Resident Steve Spivak rescued a young gray squirrel from his driveway off Nod Road. Spivak said he was on his way home around 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, when he spotted what he thought was a clump of snow lying in his driveway. Looking again in his rearview mirror, he realized it was actually a young squirrel — injured, but still alive.

“I backed up the car and he didn’t move, so I got a blanket and a reusable shopping bag and picked him up,” Spivak told The Press. “I then brought him into my house and checked him out. Seeing that his nose was bloody and injured, I cleaned it with a Q-tip and Neosporin. He was so calm, letting me pet his head. My wife and kids came into the kitchen to check him out, and of course we all fell in love with him.”

Spivak dubbed the animal “Sherlock,” after the squirrel featured on his favorite childhood TV show, The Magic Garden.

After posting a photo of the injured critter on a private Facebook page for the Ridgefield community, Spivak said, he received an outpouring of advice and support from residents concerned for the animal’s well-being. Several suggested taking the squirrel to Wildlife in Crisis,  an animal rehabilitation center in Weston.

In a little more than an hour, Spivak was back in his car with Sherlock along for the ride to Weston.

‘Helpless’

For Spivak, rescuing the squirrel was bittersweet. Seventeen years ago, while living in Gainesville, Fla., he told The Press, he saw a dog running loose and confused by the side of the road. Rushing to get to work, he told himself he’d help the animal later. Somebody else, he figured, would be sure to help the dog before he returned. Later that day, he saw the dog lying dead by the roadside, struck by a car.

“I couldn’t forgive myself for doing nothing that day, and I swore I would not be complacent again when given the opportunity to help a helpless animal,” he said.

Released

Peter Reid, associate director of Wildlife in Crisis, said the squirrel had a little blood in its nostrils when it arrived, and appeared to be concussed.

Reid told Spivak the animal had probably suffered a concussion, but that it would likely pull through.

That proved to be an understatement. Sometime Friday night, Sherlock made a rapid recovery and chewed his way out of the plastic crate he was being kept in at Wildlife in Crisis. He was running around loose in the animal enclosure when staff found him Saturday morning.

Reid said that often squirrels will suddenly become very active once they begin to recover from a head injury. “They’ll chew through anything,” he told The Press.

Reid said the gray squirrel was later released back into the wild.

“Looks like a win for the squirrels today!” said Spivak.

‘A little wilder’

Reid added that this time of year, it’s not uncommon for people to see more wildlife, as spring temperatures drive woodland animals out of hiding. Wildlife in Crisis often receives calls about flying squirrels — native to the area — living in people’s attics, he said.

The best solution is to capture the animals with a non-lethal trap in the spring, when releasing the animals outdoors will give them a better chance at surviving the elements, he added.

Between forests reclaiming what was once clear-cut land over the past century, and a series of warmer winters that have driven the populations of prey (and predator) species up, “Connecticut’s getting a little wilder,” Reid said.

Have a wild animal in need of rehabilitation? Wildlife in Crisis is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and may be reached at 203-544-9913.