Simone Serfontein will surely teach us how it is possible to build a relationship of friendship, love, and trust even with the most unexpected being of the world- a squirrel. Simone never intended to own a pet squirrel, yet by chance she did. More so, in the turn of events, she became a foster mom to the squirrel and developed a good relationship with her.
But even with this chain of events, she still did not expect that she would become a foster grandmother to a squirrel as well. Here’s Simone Serfontein’s truly incredible story…
It was a cold day of October in South Africa, Simone was hanging out in her pal’s house when she spotted a baby squirrel who fell out of a tree nest. The vulnerable baby squirrel seemed to be terrified and is crying for its mother, although Simone and her friend looked for the mother of the baby squirrel, the mother is nowhere to be found.
Simone knew that she cannot afford to abandon the defenseless little squirrel. After all, the baby squirrel was so small and its fur had not developed yet to protect it from harsh temperature. In fact, when Simone and her friend picked up the squirrel, its body temperature was very cold. The baby squirrel has not even opened her eyes yet! Having a caring heart, Simone kept the baby squirrel warm to soothe her cries.
She took the baby squirrel home, and together with her supportive and loving boyfriend, they took a proactive role of being a parent to the squirrel. They named the baby squirrel, Dingetjie which means Llittle thing, and exerted great effort learning how to take care of it. Surprisingly, looking after a baby squirrel is a lot similar with tending to a baby.
“I did not really know anything about raising a baby squirrel and had to do a lot of research,” Simon shared in an interview. “I never knew that raising a squirrel could be this hard.” Simone remembers the nights she had to stay up late in order to feed the Dingetjie
According to Simone, Dingetjie disliked being kept in a cage, so she created a shoe box as a little nest for her. However, as time goes by, Dingetjie refused to sleep inside the shoe box. Apparently, she preferred sleeping with her foster mom.
Dingetjie, like a normal human baby, is still very dependent to having close contact with her mother. She couldn’t be left alone and so Simone took her everywhere she went, even to her workplace.
“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 shared, it is truly evident how much she cared for her baby squirrel.
“We live in the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa and everything is wild around us,” Simone shared, thinking for Dingetjie’s best of interest. “There are many dangerous animals around us that she can run into and she needed to be ready for that.”
And although parting ways with the baby squirrel she took care of, she nourished with her love, and she named as if a child of her own, Simone released Dingetjie back to the wild where she truly belongs.
Dingetjie’s animal instincts proved to still be intact in her mind and body as it kicked in when she spent time in the wild. Surprisingly, despite animal instincts kicking in, Dingetjie did not forget the human mother she had. There were times when Dingetjie would come back to Simone to pay her a visit.
“…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.” And since Dingetjie loved giving Simone frequent visits, the latter chose to leave an opened window so that Dingetjie would be able to come and go as much as she wanted.
The mother and child relationship between Simone and DIngetjie does not end there. Six months after she found Dingetjie, she noticed that the once little squirrel’s belly was changing. It is getting plumper and plumper over time… and to her surprise, her ‘daughter’ will be a mother as well.
“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.”
For Dingetjie’s pregnancy, Simone prepared layers of toilet paper to build a nest for Dingetjie’s delivery inside her drawer. Unfortunately, Dingetjie’s first baby was stillborn.
But is wise to remember that there is always a rainbow after a rain. Dingetjie got pregnant once again. This time, Simone prepared better and created a lot of improvised nests inside her home for Dingetjie’s delivery.
“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.” Simone shared of her experience when she touched Dingetjie’s baby girl.
“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… It’s honestly the most incredible thing I have ever experienced.”
Simone and Dingetjie’s story is a true testament that animals are capable of feeling complex emotions just like human beings. They are capable of being attached to humans and they can build a long-lasting relationship filled with love and trust. What we only need to have is an open mind and a heart that knows how to respect all kinds of life.
Photos and Video | DingetjieTheSquirrel