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Thread: How to train your squirrel??!

  1. #1
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    Default How to train your squirrel??!

    Hi, I have a 4 month old grey squirrel that I found when she was only 2 weeks old. She has a pretty balanced diet, a nice cage and everythingís perfect except her behavior. When I let her out she goes crazy running around and doing squirrel things, which Iím fine with, but she tends to jump on me from the distance. And I mean 7 feet or less away. She doesnít care where she lands, sometimes sheís done it on my face and Itís becoming a threat because Iím scared to get a mark or lose an eye. When sheís on the ground she tries to climb up my leg which is also very painful as the claws go thru the fabric of my pants. She understands the word no and stops when sheís about to chew on something sheís not supposed to and I catch her, but she doesnít listen when I tell her not to jump on me. Any advice on how to condition her to stop this?
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    Default Re: How to train your squirrel??!


  3. #3
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    Default Re: How to train your squirrel??!

    Hi! She is adorable.


    Safety goggles.

    Interesting how priorities differ. Are you planning to release? When my baby was learning how to be a squirrel I would coax her to jump from the top of her cage on a table top (not PR cage, an animal cage I could move here or there) to my arm or shoulder, increasing the distance as she got stronger. I wanted her to be able to make those long leaps if needed. When I had a couple of close calls with my face (and my niece had one as well) I got dollar store safety goggles. Funny that soon after I got them she seemed to always stick the landing and they became unnecessary.

    But your girl is older. If I were in your situation I would try to have an ample "landing platform" like your arm raised or lean your head to the side so your shoulder is a bigger and better target. Sounds like she trusts that nothing bad will happen, or for some reason hasn't learned any kind of caution about the suitability of the landing area. Thinking about it I'm kind of surprised she's gone for your face more than once, since that's really an uncomfortable and relatively difficult landing from the squirrel's point of view. Mine only did it twice, maybe three times, before always trying for a better place to land, like my shoulder.

    Re. climbing, I have nothing to suggest. Mine was never down on the floor in my house and when she released herself I never got to observe much of her behavior on the ground. She almost always came to me thru the trees, often plopping onto my shoulder from overhead or from a branch a few feet away, almost always from higher than my person. It was several months after release that she attempted to climb my leg from the ground. But it was rare and not an issue since she didn't dig deep. Maybe if you wear shorts she won't try to climb? I guess that could be even worse though if she DOES climb from habit and all she has to grip is your bare skin.

    I have to go back to asking why not try to release? Especially if you can do it right there. Nothing like being greeted in the morning by a drop-down from your baby onto your shoulder.
    "I hope everyone got or gets their Baby Love today"~Shewhosweptforest

    https://www.henryspets.com/1-baby-squirrel-care-guide/

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    Default Re: How to train your squirrel??!

    As others have mentioned, squirrels are not meant to be domesticated like a cat or dog. They are a WILD animal. Iím not sure you can ever train one to not jump on you or climb your leg....itís what they are hard wired to do!

    I think you will have a miserable life with her if those are your expectations. There are folks that have posted here that raise and keep squirrels thinking that they will be a good pet and a year or more down the road realize that theyíre not. At that time it becomes much more difficult to transition the squirrel to the trees.

    Your girl is still young. When she goes through her first estrus cycle she may become aggressive to the point of biting without provocation. It happened to me with one I had inside for an extended period of time due to head trauma. Prior to her first heat cycle she loved to curl up in my arms to go to sleep every night. Their psyche changes when they reach maturity because they know they are suppose to procreate, but canít.

    I think itís advisable to think long and hard about your expectations and how a wild animal is undoubtedly incapable of meeting those expectations.

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    Default Re: How to train your squirrel??!



    Can you release at your place? If not, do you know someone with a safe place to do it? If you can, there are a zillion threads about release cages etc. and the process. You're in S. FL so I guess you can release all year?
    "I hope everyone got or gets their Baby Love today"~Shewhosweptforest

    https://www.henryspets.com/1-baby-squirrel-care-guide/

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    Default Re: How to train your squirrel??!

    Iím in Florida and would be happy to release for you. Iím on the east coast just south of Cocoa beach, but I have a son who lives in south Florida. I could probably convince him to transport if thatís something youíre interested in.

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    Default Re: How to train your squirrel??!

    Quote Originally Posted by Fabulous_homie View Post
    Hi, I have a 4 month old grey squirrel that I found when she was only 2 weeks old. She has a pretty balanced diet, a nice cage and everything’s perfect except her behavior. When I let her out she goes crazy running around and doing squirrel things, which I’m fine with, but she tends to jump on me from the distance. And I mean 7 feet or less away. She doesn’t care where she lands, sometimes she’s done it on my face and It’s becoming a threat because I’m scared to get a mark or lose an eye. When she’s on the ground she tries to climb up my leg which is also very painful as the claws go thru the fabric of my pants. She understands the word no and stops when she’s about to chew on something she’s not supposed to and I catch her, but she doesn’t listen when I tell her not to jump on me. Any advice on how to condition her to stop this?
    Think of a squirrel as exquisitely sensitive bio feedback machine. (A squirrel monitors its environment, sense always alert for changes which might indicate the presence of a predator. They also monitor other creatures. They pay the most acute attention to the emotions of their mother. If their mother is afraid they conclude that there is something to be afraid of.)

