Jannet Talbott shares a close bond with nature’s little creatures. She owns the Double J Freedom Ranch in Alberta, Canada, and cares for everything from dogs to cats to horses.
But it was a squirrel nibbling at a bird feeder that caught her eye while strolling through the ranch. She’d seen him before, and knew he needed her assistance.
“Bucky” the squirrel had unusually long incisors, making it difficult for him to eat.
The squirrel’s teeth had grown so much, they were protruding out of its mouth and beginning to curl. As an animal lover, Talbott really wanted to help.
“He couldn’t live much longer the way he was because he couldn’t actually chew his food,” Talbott said to CBC.
She suspected he was spending time at the bird feeder because ground finch feed was the only thing he could eat. Bucky was noticeably underweight, and likely wouldn’t be able to survive much longer without some aid.
Talbott saw an opportunity to capture him and get him what he needed earlier this month. And so, while Bucky had his back turned, Talbott snatched him up and swaddled him in a towel.
“I knew it was my best chance (to catch him.) I saw him in there and decided I had to help this squirrel,” Talbott said to CTV News.
Talbott brought Bucky back inside the house to assist him with his teeth.
It wasn’t until she took a closer look that she realized how much distress Bucky was really in. Talbott has cared for animals for most of her life, and while most should seek professional help, she felt comfortable trimming Bucky’s teeth herself.
“I had no idea how bad they were,” Talbott said. “All of his incisors — upper and lower — were all overgrown and were curling inside of his mouth.”
“His two upper incisors were curled inside his mouth and they could have easily continued to grow right through the roof of his mouth.”
In a flash, Talbott gave Bucky a new smile, and a chance at a better life. She let him recover for a while before letting him free, but said he didn’t appear to be in a rush to leave.
After returning him to the feeder where he’d been captured, she described Bucky’s adorable reaction to realizing the overgrown incisors were really gone.
“I put him back in the tree and he was so happy,” she said. “He rubbed his little cheeks all on the bark like he couldn’t believe that tusk was gone.”
Talbott said she’ll keep an eye on Bucky, and if he gets too toothy again, she’ll be there.
Talbott said she saw Bucky the following morning and he appeared to be doing well. He wasn’t able to chew any food before she intervened, which doesn’t appear to be the case any longer.
“He’s doing fantastic. He’s back in the feeder and this time he’s actually eating nuts instead of ground-up finch food.”
Squirrels’ incisors never stop growing, and are kept at a normal length by chewing on abrasive foods like nuts. Because his teeth grew so long once before, it’s possible it will happen again in the future.
“I really feel a deep connection to animals, and they always seem to come to me when they need help,” Talbott said. “I’m always happy to help them, and I think if we all did a little, it would end up being a lot.”