For many people, wildlife sightings are just part of the daily routine. For the most part, humans keep to themselves while wild animals are left to their own devices. However, sometimes these creatures seem to need our help and a concerned citizen will take things into their own hands (sometimes literally).
For Allen Pursley of northern Texas, his life and the fate of a fallen baby squirrel would inevitably become interconnected, changing their paths forever. The Texas man cared for the infant squirrel and initially planned to release it back into the wild once it fully recuperated. However, something truly unexpected happened along the way. Believe us, you won’t want to miss this adorable story!
In Texas people are used to all kinds of wildlife encounters that might otherwise be unexpected elsewhere in the US. It’s not rare to come across the likes of snakes, coyotes and armadillos in the Lone Star State, and it’s certainly not rare to have a squirrel sighting (or like 200) almost every day.
One man, named Allen Pursley of the northern Texas town Lewisville, could not have been prepared for the changes to his life that were about to take place, when one assuming day, a helpless baby squirrel suddenly fell from a tree.
It appeared that the cute little animal had been orphaned and had no one to look after it. The baby squirrel was so young that its eyes hadn’t even opened yet, meaning that it was just an infant under five weeks old.
Luckily, a passerby came across the helpless little creature and rushed him to a nearby veterinary clinic. The poor little guy needed constant care, but no one could have guessed where his stay at the animal hospital would then lead.
The baby squirrel needed to be looked after around-the-clock, therefore the veterinary workers took turns taking the rescued animal home with them. Once the newborn squirrel had recovered to sufficient health, the veterinary technicians planned to release him back into the wild.
Incidentally, this particular vet clinic in northern Texas happened to be where Allen Pursley’s husband worked. Like his coworkers, Alan’s husband took his turn bringing the baby squirrel home. What would happen next, however, neither of them could have guessed.
While his spouse had to go to the clinic every day for work, it turned out that Allen Pursley worked from home, so he had time to care for the recuperating animal. The baby squirrel needed to be hand-fed special formula by an oral syringe feeding.
So Pursley took up the task of hand-feeding the baby squirrel to mimic the way that its mother would. All the while, the Texas man made sure to keep the fragile little animal warm and make sure he rested. As the days passed, however, something would start to become clear.
“I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning,” Allen Pursley later recalled. “We were just basically trying to keep him alive,” he explained. The Pursleys had never had a squirrel at home before, though, so the whole experience was new for them.
The couple did, however, already have two dogs and a cat, so their hands were pretty full. The baby squirrel’s eyes still hadn’t opened and he desperately needed someone so he remained with his human hosts for a while longer. It was then that Pursley started to realize something.
Like babies of most species, the tiny squirrel spent most of its time eating and sleeping. Pursley and the baby squirrel spent a lot of time alone together and were steadily forming a close bond. When the squirrel finally opened his eyes for the first time, Allen was the first thing he saw.
It was love at first sight for both parties and much to the relief of his human caregivers, the adorable little animal seemed to be growing at a healthy rate. Still, Pursley wasn’t exactly sure as to what would need to be done next.
While Pursley was certainly glad that the baby squirrel seemed to be making progress, he wasn’t so sure about keeping a wild animal in the house. Although the little cutie didn’t cause too much trouble, he had never expected to have a pet squirrel.
Pursley found himself in uncharted territory. And although he was quite skeptical at first, the two continued to grow on each other. Life had its own plan, however, and as more time passed things between Pursley and the squirrel soon started to change.
Pursley and the squirrel were becoming all the more inseparable. Before he knew it, the Texas man was taking the next step toward tightening the bond between them and it appeared that he was rapidly getting over his initial skepticism.
Pursley’s connection to the baby squirrel was all the more evident when he finally named him. At first, he called him Rocky after the cartoon Rocky & Bullwinkle, but their attachment didn’t end there and things were about to get even cuter!