    So, if you are anxious, nervous your squirrel will also be anxious and agitated, meaning that their fight or flight system is primed for instantaneous response. Speed and agility (the squirrel's primary defensive tools) require friction. Friction is created by deploying claws.

    So, if you are anxious this creates a downward, negative feedback spiral between you and the squirrel. You need to find a way to be relaxed and your squirrel will likewise be more relaxed, moving more slowly.

    If you talk to your squirrel this will help you self monitor your emotional state and likewise help convey that state to the squirrel. A calm voice helps to make for a calm squirrel.

    Early on I learned that I needed to walk at a slow, steady pace. Furthermore, I learned to use my peripheral vision rather than turning my head. (I wanted to be an easy target.) I am always listening for sounds of her movement, but they can also be stealthy. So, I learned to walk in a more flat-footed fashion.

    They are capable of jumping quite precisely. If they want to, that don't always do this, they can land quite softly. Meaning that they have imparted just the right amount of energy to reach the target area, where gravity and motion are balance out at the end of their trajectory, a 'dead point' leap.

    My squirrel can sense my pain and they are capable of walking on you, on a horizontal surface, without deploying claws. When I was wearing shorts and I saw her approaching I would pat my shorts where the material began and she would leap up to that point, likewise, eventually, she learned to leap off on the way down. I would praise this behavior. Say "Ouch" if something hurts.

    They intend no harm usually. They just see you as a tree, sort of, and periodically they want to come say "Hi" and then scamper off to go back to doing their own thing.

    Don't wear clothes that are really thin when you are in their presence. You could also wear safety glasses, which will help you be more relaxed. You see they have thick skins and the mother squirrel actually grabs abdominal folds in her mouth and caries her babies who then cling to mom's neck and head with all four limbs. It takes some work but they can be taught the difference between clothes and skin. It takes some persistence, gentle, repeated feedback.

    This behavior isn't usually an aggressive act, though it can be if they are upset about something you have done. They are just checking in. They also have an innate preference for positions of elevation, staying off the ground when possible. They also see you a protector, so if they are with mom they are safe. Being on your shoulder gives them a different perspective that they can't obtain otherwise.

    Leaping is wired into their DNA. Leaping is an integral part of their survival tool kit. They need plenty of practice. Your home is providing them an opportunity to practice in a safe environment.

    If they like you, they are more likely to mind you when you tell them to stop chewing on something. They want to make you happy, unless you have pissed them off, but you can win them back by being relaxed with them and allowing that physical proximity to strengthen the bond between the two of you.

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    Default Re: How to train your squirrel??!

    Also, the best time to strengthen your bond with the squirrel is the hour before sunset. They are much more mellow at this time. Strengthening this bonds helped tremendously with improving her behavior. This is referred to as allogrooming. There is usually action in both direction. It could be just you hold them while they groom or maybe you petting them very gently. They may give you a manicure. Don't let this freak you out, they are just trying to return the favor.

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    Default Re: How to train your squirrel??!

    I appreciate Rock Monkeyís in-depth explanation about keeping a squirrel calm and bonding with it. However, expecting to teach one to not jump or climb is an unrealistic expectation. Equally, expecting a healthy squirrel to not run around and do zoomies when let out of a cage is equally unrealistic. Squirrels are hard wired for this behavior.

    I know you love your girl because you raised her, but if there is no physical reason she cannot be released, then maybe you should give her the opportunity to live in the trees where nature intended.

    Occasionally, we have folks post on this forum that they are looking for a home for a non releasable squirrel for one reason or another. Sometimes the squirrels have neuro issues which makes them more mellow and incapable of jumping, climbing or running. Sometimes thereís some other physical issue or even squirrels that have chosen a life inside instead of in the trees....basically, they failed to release. A squirrel like this might be a better fit for you.

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    Default Re: How to train your squirrel??!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    I appreciate Rock Monkeyís in-depth explanation about keeping a squirrel calm and bonding with it. However, expecting to teach one to not jump or climb is an unrealistic expectation. Equally, expecting a healthy squirrel to not run around and do zoomies when let out of a cage is equally unrealistic. Squirrels are hard wired for this behavior.
    Yes, I agree.

    You are not going to be able get the squirrel to not to jump or climb on you. (If you could do so it would be breaking the squirrel's spirit in the most fundamental of ways.) The jumping and climbing are genetically wired in. I am just trying to suggest how you can change your behavior and expectations so to be better able to deal with and accommodate this ingrained behavior on the part of the squirrel. They are trainable to a certain degree, but the hardest part is retraining the human.

    All of what I have described is derived from personal experience in the course of my interactions.

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