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Thread: Only Squirrel Question

  1. #1
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    Default Only Squirrel Question

    I have my first "pet squirrel ". He is approximately 6+ months old. He was a rescue brought to our clinic, as a still nursing baby that was injured when county workers cut down the tree his nest was in. All others in the nest died. We did our best to provide basic care until a licensed rehab person could come and take over; but when they saw his condition they said he would have to be put down. He had some vestibular signs (head tilt, balance problems, and was seemingly blind) in spite of all this, I just couldn't euthanize him. I contacted a colleague who has wildlife experience, and she guided me in his treatment options and supportive care. Long story short, he is now a perfectly healthy, fully sighted little man. All his disabilities resolved slowly over the weeks and months. My biggest mistake in his care, is my getting attached to him . My colleague advised me not to bond or let him bond to me, but it was impossible not to! Feeding him, bathing him, and snuggling him to sleep ; it just seemed needed to help him cope, since all his natural partners were gone. My question is, is he still a potential candidate for release, say at a zoo or sanctuary ( we have too many dogs here on the farm)? At this point, he lives in a large 12 ft by 5 ft screened in porch, with literally trees and a hollow stump, dirt box, pine cones etc. to make him feel at home. He sleeps in our house at bedtime, in quiet room with his favorite blankets in a carrier to protect from our house pets. At least twice a day he has "playtime" with various family members; he races and "fists and cuffs" like a cat; but then he will cuddle and let (only me so far) stroke his belly, scratch his chin etc., and he licks my hand. Yesterday, a wild ( and brave!) squirrel hopped up to our house to study him. It really bothered me, I wonder if I am being selfish, but at the same time I don't know if it could learn to survive in the wild; would he want the risk to try, or could he be happy to live a lifetime with us? I plan to take the necessary classes this Feb. so that I can be licensed to legally treat special needs animals that our local rehab agent is unable to help. I wondered, if I should get him a friend if the opportunity arises; such as a permanently disabled but otherwise healthy squirrel, that captivity is the only option for survival? My education with wildlife is limited to the Discovery channel, my friend's help, and now thankfully this Board! I would greatly appreciate your opinions, y'all are the squirrel experts !

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    If he truly is healthy, he almost certainly can be released. He's not pet friendly, is he? There's a process by which he would be put into an outside cage to become acclimated to the outside world (which you've already done), but he wouldn't come into the house anymore, you'd just feed him there, and then one day open the door. He'd probably come back to sleep every night (and you'd close the door) but eventually he'd find his own place. On the other hand, if he seems happy with things as they are, I love it when they never have to experience the horrors of nature. And if he started wilding up and seeming unhappy, you could release him then too. I don;t know anything about where you live, but we normally advise spring release in areas where it's either cold or the trees lose their leaves (which provide cover from predators).

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    Thanks for opinion; we are in MS, so spring here is March. I guess I could see what his level of contentment is. Do males tend to drift away from their caretaker as they get older? So far he seems docile, and loving.

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    I think males and females are about the same in terms of bonding, they seem to love their primary caretaker but can lose interest in anyone other than them, giving grudging acceptance at best.

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    I will say though that it seems from all I've seen here that males are less prone to the hormonal fluctuations a few times a year which can make them seem unpleasant and unhappy. It still happens, though I think less often and to a lesser degree.

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    Thank you Snicker Bar (a favorite by the way) for not euthanizing and instead taking on the task of raising this sweet boy in answer to your questions, males do not necessary drift away, and if this is any squirrel species besides flyer...he doesn't need a friend.....you'd be his friend. Squirrels usually only cohabitat during the really cold months of winter for extra warmth. Some of our friendliest NR squirrels here on this board are males another thing that concerns me...are you sure he's 100%, squirrels can adapt and hide disabilities amazingly well right now he's living in a steady environment where there isn't a lot of variables, so he may have mastered jumping and climbing his immediate space others may chime in with their experiences...but this is just my thoughts.

