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Thread: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

  1. #1
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    Default New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Hello! Great to be here. Here's my story.

    I moved into a house with a nice backyard with a few big trees about a year ago and have quasi-adopted the resident fox squirrel who lives in these trees and considers the backyard her territory-- her name is Mama Quixote and she's the best! I have been feeding her avocado (her favorite), a variety of nuts (no Brazil), homemade squirrel balls (with good calciumhosphorus ratios), in-shell pecans, etc on a daily basis, and in modest amounts in order to hopefully not totally supplant her natural foragings. She is pretty comfortable with me and will approach for snacks when I'm out in the yard and will take food from my hand but otherwise is still guarded and will not let me touch her. This seems like a reasonable arrangement.

    I noticed her looking pregnant (enlarged nipples) a few months ago and sure enough 3 kids emerged about 6 weeks ago. Super fun to watch them progress and explore their new world. I resisted feeding them for a while but they eventually caught on to Mama's game and now get in on the dinner action a bit (but I try to keep it limited). Their names are Benny (boy), Peach (girl), and Poppy (girl). And as unbelievable as it may sound, they are very cute.

    I figured out where MQ's drey was a while ago and would keep an eye on it. Recently/post-birth she built a new one which, lucky for me, is in a more viewable spot. (I watched her make a few trips transporting bedding material from old to new, which was fun.) It appears that she and all the kids pile in there based on my observations of the traffic to and from. Why did she move? Not sure. Maybe the old nest was just dirty?

    The coolest thing that has happened since the kids arrived is the wrestling sessions. Sometimes it's kid-on-kid, sometimes kid-on-mama, sometimes all of them at once. They really get into it and are obviously having a blast and it's amazing to watch. I have some video of this, not sure if I'm able to post that or not.

    My question/concern...

    I live in Colorado and we're just about to go into thunderstorm season (lasts a month or two) which around here means serious HAIL. MQ didn't build the new drey in the most protected of spots; it kind of sits right at the pinnacle of the tree (about 25 feet up) with scant cover above it. I am not able to get a good look at the construction of the drey to assess if it has any overhang action that could provide shelter but I just ordered a drone and will hopefully be able to get an overhead look in a few days.

    Anyway, I am worried about these guys being exposed to heavy rain storms and especially the gnarly hail that this region is known to get in late spring/early summer. So I'm wondering what, if anything, I can do about this. One idea is to get up there and install some kind of overhead protection but this is WAY easier said than done. The tree is not readily climbable (by me) and it's not obvious where and how something could be rigged up anyway (and would it freak them out anyway?). The other thought is to install a new ready-made squirrel house onto the trunk a few feet below the drey and just hope that they'd have the sense to take cover in it. But that idea brings concerns of unintended consequences such as inviting other neighborhood squirrels to take up residence in what I consider MQ's sacred territory (based on how she reacts to other squirrels passing through I know she'd be vexed). Furthermore, I've looked at some of the commercially available houses and they all seem a little small for one full grown squirrel plus three 3/4 grown 'teenagers' (but I don't really know what size is appropriate).

    Conclusion, I'm not sure what to do, if anything. Wife says I'm getting too involved, they're wild animals, they'll figure it out. Probably right, but I still worry about them. I appreciate any advice. Thank you

  2. #2
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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Benny
    to TheSquirrelBoard

    You have found a group of squirrel lovers that understand your fascination with your yard friends. Everyone here enjoys watching squirrels and their family dynamics.

    Itís pretty common for squirrels to have multiple dreys. If something happens to their home, they move the babies. The nest can become infested with mites or ants. It can also be compromised by predators or damaged by wind.