As time passed and the baby squirrel became an even more fundamental part of the couple’s household. Their affection for him grew even more and it became more apparent as the squirrel started to rack up many pet names (literally!).
Apart from the name Rocky, the little nugget was referred to lovingly with nicknames like Squirrelito, Sweet Squirrel and Squiggidy-Boo. “I’m sure he also thinks his name is ‘Bad Squirrel’ with as many times as he heard me say it when I was training him to stay off countertops and drapes,” he said. But that wasn’t all.
Pursley explained that shortly after he started spending a lot of time with Rocky, he was already making alterations to make the gray-coated guest feel more at home. “Before the week was up, I was already converting our closet into a space for him,” he said.
There he could have his own space to crawl, climb and play without running wild around the entire house. The adorable friendship between man and squirrel was largely documented on social media where cute videos showed them playing, cuddling and generally going nuts over each other.
After so much time in the house, the baby squirrel had grown bigger and stronger. Now that it was obvious that the squirrel was thriving and well after its initial health scare, Allen had to rethink releasing the squirrel back into the wild.
On the one hand, Rocky seemed to have fully recovered from his initial fall, but on the other, he had become very fond of his little furry friend. However, Pursley then had a realization that made it very clear what he must do.
After the significant amount of time with Pursley, Rocky, a.k.a. Squirrelito, had grown into a more mature squirrel. He was fairly tame and used to domestic life. It was then that Pursley realized it was too late to release the squirrel into the wild where he’d be unprepared to fend for himself.
Squirrelito had no skills for finding food in the wild or fending for himself. He didn’t know how to interact with his own species or ward off predators. So Pursley made a decision that will surely make your heart melt.
The squirrel hadn’t shown any signs of wanting to return to the wild in the years that he had lived with the Pursleys. Although he obviously couldn’t speak, Rocky the squirrel seemed very content in his admittedly unorthodox domestic homestead.
With food always available and with own custom area to safely play, Rocky/Squirrelito seemed to be lacking for none. Although they had initially planned to free the squirrel in his natural environs after he recovered from falling out of the tree, it seemed that the Pursleys had waited too long. But the story doesn’t end there.
“By the time he ended up becoming an adult and I looked at releasing him,” Pursley said “I realized I had already done way too much wrong to be able to release him.” Amid all of his efforts to keep the squirrel alive, Pursley had forgotten about reintegrating him to nature.
So they did the only thing they saw fit, and they kept him! Although he was something of an unusual house pet, the Pursleys couldn’t imagine doing things any other way. Again, the squirrel’s life was depending on their considerate ways.
After it was decided that Rocky was there to stay, Pursley considered himself a proud squirrel dad. His bushy-tailed little buddy had also become quite smitten with his human parent and had an adorable (yet stubborn) way of showing it to everyone.
“He doesn’t allow anybody else to handle him,” Pursley said of his pet squirrel. “My husband can’t handle him either.” With Pursley, however, “he’s got the temperament of a cat.” But sometimes he still exhibited those instincts that come naturally to a wild squirrel.
One day after living in the house for a while, Squirrelito started to go nuts when an outdoor squirrel appeared at the Pursley’s window. Although he tended to ignore his other housemates, Rocky was interested and curious about the visitor.
The domesticated pet squirrel ran around excitedly before going over to the glass door to stare at his distant relative. It seemed that Rocky’s fellow squirrel was inviting him back to their natural domain, and perhaps he was finally ready to rejoin the animal kingdom.
Pursley was willing to do whatever he believed was in Rocky’s best interest. But ultimately, Rocky brushed his tail off at his country cousin and demonstrated his preference to stay with his beloved humans who had saved and raised him.
Rocky seemed happy to stay with his human family, where his bond with Pursley only continued to grow. The pet squirrel can often be found perching himself in his favorite place – on top of his owner’s head. However, he’s had another “encounter” with his own species.
According to Pursley’s well-documented account of his time with Rocky on social media, his somewhat unusual squirrel companion was also visited by a family of other squirrels. The trio of furry friends regularly checks in on their adopted domesticated counterpart.
