6 min read

Confused Baby Squirrels Had No Idea How They Got So Tangled

Their mom was so worried 😱

Last Thursday, a Milwaukee resident discovered five juvenile gray squirrels in an odd predicament. The siblings had emerged from their cozy nest only to find that they were hopelessly stuck together, their fluffy tails tangled.

The five tails had enmeshed with the long-stemmed grasses and strips of plastic that their mother had used to build their nest. At only 5 or 6 weeks old, the squirrels were just beginning to explore outside with some parental guidance — and were understandably confused by these unexpected growing pains.

“The squirrels were on the ground, trying to go in five different directions at once!” Scott Diehl, wildlife director for the Wisconsin Humane Society, told The Dodo. "The mom squirrel was there trying to help her babies.”

five squirrels with tangled tails in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Humane Society

Sensing that the squirrels were in trouble, the woman contained the struggling animals and called the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the Wisconsin Humane Society for help. And Diehl, who quickly arrived on the scene, was glad she did.

“The squirrels were frightened, very upset and likely in pain,” Diehl said. The “wiggly and unruly” young squirrels were brought to the wildlife center and anesthetized before the delicate work of separating the “Gordian Knot” of their tails began.

A Gordian knot of tangled squirrel tails
Wisconsin Humane Society

It was impossible to tell whose tail was whose,” a Facebook post by the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center read. “And we were increasingly concerned because all of them had suffered from varying degrees of tissue damage to their tails caused by circulatory impairment.”

five squirrel tails were untangled
Wisconsin Humane Society

The wildlife team had come across situations like this before, but had never worked with so many squirrels at once. But with sure hands and intense concentration, the team managed to free the tails.

“Every few years we get in a litter of squirrels with their tails tangled, but these have been situations involving two to three squirrels,” Diehl said. “Once we had each squirrel anesthetized and stable, we were able to gently and carefully pick away and snip away at the knot. It took about 20 minutes to free them.”

Squirrel free of her siblings recuperating
Wisconsin Humane Society

Days later, the squirrel family is happily recovering at the wildlife center. “All five squirrels are now very active and vigorous, happily eating all that we’ve offered, including nuts, seeds, and fruit,” a Facebook post notes. “We can only imagine how relieved they must feel to be free of one another, and move independently.”  

Wisconsin Humane Society

Finally able to test their climbing skills, the squirrels are running and jumping around their outdoor enclosure with ease, though some have more fur left on their appendages than others. Luckily, the fur will grow back.

Wisconsin Humane Society

Without human intervention, these squirrels could have lost their tails — which are necessary for balance and warmth — and possibly their lives.

“We’re very grateful to the person who found them and brought them to us,” Diehl added. “They will need to stay here at least a few more days for observation, but then we plan to return them to the location they were found to rejoin their mother.”

After what this squirrel family has been through, we're sure it will be a very happy reunion.

To help support the squirrel siblings’ recovery, you can make a donation to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Wisconsin Humane Society.