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Thread: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

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    Default Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    I’m so glad I found this forum! I am a opossum rehabber doing squirrels for the first time. And as you can imagine they are quite different. I did take a class on squirrels a couple years ago, But I’m a little fuzzy on the process of the soft release. So I read online a bunch of different things and have gotten myself a little confused.

    My babies are about 10 weeks old and I thought it was time to take them to their outdoor cage and start getting them used to that. So I got it all set up and brought them out there for a couple hours yesterday. It did not go well. They were really freaked out! It made me realize how attached to them I am at this point. I really didn’t think I was. And they’re quite wild of course. But they literally after a couple hours just started crying for me this high-pitched whine. It made my stomach hurt. I went out and got them brought them back into the master bathroom to their crate where I’ve been raising them.

    I thought they would want run in and hide and be in their crate after the trauma that they seem to have experienced. But all they wanted to do was run up and down and all over me for a long time. And the whole time they were doing this purring kind of sound. And it made me realize that they are actually attached to me. I honestly didn’t think they really were. Baby Squirrel behavior is new to me. But apparently they are pretty attached in their own squirrel way. So I let them just run all over me and get comfortable again in their indoor space for a long while. Obviously I got soooo many scratches! But oh well they really seemed to NEED to do this before I put them back into their regular home crate.

    My question is how can I make this transition ok for them? Did I try taking them out too soon? I live in a mountain area with lots of wildlife and trees. They will be very happy here. I just want to do this right. Thank you!

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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    I think they are still too young, thatís why they freaked. Ideally waiting till about 14-16 weeks old is best for releasing and putting them in the release cage 2-3 weeks before that. Some take longer to adjust to the process.

    What is your release cage like? Did you put any of their familiar stuff inside like their hanging cube or bedding? Do you have a nest box inside the release cage? Do you intend to put a nest box up in a nearby tree for them? Did you provide a solid wall on at least 2 sides of the cage so they arenít completely exposed? Do you have a roof on the release cage? Sorry, lots of questions. Iím trying to get a visual.

    I try to make the release cage similar to their indoor cage, but outside with more space. I provide big tree limbs for them to climb and I hang their cube (if thatís what theyíve been using to sleep in) and a nest box. Sometimes there will be one or two that are more timid about being outside in a cage, but usually not all of them.

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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    Quote Originally Posted by Jewelzbird View Post
    I’m so glad I found this forum! I am a opossum rehabber doing squirrels for the first time. And as you can imagine they are quite different. I did take a class on squirrels a couple years ago, But I’m a little fuzzy on the process of the soft release. So I read online a bunch of different things and have gotten myself a little confused.

    My babies are about 10 weeks old and I thought it was time to take them to their outdoor cage and start getting them used to that. So I got it all set up and brought them out there for a couple hours yesterday. It did not go well. They were really freaked out! It made me realize how attached to them I am at this point. I really didn’t think I was. And they’re quite wild of course. But they literally after a couple hours just started crying for me this high-pitched whine. It made my stomach hurt. I went out and got them brought them back into the master bathroom to their crate where I’ve been raising them.

    I thought they would want run in and hide and be in their crate after the trauma that they seem to have experienced. But all they wanted to do was run up and down and all over me for a long time. And the whole time they were doing this purring kind of sound. And it made me realize that they are actually attached to me. I honestly didn’t think they really were. Baby Squirrel behavior is new to me. But apparently they are pretty attached in their own squirrel way. So I let them just run all over me and get comfortable again in their indoor space for a long while. Obviously I got soooo many scratches! But oh well they really seemed to NEED to do this before I put them back into their regular home crate.

    My question is how can I make this transition ok for them? Did I try taking them out too soon? I live in a mountain area with lots of wildlife and trees. They will be very happy here. I just want to do this right. Thank you!
    I agree with Mel1959. 10 weeks is too young. I give my babies formula as long as they will have it - at least 13-14 weeks. I start taking mine outside everyday. At first they are very cautious but eventually they start getting brave and use to it.

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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    Thank You! I agree they are too young. I see that clearly now. I thought a visit to the outside cage for a couple hours might be a good idea, but you are right it was too much change all at once. The enclosure outside is squirrel perfect, yes. I will follow your advice and transition their indoor stuff and bedding to be the same as the outdoor to help them transition. I live in the woods so my plan for the outside cage was to floor it with nature made bedding...freshly dried leaves and grasses and lichen. But Iím not using that inside, so I can see how that would be hard for them. Thanks for all your help. Iím sure Iíll get good at this and be a pro after these two guys are done with me.

