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Thread: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

  1. #1
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    Default Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    My husband graciously agreed to build an outdoor release cage for Buddy.

    The size will be something like 3 x 6 x 8.

    We have 2 options. Option1: It's just right outside of our door to the backyard, so we can see it from the window/door and keep an eye on. It's more protected; because of the house walls. It doesn't get as much sun though.

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    Option2: The other side of the wooden wall in the Option1: It definitely gets much more sun, but it's more in the open, so it'll be very open to wind/rain etc. Plus, since it's on the other side, we won't be able to keep an eye on it, unless we walk outside and go to the other side of the wooden wall.

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    Which option do you guys think is better?

    My other question is, do we need to have Hardware Cloth on the bottom?

    Just as a note: we will use this outside release cage to keep Buddy out, so he can get as much space/exercise as possible, but we will bring him back home for cold/rainy days/nights. We will do the full release in spring.

    Thank you!!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    I guess, one more questions (and I expect I might have as we think this more thoroughly)... I was thinking we cover only half or a little more than half of the top with a tarp or something to protect from rain/snow etc. Should we try to cover all top? Which might then mean a lot less sun...

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Option 1. My release cage is completely in the shade. The only side that’s open is a northern exposure which doesn’t get a lot of sun, but it’s the side by the feeding station where all the wilds congregate. I think you’ll want to be able to keep an eye on him.

    I have a cover over the complete top of my release cage. I also cover two sides and a portion of the third. I do this for several reasons.

    First, I want my squirrels to feel safe. There are a lot of wild squirrels that climb on the cage and I don’t want them stressed thinking they can get in and the squirrels inside thinking they can’t escape.

    Second, my release cage is in the corner of my yard. I live in a housing development with an average amount of space between mine and my neighbors house. We share a metal fence which is directly beside my release cage. He has a dog. I wanted the dogs view, and vice eras, obstructed from my squirrels in the cage.

    Third, I have a sprinkler system that must run periodically. I live in Florida and I must water my lawn through the summer months or it would burn up. I don’t want the sprinklers spraying water on my squirrels or their fleece cubes or nest boxes.

    And the fourth reason you may want to cover the top completely is if you live where there are raccoons. Raccoons will climb on the top and sides of the cage, frighten your squirrels, but also they will poop while on top of the cage and their poop can have roundworm larvae in it that is lethal to squirrels. I don’t have this problem, but you might. I still cover the top completely.

    I have never had a problem with my released guys not knowing to come in out of the rain or be freaked out over the rain, once released.

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

    Buddy (10-06-2020)

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Here are pictures of my release cage. The first one is sideways and I don’t know how to rotate it.
    Attached Images Attached Images    

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

    Buddy (10-06-2020)

  7. #5
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Mel, thank you so much for your response and recommendations! They all makes total sense! Thank you!!

  8. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Buddy from:

    Mel1959 (10-07-2020)

  9. #6
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Mel, can't really tell from the pictures; do you have hardware clothing at the bottom, or is it just the ground/soil at the bottom of your cage?

  10. #7
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Hardware cloth on the bottom and the floor has support wood throughout the wooden frame with the hardware cloth on the inside of the frame. It is raised off the ground about 3 inches by stakes hammered into the ground and positioned under the wooden support pieces.

    Mine has two doors so I can walk into one and close it behind me before I open the one to the squirrels. In one of the pictures you can see the little wood framed portal door that I open for release right near the oak tree.

    I have found that it’s helpful to put a nest box in the release cage that is suitable for hanging in the trees Once released. That way they are used to it and they have their scent in it. It also encourages them to stick around after release.

    If you are going to keep him outside all winter you need to be sure he will have adequate warmth since he won’t have anyone to snuggle with. I’m not sure how cold it gets where you live, but something to consider.

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

    Buddy (10-07-2020)

  12. #8
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    Hardware cloth on the bottom and the floor has support wood throughout the wooden frame with the hardware cloth on the inside of the frame. It is raised off the ground about 3 inches by stakes hammered into the ground and positioned under the wooden support pieces.

    Mine has two doors so I can walk into one and close it behind me before I open the one to the squirrels. In one of the pictures you can see the little wood framed portal door that I open for release right near the oak tree.

    I have found that it’s helpful to put a nest box in the release cage that is suitable for hanging in the trees Once released. That way they are used to it and they have their scent in it. It also encourages them to stick around after release.

    If you are going to keep him outside all winter you need to be sure he will have adequate warmth since he won’t have anyone to snuggle with. I’m not sure how cold it gets where you live, but something to consider.
    Thank you! Yes, planning to have a nest box in the release cage and then put it in a near by tree that we have in the backyard. It could get really cold here. Thus, we will take him inside when it's super cold; but I'll do my best to make sure he is warm! We might have him our during the day and keep him in his indoor cage at night during winter. I just want him to have more space so he can run around. He really doesn't want to be in his indoor cage for, it seems like, more than 15 min...

