MICHIGAN CITY | Five baby squirrels were nearly euthanized when attempts to untangle their tails which had become knotted seemed hopeless.
However, persistence paid off and the babies were reunited with their mother Tuesday.
She was waiting right at the spot where she last saw her babies when Michigan City Animal Control Officer Joshua Phillips returned the next day to set free her young.
"I'm glad I took the call and saved some squirrels lives," Phillips said.
Animal Control Director Alijah Hunter said a patrol officer Monday spotted the baby squirrels on a drainage grate in a street outside Garden Estates apartments on the city's south side with their tails entwined.
Two of the squirrels had fallen through the cracks in the grate and were dangling above the bottom of the sewer by their knotted up tails.
Phillips said he put on some thick rawhide gloves to prevent the squirrels from biting him and went to work.
Phillips, though, was not able to free the squirrels from the knot the size of a baseball and took them to the veterinary clinic at Purdue North Central near Westville.
The squirrels were sedated while efforts continued to untangle the tails.
At one point, with tails still tangled, a decision was made to euthanize the squirrels because the clinic doesn't service wild animals, said Phillips.
Fortunately, Phillips said staff members were called away to handle another patient and that's when he gave it one last chance.
He managed to untangle all of the tails and he kept the squirrels in a cage at his home during the night. When he returned to work about noon Tuesday, he set them free.
"It was a like a puzzle," said Phillips.
Hunter said the mother was on the same grate where her babies were taken from and they marched right up a tree presumably to the same nest where the babies might have fallen.
"We actually don't know how the tails became entwined like they did. It was very difficult for the squirrels to move around. It was something that was interesting to see," Hunter said.