After two weeks of rescue attempts by wildlife workers the bald squirrel of Grove Park is safe and sound at last.
In a small park in Dunstable, some 30 miles north of London, an incredibly rare squirrel entirely devoid of hair was spotted a few weeks back, sparking a wave of sympathy across the country. After locals noticed the little guy scavenging around Grove Gardens, concerned messages flooded online community boards and Facebook.
Staffers from the Bedfordshire Wildlife Rescue, cited as the only wildlife charity serving the area, rushed to action, making several attempts to secure the animal before the area’s freezing winter temperatures set in.
Initially the team was unsuccessful in locating the odd critter, despite continued sightings by Dunstable residents. BBC journalist Toby Friedner even came across the squirrel on his way to work and took a video of it. After enlisting the help of the RSPCA, on the 21st the charity’s Facebook page declared they’d finally found the hairless wonder.
Dr. Helen McRobie with the Anglia Ruskin University has been studying squirrels for years, but told the BBC she’d never come across a bald one before. ‘If the skin was patchy I would say that it was more likely to have been caused by a disease like mange, but the squirrel is completely bald, suggesting it is probably a genetic defect.’
But so far the reason for the Dunstable squirrel’s baldness remain a mystery, like the 2008 case of Smoothie, an almost entirely hairless squirrel found in Amersham.
Officials did not release the whereabouts of the little guy, and haven’t said what will become of the peculiar squirrel, but it seems like the story is working towards a happy ending. The major worry was that the Dunstable squirrel would lack the inherent defenses needed to make it through a British winter, but it’s doubtful after all this effort wildlife workers will let the oddball out of their sight. And Smoothie wound up recovering just fine after some TLC.
What’s trickier to tell is just what the Dunstable squirrel thinks of this all, but it’s probably thinking things are looking up. With new digs, knowledgeable caregivers, and his newfound fame—it seems this once hard-and-out squirrel’s luck has really turned around.