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Thread: 8 week old questions - bedding, Henry's blocks

  1. #21
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    Default Re: 8 week old questions - bedding, Henry's blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by MrSploot View Post
    I appreciate all the insight. He basically has the whole room to himself to run around in which is doing, all day, every day.

    The latest unpleasant development is him clawing at my face. Out of nowhere he's started staring at me intently then leaping at my face/neck. If he's on my shoulder he'll reach around and try to claw near my eyes and mouth. He's drawn blood twice, yesterday. I read elsewhere here that clawing/pawing at the face is squirrel for "take me someplace else" but obviously that's not an option. I yelled both times and then left the room, but if anyone has tried and true fixes for face attacks I'd love to hear them. Otherwise it's going to be an unpleasant coexistence for the next three months. I really don't want to evict him prematurely after all the time and effort expended so far.
    Yes, eventually they don't really want to be cooped up in one room, especially when they realize that there is a bigger world out there. Getting safety glasses is a good idea. They will protect your eyes and allow you to remain more relaxed in his presence, since the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed he will be.

    When he starts staring at you intensely, try to verbally deescalate the situation, say soothing things. The sound of your voice should remind him of your close bond from when he was little and possibly break the primitive inclination towards aggression. Aggression on your part, verbal or physical, is likely to be met with more aggression on his part.

    Try to figure out what is triggering his aggressive response. Often there is a pattern. For one thing, they can become upset when you clean up their pee and poop, because that is part of how they assert their territorial claim. So, they can regard removing it as an aggressive act, a denial of their territorial claim. Also, they are observant and don't like being tricked.

    With the passage of time, when the aggressive instinct has subsided, I think they almost forget how ugly the situation became previously, though you will remember it intensely, which will make you tense which may trigger wariness on their part.

    Engaging in allogrooming is a good way to build relationship capital. They are most receptive to allogrooming in the hour before sunset. You describe something like this in your subsequent post. If things go well, he will groom your hands, chewing off dead skin and licking your fingers.

    I think the inclination towards territorial aggression increases with age and seasonally, during the winter months, when life become rough for squirrels and standing one's ground to retain good territory and a well protected and warm nesting location is critical to survival.

  2. #22
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    Default Re: 8 week old questions - bedding, Henry's blocks

    I have so appreciated the advice here. Here's our latest update at approx 16 weeks.
    - the leaping at my face stopped on its own. He is still very happy to climb all over and sniff inside my pockets for any treats but doesn't want to claw my face. I do wear cotton gloves when I visit him due to his sharp claws and he likes to grip my fingers and sniff at the base of my fingers/palm. Sometimes he tries to "dig" there and tries to "bury" his veggies in my hand.
    - he sleeps inside a huge teddy bear that my daughter eviscerated, he's created a tunnel and hollow inside the stuffing.
    - He has a new habit of repetitive pacing at door. He's just running back and forth, leaping off the walls. He spends hours doing that in one place - I can tell from all the poop in that spot including what he's smearing on the wall as he runs (eww.)
    - He was chewing at the bottom of the door but I sprayed it with bitter apple which seemed to help.
    - I try to bring new and interesting things in from outdoors. Branches that have fallen, for him to gnaw on. Fresh branches I trim from my pear tree for him to eat the bark and spurs. Pine cones to chew on / pry out the seeds.
    - I have taken to hiding his blocks and veggies all over the room so he has to sniff them out and find them rather than just belly up to the bar and have it placed in front of him.
    - I spend longer stretches of time with him around midday and the end of the day and play with him. Snuggles, grooming, wrestling, teasing him to jump up for toys/branches, putting him on high spots and encouraging him to jump into my hands, etc.

    It's clear to me that the confinement is stressful based upon the pacing. I'm trying all I can think of to bring in new toys and stimulation. If anyone has ideas on how to keep him stimulated please share! How does one entertain a solo squirrel all winter ahead of a spring release? It's going to be a long three months, I fear...

    I thought about shifting around the stuff in the room - moving the bear, rearranging some of the locations of things, just to shake it up. But would that be destabilising or interesting?

