Eli Schotland, Staff Writer
October 20, 2023
Dawgs aren’t the only animals at the MAC. Recently, Patrick Albers (Class I) found a squirrel in the Dawg Cage, the MAC’s weight room, and nursed it back to health.
One day, Albers and his friends were working out when they heard squeaking from the ceiling. A squirrel plummeted to the ground, landing hard. “A beam of light shone down from the heavens on Patty Albers as he rushed to help the squirrel,” Strength Coach Kevin O’Neill said. Albers placed the squirrel in a bucket and took the injured animal outside.
Unfortunately for Albers, the squirrel would not leave the bucket. Albers called a Wellesley animal shelter and asked if they could care for the squirrel. The animal shelter declined, as the squirrel was not a domestic animal. Albers then called his mom and asked if he could bring a squirrel home. She said it was fine, as long as he kept it out of her sight. Albers took the squirrel home and decided to nurse it back to health.
As a child, Albers owned several hamsters, so he had a cage to put the squirrel in. He stayed up with it all night, periodically giving the squirrel seeds and water with Pedialyte, as he feared the squirrel had become dehydrated. The next day, Albers tried to set the squirrel free in his yard, but “it crawled back up me onto my shoulder,” he said.
“Everywhere I went, I was walking around with the squirrel,” Albers said. It even fell asleep on his shoulder! The next day, Albers realized he couldn’t keep a wild animal as a pet, so that afternoon, he drove to Grafton and dropped it off at the Tufts Animal Rescue Shelter. Reflecting on this decision, he said, “Obviously it’s sad but for the better.” The shelter called him a few days later and said the squirrel was recovering nicely and should be fit to return to the wild within the next eight weeks.
This wasn’t Albers’ first time taking care of a rodent. “I have a little bit of a history with bringing in wild animals and trying to rehabilitate them,” he said. Two years ago, he found an injured chipmunk in his driveway and successfully rehabilitated it. In addition to the hamsters he had as a kid, Albers also has a dog. I asked if the dog presented a problem with nursing the squirrel back to health, as stereotypically dogs love to chase squirrels, and he said no! It turns out the animal kingdom is at peace in the Albers household.
(Photo Credit: Patrick Albers)
Albers said he does not plan to become a veterinarian, but he hopes to keep caring for injured animals. He also worked at an animal shelter in Martha’s Vineyard all summer. Giving advice to future animal rescuers, Albers said, “Not everything has rabies, not everything’s gonna try and bite you…just give them a chance, and try not to freak out.”
Squirrelrefuge.org recommends several additional practices for taking care of injured squirrels you may find (many of which Albers did himself). Keep children and pets (especially cats) away from the squirrel. Keep the squirrel in a quiet location at room temperature. Don’t keep the squirrel in a room that’s very dark or very bright all the time, as it can mess up their sleep cycle which can slow down recovery Finally, squirrels have a fragile respiratory system, so try to keep them away from strong scents like perfume or cologne. If you come across an injured squirrel or similar animal, you can call the Animal Rescue League of Boston: (617) 426-9170.