A little tree squirrel fell out of her nest on a chilly and windy day in South Africa.
When the squirrel, now known as Dingetjie, fell into Simone Serfontein’s yard, she was visiting a friend. Dingetjie sobbed and cried for her mother, but she never saw her again.
“We honestly didn’t believe this small creature would make it,” Serfontein told The Dodo, “but we needed to try and save this kid.”
Serfontein had no idea that when she agreed to take Dingetjie home to help her, she was embarking on a lengthy journey.
Serfontein was only trying to make sure Dingetjie would make it through the night at the moment. “Her body temperature was really cool when we took her up, and she was obviously very afraid,” Serfontein added. “Her eyes had remained closed… She soon stopped screaming because we kept her warm.”
Serfontein and her partner Christof had to pick up a lot of information in a short period of time. “I had to do a lot of study since I didn’t know anything about parenting a young squirrel,” Serfontein said. She had to wake up multiple times throughout the night to feed Dingetjie.
Dingetjie has distinct desires in addition to fundamental requirements like warmth and food. Serfontein described how she constructed Dingetjie a comfortable little nest in a shoe box where she could sleep, saying, “She did not enjoy the notion of being in a cage at all.” Dingetjie found this to be ineffective as well. “It was only a matter of time before she declined to sleep in the shoe box in favor of my bed.”
Serfontein realized she only had so much time with Dingetjie – the squirrel was still a wild animal, and it would be cruel to keep her imprisoned in a house indefinitely.
“We always knew the day would come when we’d have to let her go,” Serfontein added.
Serfontein thought it was time to return her to the wild after a few months.
Serfontein is located in one of the world’s most remote areas.
“We reside in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park, and everything is wild around us,” Serfontein explained. “She needs to be prepared since there are many hazardous creatures surrounding us that she may run into.”
Dingetjie was taken into the yard and placed on the grass to see what she would do. “The next thing she knew, she was in a tree, and her natural instincts kicked in,” Serfontein added. “It was both incredible and heartbreaking.” Serfontein felt it was better for Dingetjie to be wild, no matter how difficult it was to say goodbye.
And it appeared as if the narrative had come to an end there.
It wasn’t the case.
Dingetjie was delighted to return for a visit. She returned once more. And once more.
“For the first few months, every day was a little difficult saying goodbye; I always felt this would be the last time I saw her,” Serfontein said. “But then she’d be there every day when I got home, either waiting or seeing me going home from a tree or whatever, and she’d jump inside to say hello a few minutes later.”
“It turned out that she never really disappeared; she always, always, always returned,” Serfontein remarked. “Eventually, while working, we began to leave the window open for her throughout the day so she could come and go as she pleased.”
Serfontein regularly wakes up to discover Dingetjie snuggling up to her in bed, despite the fact that Dingetjie knows how to create her nests in trees. She explained, “She understands this house is a secure and comfortable place.”
This had become a normal habit by the time Dingetjie was just 6 months old. Dingetjie looked to grown pretty chubby around the edges, despite the fact that she was a growing squirrel.
Serfontein stated, “We discovered she was gaining a lot of weight.” “We knew she had made a few squirrel buddies, but we also assumed she wasn’t sexually active yet. We later found out she was expecting a child.”
Dingetjie made the decision to spend the most of her pregnancy at home. She used toilet paper to make a nest in a drawer. The couple returned after supper one night and discovered that something tragic had occurred.
Serfontein remembered, “She was neither on the bed or elsewhere to be discovered.” “We assumed she had fled, but she may have opted to be wild after all because she was pregnant. That, however, was not the case.”
In her toilet paper nest, Dingetjie was giving birth. Serfontein explained, “We had to help her during birth since she fell asleep and didn’t have the stamina to finish the procedure.” The infant was sadly stillborn.
She remarked, “I feel she wasn’t ready because she was just 6 months old.”
Dingetjie, on the other hand, began to look chubby little over a year later. When she got home, she was given as many rolls of toilet paper as she needed to start building a new nest. In fact, she built multiple nests throughout the home.
Dingetjie went into labor for the second time on April 24.
Dingetjie gave birth to a healthy baby girl squirrel this time, and she’s allowed Serfontein accompany her every step of the way.