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Thread: Overwintering Questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
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    MD
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    Default Overwintering Questions

    I have four boys that I will have to keep over the winter. I'm assuming I will, anyway. I am in Maryland... they are currently about 12 weeks old. We have someone telling us to go ahead and release but after reading through the forums I feel like you guys would not recommend that... I've been using TSB as my Bible, essentially. I have had them since they were 2-3 weeks old (their eyes were still closed). Beyond the fact that they are driving us crazy... I have a few questions.

    1. Does their cage for the winter months HAVE to be inside? We have a screened in porch that we could potentially have the cage on and provide heat for night time. We are getting ready to build a much larger enclosure.

    2. There are one/two large squirrels and the other two are a little smaller in comparison. They look healthy but should I be worried? Am I going to have to separate them?

    3. My mom (who originally found the boys) got me Zupreem rodent blocks to give them. In addition to lots of veggies (I'm following the Henry's Healthy Squirrel Diet Chart or whatever it's called), is this sufficient?

    4. Toys... these boys are bored! I tried to give them little stuffed animals but they weren't interested. I'll keep searching but if anyone has some proven winners I'd love to hear about them.

    5. Any pointers on building an enclosure would be lovely! We have the basic idea... large door so I can get in for cleaning, small door for feeding... branches, cat tree, we got 1/4" hardware cloth... We are considering a floor of plywood covered with leftover linoleum for easy clean up??

    6. Pointers on building nesting boxes?? Right now they are using fabric cubes.


    Back story: Mama got hit by a car is our best guess. There was a squirrel in the road right next to the tree the babies appeared at. The first one that jumped "ship" (aka nest) was found by the cats first, unfortunately... Throughout the next 24-48 hours, the other 4 bailed from the nest. They accidentally got named Nugget, Baby, Grumpy, and Sneezy because we couldn't decide on names... Ironically Baby has the worst attitude and Nugget and Baby are the largest of the 4. But when we first got them, Baby was the biggest snuggle monster. Once he was done with formula, though, he was pretty much done with me. (As it should be.) Their eyes were still closed when we got them on Labor Day Weekend.


    Thank you in advance!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    East coast of Florida
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    Default Re: Overwintering Questions

    They definitely have to be overwintered based on your location and that they need about another month till release. Iíll do my best to answer your questions.

    1. Iím not sure about the cage being outside. I live in Florida, but others that live in your area will certainly be able to advise you.

    2. Size difference is normal as long as they act healthy. No, you shouldnít have to separate them unless you see bullying going on. A larger enclosure is ideal. Maybe even provide a couple of cubes and nest boxes inside the enclosure.

    3. If they are eating the Zupreem and not stashing it, then all is good. Remember nuts need to be kept to a minimum. As a rule I donít give any nuts till they go to the release cage. That way I donít have to deal with the squabbling or nut aggression. For a treat substitute a little chunk of Henrys hazelnut or peanut stix, a clump of granola, a piece of rice Chex or Quaker Oatmeal Square cereal, etc.

    4. Wooden hanging bird toys. The small ones get whittled down pretty quickly, but it keeps them occupied. The larger ones are good, too, bird toys that incorporate jute will be happily shredded, stuffed toys that are on bungee type cords and hung from the cage, a box of tissues or roll of toilet paper (theyíll line their nest box or cube with it), a treat listed above put inside a toilet paper tube with the ends taped shut will provide entertainment as they chew it open to get to the treat.

    5. We built our release cage in panels. Each 4x6 foot wooden frame is covered with hardware cloth then assembled together. My release cage has a vestibule that I can walk into and close the door behind me before I open the door where the squirrels are. Assemble the cage with the wire on the inside so they canít access the wood to chew. Iíll attach a picture below. Our floor is hardware cloth so droppings fall through. If you are going to use this cage on your patio you could put a heavy duty tarp or shower curtain under it to catch the mess. Then because itís in panels itís simple to disassemble and relocate the cage outside and use it for a release cage. This release cage picture is one we built around a tree. Itís a little more complicated, but can be done.

    6. I will attach a picture of the nest boxes we make. They need a predator guard for sure. If youíre interested send me your email in a private message and Iíll send you our nest box plans.
    Attached Images Attached Images       

  3. 4 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to Mel1959:

    cava (11-11-2019), RockyPops (11-11-2019), Sir Rodney (11-12-2019), stepnstone (11-11-2019)

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    Default Re: Overwintering Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    They definitely have to be overwintered based on your location and that they need about another month till release. Iíll do my best to answer your questions.

    1. Iím not sure about the cage being outside. I live in Florida, but others that live in your area will certainly be able to advise you.

    2. Size difference is normal as long as they act healthy. No, you shouldnít have to separate them unless you see bullying going on. A larger enclosure is ideal. Maybe even provide a couple of cubes and nest boxes inside the enclosure.

