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Thread: How to get squirrels ready for release

  1. #1
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    Default How to get squirrels ready for release

    Hi, I have 3 baby greys appx 8-9 weeks, I have a few questions about helping them be ready for release.

    They will be around the 12 weeks mark at the end of October, I live in the UK in the north of England, would it be OK to release them here at that time of the year or should I over winter them?

    Also, what can I do to help them be ready for the wild? Ie, stop handling them, giving them the materials to build nests, soil to bury nuts or is that all something they would figure out themselves upon release?

    I unfortunately can't release in my own garden as I live in a built up area near a main road, I will likely soft release them in a friend's garden so I need them to be as prepared as possible.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    They will figure out nesting, burying food, etc. They are hard wired for it.

    Here we try to keep them until 16 weeks old before release. Longer if possible. Every week, day, even hour that they mature lets their brain develop their pre-programmed life skills.

    And you need to do a soft release. Where they go into an outside cage near where they will be released for a few weeks. They are still protected from predators but start learning the sights, sounds and other squirrel habits.

    Then it's always good to follow up with food and water support for a few weeks until they learn to find natural sources on their own.

    Also, if your weather gets very cold this time of year, it may be best to over winter for release next spring.

    There is a lot of info on this site on release and raising young squirrels.

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    Buddy (09-23-2020)

  4. #3
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    I believe Northern England, like NYC USA, is what 's called a maritime temperate climate. I typically release around Halloween every year and often right up until mid November. We still have leaves on the trees at that time to provide cover for the new little explorers.

    IMHO, overwintering is extremely stressful on both squirrels and humans, unless you have a separate room or rehab building where they can get runaround time. Otherwise it's 7 months in a cage....UGH.
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  6. #5
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    Quote Originally Posted by island rehabber View Post
    I believe Northern England, like NYC USA, is what 's called a maritime temperate climate. I typically release around Halloween every year and often right up until mid November. We still have leaves on the trees at that time to provide cover for the new little explorers.

    IMHO, overwintering is extremely stressful on both squirrels and humans, unless you have a separate room or rehab building where they can get runaround time. Otherwise it's 7 months in a cage....UGH.
    Hi! I have a little boy (singleton); he is about 9/9.5 weeks old. We live in the northwest suburb of Chicago.

    Would you recommend releasing him this fall or should we overwinter? I'd like to do the best for him; but he is already very active and he wants to be out of the cage/play etc.

    He currently has this cage; which he zooms around in it...

    Name:  Buddy in Cage in the Backyard with a friend.jpg
Views: 72
Size:  90.8 KB

    We have pretty cold winters and because he is a singleton, I'm worried. What are your thoughts/recommendation?

    Thank you!

  7. #6
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    Bumping up... Any thoughts on my question above? Today, I had a busy day and my kids have been busy too. Buddy didn't get the play time that he normally gets and he made those mom calling noises twice. I went there both times asking what's wrong/what's going on and he seemed super excited to see me and wanted to play. I feel bad that he is in the cage; but it's better/safer for him at the moment. He is just ~10 weeks old.

    Do you know if they get a bit calmer during the winter months?

    Also, any thoughts on releasing/overwintering a singleton in Chicago area?

    Thank you!

  8. #7
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddy View Post
    Hi! I have a little boy (singleton); he is about 9/9.5 weeks old. We live in the northwest suburb of Chicago.

    Would you recommend releasing him this fall or should we overwinter? I'd like to do the best for him; but he is already very active and he wants to be out of the cage/play etc.

    He currently has this cage; which he zooms around in it...

    We have pretty cold winters and because he is a singleton, I'm worried. What are your thoughts/recommendation?

    Thank you!

    Are you releasing on your property where you can support him with food and water through the winter? I cannot really speak to releasing up north or not, but if you do I would suggest you place a wooden nest box in his cage and a like one in a tree in your yard. If you release him, move his nest box to the trees as well.