Pursley dubbed the trio of curious onlookers as Rocky’s “grand-squirrels.” Apparently, they weren’t only interested in Rocky either. “They frequently are looking in and if they see me, this is what happens,” he wrote of these critters apparently frozen in ‘squirrrel in a headlight’ pose. Sounds like maybe they wanted in on the home life too. But what about the rest of the family?
While the outside squirrels seemed to be sufficiently interested in what was going on with Rocky, the other animals in the house weren’t always as into him. Although he’s smaller in size, Rocky usually plays too rough for his dog and cat step-siblings.
Nonetheless, he seemed to find entertainment elsewhere whether it be taunting the cat, rolling up the carpet or ripping up pieces of paper and balling them back up. As the years went on, though, more changes were made to accommodate the spirited Squirrelito.
Two years passed after Rocky first moved in with the Pursleys. He seemed to be enjoying his life and the squirrel showed no desire to leave. Still, his human owners wanted to give him a life that more closely resembled the natural habitat of wild squirrels.
Along with Rocky’s indoor playpen, Pursley decided to construct an outdoor enclosure for his unusual pet to give him some more options in his apparently permanent domestic life. Many adorable videos of the little furball ensued of Rocky squirreling around. But their story doesn’t end here.
Allen Pursley and Rocky the squirrel seems to have maintained their loving friendship over the years. Pursley’s perky little pet is one of his favorite social media subjects and his Instagram page is full of adorable shots of the two.
Along with his passion for fitness, Pursley also now loves everything squirrel. He even carved his Halloween pumpkin the shape of one! His friends and followers have also come to know of his four-footed companion and have showered him with all kinds of squirrel presents.
Pursley has found that having a wild animal as a pet provides a lot of laughter and fun, but it has also revealed to him some surprising traits that one might not necessarily think such animals were capable of possessing.
For example, his found out that his little Squirrelito could be litter box trained (he really is like a cat!). Additionally, the pet squirrel started to take after his owner and apparently loves human activities like watching TV. We wonder who his favorite character on Spongebob is!
In July 2017, Allen Pursley celebrated Rocky’s third birthday. “Happy 3rd birthday SQUIRRELITO!! Thank you for reminding me to NEVER underestimate any animal’s intelligence and emotional capacity…. Here’s to many many more!” he wrote in a social media post dedicated to his precious pet.
The pair is now going on their fourth year together and things seem to be in the treetops for Rocky and Pursley. If you can’t get enough of this duo, then you definitely won’t want to miss the next adorable shot of the two.
The unlikely friendship of the man and squirrel continues to gain attention on social media. The animal-loving Texas resident and his unusual pet seem to have only bonded further over the years and are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about their future together.
The two have dozens of adorable videos of them playing, cuddling and just being plain hilarious. Pursley’s documentation of his daily life with his rescue animal truly demonstrates an extraordinary example of kindness going a long way. However, Pursley has some words of wisdom for anyone interested in following in his pawprints.
Although Allen Pursley’s adoption tale seems to have worked out, there are some lessons to learn from the story. Pursley is the first one to make note of the fact that despite his unique circumstances, people should not seek to make pets of squirrels from the wild.
“SQUIRRELS ARE NOT PETS, do not obtain a squirrel for that purpose,” he wrote in a cautionary post on social media in 2015. “Squirrels require a knowledgeable ‘parent’ or rehabber and cannot be kept as pets!” If you do happen to find a wild animal that needs help, however, there are some steps you should take.
If you ever encounter an injured squirrel that seems to have fallen out of its nest, there are a few things you should first asses. Primarily, you want to determine its age (roughly). Even if a squirrel looks small, there are a couple physical signs that can tell you a lot.
First of all, you want to check for any visible injuries. If there aren’t any and its eyes are open and it has a bushy tail that’s a telling indicator that it is old enough to take care of itself. In that case, you should leave the animal alone. If it doesn’t, there are other steps to take — read on to find what they are.
