs to do to take care of a newborn squirrel that has been seemingly abandoned by its mother. And she also had the support of her loving boyfriend Christof.
6. Survival of the Fittest
“When we picked her up her body temperature was very cold and she was obviously very scared,” Simone said. “Her eyes were still closed … We kept her nice and warm and she eventually stopped screaming.”
Baby squirrels rely on their mothers and siblings to keep them warm after birth. They generally stay in the nest and their mother nurses them until they are old enough to leave the nests by themselves and scavenge for food.
7. Nursing Her
Somehow the newborn squirrel had fallen out of her nest and was now reliant on the kindness of Simone to keep her warm and feed her. And it wouldn’t be any simple task. Taking care of a newborn of any species is very time-consuming.
Simone made a nest for the little thing, in an attempt to keep her warm around the clock. But she also needed to be fed. Simone was forced to bottle feed the newborn every few hours around the clock. That meant getting up multiple times in the middle of the night.
Taking care of the newborn squirrel meant making a lot of sacrifices on Simone’s part. She couldn’t have imagined taking care of the little squirrel would be so much work. But for Simone, a lover of all animals, it was worth it.
Even if she was forced to get up multiple times during the night to feed the crying baby squirrel, she did it because it would mean that the squirrel might have a chance at surviving, as every living creature deserves.
9. What’s In a Name?
As the little squirrel started to grow bigger and stronger, Simone decided that it was finally time to name the tiny little thing. She named the squirrel Dingetjie (pronounced “dingeh-key”), a word that means “tiny thing” in Simone’s native language of Afrikaans.
“I did not really know anything about raising a baby squirrel and had to do a lot of research,” Simone said. Commenting on her nightly ritual of getting up multiple times to feed the baby squirrel, she said, “I never knew that raising a squirrel could be this hard.”
10. Day to Day Life
For months Simone had to make sure that Dingetjie was warm, fed, and had the amount of love that she deserved. Pretty soon the tiny little thing wasn’t so tiny anymore. Dingetjie was growing into a fully-grown squirrel.
But she was no ordinary squirrel. Having known only humans her entire life, she had grown accustomed to living with the couple and was very fond of them. Dingetjie would even travel with Simone to work, stowing herself away in Simone’s coat to keep warm.
11. No Ordinary Squirrel
Simone and her loving boyfriend Christof tried to make Dingetjie a nest out of a shoebox, but the little squirrel wanted no part of it. She didn’t like the confinement. Dingetjie preferred to sleep like the human members of the household.
Just like that, Dingetjie became more than a pet; she became a loving member of a wonderful family, a family that had done everything they could to make sure a cold abandoned baby squirrel had a chance at life.
12. Never A Shoebox
“She did not like the idea of being in a cage at all,” Simone later recalled. “It was only a matter of time until she refused to sleep in the shoe box and preferred the bed with me,” she added.
“She went with me to work every day for the first three months,” Sione said. “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.”
13. Getting Healthier
A few months quickly passed by and tiny little Dingetjie wasn’t so tiny anymore. She had grown into a fully developed squirrel. But this squirrel was different. She preferred to interact with humans instead of animals. Simone loved that, but it also concerned her.
The concern was about Dingetjie’s future. A squirrel is a wild animal that should be out in the wild. Now that Dingetjie was happier and healthier than ever, it was time to take the next big step, a step that terrified Simone.
14. For The First Time
Once Dingetjie was strong enough, Simone thought it would be a good idea to start acclimating her to the wild, something that both excited and terrified Simone. Not knowing how she would react, Simone decided to take the step forward.
So, Simone took Dingetjie outside for the very first time to see how she would react AND… the very second Simone put her on the ground outside, she started crying and squealing. She didn’t like it one bit and didn’t stop crying until Simone picked her back up.
15. Getting Used To It
Slowly, Dingetjie started getting used to going outside, even though she hated it at first. She started taking pleasure climbing the trees, but she always came back to Simone, her loving mother. Then one day, she started to make some squirrel friends.
Simone knew that the time was coming that Dingetjie would need to go back into the wild and live a normal squirrel life. During the past few months, she had become a family member and beloved pet. But squirrels aren’t pets. They deserve to roam free. What was about to come would break Simone’s heart.
16. Goodbye Old Friend
After weeks of spending time both indoors and outdoors the time had finally come. “We always knew that the day would come for us to release her and say goodbye,” Simone said sadly. Knowing that it could be the last time they ever saw each other, Simone released Dingetjie back into the wild.
“We live in the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa and everything is wild around us,” Simone said. “There are many dangerous animals around us that she can run into and she needed to be ready for that.”
17. Sad Days Ahead
The next few days were lonely days for Simone and Christof without their loving squirrel friend, Dingetjie. The couple had grown accustomed to always having their pet squirrel running around the house and sleeping in their bed.
They knew that the chances of ever seeing her again were slim. But still, they hoped one day to see her again and gain some assurance that Dingetjie was living a happy and healthy life. Soon they’d get some proof.
18. Hello, Dingetjie
After some time, the couple’s dreams came true. They saw their beloved squirrel once again, just outside the house. Simone and Christof were overjoyed that Dingetjie came back to visit them. But it turned out this would be more than a one-time occasion.