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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    A
    Quote Originally Posted by Chippergray View Post
    I agree with Mel1959. 10 weeks is too young. I give my babies formula as long as they will have it - at least 13-14 weeks. I start taking mine outside everyday. At first they are very cautious but eventually they start getting brave and use to it.
    Yes hmm well mine won’t take formula anymore at all.( As of three days ago.) I wonder if they are older than I was told.

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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    Quote Originally Posted by Jewelzbird View Post
    A

    Yes hmm well mine wonít take formula anymore at all.( As of three days ago.) I wonder if they are older than I was told.
    No worries. They will break themselves when they are ready. Although, they could be older. Just make sure they are getting plenty of calcium in them. You wouldnít want them to get the rickets (MBD).

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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    I need some help as well. We recently found a baby squirrel a few weeks ago. Well the puppy brought it to us durring a down pour. No injuries just cold and wet. His rehabilitation has gone well eating solid food drinking water. Appeared to be from what I gathered about 8 weeks old (4 weeks ago ). Were going to start soft release program next week. However this past week we put some tree branches in a tall cage I had and climbing and even nesting was going good. But this morning he seems like he may have fell and broken his front leg or paw. He is definitely favoring it. Doesn't seem to want to eat is drinking. Can't take him to a vet and dont know what to do now. All help appreciated.

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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    [QUOTE=Cowboy78;1292998]I need some help as well. We recently found a baby squirrel a few weeks ago. Well the puppy brought it to us durring a down pour. No injuries just cold and wet. His rehabilitation has gone well eating solid food drinking water. Appeared to be from what I gathered about 8 weeks old (4 weeks ago ). Were going to start soft release program next week. However this past week we put some tree branches in a tall cage I had and climbing and even nesting was going good. But this morning he seems like he may have fell and broken his front leg or paw. He is definitely favoring it. Doesn't seem to want to eat is drinking. Can't take him to a vet and dont know what to do now. All help appreciated.[/QUOTE


    First make sure you keep him in a single level cage to keep him from climbing.
    It would be good to start his thread for more attention for the squirrel.
    Maybe we have a rehabber near by or someone knows of a squirrel safe vet in your area.

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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    cowboy78, please post a new thread in the non emergency section so more eyes can see it. Maybe title it ďNeed help in WV for possible broken legĒ, or something like that. Do you have any INFANT ibuprofen, metacam or tramadol? If you can find one of these we can dose it for pain.

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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    cowboy78, please post a new thread in the non emergency section so more eyes can see it. Maybe title it ďNeed help in WV for possible broken legĒ, or something like that. Do you have any INFANT ibuprofen, metacam or tramadol? If you can find one of these we can dose it for pain.
    I have sent OP email with request and instructions.
    Step-N-Stone
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    Wildlife Master Rehabilitator


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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    I will watch calcium. Iím giving them almonds broccoli asparagus and edibles from the yard like dandelion which all have calcium. Iím guessing the squirrel block is fortified as well. Iíll google symptoms to watch for.
    Do you have a favorite bedding option for the outdoor cage?
    Quote Originally Posted by Chippergray View Post
    No worries. They will break themselves when they are ready. Although, they could be older. Just make sure they are getting plenty of calcium in them. You wouldnít want them to get the rickets (MBD).

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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    My Babies were released 7 days ago. They have stayed close by since then exploring close to my house. They have gone out each day and returned to their release cage each night. Until tonight. I saw them just before dark. So Iím guessing this is fine. Right? They are just staying out past their curfew because they should, right? This is normal? Iíll feel better when I see them tomorrow. (Nervous newbie!)

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    Default Re: Newbie would love some guidance on the soft release process

    Hi Jewlzbird. You're fortunate that your released kids stayed around for a week! Over the years (15) some of mine have gone out of the release cage and straight up the highest tree in the area, never to return to 'captivity' again. I might have seen them once or twice afterward, but basically it was gone, baby, gone. Each squirrel will acclimate him or herself to the outside world at their own pace.

    Cute story from my release site this season: my fellow rehabber and mentee placed her two overwinters in one of our two release sites back in mid-May. Max, the male, flew out when the portal was opened and loved being in the trees. Mouse, the female, stayed right where she was and would not let Max back into the pen! After a week of the squabbling and Mouse never leaving, my friend went in and opened the nest box. Yep, four beautiful pinkies were nestled in there -- Mouse had to have given birth the first day she was in the release pen!

    And....never believe them when they tell you that squirrels don't breed in captivity le
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