  3. #23
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    Default Re: 8 week old questions - bedding, Henry's blocks

    Is it at all possible that you can get him an outdoor pre-release cage? Something predator proof with a solid nest box to sleep in and lots of ropes and hangy things to play with? 16 weeks is the age when I usually release my rehab squirrels, if not before, so I can imagine how frustrated your guy is, and how much more frustrated he'll be over the coming months.

    Your weather is warmer than ours here in NYC, right? Maybe build him an outdoor palace.
    Island Rehabber
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    NEGLECT IS ABUSE.

    "Better one day in the trees, than a lifetime in a cage."

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  5. #24
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    Default Re: 8 week old questions - bedding, Henry's blocks

    Even if you could provide an outdoor enclosure that was tunneled to inside his room through a window would be perfect. He could spend as much time outside as he wanted with things to do and see and also come inside if he chose. A member, SnickerBar, built something like this for her overwinters. Maybe you could reach out to her by private message and get some ideas. Another member, Tomahawkflyers, did the same thing for his colony of flyers. I have to think something like this would alleviate stress for both of you.

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  7. #25
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    Default Re: 8 week old questions - bedding, Henry's blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by MrSploot View Post
    Thanks - we cleared out the obstacles and he is left with a big giant teddy bear (that he is "burying" food under and climbing all over), a high dresser (secured to the wall) and a bunk bed. Carpeted floor to cushion falls. So far so good as far as not chewing on unsuitable things. I am bringing in interesting things from outside and leaving them for him to discover - some dry maple leaves, branches, etc.

    I have vinyl windows... newly replaced two years ago, so I REALLY hope he doesn't chew those. I was thinking about leaving the window open on good days for some fresh air/sights/sounds, but got worried he might chew through the screen. Maybe I could make a hardware cloth frame for that window that would allow it to be open but also protect it from chewing. Something to think about.

    Question - we'll have to overwinter him and release in the spring. I was concerned that bonding would be bad for him when he returns to life outside, but that's some months away. I guess he needs the social/bonding stimulation now and then gets weaned off our contact during the soft release time?
    I have overwintered then released four squirrels - two singletons and one pair. I am now overwintering another singleton.

    I have always made sure to get my squirrel kids out of the cage twice a day for play time, and believe strongly that they need the contact, stimulation, etc. I have a glass porch, and whenever we have a squirrel to overwinter, it gets turned into their play room. It has an old couch, and for them I add various things fro them to climb, chew, explore. Plus I squirrel proof the porch, both for their sake and to minimize any damage.

    Having overwintered siblings last winter and now a singleton this winter, I would say that for singletons it is even more important that they get time to play with me, as I am essentially their only playmate.

    Count me among those who do not believe that the bonding needs to stop.

    While I do not handle my squirrels after release unless necessary due to injury, all four of my overwintered releases have continued to take food from my hands, climb and perch on me, and come into the house or onto the porch if the door is open.

    I do not think this has ever put them at any disadvantage in the wild. i believe it is actually an advantage, as whenever any of them has been injured to where antibiotics were necessary, it has made it possible to being them back inside to get them back over the injury. Usually this means a couple weeks, but in some cases it has been up to three months. Much easier on all concerned if they remain comfortable with me!

    I also raised and released two different squirrels born earlier in the year and therefore not overwintered. Neither of them stuck around like the overwintered ones.

    The overwintered ones have all continued to come and hang out throughout their lives. Right now, my senior squirrel is Mookie, who turned three last September and was released May 2018. He may disappear 2-3 days at a time during mating season, but other than that he is around every day, even returning to his original nest box for winter.

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  9. #26
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    Default Re: 8 week old questions - bedding, Henry's blocks

    Update on little guy, fast approaching 6 months and working on release plans. Iím building a new chicken coop that will double as his soft release cage. Is there a thread or guides on best practices for soft release? Iím aiming to have him in there by mid March.
    What should I be bringing him to learn about wild foods? I currently bring in dandelions and branches. I figure I might need to supplement his release with Henryís blocks as he learns what is good to eat outdoors. How quickly do they become able to independently forage?
    Iím hoping that heíll settle in my big maple tree in my backyard and plan to put his next box in that tree. I see other squirrels climbing but not nesting in it. Will the locals push him out of my yard? Will he have any advantages if Iím still making blocks and veggies available for a while?

