When Jannet Talbott first sighted a squirrel with a problematic tooth on her rural Alberta, Canada property, she could have let nature take its course. But something about the little guy gripped her heart, and Talbott ultimately decided to intervene.
Talbott spied the squirrel from her deck. As she watched him eat, she noticed a peculiar feature on the side of the squirrel’s face.
Talbott took a closer look and realized she was seeing a long, curly tooth protruding out of the squirrel’s mouth. The tooth was so long, it was encroaching on the squirrel’s eyeball.
Rodents, squirrels included, have teeth that never stop growing. But typically, teeth are kept at the proper size with the rodent’s incessant gnawing.
Talbott felt sorry for the little guy, wondering how she could help him. She said the dilemma kept her awake at night, as she wondered how to catch the wild squirrel, and what she’d do after.
Talbott named the squirrel Bucky, and one day, the timing was right for her to catch the little guy while he was in her bird feeder. A closer inspection revealed a major dental problem — Bucky had an entire mouthful of overgrown teeth.
“His mouth was an absolute mess. His upper incisors were curled around and growing inside his mouth,” Talbott said. “When he ate, his teeth were rubbing on his face. He was so horrific.”
Talbott considered taking Bucky to a vet, but she worried they might not have been willing to help a wild squirrel. She did some research of her own, learning that squirrels don’t have feeling in their teeth the way humans do.
Talbott could feasibly trim the squirrel’s teeth on her own, without causing him any mouth pain. She took a deep breath and went for it.
“I went upstairs and got my cuticle trimmers,” Talbott said. “I wanted to have him nice and calm, so I let him relax for a bit.”
“Then I got my trimmers, swaddled him and went to work,” Talbott said. “It took under 10 minutes. He was totally relaxed the whole time. It was kind of serious dentistry, but he was such a good patient.”
When Talbott released Bucky back outside, she said he ran to a branch and started exploring his new face. The next day, she saw him hanging around the property, looking as healthy and happy as could be.
Whether or not Talbott’s intervention will be permanent remains to be seen. But she’s glad to have helped an animal in need, and is hopeful her story will inspire others to have compassion on animals.
“If what I did for Bucky inspires someone else to help an animal in need, that is honestly a dream come true for me,” Talbott said.