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Given the chance, momma squirrel takes care of her own

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WILDLIFE WATCHING — Red squirrels provide year-round entertainment for Tina and Judge Wynecoop of Colbert.  But when they started affecting the gas mileage of their vehicle, something had to be done.

“Our Toyota 4 Runner did not have much get up and go on its 12 mile trip to town,” Tina said, indicating how they began troubleshooting one of their more unusual wildlife encounters.

“Judge checked under the hood and found a pine cone.  When he opened the air filter case he discovered a family of five baby red squirrels in a nest composed of the air filter, the insulation from an old coat and grasses.”

They drove a short way to a Toyota dealer to purchase and install a new filter. The old filter was removed with the baby squirrels snug in their nest.

“The check engine light remained on as we returned home, where the mom was waiting,” Tina recalled. “She checked out her babies; she bumped up against our legs; she sniffed the air filter contents, examined the spot in the Toyota where she thought she had left her babies, and then carried her children off, one by one, and put them in a safe place under the garage rafters.

“A short while later she moved them a very far distance to our barn and made an obscene gesture at the 4 Runner.”

Wynecoop's photos tell the story.