  10. #27
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    Default Re: 8 week old questions - bedding, Henry's blocks

    Hereís the link for the soft release process. https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...-How-to-Sticky In the same section which is on the forum under the cages section is also a sticky on release cage building.

    I have found it helpful to put a nest box and whatever they were sleeping in while inside (a fleece cube or other type of bed) into the release cage with them. Hopefully, while in the release cage he will transition from the cube to the nest box. When itís time to release I put the nest box in the tree I want them to live in. This way they already have their scent in the box and are more likely to move into it. Once the doors opened I leave the cube in the release cage so if they choose to return theyíll have another familiar place to sleep.

    Donít begin your release process till the temperatures are more moderate and thereís leaves on the trees. If you feed the wilds itís best to stop prior to release so thereís fewer of them hanging around.

    Good luck.

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  12. #28
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    Default Re: 8 week old questions - bedding, Henry's blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by MrSploot View Post
    Update on little guy, fast approaching 6 months and working on release plans. Iím building a new chicken coop that will double as his soft release cage. Is there a thread or guides on best practices for soft release? Iím aiming to have him in there by mid March.
    What should I be bringing him to learn about wild foods? I currently bring in dandelions and branches. I figure I might need to supplement his release with Henryís blocks as he learns what is good to eat outdoors. How quickly do they become able to independently forage?
    Iím hoping that heíll settle in my big maple tree in my backyard and plan to put his next box in that tree. I see other squirrels climbing but not nesting in it. Will the locals push him out of my yard? Will he have any advantages if Iím still making blocks and veggies available for a while?
    I agree with Mel1959 on all points!

    I have overwintered and released four squirrels, and have a fifth this winter. All my previous four overwintered releases have remained lifelong denizens of my yard. I always stop feeding the wilds before introducing a new one into the backyard, I usually move them to the release cage in late April or early May, then 3 weeks before release. Since they have been inside up until then, I time their introduction to the release cage so that the weather is not too cold their first few nights outside. And when they are released, I look for a window of a few days when heavy rain is unlikely.

    While there are plenty of trees on my block, there are none in my yard. So, I just leave their nest box inside the release cage. With an early May release, they typically return to the nest box to sleep for 6-8 weeks, eventually taking to the trees when the weather warms up. They may return to the nest box in bad weather over the summer and early fall. They then generally move back into the nest box by October or November then remain there until next spring. I have had squirrels follow this pattern of return to the nest box their whole lives.

    Last May, I released a brother (Igggy) and a sister (Arya), so their cages and nest boxes are there next to an earlier and nest box (Mookie, now 3.5 years old). Below is squirrel village.

    Arya actually moved back into her nest box in late July, a few days before having her three pups (all girls).

    I have two other nest boxes (on posts), and they all get fresh fleece every year. This way, there are always backup nest boxes, so my guys always have somewhere to sleep. Wilds will occasionally encroach, although since these nest boxes are only 5' off the ground, they do not tend to linger. An exception was two eyars ago when a wild mama squirrel occupied one of my backup nest boxes late winter then had her pups there. Once it warmed up and they were old enough to venture out, however, they relocated to a nearby tree.


    Name:  Squirrel Village 20200414_001.jpg
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  13. Serious fuzzy thank you's to olorin19 from:

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  14. #29
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    Default Re: 8 week old questions - bedding, Henry's blocks

    Thanks, very helpful! I have wilds travel through my yard, but I have never fed them. They come to play, chase, bury things, eat from my garden, and tease the dog. It seems a good place for the Sploot to frequent, I hope.

    He is changing so quickly in maturity and behavior, which is one reason I am eager to see him outside. He has become noticeably more wary and guarded, wilding up I suppose. I had already put up a nest box on the wall in his room, and he just recently moved into that. Lately he seems to spend quite a bit of time in there, nesting maybe, and is thankfully pacing at the door less. But he is noticeably more territorial and sexually maturing at six months.

    I'm committed to doing my best by him with a proper soft release and am really looking forward to seeing his life in the trees. I have so enjoyed the rewards of being his guardian for his first six months but I'm a once-and-done on the rehab process. My hats off to all of you who do this over and over and over, I respect the hard work and expense of rehabbing and have learned a lot from reading here, but I won't be doing this again. .

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