Simone Serfontein has an unusual pet that became part of her life in the most unusual way. And now the best thing of all is that she isn’t only a human mother to her lovely squirrel, but also a grandmother of the cutest baby.
It happened on a cold October day in South Africa.
Simone was at a friend’s place when she suddenly noticed a baby squirrel falling off a tree. She rushed to take it in her hands and bring it back to the mommy squirrel, but the mother was nowhere to be seen.
“We honestly did not think that this tiny thing would make it, but we needed to try and help this baby,” Simone told The Dodo.
The baby was so cute and tiny.
“When we picked her up her body temperature was very cold and she was obviously very scared,” Simone recalls. “Her eyes were still closed … We kept her nice and warm and she eventually stopped screaming.”
Simone simply couldn’t just walk away and leave the baby all by herself so she decided to bring it home. She and her boyfriend Christof decided they would keep it and take good care of it. Raising baby Dingetije, that’s how they named it, was similar to raising a child.
They would feed Dingetije seven times during one night.
“I did not really know anything about raising a baby squirrel and had to do a lot of research,” Simone said. “I never knew that raising a squirrel could be this hard.”
The family provided little baby squirrel with a nice cage, but Dingetije wouldn’t spend a minute inside, so Simone got a better idea. She created for the baby a nest out of a show box.
“She did not like the idea of being in a cage at all,” she said. “It was only a matter of time until she refused to sleep in the shoe box and preferred the bed with me.”
Simone would never leave her baby alone, and would take it with her whenever she went.
“She went with me to work every day for the first three months. I normally fed her when I woke up and then get ready and then she got into my scarf, shirt, or anywhere warm close to my body and off we went to work,” Simone says.
But no matter how much she loved Dingetije, Simone knew she had to return her in the wild.
“We live in the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa and everything is wild around us,” Simone said. “There are many dangerous animals around us that she can run into and she needed to be ready for that.”
Dingetjie’s animal instincts immediately kicked in when she was let outside.
The lovely animal would sometimes pay a visit to her mommy, and that was the sweetest thing ever.
“Every day for the first few months was a bit stressful saying goodbye; I always thought that this could maybe be the last time I see her,” Simone said. “But then every day when I came home she would be there either waiting or maybe she’d see me walking home from a tree or something and then a few minutes later she will run inside to come and say hello.”
One of the house windows was always left open so that the squirrel can get inside whenever she wanted.
After some time, Simone noticed her baby looked a bit different. He tummy was getting big.
“We realized she was picking up a lot of weight,” Simone said. “We knew she made a few squirrel friends but also thought that she was not yet sexually active. We then discovered that she was pregnant.”
During her pregnancy, Dingetije stayed at the house where Simone made sure she gets everything she needed.
But, despite all the care, the baby was stillborn.
Dingetije, however, got pregnant again, and this time she made a couple of nests around the house, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
“There is so much trust. She allows us to look, touch and hold her baby,” Simone says. “We never thought she would stay with us. But she chose to.”
Dingetije spends most of her days out in the wild, but knows that Simone will always be there for her and her baby.
“She’s such a smart and clever squirrel. I really think that it’s impossible to ever explain the relationship we have with her and the relationship she has with us,” Simone explains. “It’s honestly the most incredible thing I have ever experienced.”
You can check out more of Dingjetjie’s adventures on Instagram here.
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