Canadian countrywoman Jannet Talbott often feeds the squirrels in her yard. She likes few things more than to watch the playful critters as they romp around her remote farmstead. However, when the animal-lover spotted a squirrel in desperate need of help in early 2018, she knew that the time for looking was over. Now she needed to look out for this particular furry friend.
Talbott lives and works at the Double J Freedom Ranch near Barrhead, about 75 miles from the city of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Given the rural setting of her chosen home, Talbott shares her land with a number of creatures. This is in addition to the horses and cattle she raises at the property. And, as a fervent animal lover, Talbott likes to keep an eye out for any furry visitors to the Double J.
Ever since she was a small girl, Talbott has gone well out of her way to help her fellow living creatures. And as an adult, she has turned her altruistic attentions towards saving abandoned canines. Consequently, Talbott has travelled to Mexico to rescue five street strays to bring back to live with her in Canada. In addition, the ranch woman has helped dozens more Mexican dogs in distress to find their forever homes.
But while canines seem to be Talbott’s main focus when it comes to animal rescue, seemingly no creature is too small for her love and attention. As a result, when she saw a little squirrel in desperate need of help, her heart went out to him. She then hatched an unusual plan to assist the mini mammal.
Talbott had first noticed the squirrel in her backyard. She saw straight off that the critter was painfully thin, but that was not what caused Talbott the most concern. The animal rescuer was even more worried about the state of the animal’s teeth, which were alarmingly overgrown.
Subsequently, Talbott explained the situation in an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – CBC – in June 2018. “I saw this squirrel with this huge tooth coming out his mouth and it curled right around and it was dangerously close to its eye,” she recalled. “And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. That’s not good. I’m going to trap this guy and get that tooth fixed for him.’”
Consequently, Talbott planned to set a live trap to catch the squirrel in question. She nicknamed him Bucky – presumably after the little guy’s buck-toothed appearance. However, when she spotted the creature at one of the bird feeders in her yard, she took the opportunity to snare her quarry. “I knew it was my best chance,” she told the HuffPost that same month. “I saw him… there and decided I had to help this squirrel.”
However, it was only after Talbott caught Bucky that she came to realize the full extent of the sorry squirrel’s dental woes. In fact, she found that the unfortunate critter’s lower and upper incisors were wildly overgrown. So much so, some of them were actually curling back around into his mouth.
And it soon became obvious why the little guy was so undernourished. His dental problem was so bad that Talbott had few doubts that he had trouble eating. Furthermore, the animal lover quickly came to a worrying conclusion. Bucky was clearly surviving off the ground-up food she had left for the local finches in some of her bird feeders. But Talbott knew that there was no telling how long the small squirrel would be able to access that food source.
Next, Talbott took it upon herself to do some rodent research. She discovered that a squirrel’s four front teeth continue to grow throughout their lives. The incisors usually wear down when the animal gnaws away at nuts and trees. However, damaged or lopsided teeth can prove difficult to grind down – as was evidently the case for the unlucky Bucky.
With that in mind, Talbott realized that her tiny visitor’s life was on the line. He needed urgent dental intervention in order to save him. Even if Bucky’s teeth did not grow to such a degree that they pierced his skull, the poor squirrel would probably die of starvation anyway. As Talbott told CBC, “He couldn’t live much longer the way he was, because he couldn’t actually chew his food.”
Unwilling to let her new little friend succumb to starvation thanks to his out-of-control canine teeth, Talbott began to investigate squirrel dentistry on YouTube. Talbott was not a total novice when it came to veterinary care – nevertheless, she had never attempted a procedure like this one before.
With Talbott’s perusal of the video-sharing website complete, she got ready for action. First off, she prepared her patient for his ordeal. She wrapped Bucky tightly in a constraining and comforting blanket and covered his eyes. With this method he would see nothing of the operation to come. After that, she reached for a pair of cuticle trimmers and set about the rodent’s unruly teeth. Animal lovers should rest assured that the brave Bucky did not feel a thing. That’s because research has revealed that squirrels do not have nerves in their gnashers.
Indeed, when describing the operation, Talbott told the Huffington Post website that Bucky “didn’t squirm. Didn’t move.” In an interview with animal interest online resource The Dodo in June 2018, the rancher added, “It took under ten minutes. He was totally relaxed the whole time. It was kind of serious dentistry, but he was such a good patient.”
Following the procedure, Talbott kept Bucky as an inpatient in her home at the Double J. And, despite his operation, the animal rescuer said that the critter was in “no hurry to get away” once he was showing signs of recovery. So the squirrel remained in Talbott’s tender care until the have-a-go dentist deemed him ready to be released once more.
And when Talbott finally let Bucky out into her backyard again, he apparently seemed keen to test his new gnashers out. “I put him back in the tree and he was so happy,” she remembered to CBC. “He rubbed his little cheeks all on the bark like he couldn’t believe that tusk was gone.”
Before long, Bucky had discovered a new lease of life and a re-found appreciation for the finer foods in his habitual diet. “He’s doing fantastic,” Talbott exclaimed to the Huffington Post later that June. “He’s back in the feeder and this time he’s actually eating nuts instead of ground-up finch food.”
However, given the fact that Bucky’s teeth will continue to grow, it is entirely possible that he will face more teething troubles in the future. Thankfully, he knows where to go if he does: Talbott is on hand at the Double J with her cuticle trimmers at the ready. She vowed to CBC, “If I have to, I’ll certainly help him again.”
But, as we have seen, it is not just Bucky who has benefitted from Talbott’s benevolent side. In fact, the animal rescuer has pledged that she would not hesitate to help any critter in need. After all, we are all in this together, and as Talbott pointed out to The Dodo, “We share the planet with animals…”
Talbott continued, “If there’s an animal in need that comes across my radar, I wouldn’t think twice, because there’s no better feeling helping an animal.” Indeed, she implored anyone who finds themselves in her position to do similar. She concluded, “If what I did for Bucky inspires someone else to help an animal in need, that is honestly a dream come true for me.”