    Quote Originally Posted by Buddy View Post
    Do you know if they get a bit calmer during the winter months?
    This is a definite no. They start pacing.. which is to say running in pattern in the cage. They'll start doing back flips, and all sorts of incessant pattern behavior all through the winter. They are not meant to be cage, they are meant to be 75 feet up in the trees... but we also know that overwintering, despite the long months, may be in their best long-term interests.

    I can't really weigh in on releasing in Chigaoland... I will release here through the first week of December. I often overwinter squirrels in my release cage, which is much better for them than being indoors.. of course, our climate i much milder. The release cage is 11' X 14', so basically the size of a spare bedroom. Spring pretty much comes in the latter part of February, so very different from where you are...



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

    Buddy (09-27-2020), Mel1959 (09-26-2020)

  10. #8
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    Thank you Spanky! Yes, we would release him in our backyard and we would support him during the winter months - that is if he stays around; I don't know if the squirrels mostly stay around or they leave? So do you think it's better to keep him in a release cage during winter, than indoor and in a much smaller cage? We can keep him at home up until 14-16 for sure... I'm just trying to do the best for him. We also take him out from his cage and let him zoom around a bit (under supervision, of course), but he is very active.

    And yes, I totally know that they are meant to be out in the trees. Thus my question on what to do or what would be the best for him...

  11. #9
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    Do you think this is a good plan: make a release cage and put Buddy in there when he is ~16 weeks... Keep him in the outdoor release cage during the day and bring him to his indoor cage to sleep and get warm during the cold/rainy winter nights?? Then do the full release in spring.

    Are there cases where the squirrels escaped from the cage (by chewing on a particular area etc)? I guess depends on how the cage is built, but was just wondering if people had that kind of cases.

  12. #10
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    I like this plan best!

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    Buddy (09-28-2020)

  14. #11
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddy View Post
    Do you think this is a good plan: make a release cage and put Buddy in there when he is ~16 weeks... Keep him in the outdoor release cage during the day and bring him to his indoor cage to sleep and get warm during the cold/rainy winter nights?? Then do the full release in spring.

    Are there cases where the squirrels escaped from the cage (by chewing on a particular area etc)? I guess depends on how the cage is built, but was just wondering if people had that kind of cases.
    Whatever cage you use it should be chew proof. We built our release cage in a modular fashion. Each 4x6 section is covered with half inch hardware cloth. The hardware cloth is then put towards the inside of the cage so they dont have access to the wood. The sections are screwed together with stainless screws. Our release cage is 6x8x6. Its large enough to walk inside.

    I think your plan sounds like a good one. My concern would be how you are going to transfer him from the outside cage to the inside cage or if you just intend to move the cage inside and outside?

  15. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Mel1959 from:

    Buddy (09-29-2020)

  16. #12
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    Whatever cage you use it should be chew proof. We built our release cage in a modular fashion. Each 4x6’ section is covered with half inch hardware cloth. The hardware cloth is then put towards the inside of the cage so they don’t have access to the wood. The sections are screwed together with stainless screws. Our release cage is 6’x8’x6’. It’s large enough to walk inside.

    I think your plan sounds like a good one. My concern would be how you are going to transfer him from the outside cage to the inside cage or if you just intend to move the cage inside and outside?
    Thank you Mel! I cannot build a release cage myself unfortunately. I'm not sure if my husband will have time... And all these instructions for sure looks like complicated!

    Is there any place where they sell or build these things? Or who would I even call to ask?

    Sorry, I'm not handy at all!!

    As for transferring... I think I was thinking to go inside the release cage with a smaller "transfer cage", put him in while inside the release cage and then bring back inside to his inside cage. It would have to be done very carefully for sure!

  17. #13
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    Does anyone have release cage plans? I see these threads but none of them seem to have actual plans.

    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...highlight=cage
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...C-Release-Cage
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...s-release-cage

    Also, we have a small yard; so we cannot build a huge release cage unfortunately.

  18. #14
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    Default Re: How to get squirrels ready for release

    I just found this. What do you think? This is big enough to be release cage? https://www.wildlifewelfare.org/WWI_Cage.pdf

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