This squirrel looked like something straight out of a museum – or an Ice Age movie.
Bucky is your average gray tree squirrel with one exception. Before good-samaritan Jannet Lee Talbott got ahold of him, he had massive saber-tooth tusks growing out of his mouth. Talbott, an Albertan rancher, spotted the toothy squirrel on her birdfeeder and was shocked at how long his teeth were.
“I saw this squirrel with this huge tooth coming out his mouth and it curled right around and it was dangerously close to its eye,” said Talbot, who owns Double J Freedom Ranch. “And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. That’s not good. I’m going to trap this guy and get that tooth fixed for him.'”
Generally, squirrel teeth wear down from gnawing on nuts or bark and because of this, their four front teeth grow continuously throughout their lives.
Squirrels have four front teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives. The teeth wear down naturally from the constant gnawing on nuts and bark. If for whatever reason, their front teeth aren’t being ground-down properly the squirrel could end up like Bucky – half-squirrel half-walrus. Unable to eat his usual nut-based diet, Bucky’s teeth kept growing and growing. Talbott thinks he was surviving on the powdered birdseed in her feeder.
“He couldn’t live much longer the way he was because he couldn’t actually chew his food.”
Talbott actually managed to grab Bucky with her bare-hands in her backyard. Maybe Bucky wanted to be captured, knowing dental help was on the way.
“I had no idea how bad they were,” Talbott said. “All of his incisors — upper and lower — were all overgrown and were curling inside of his mouth. His two upper incisors were curled inside his mouth and they could have easily continued to grow right through the roof of his mouth.”
Like most of, when faced with not-knowing how to accomplish a task, Talbott turned to YouTube for squirrel dentistry advice. The rancher swaddled Bucky, covered his eyes, and started her DIY dentist work with a pair of razor-sharp wire cutters. Unlike humans, squirrels have no feeling in their teeth so Bucky was happy to cooperate.
After watching some instructional videos on YouTube, Talbott — who has spent years tending to sick livestock on her farm — swaddled the surprisingly co-operative squirrel in a blanket, covered his eyes and got to work with razor-sharp wire cutters.
“I put him back in the tree and he was so happy,” Talbott said. “He rubbed his little cheeks all on the bark like he couldn’t believe that tusk was gone. And when I saw him this morning. He was chattering away at me and he looks just fine.”
Bucky was one lucky squirrel. He chose the right birdfeeder to lunch at.
“I really feel a deep connection to animals, and they always seem to come to me when they need help,” Talbott said. “I’m always happy to help them, and I think if we all did a little, it would end up being a lot.”