OFFBEAT: Family Raises Squirrels

October 17, 2004--Posted at 12:10 a.m. CDT

RANDOLPH CO.--Squirrels belong to the order "Rodentia" and there are 350 different species in seven families, but there's one Region 8 family that's taken in what's left of a family of squirrels, and raised them as their own.

Lisa Hawkins loves her babies, in fact one time she even performed CPR on one of her twins. Her twins are named Buck and Foxy, they're male and female squirrels.

"People really think I'm crazy," says Hawkins. "We've had some different experiences with animals that were interesting, but this has been a whole new experience. We've learned a lot from them."

"The experience started back in February when Lisa found a dead squirrel at the bottom of a tree and realized there was a nest, where she discovered the newborns.

"They weren't pretty, they were pretty pitiful," said Hawkins. "I didn't think they'd make it."

But Lisa, her husband, and her daughter Lauren did some research and started feeding the tiny rodents with a medicine dropper and before you know it, Buck and Foxy were a part of the family.

"They're personalities are different," said Hawkins. "He's playful and she's a lot more serious."

As you might expect, Buck and Foxy have their own room, but a couple of times a day they are brought out to play with the rest of the family.

"I have to cover everything," said Hawkins. "I take blankets every time we come in here and cover everything, because if there's wood around they're gonna naw on it."

If you're thinking about raiding a nest and putting on your squirrel clothes, you might want to think again. "It's not something to go into lightly, because everything won't be fine," said Hawkins. "It's a lot of work. I'm sure there are a few challenges to go yet, I know we're not finished."

And probably won't be for a very long time, since squirrels can live up to 20 years in captivity.

"I feel privileged that these little animals want to be close to us," said Hawkins. "It's just been a great experience all around."