“Every day for the first few months was a bit stressful saying goodbye,” Simone recalled. “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.”
19. A Friendly Neighbor
Simone started leaving her window open slightly, just in case Dingetjie wanted to come inside for a visit. She moved from being a family pet, to a friendly family neighbor that would drop by unannounced, much to the delight of Simone and Christof.
Dingetjie’s visits became a daily occurrence, either for a quick snack or just to hang out. The squirrel obviously remembered Simone and appreciated all that she had done for her ever since finding her cold and alone as a newborn.
20. The Weight Gain
Slowly, Simone started to notice that Dingetjie was gaining weight. At first she thought the squirrel was just eating too much, or maybe she was just so used to having unlimited food from Simone. But that turned out not to be the case.
“We realized she was picking up a lot of weight,” Simone said. “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.”
21. The Disappearance
Then Dingetjie up and vanished one day without a trace. “She was not in the bed or anywhere to be found,” Simone Serfontein remembered. “We thought she left, and because she was pregnant, she might have decided to be wild after all. But that was not the case.”
It turned out the young little squirrel had made a nest for herself out of toilet paper in preparation for the birth. Simone was worried that such a young squirrel would be giving birth, but she dedicated herself to be beside Dingetjie throughout the whole process.
22. The Big Moment
Dingetjie went into labor. But sadly things didn’t go well for the little six-month-old squirrel. “We had to assist her during birth as she fell asleep and did not have any energy to complete the process.”
Dingetjie’s baby was stillborn. Simone believed that the little squirrel was just too young to have a baby. Usually squirrels are only able to produce offspring when they are around 11 months old. Dingetjie was only six months old at the time.
23. Another Disappearance
Most likely depressed after the loss of her child, Dingetjie took off into the wilderness. Simone was left behind, also grief-stricken, wondering if she would ever see the chipper little squirrel again or if she would ever be chipper again herself.
Simone was left assuming that Dingetjie had gone off into the wild and made more squirrel friends. Maybe the young squirrel would eventually have a family of her own, all bushy-tailed and brown eyed? That’s when Dingetjie came back with another huge surprise.
24. The Return of the Squirrel
After a few worrisome days, the tiny squirrel reappeared, much to the delight of Simone. Dingetjie continued to visit regularly and about a year after her first birth, it appeared that the squirrel was pregnant again. Simone was determined this time to help in every way possible.
Simone let Dingetjie make as many nests as she wanted and use as many toilet paper rolls as her little heart desired. Just to be safe, the squirrel made several nests in preparation for her upcoming labor.
25. The Labor
On April 24th, Dingetjie the squirrel went into labor for the second time in her life. This time everyone was more prepared to assist and make sure that the pregnancy was a success. No one wanted a repeat of what happened last time.
This time around, Dingetjie was stronger and healthier. She gave birth to a beautiful female baby squirrel. Dingetjie the squirrel didn’t leave her baby’s side for days. About 10 days later, the newborn squirrel opened her eyes to meet her beautiful family for the first time.
26. Baby Squirrel
It had been nearly two years after Simone rescued Dingetjie and now there were two beautiful little squirrels in Simone’s family. Simone was by the little squirrel’s side non-stop to make sure that the baby was alright.
Squirrels are generally frightened of humans and squirrel mothers can be especially aggressive towards anyone who tries to get to close to their babies, or their birthing nest. But Dingetjie did something amazing when Simone tried to get near the baby.
27. Life With Baby Squirrel
Dingetjie, the new mother squirrel, had no issue letting Simone or Christof get close to her baby. She trusted them completely and loved them like family. “It’s honestly the most incredible thing I have ever experienced,” Simone stated
“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,” she added.
28. Instagram Success
Simone, Christof and the two little squirrels are now one big happy family. Together they eat, play and even occasionally go to work together still. The two little mother and baby squirrels go outside, but they always come back to the house.
Simone made Dingetjie an Instagram page upon finding the little baby girl squirrel, documenting her life. To date, the account has almost 5,000 followers. Dingetjie and her baby, Tinkie, are Instagram stars. Simone has also become a star after multiple news agencies picked up her amazing story.
While Simone’s story worked out exceptionally, it is important to note that squirrels are not domesticated animals and they are not meant to be pets. In fact, in many states it is illegal to keep a squirrel as a pet.
Simone happened to rescue tiny little Dingetjie while she was still a newborn and the two squirrels now choose to stay in close proximity to her and sometimes comes in the house. But that is out of love, not obligation.
30. Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park, where Simone and Christof live, is the country’s largest national parks and the largest game reserve in all of Africa. In fact, it’s so large at 7,523 sq. miles, that it is bigger than many countries.
The park is inhabited by all sorts of wildlife and vegetation. Some of the animals that call the park home are animals such as lions, leopards, crocodiles, white rhinos, black rhinos, elephants, giraffes, zebra and much much more. No wonder Simone loves animals! We wish Simone, Christof, Dingetjie and baby Tinkie the best of luck and look forward to what the future holds for this incredible family.
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