    I wouldnít try to build a protective roof over the drey. That would probably freak your friend out so bad she would probably abandon the nest. Itís always nice to have nest boxes in the yard. They could seek shelter in a box if needed. You could put up a couple boxes and her kids might stay in your yard. I wouldnít worry about a box large enough to house 4 squirrels. The families donít stay together. Mom will stay with them a while after they start exploring but she will soon abandon them. She knows how to wean them. She leaves home. The boxes would be good for refuge from the storms but in FL they donít use the boxes in the summer. The boxes are just too hot so they prefer their dreys. I have many boxes in my yard and enjoy watching many generations of squirrels. I donít get involved in territorial disputes. I just let them work it out. Your wife is right. They are wild animals and they have instincts that drive them so you can rest easy knowing that they know how to weather a storm. One day I watched a squirrel during a torrential downpour. The squirrel hung on the bottom of a large tree limb. It hung on the dry side of the limb. During this fierce storm this squirrel remained mostly dry. They are pretty smart.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Quote Originally Posted by Benny View Post
    Conclusion, I'm not sure what to do, if anything. Wife says I'm getting too involved, they're wild animals, they'll figure it out. Probably right, but I still worry about them. I appreciate any advice. Thank you

    Your on the squirrel board now, can't argue that one....

    Squirrel's have/build more then one drey. Normally (here) in the winter they build closer to the trunk or inside the trunk,
    summer it's out on a limb. They adjust to the seasons. They move in and out for various reasons including those you mentioned.

    Personally, I'd be putting up a couple nest boxes...
    I have had 3 momma's this season use my nest boxes to have and partially raise their babies.
    I had one that moved her babies 3 times from box to box while raising her babies. They all move
    them to the trees eventually. During the winter months all my boxes are occupied, they do use them.
    We have some good references on here for nest boxes, "family" size is not a problem.
    Step-N-Stone
    State Licensed
    Wildlife Master Rehabilitator


  5. #4
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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Welcome to the Squirrel Board!

    As has been said, you could install a nest box or two in your trees. Make sure the nest box have both external and internal predator guards.

    Nothing crazy about getting involved with your yard squirrels, as you have discovered, they are very entertaining little critters!
    See my wild squirrel adventures in the thread "Squirtle's yard!":
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...quirtle-s-Yard!

    See the sisters Pip and Nip!
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...-(Pip-and-Nip)!

    Loving dad to Sir Max, 2017-2018. There is no foot so small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.

    "Once in a while you get shown the light, In the strangest of places if you look at it right."
    -Grateful Dead

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  7. #5
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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Thank you for the replies and advice-- I suppose I have a nest box or two in my future.

    Good to know they ought to be able to handle themselves in the storms.

    Been enjoying your epic thread, TubeDriver.

    It's so true what yall say-- you meet that first one and get taken over the edge, catch squirrel fever. I've got it bad!

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  9. #6
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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Welcome Benny! . I had to chuckle about your concern for your yard friends. You sound like me....and most all of us at one time or another. . Definitely do the nest boxes. I have a female I released a year ago who has had two litters in her nest box thatís in a tree in our yard. Both mom and some of the babies still live in the box. I guarantee a couple of nest boxes in your yard will be very appreciated come winter. . If you would like some plans on building a nest box with internal and external predator guards I can send some to you if you send me your email in a private message. Private messages can be sent by clicking on the notifications title at the top of the forum home page.

    And if you want to post a video you have to download it to something like YouTube then post the link on your thread. Weíd love to see pictures of your yard mama. I love fox squirrels but we donít have them in Florida where I live.

    An afterthought...the squirrels in my yard have survived hurricanes. Itís very scary, but they seem to know how to hunker down when necessary.

  10. #7
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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Benny, here is tsb's link to what I referenced earlier with nest boxes,
    lots of good ideas from members and some even sell their wares.
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...ials-and-ideas

    This thread has a good illustration of boxes with various designed predator guards.
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...r-Hard-Release
    Step-N-Stone
    State Licensed
    Wildlife Master Rehabilitator


  11. #8
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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Thank you very much Mel and Stepnstone for the guidance! (Mel, I will PM you for nest plans).

    Here are some photos of the crew.