If a lone baby squirrel without evident injuries has not yet opened its eyes and is under about six inches in length, then it is important to try to reunite the small animal with its mother. To do that, you can make a makeshift nest out of a cardboard box.
With the baby squirrel inside, attach the nest box to a tree or place it where the mother is likely to see it. If you know which tree the baby fell from, place it there. In the meantime, try to keep all other pets and animals away from the area. If the mom doesn’t come, take the next step.
If the mother squirrel doesn’t come to retrieve her offspring or if you find a wild squirrel with visible injuries there is another approach to take. The best thing to do is to call a local wildlife rescue center that can give the animal the care they need.
Once at the rehab center, they will be placed with other squirrels and the caregivers will not pet them or name them as to not form a bond. Once the animal has recovered they are released back to nature. Still, there’s another reason not to have wild animals as pets.
Although it can be hard not to fall in love with a wild animal that you find, there is another good reason not the keep them in your home: it’s usually illegal to keep wild animals, including squirrels as pets.
While many local laws vary, many states require licenses and permits to handle and possess certain classes of animal. Additionally, it is usually illegal (and moreover potentially dangerous) to have exotic animals such as monkeys, bears, tigers and venomous snakes.
Even though it worked out for Allen Pursley and Rocky the squirrel, if you come across a cute wild animal it’s best to be safe and not get too attached so it can go back to its natural settings and live the life it was meant to have.
Allen and Rocky aren’t the only examples of rescue stories with unlikely endings, but for your safety and the well-being of the animal, you can find more information through the Humane Society of the United States or local wildlife rehabilitator organizations.
But little Rocky isn’t the only squirrel in need of some TLC. Finnish Reddit user Priami and his family discovered an adorable baby red squirrel on the side of the road one day in 2007. Though the little squirrel looked lifeless, the Redditor and his family paused to examine the poor animal’s condition closely.
After a few moments, something amazing happened — the tiny red squirrel moved! Though it was ever so subtle, this small sign of life gave the family hope that the little guy might overcome his dire condition and pull through.
Priami and his family had no idea what had happened to the tiny squirrel. Was he hit by a moving vehicle? Did he fall off a tree? Was he attacked by a vicious animal that might return to finish the job? Worried that the little guy might not make it, they had to take action.
The kind-hearted family decided to take the little red squirrel home with them and to nurse him back to health. With no previous experience in squirrel-raising, it took several trips to the veterinarian to figure out how to help the squirrel pup.
After some much needed TLC, it looked like the little red squirrel’s condition was beginning to improve. However, there was still something bothering his new caregivers — though his injured little eye showed signs of improvement, it was still in pretty bad shape. Would the little squirrel pup remain blind?
Being blind in one eye meant that the red squirrel could never survive on its own in the wild. Devastated, they realized they would never be able to return him to his natural habitat — it was simply too risky.
If the squirrel was destined to stay with the family, then they had to find him a suitable name. ‘Squirrel’ just didn’t cut it anymore. They decided to name their new bushy-tailed family member Arttu, which is similar to the English name, Arthur.
Arttu seemed to get accustomed to his new home and quickly showed signs of his squirrelish personality. He was playful and energetic, and enjoyed playing with his new family. Like Rocky the Squirrel, Arttu enjoyed play-fighting with his caregivers, and showed pretty affectionate behavior for a wild animal.
Arttu also loved to snack on fruits, mushrooms and berries. His favorite thing, though, was to snuggle! Either in their sweatshirts or in the palms of their hands, the little guy just loved to get cozy with his human caregivers.
Arttu’s family would take him outside to get some much needed exercise, but he would always go back in the house to be with his humans after a while. Obviously, his favorite time of the year was December, when he got an entire Chistmas tree all to himself!
Sources: Dallas News, The Dodo, Honest to Paws