Toothy squirrel saved when Alberta rancher trims its tusks
Bucky the squirrel had sprouted some bad teeth that threatened his survival
A toothy squirrel named Bucky is once again fattening up on nuts after an Alberta woman trimmed his tusks.
When Jannet Lee Talbott spotted the critter on the backyard bird feeder at her Barrhead horse ranch earlier this week, she couldn't believe her eyes.
The squirrel's teeth had grown so long they curled out of his mouth and around his cheeks.
"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.'"
'He couldn't live much longer'
Squirrels have four front teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives. The teeth wear down naturally from the constant gnawing on nuts and bark.
But if the front incisors become damaged or uneven, the squirrel will struggle to keep them ground down and may develop huge fangs.
Talbott figured the squirrel, which she nicknamed Bucky, was surviving on the powdered bird seed in her feeder.
"He couldn't live much longer the way he was because he couldn't actually chew his food."
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Talbott had planned to set a live trap but managed to snatch the sabre-toothed creature by hand Tuesday afternoon while he was perched in her backyard.
When she looked inside the squirrel's mouth, she realized his dental crisis was much worse than she anticipated.
"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."
'He looks just fine'
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.
Squirrels have no feeling in their teeth and even after she had finished trimming, the squirrel was in "no hurry to get away," Talbott said.
After a short rest, Bucky was back in the yard, enjoying his new smile.
"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."
Talbott said she will keep an eye on Bucky to make sure he doesn't get too toothy again.
If he does, she won't hesitate to give him another trim with the wire cutters. She hopes others will be inspired to help animals in need.
"I really feel a deep connection to animals, and they always seem to come to me when they need help," Talbott said.