Jeff Longo was wandering in the intense Florida heat when he saw a tiny ball of fluff on the sidewalk. What’s more, then and there, despite having no experience of rearing animals, he vowed to nurse the poor baby back to health.
This took place in 2013 on the sizzling streets of Tampa. Longo, a Florida native, thought that the little thing didn’t look good, and he knew that the unrelenting sunshine was taking its toll.
Indeed, Longo later recounted how the helpless baby was “half-dead” when they first met. And so, despite having no clue even as to what the animal was, he decided to take it back to his home in St. Petersburg.
Consequently, Longo christened the critter Biscuits and began to hand-rear her himself. Clearly, then, the first order of the day was to give the adorable and tiny creature, which was just over an inch in length, some major TLC.
However, without an inkling of even which species Biscuits belonged to, Longo didn’t have the first idea about how best to raise her. So, this being the 21st century and all, he began to research his new-found friend online.
First, Longo went to Reddit to ask the website’s online community for help. However, most of the responses were from people telling him, simply, that there was no way he’d manage to raise Biscuits on his own. Undeterred, though, Longo continued his research and eventually discovered the answer he was looking for.
It turned out that he was going to be looking after a southern flying squirrel. Naturally, this species of squirrel usually resides in forests and woods, using trees as their habitat. They furthermore survive on a diet of nuts, seeds, fruit and insects as well as eggs and birds.
The gliding rodents are nocturnal, and young squirrels tend to stay with their mothers until they are at least two months old. Since Biscuits had somehow become separated from her family, then, it was now down to Longo to fill her mother’s shoes.
So, for two months, Longo took Biscuits everywhere with him – even to work. He even bottle-fed her with a mix of puppy formula and heavy cream.
As each day passed, Biscuits grew bigger and stronger, until she eventually became a healthy adult squirrel. In addition to getting the gift of life, though, Biscuits had also, again thanks to her encounter with Longo, gained a new family.
Indeed, alongside her surrogate mother, Biscuits gained some four-legged family friends – in the shape of Longo’s dogs. That said, given their difference in stature, Longo admitted that he had to “watch them so they don’t accidentally squish her.”
Unfortunately, as she was hand-reared from such an early age, it is unlikely that Biscuits will ever be returned to the wild. However, she found plenty of things to jump from in her new home. “She runs around me like I’m a big tree… then jumps on things and then jumps back… gets excited… starts chirping… rinse and repeat,” Longo revealed.
Although things have run smoothly on the whole, Longo admitted that he once thought he’d lost little Biscuits. “When she first started becoming mobile, she escaped… I found her in the bathtub in the morning,” he revealed.
Despite her naughty nature, though, Longo is smitten with what he describes as his “little fluffball.” He explained, “She has a big cage and semi-free reign of the house when I’m available to supervise. She wouldn’t last five minutes in the wild now. She is super friendly to people and not afraid of animals.”
And it looks like Biscuits has certainly made herself at home. She can often be spotted hanging from her comfy hammock or chilling in her favorite spot – Longo’s top pocket. The pair can expect to have a long and happy life together, too; flying squirrels can live for up to a decade in captivity, after all.
Plus, after Biscuits was back to full health, Longo returned to Reddit to prove his doubters wrong. In fact, he posted a series of photographs charting Biscuit’s recovery and showing off his parenting skills.
In addition, Longo reminded Reddit users of the day he met Biscuits, writing, “I posted pictures on Reddit that day and had a bunch of know-it-alls tell me she would die, because I am not an animal rehabber.”
“Well, Biscuits is about three months old now and is super awesome… and healthy,” he continued. “Her favorite food is pecans and she enjoys jumping on everything and terrorizing the dogs.”
His triumphant post had many Reddit users eating their words and many others giving Longo a pat on the back for his amazing achievements. Most of all, though, people couldn’t help but get excited about Biscuit’s sheer cuteness.