When Decan Andersen found a wounded baby squirrel in his yard, he knew he had to help. And when a vet told him that the animal had very little chance of survival, the concerned rescuer could not let him die alone. So, Andersen brought the critter into his home and did all he could to make him comfortable.
Andersen is a single father who lives in Denmark with his children Nicole and Markus. The family also shared their home with a pet cat named Coco. However, in April 2014 the clan would welcome a surprise new addition.
It was then that Andersen witnessed a tiny red squirrel tumble from the fourth story of his apartment block into the adjoining garden. And the critter’s landing was far from smooth; he ended up falling straight into a prickly bush.
An apprehensive Andersen then went to see how the squirrel was doing following his fall. He subsequently found the animal lying in the middle of his yard, clearly injured and sporting a bleeding wound from where the youngster had hit a tree branch.
But while Andersen felt the need to help the poor squirrel, he nevertheless didn’t want to interfere with the natural order of things. So, he left the creature where he had found him, in the hope that his mother would come to save the day. However, she never did.
Rejected by his family, the squirrel’s only hope now was Andersen. And, happily, when the dad of two realized that no one was coming for the critter, he stepped up to the plate by taking the animal into his home and calling a local veterinarian.
Then, while Andersen waited for assistance, he took a risk by placing the baby squirrel by his pet cat Coco. And while felines and rodents aren’t typically known to be friendly towards each other, Coco ended up taking to the squirrel right away. As if she knew his life was in danger, she cleaned the animal before snuggling up with him in an effort to keep him cozy.
By the time a vet arrived on the scene, then, Coco and the squirrel already appeared to be firm friends. But the future of the pair’s relationship was cast into doubt when the vet revealed that the squirrel had little hope of living long-term. All the expert could do was patch the animal up and hope for the best.
However, Andersen refused to give up. Instead, he made the squirrel – who he would dub “Tintin” – part of his family. And with a little help from his kids, the gallant dad made miniature sweaters for Tintin to wear to stop the animal from scratching his injuries while they healed.
Then, after five long months, Tintin had finally recovered. Given that the squirrel had grown up inside and was used to relying on Andersen for food, though, he wasn’t suitable for re-release. The family therefore ultimately decided to keep Tintin as a pet.
In an interview with People in 2016, Andersen explained, “By the time [Tintin’s] bandage was removed, he was completely domesticated and had no fear of cats. He quickly became like a third child to me.”
However, since red squirrels are endangered in many parts of the world, it is prohibited in Denmark to keep them as pets. As a result, Andersen had to apply for permission to keep Tintin in his house from the authorities.
On his website about the squirrel, Andersen revealed, “Under Tintin’s special circumstances, I’ve gotten exclusive permission from the Danish wildlife preservation to care and nurse for Tintin ’til the end of his days.” The dad hoped, however, that his new charge would live until “a good 15 to 20 years from now.”
Now that he was approved to keep the squirrel, Andersen set about assembling a more permanent sleeping arrangement for Tintin. And soon enough, he had built an enclosure more than fit for the rodent. Furthermore, the Danish man had recreated a woodland environment inside the large cage – complete with branches and foliage.
But while Andersen might have gone the extra mile to make the cage habitable, Tintin still preferred hanging out in the house. The family never lock the squirrel away, then, and allow him to wander wherever he sees fit. All his cage is used for now, in fact, is meal times and toilet trips.
To ensure Tintin can experience his natural environment, Andersen also treats the squirrel to trips to local green spaces. But whenever the pair are out in the “wild,” Andersen likes to keep the critter on a harness – just to keep him safe.
Andersen explained on the squirrel’s website, “Although I would prefer to see [Tintin] without a leash, it’s simply too dangerous for him not to have one on. There is a huge amount of natural predators in our area, including cats, hawks and owls.”
When the pair visit the forest, Tintin likes to enjoy some of the foods that he would typically eat in the wild. Otherwise, Andersen collects nuts and pine cones for his pet to consume at home. “Besides the natural food, he also likes rabbit food, corn, lettuce, tomatoes and all that sorta good stuff,” the squirrel’s owner revealed.
So, perhaps apart from his preference for healthy food, Tintin is much like any other pet. “He loves to cuddle, and he worries if we’re sick or feeling bad,” Andersen explained to the Daily Mail in 2016. “He loves to make small innocent troubles and acts goofily to make us laugh and smile.”
In fact, Tintin brought so much joy to Andersen’s life that he wanted to share the squirrel with the world via Instagram. On Tintin’s page, the squirrel boasts 119,000 followers, and his owner hopes that the animal makes them as happy as he is. “With so much negativity in the world, I thought it could help lift people up,” Andersen explained to People.