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Thread: Lonley 11 Week Old Singleton - Release Date Question

  1. #1
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    Default Lonley 11 Week Old Singleton - Release Date Question

    I've been taking care of a very healthy 11 week old female singleton for about 7 weeks now. She has been fully weaned for about a week. She has been outside for over 2 weeks (1st in her smaller cage, on my deck and now outside away from my house in a wooded area (where she was found) in a large soft release cage I built to withstand the apocalypse. I built her a red oak nest box with a predator door and multiple levels which she uses a lot. I had planned to attach her nesting box to a tree next to the soft release cage at the end of October. My contact with her on weekdays is morning and evening feedings. On weekends a little more frequently. I plan to look after her all winter with daily food and water delivered to her door with pulleys and cables...

    So yesterday I had my Gear 360 camera on top of her cage to see what her interactions were like with other squirrels that come and eat the sunflower seed/corn mix I've started leaving out on top of her cage. Watching the playback, there was about a 4 minute segment where she was doing the mommy call. So now I'm worried that she's lonely and maybe I should release her sooner. She's very attentive to sounds from other squirrels and is mostly interested in me because I'm the guy with the food; although sometimes when I'm putting food in her cage, she wants to play like we use to before she move into the soft release cage.

    So, what's the protocol here? Keep the sad singleton incarcerated for 2 more weeks, or add a small predator door to the soft release cage and open in morning and close at night and then permanently move her box in 2 weeks, or put her nesting box in a tree now and shut down the soft release cage. Obviously, counter arguement to releasing sooner is she hasn't sufficiently developed survival skills and so may not be ready.

    I'm in the St. Louis area and we don't usually get a hard multi day freeze until late December. Still, after Thanksgiving it is cold, frequently wet and dreary. So she's got some time to make some friends and fatten up a bit more before the days get short and the squirrels hunker down. Appreciate your suggestions.

    Thanks,

    Baby Mij's Dad

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Lonley 11 Week Old Singleton - Release Date Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Baby Mij View Post
    So, what's the protocol here? Keep the sad singleton incarcerated for 2 more weeks, or add a small predator door to the soft release cage and open in morning and close at night and then permanently move her box in 2 weeks, or put her nesting box in a tree now and shut down the soft release cage. Obviously, counter argument to releasing sooner is she hasn't sufficiently developed survival skills and so may not be ready.
    This is a grey or fox squirrel, correct?

    The accepted standard protocol is to place them into the Release Cage at a minimum of 14 weeks. So at 11 weeks, they are much too young... Many (most?) believe they have very little chance to survive when released any sooner than 16 weeks of age. I always give singletons even more time, since they have many disadvantages (groups of releases tend to stay together for quite a while.. often the entire winter with fall releases). Was she weaned when you put her outdoors at 9 weeks old?!?!? Most do not wean that early.

    I cannot imagine how scared she must be outdoors by herself at 9 (or 11) weeks old, not surprising she is calling for mom. It is a very bad idea to attract wild squirrels to her release cage by placing food on it, since the wild adults will run her off the first chance they get (maybe even fatally injure her since she has no mom (or siblings) to protect her) and she'll not be able to return to her "safe spot" (release cage).

    You should not shut her out of the cage... the protocol is to open the cage and allow her to come and go as she pleases. This could be anywhere from a couple days to several weeks before she feels confident to be out in the wild (I am speaking of a 16 week + old squirrel).

    You can place a second nest box in a tree by the release cage, but please do not "abandon" her to the wild before she is ready. I hate to think you put in all this hard work to make a quick and easy meal for a predator.

    Here is more info on soft releasing squirrels to give them a chance to survive in the wild.
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...-How-to-Sticky

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Lonley 11 Week Old Singleton - Release Date Question

    Considering where you’re located, and how cold it gets, I think she should be overwintered. She doesn’t have the advantage of any siblings to snuggle with to stay warm nor the stash of food to rely on. Her nest making skills may not be top notch at that age and she may easily be run from her nest box. I personally think it will be a death sentence to rush to release her prior to cold weather.

    I think you should bring her back inside and provide a warm safe place for her to continue to grow and learn since she is a singleton.

    I have a singleton that is about the same age and he won’t be going to the release cage for at least another 2-3 months......and I live in Florida where it doesn’t get cold!

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    Default Mij at 7 months

    Name:  VideoCapture_20190323-084326.jpg
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    Soft Release success! Although I had heat in her house, once she made friends, she began spending nights with them. I leave out seeds and nuts for Mij and her extended familly daily and she'll usually come down from the trees to eat a few nuts on my shoulder before heading out with a whole shell nut to bury. She is healthy and (by all appearances) happy. Her behaviors are like all the other wild squirrels in the area with exception that she comes down for a brief visit when I stop by to drop off food. The other squirrels have become accustomed to my presence and will venture within 5 feet if I sit very still. The local Alpha will eat within a few feet of me if I sit still and am faced away. Watching squirrel behavior has become a very enjoyable and peaceful pastime.

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  8. #5
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    Default Re: Lonley 11 Week Old Singleton - Release Date Question

    Great pic dad. I'm so happy to hear about your successful release.
    Isn't it the greatest thing when a free recused squirrel decides that you're still OK and enjoys your company!
    I think we would all agree that watching squirrels is our happy place.

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