    3. If they are eating the Zupreem and not stashing it, then all is good. Remember nuts need to be kept to a minimum. As a rule I donít give any nuts till they go to the release cage. That way I donít have to deal with the squabbling or nut aggression. For a treat substitute a little chunk of Henrys hazelnut or peanut stix, a clump of granola, a piece of rice Chex or Quaker Oatmeal Square cereal, etc.

    4. Wooden hanging bird toys. The small ones get whittled down pretty quickly, but it keeps them occupied. The larger ones are good, too, bird toys that incorporate jute will be happily shredded, stuffed toys that are on bungee type cords and hung from the cage, a box of tissues or roll of toilet paper (theyíll line their nest box or cube with it), a treat listed above put inside a toilet paper tube with the ends taped shut will provide entertainment as they chew it open to get to the treat.

    5. We built our release cage in panels. Each 4x6 foot wooden frame is covered with hardware cloth then assembled together. My release cage has a vestibule that I can walk into and close the door behind me before I open the door where the squirrels are. Assemble the cage with the wire on the inside so they canít access the wood to chew. Iíll attach a picture below. Our floor is hardware cloth so droppings fall through. If you are going to use this cage on your patio you could put a heavy duty tarp or shower curtain under it to catch the mess. Then because itís in panels itís simple to disassemble and relocate the cage outside and use it for a release cage. This release cage picture is one we built around a tree. Itís a little more complicated, but can be done.

    6. I will attach a picture of the nest boxes we make. They need a predator guard for sure. If youíre interested send me your email in a private message and Iíll send you our nest box plans.
    Hi. I am not an expert but have been studying for awhile to take my examine to become a licensed Rehabber of squirrels. I like you live in the cold country Massachusetts right on the New Hampshire boarder. Mel is so right !!! do not release them now. I will try to give you some information I hope you will find helpful You should wait until spring to release them. Since you have had them from such a young age they have not had a chance to practice there instinctif skill of survival. To release them now would almost certainly end up very bad. The important part of waiting until spring is because now is starting that dreaded time of the year freezing cold and snow.
    Squirrels have a natural instinct for building nests and foraging for food, they have not learned that yet. As I am sure you may know there nest are built from twigs,leaves, and moss. The natural foods that are healthy for them have all but gone for now. In the spring the weather is of course warm and food they eat is starting to grow, they need that. This takes them time to learn and right now they have not learned all the skill sets they will need. It's very hard for squirrels to live even in good weather and well developed skill sets. Gray squirrels right now for the most part will be looking to get out of there leave nests and looking for things such a hollowed out trees ect; for the winter, or someones warm attic LOL!!. Winter is the hardest time of the year for squirrels even very healthy ones and there are a lot that don,t make it through the winter.
    This is just my opinion knowing the winters along the Eastern seaboard if they were mine I would keep them as comfortable as possible meaning as Mel said the boxes in there cage ect; I would have no problem using heat or keeping them inside during this time, because when you do release them in the spring they then will acclimate to the weather temperatures shedding there heavy coats and grown lighter coats for summer unil the weather changes again. By this time releasing them in the spring, they will have matured more, will learn there survival skills and should be just fine.

  5. 3 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to frankc:

    Mel1959 (11-11-2019), RockyPops (11-12-2019), stepnstone (11-11-2019)

  6. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    MD
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    Default Re: Overwintering Questions

    Thank you both so much! I'm sorry if it wasn't clear, I fully intend to keep them until spring. I was kind of hoping it would be feasible to have their enclosure on the screened porch with a heat source at night... I live in a small-ish house... but the more I think about it the more I'm thinking I just need to make indoors work. I just have to shuffle things around.

    Can't wait to start on their larger enclosure and nesting boxes! And to get them some toys. One thing they did like was having an exercise wheel... but it didn't survive terribly long shocker, I know!

  7. 2 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to KRBL:

    frankc (11-12-2019), RockyPops (11-12-2019)

  8. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    Default Re: Overwintering Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by KRBL View Post
    Thank you both so much! I'm sorry if it wasn't clear, I fully intend to keep them until spring. I was kind of hoping it would be feasible to have their enclosure on the screened porch with a heat source at night... I live in a small-ish house... but the more I think about it the more I'm thinking I just need to make indoors work. I just have to shuffle things around.

    Can't wait to start on their larger enclosure and nesting boxes! And to get them some toys. One thing they did like was having an exercise wheel... but it didn't survive terribly long shocker, I know!
    Good Morning.
    Once again I know when I say thank you for adopting these babies, and being such a good Mom that comes from all of us here. !! I am so happy myself knowing that these little ones will be warm and safe this winter, and as always should you have any issues with them overwintering I guess you know a post here on The Squirrel board will bring you an army of help. There are so many talented, people here and help is always just a question away.
    HEY don't forget to keep us all posted with pictures if you can on how they are doing. I know I speak for us all, when I say we love to see how these babies all progress. Squirrels become all our babies even though we don't get to hold and love them up and spoil them, WE do love them all and care so much !!!

  9. 2 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to frankc:

    Nancy in New York (11-12-2019), RockyPops (11-12-2019)

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