    In order, that's Peach (with almond in her mouth), Poppy, Mama, and Mama with Benny in the background (yes, Mama sometimes takes her dinner inside. She's very sophisticated )

    Name:  PoppY.jpg
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Size:  393.8 KBName:  MSQ 1.jpg
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Size:  526.6 KBName:  MSQ-Benny.jpg
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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Quote Originally Posted by Benny View Post
    Thank you very much Mel and Stepnstone for the guidance! (Mel, I will PM you for nest plans).
    Here are some photos of the crew.
    In order, that's Peach (with almond in her mouth), Poppy, Mama, and Mama with Benny in the background (yes, Mama sometimes takes her dinner inside. She's very sophisticated )
    " Wife says I'm getting too involved "
    I'd say that hook is already embedded... line and sinker!
    They are beautiful squirrels.
    Step-N-Stone
    State Licensed
    Wildlife Master Rehabilitator


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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Yep, a bad case of squirrelitis.

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  17. #11
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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Quote Originally Posted by HRT4SQRLS View Post
    Yep, a bad case of squirrelitis.
    Lol. Yeah, tell me about it!


    Ok, I have a follow up question about diet and calcium supplementation.

    Due to laziness, I've switched out the homemade balls/block with Henry's block. The crew is sort of OK with the Henry's but of course prefer the other stuff they're used to getting such as unshelled pecans (in bulk from pecans.com), avocado, sunflower seeds, shelled nuts (hazelnut, walnut, almond)-- in that order.

    Mama is particularly fussy and basically only wants the pecans. She will eat the other treats with some snobbish hesitation, but the blocks are totally a no-go. She gives me that look too, like "come on man. I know you've got pecans. Cough it up!"

    Therefore, I am trying some "first-course, second-course" strategy where the blocks are offered first but the hassle factor is real-- these are wild squirrels and there's four of them and this level of dinner coordination takes a lot of time and effort.

    So...my other strategy is to dump some Henry's Calcium Carbonate supplement on the nuts, avocado, etc. The sunflower seeds, in particular, mix well with the powder, ie it sticks and they still eat it.

    My question is whether or not this is a decent strategy overall and in particular whether I should be worried about the quantity of powder and Calcium overdosing. Can I continue to wing it and just sprinkle a little powder on like I would salt on my own food? Or do I need to be more careful?

    Thanks in advance! So happy to find this forum : )

  18. #12
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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Benny, feeding a healthy diet to wilds isnít as important as it is for captive squirrels. For captives/pet squirrels the diet is critical. Itís literally a matter of life or death. Not so, for wild squirrels. A captive squirrel can only eat what we give them. If the diet is calcium deficient or calcium depleting they will die of MBD. Thatís not the case with wilds. A wild will forage and can balance their diet. Any food that we give them is a bonus. Most of us feed the wilds nuts and sunflower seeds. I occasionally put dried corn on a corn cob feeders (also not healthy). You donít want to feed so much that your offerings become their main source of food. It should be more in terms of a treat. With that said, you can make the nuts and seeds a little more healthy by dusting them with calcium carbonate. If you want you can put a teaspoon or a tablespoon (depending on the bag size) of calcium carbonate in the bag and shake it around. The calcium that sticks will offset the calcium depleting Ďunhealthyí foods. I think itís a good idea especially for nursing mamas. Their bodies are already stressed making milk so boosting the calcium a little on unhealthy foods definitely helps them.

    I havenít had much luck with wilds eating HHBís. Itís a little too expensive for me to do that also.
    After release I have left block for the rehabs but usually itís not long before they reject it.

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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    Thanks for your reply, HRT4SQRLS-- very helpful. Understood that wilds have much more latitude in diet. In any case, I'll continue the calcium dusting on the seeds and nuts, it's easy enough to do. I hear you re: becoming the main food source, I do worry about that. I've been trying to slowly dial it back to 'daily treat' levels but I find these little guys hard to resist.

    side note: had some big limbs come down from the last storm and instead of taking them to the street for disposal, I arranged them in various ways in the yard in hopes the squirrel kids (squids?) would get playful with them. So far so good! Every morning they are bouncing around all over the limbs like it's a jungle gym, tackling each other, etc. It's pretty awesome.

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  21. #14
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    Default Re: New Member, backyard dad, concerned about hail season

    SQUIDS


    I LOVE IT!!!

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