The gray baby squirrels orphaned by Hurricane Ike now have a cozier place to play - and sleep - while temporarily residing in Erath County.

Volunteers spent the better part of Saturday building a mesh enclosure at the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue Center in Stephenville so the little ones will have room to move around until they can be taken back to the coast.

Students from the Tarleton State University Student Wildlife Society and other local volunteers came out to work on the enclosure, and the Eagle Scouts will continue the work later, building a shed to house supplies and food for the rescue center.

“I received $720 in cash, checks, online donations, and through the Wildlife Society fund-raiser, which has helped purchase the supplies we needed,” said Birgit Sommer, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

The Student Wildlife Society collected $62 and has been asking local businesses for help. Barnes and McCullough Lumber Company has donated enough lumber to build a new habitat, a shed and possibly another enclosure, and the Eagle Scouts raised funds for materials needed and are donating their time, as well.

A $500 check from an anonymous donor in the Abilene area has helped in the relief efforts, and Don Wallace, a local school bus driver, has donated his time and building skills.

“He (Wallace) and his lovely wife Jackie are the best neighbors in town!” said Sommers of the help given to her rescue center. She continued to say there have been many volunteers and lots of help, for which she and the squirrels are grateful.

Things the rescue center still needs include a storage shed and bins/trash cans with lids for feed.

Originally, 175 squirrels were taken to an animal shelter in McKinney and Sommer brought 15 to Erath County. She said the McKinney shelter has recently received 200 more squirrels and Sommer hopes to bring 20 more to Rainbow Wildlife later this week.

Donations can be made by visiting or by calling Sommer at (254) 968-4626.