Woman Becomes Unlikely Mom To Group Of Wild Baby Squirrels
“They recognize my voice and they follow me in the forest" 💓😍🤗
A few months ago, photographer Dani Connor moved to a small, rural village in northern Sweden. But even though she's only been there a short time, Connor's already an important part of a local family.
She’s taken on the role of “mom” to a group of baby squirrels who needed her most.
As a lover of wildlife, Connor has always enjoyed photographing animals. And the forest surrounding her new home has plenty — including one of her favorites: red squirrels.
“I have spent a lot of time watching the red squirrels. I was able to photograph them and differentiate the individuals, and I started naming them,” Connor told The Dodo.
“There was one red squirrel I was particularly fond of," Connor said. "I named her Remy.”
Remy, more than any of the other squirrels Connor encountered, seemed to delight in being her model.
And the camera loved her back. “She was the most confident,” Connor said.
One day, sadly, tragedy struck.
Upon approaching the spot she would normally meet Remy, Connor instead found her lifeless body. It seemed she’d been struck by a car. “I was devastated,” Connor said.
To honor the squirrel, who by then had become her friend, Connor laid Remy to rest in a bed of flowers. But Connor would go on to do much more than just that.
During her time spent with Remy, Connor had guessed that she was a mother — and she now worried her babies would be left in need due to her untimely passing. So, she was determined to help them.
“I sat in the forest where I had photographed Remy, and I just waited,” Connor said. “And suddenly something small and red jumped in front of me.”
It was a tiny red squirrel — and an adorable one at that.
“I was confident this was Remy’s baby,” Connor said.
The baby was reluctant to get too close, scared without his mom around. But Connor was undeterred.
After speaking to a wildlife expert, Connor came to learn that the baby was likely still too young to forage on his own. So she left out a pile of food to make sure he wouldn't go hungry in Remy's absence.
But that one baby squirrel was not alone.
Returning to the spot a few hours later, Connor saw this:
Remy had evidently had four babies. They were orphaned, but not forgotten.
"[They] were eating the food I had left for them!” Connor said. “I was so happy and relieved. They were able to eat solid food, so surely they would be able to survive without their mother.”
That is, without their natural mother. It was Connor who now took on that role.
Each day since then, Connor has headed into the forest to provide Remy’s babies with food. And sure enough, they’ve learned to see her as their loving provider.
“I have probably spent at least 100 hours with them. And now they are not nervous at all,” Connor said. “They recognize my voice and they follow me in the forest.”
In return for her kindness, Connor has a set of adorable new models to photograph.
Fortunately, the baby squirrels seem to have been on the verge of independence at the time they lost their mom. Remy had lived just long enough to provide them with the skills they would need to survive in the wild.
Connor is simply helping make it through that final step.
“Even though they don’t have a mother to teach them how to forage, I have already seen them find their own food,” she said. “I am highly optimistic that they will survive. And I am very glad they have stayed in the wild.”
In the meantime, Connor has been documenting their growth with her camera.
And the results couldn’t be cuter.
With any luck, the four babies will one day part from their adoptive mom and strike out fully on their own — carrying on a legacy of love and compassion for many generations to come.
Connor never had the chance to express her appreciation to Remy for the time they spent together, but there’s perhaps no sweeter form of gratitude than Connor making sure her babies survived.
“I did not expect to be a squirrel mum at all,” Connor said. “It is quite rare to see baby red squirrels in the wild. So I feel privileged to have found them and to have been with them as they grow up. They have provided me with so much entertainment and joy.”