In October of 2016, a tiny tree squirrel fell out of her nest in South Africa. It was cold day and the wind was battering the trees.
Simone Serfontein was visiting her friend's home when the squirrel, affectionately known as Dingetjie, fell into the yard. The baby squirrel cried and cried for her mom, but her mom never returned.
"We honestly did not think that this tiny thing would make it, but we needed to try and help this baby," Serfontein said.
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In addition to basic needs like warmth and food, Dingetjie also had specific wants. "She did not like the idea of being in a cage at all," Serfontein said, describing how she made a warm little nest for Dingetjie in a shoe box where she could sleep. This also didn't quite work for Dingetjie. "It was only a matter of time until she refused to sleep in the shoe box and preferred the bed with me."
Serfontein knew that the time she had with Dingetjie was limited — the squirrel was essentially a wild animal, and it would be wrong to keep her locked up in a house forever.
"We always knew that the day would come for us to release her and say goodbye," Serfontein said.
The couple took Dingetjie into the yard and put her down on the grass to see what she would do. "Next thing, she got into a tree and her natural instincts immediately kicked in," Serfontein said. "It was pretty amazing and sad at the same time." As hard as it was to say goodbye, Serfontein knew it was best for Dingetjie to be wild.
And that seemed like it was the end of the story.
Dingetjie was happy to come back for a visit. She came back again. And again.
"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," Serfontein 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."
"We realized she was picking up a lot of weight," Serfontein 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."
Dingetjie decided to stay in the house most of the time during her pregnancy. She made a nest in a drawer using toilet paper.
Dingetjie became a mom to a healthy baby girl squirrel — and she has let Serfontein be by her side every step of the way.
Do you love all of God's beautiful creatures?