  13. #9
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    So, I ordered this for Buddy's outdoor release cage and then later on put on a tree... https://www.etsy.com/listing/2083612...-made-to-order

    Do I put anything in it to make it warmer? like fleece or anything or leave it like that? I think it has breathing holes etc. I don't want to be blocking them.

  14. #10
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    I always put fleece squares in the nest box. I know others say not to because if they get wet then it would present a problem. I haven’t had it get wet. We bought a natural straw type product to put in the bottom of the box and then I added fleece squares. The wilds usually further customize it with leaves. I also give them tissues to add to their boxes occasionally.

    We have a problem with black ants getting in the boxes once they’re up in the trees. Occasionally get carpenter ants and beehives, too.

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

    Buddy (10-07-2020)

  16. #11
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Thank you!! So much to think about, plan and try to execute as best as possible... It's hard to imitate the momma squirrel...

  17. #12
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Almost ready... Waiting for the Nest Box to arrive. I need to add more shelves and branches etc.

    We put Buddy in it today for a test drive. He was overwhelmed. I sit there with him and he was on my shoulder the whole time...

    I suppose he would get used to in time. I think I'll put him there a few hours every day and increase the time...

    The bottom as pine wood chips that I got from Menards and on top small animal bedding (again, pine).

    We used untreated wood and hardware clothing.

    Please let me know if you see any issues.


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  18. #13
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    It looks good. You’ll want to move everything up to the top portion of the cage. He will rarely be on the bottom. Cut some large 3-4”diameter limbs from a safe tree and secure them through the hardware cloth with stainless screws and washers. Some limbs should be vertical and others horizontal, varying diameters within the branches is also fine. Don’t forget to provide a roof and something that blocks two of the 4 sides. Put his nest box and cube up in the blocked corner area.

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

    Buddy (10-10-2020)

  20. #14
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Thanks Mel! Yes, I'll definitely look into all that. We just finished the main thing today, so we didn't have time for decoration/interior so much yet. We put a tarp on the top, and it actually goes half way in the back too. I don't think it's very visible in the photos. Do you think we need more coverage?

  21. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Buddy from:

    Mel1959 (10-10-2020)

  22. #15
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    It looks good. You’ll want to move everything up to the top portion of the cage. He will rarely be on the bottom. Cut some large 3-4”diameter limbs from a safe tree and secure them through the hardware cloth with stainless screws and washers. Some limbs should be vertical and others horizontal, varying diameters within the branches is also fine. Don’t forget to provide a roof and something that blocks two of the 4 sides. Put his nest box and cube up in the blocked corner area.
    Just wondering, in case... yo also want to make sure that the bottom of the cage also is sealed from predators with hardware cloth.
    "In the midst of our lives we must find the magic that makes our souls soar."
    My sweet Scooter, darling Hami, beloved gentle Simon... YOU are the ones who brought that magic in my life. You've changed the way I see all things around me now and, because of you, I want to be a better person. This is not goodbye, my sweethearts. You be at peace, your work here on earth is done... now you are finally, truly free. Until we meet at the Bridge again, just remember that I will always love you.
    The greatness of a nation can be measured by the way it treats its animals.
    - Gandhi -

  23. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Scooterzmom from:

    Buddy (10-10-2020)

  24. #16
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Quote Originally Posted by Scooterzmom View Post
    Just wondering, in case... yo also want to make sure that the bottom of the cage also is sealed from predators with hardware cloth.
    Thank you!! Yes, it's covered with hardware cloth, just like everywhere else, but I put wood chips & bedding on top. Thank you for checking!

  25. #17
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    He is really enjoying his new cage.


  26. 4 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to Buddy:

    Rock Monkey (10-11-2020), RockyPops (10-12-2020), SquirrelSense (10-15-2020), tgramsey (10-12-2020)

  27. #18
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Here's another one... We're still waiting for his nest box...


  28. #19
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    I think you are going to need an antechamber added on. Otherwise you will never be able to remove him from the cage without running the risk that he will run off. So, that you can walk in to the antechamber, close the door behind you, then open the door to the big cage, put Buddy in a small cage, then you can open the antechamber door and go back into the house.

    Given your location north of Chicago I think the lack of sun is going to be a big issue.

    I am a rock climber and the north facing walls get left alone in the late fall and winter, it is just too cold. However, southern facing walls, in the same locale, with sun are more than pleasant enough. During the coming months sun will be critical. It is a night and day magnitude of difference. However, the other issues mentioned are worthy of consideration, particularly being able to keep an eye on him.

    One solution might be a curved mirror like the ones some people put at blind spots for vehicles.

  29. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Rock Monkey from:

    Buddy (10-11-2020)

  30. #20
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    Default Re: Need Help with Release Cage Planning...

    Great points! The cage is actually mobile. We can put it on the other side, but then we cannot keep an eye on him, and he is more open to wind etc. So it's a trade off.

    Do you think the other side (sunny but more open) is better?

    During winter, if the weather is really cold and at nights, I'm still planning to keep him at home.

    I'll discuss the antechamber with my husband! Thank you again!!

    Also, rock climbing... Very cool sport!!

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