    At 6 mos. old I wouldn't worry too much about him changing....I have an NR whose tail is stiff, no movement....my vet declared her unreleasable...and if there ever was a squirrel ready for release it was her I dreaded having to keep her, knowing she was going to be hard to handle...well, as she's gotten older she has mellowed thank goodness I've noticed with my guys they seem to mellow the older they get also you said that others in your family have play time with him....if you want him to be friendly with them, they must keep up the interaction. Squirrels will become unfriendly to people that they don't have regular contact....this can be anything from ignoring them, to attacking them....so make sure anyone you want to have a relationship with him, has contact with him

    Yes, I do think he can be happy....from your description you have a perfect setup for him...and he's already acclimated to the outside and is happy in his space that's a good sign. If he does for some reason become too hard to handle (and he really doesn't have any physical issues) you will have to start the soft release process at one of your rehabber friends houses....it would be easier at his home (your home) but I know you stated he can't be released there because of the animals. All things to keep in mind...I now have 4 NR's one is healthy, she'll be 4 in March, but she was released and hated the outdoors, so after 21/2 months of freedom I brought her back in. The other's bum tail, paralyzed, and malocclusion everyone seems happy the malocclusion was a 3 or 4 year old wild when we got her....she now runs loose in my squirrel room (when it's her turn) and she loves to watch tv and she will come to us when called and will get on our arms....when she's done running she goes back to her cage on her own. It can work...but it does take a lot of time and commitment, which you probably already know from your fellow and running a farm Good luck and thanks again
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    The Peace of Wild Things
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    When despair for the world grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
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    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    Wow, thank you ; I can't say enough how helpful this site has been! I guess that question has come up in my mind (is he 100%) functional. I haven't closely observed normal squirrel activity in the wild; but I wondered if it's normal for them to appear a little "tipsy?" , for example as they sit and eat. Snickers kind of wobbles a little sometimes, like he's unsteady?? When I provided the large tree parts with bark, he will run back and forth, but he has never leaped, ever. Maybe in time. Thanks again, I will see what spring brings, follow his lead, and go from there! Personally, I would prefer to keep him; I've worked with dogs and cats, farm animals etc for nearly 20 years. But never a squirrel! And I can honestly say, I love his little guy! Never dreamed a wild critter could steal my heart!

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    You will know. He will tell you if you are willing to listen. It might not be loud and clear at first, but he will let you know as he comes of age. One thing about squirrels, they do not hold back to avoid hurting feelings the way we might. Enjoy your winter and if he does choose to leave in the spring, I am more than sure you will have others come along that meed your help.

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    It's our pleasure...we all know what it's like to be enchanted by a squirrel...whether wild or kept we are all owned...heart and soul

    I would be very concerned he doesn't leap around....my squirrels will run and jump like ninjas even my paralyzed squirrel will jump an 8 in gap....and make it also, the wobbling while sitting up eating is definitely not normal...sometimes they will adjust their seating and move back an forth....but definitely "not wobbling" that sounds like a neuro issue to me that would be a huge red flag

    Keep up the good work and pick our brains
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    The Peace of Wild Things
    BY WENDELL BERRY
    When despair for the world grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    Yes, you must be absolutely certain that he's 100% before releasing. Tipsy and unable to leap would be deal breakers if he's to live very long. Some wilds learn how to deal with balance problems, but they already have survival skills. You could post videos if you're unsure.

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    Thanks! I will video him if his wobbles continue and his dexterity does not improve . I will update y'all in the Spring; have a happy New Year!

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    Some of us think that squirrels might possess some magic qualities. And use them to enchant us.

    I, like you, run a farm, and breed and handle all sorts of fun animals, both domestic and wild.

    But, it was one little squirrel, that completely stole my heart. Just saying...........

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    Default Re: Only Squirrel Question

    Quote Originally Posted by czarina View Post
    Some of us think that squirrels might possess some magic qualities. And use them to enchant us.

    I, like you, run a farm, and breed and handle all sorts of fun animals, both domestic and wild.

    But, it was one little squirrel, that completely stole my heart. Just saying...........
    So true
    Make the world a better place...one animal at a time



    The Peace of Wild Things
    BY WENDELL BERRY
    When despair for the world grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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