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Thread: First time squirrel-rehaber

  1. #1
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    Default First time squirrel-rehaber

    Hello.
    I didn't even know how much I love squirrels!
    In July a neighbor had a tree cut down and the tree guys brought down two babies - two weeks old. They called me (at 8 pm, ugh!) and asked what to do. I never raised squirrels but I am the neighborhood animal lady. So I told them generally what they needed to do and they said, "no, we're not doing that." So I took them, intending to take them in the morning to a wildlife rehab center in my area but they were closed for covid. By the time they opened a few weeks later, I just couldn't hand them over!
    Fast forward, the sweet dears survived my original inept attempts at caring for them. (I was UNDER feeding them for a few days initially. UGH!) My boy released himself at ten weeks when I was transitioning them to their pre-release cage. He had been in the cage a day, I so carefully watched them as I opened the door to do something and man! He was across the cage and out the door before I could even think! I see him around though he wont have anything to do with me. I believe it's him because a) he was smaller than the big guys and b) he will stand and listen to me but won't come back to me.
    Now here it is, time to release my girl and UGH!! I KNOW it's the right thing to do but tonight I brought her in (because I need her in the cat carrier so I can get her custom made, $70+ nest box, ha! out of the prelease cage and put it in the tree.) to play with her one last night. Well, she grunts and I saw on here that is a happy noise and oh!! It's killing me.
    As far as her release tomorrow, I would appreciate all advice and tips! From what I've read, I put the cage under the tree with her nest box and open the door....is that it?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: First time squirrel-rehaber

    Basically. I always stay outside the first day with mine when I release them. I watch them and delight in how happy they are and also watch to be sure that theyíre doing ok. I try to encourage them to stick close by so I can monitor them and their interactions.

    If you have wilds that come around to eat in the morning wait till about mid morning to release. By then the wilds will be off doing something else hopefully and wonít be intimidating.

    Once released continue to provide food in the release cage. Leave the little portal door open so she can come back if she wants to eat or sleep. Provide someplace for her to sleep inside the release cage if you are removing her nest box, like a hanging cube.

    I hope she and her brother can reunite. Itís always nice for them to have a buddy when first venturing into the trees.

    It is bittersweet, but a life in the trees is what you were able to provide for them by raising them.

    Good luck!

  3. 8 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to Mel1959:

    Barby (10-18-2020), Bella's Mom (11-06-2020), Buddy (10-27-2020), Chirps (10-19-2020), gunpackingrandma (10-30-2020), island rehabber (10-29-2020), Mialouise (10-29-2020), RockyPops (10-19-2020)

  4. #3
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    Default Re: First time squirrel-rehaber

    Do you think her brother will come back? She is in the side yard and I do see him sneaking around here but I didn't know if they would reunite. Oh that would be so wonderful! I do feed the wilds but it is all in the front yard and I am putting her nesting box in a tree in my side yard. I have bunnies (domestic) in the side yard so I'm out there often with them so hope she will find it a nice place to set up permanent residence.

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: First time squirrel-rehaber

    Iím not sure if they will reunite or not. It depends on how long they were separated. I had a brother and sister that I released together and they stayed very close in the same nest box for about a month. The female fell and was injured and I had to bring her in for about 6 weeks. In that time the male had moved to a neighbors tree so when she was re-released there was not an opportunity for the same closeness.

    On a positive note, females tend to stick closer to home. A female I released over 4 years ago still lives in a tree on the side of my house and has had 5 litters.

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  8. #5
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    Default Re: First time squirrel-rehaber

    She is staying around! The first night I released her, I climbed a ladder up to her nesting box. Oh my sweet squirrel rehab! She kept poking her head out of her nesting box for a little scratch, then she'd go back in, then poke her head out. I was waiting for her to settle down but she kept sticking her little head out for a rub and I know this is crazy but I swear she was like "what do I do now." I put her back in her pre-release cage that night, ha!! I just couldn't stand it! She seemed so confused though I know I am so projecting! I did re-release her the next day and she's been hanging around. (And I've been a good momma-rehaber and let her stay free!)

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  10. #6
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    Default Re: First time squirrel-rehaber

    Are you supplementing her with food? How is she acting now about being released? I’m not sure that you were projecting her feelings of confusion and fear onto her. She probably was/is scared. You don’t say how old your babies were when you released them. We don’t like to release until babies are at least 16 weeks old....older if they’re a singleton. They have a much better chance of survival the older they are. And folks that live in northern climates don’t release at all during the late fall/winter because there’s no tree cover, foods are scarce and they have no cache of food and getting established in an area with a home before cold weather sets in isn’t easy. Rehabbers keep them inside, over-winter them and release them in the spring after the trees bud out and have leaves.

    Another concern is that older more established neighborhood squirrels may run her out of her nest box as it gets colder and the area. That could be a very bad thing for her if she’s not experienced enough to build another nest and doesn’t have a cache of food.

    If your girl is still acting scared and confused I’d consider returning her to her cage and letting her grow up more and release her in the spring. After all the time and love you invest in raising them I like to give them their best shot at a successful life in the trees. I think the reason my released girl has done so well is because after release at 16+ weeks I had to bring her back inside because she got injured. Consequently when I released her the second time she was over 8 months old.

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  12. #7
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    Default Re: First time squirrel-rehaber

    I agree with Mel1959 regarding how hard it can be for a squirrel to establish a home in the fall/winter months because of the reasons she stated, and that older more established squirrels may try to run her out of her nest box when cold weather arrives. It could definitely be very bad for her if she isn't experienced enough to build a new nest if she gets run out of her nest box. I released a brother and sister one year in October. But where I live, it is still summer temperatures outside, both during the day and at night. The leaves haven't even begun to fall off the trees, and there is still plenty of food around for them at that time, but I still supplemented them with food. It doesn't get cold where I live until late December/early January, and the leaves stay on the trees until December. So releasing here in October is fine for them because they have plenty of time to establish a home before it gets too cold. But I see you live in Maryland, and I am not familiar with when it starts to get cold there, and when the leaves fall off the trees. Like Mel1959 said, you didn't say how old your girl is. I also agree that the older they are the better they do out there when released. If I can help it, I never release squirrels until they are about 6 to 8 months old. I do know they can be released at 16 weeks old, I just always try to keep them inside until they are older. The brother and sister I mentioned were actually 10 months old when I released them, and the three boys I had after that were released at 8 months old. And they all did really well out in the wild. If your girl is younger and still acting scared, I would also consider bringing her back inside, over-wintering her, and releasing her in the spring.

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  14. #8
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    Default Re: First time squirrel-rehaber

    Well, thanks. It feels kind a good to know I wasn't just being some crazy squirrel lady when I thought she was being apprehensive. She was 14 weeks when I released her. I felt pressure to release her from other sites that say it's too stressful for them to be in captivity too long. But she seems to be doing pretty good. The second night she didn't come back to her nesting box and I was concerned but now she's there every night. In the morning she comes down out of her tree and greets me! She doesn't want to be held but she's happy to run on me and get pets! I'm trying to keep plenty of peanuts, corn, seed etc. out front for the wilds so they don't wander to the side of my yard where she is. She gets walnuts, cashews, etc. And I saw her chase off a wild today! I'm in Maryland so we don't have horrible winters like those north of us; snow is always a hit or miss. I did wonder about someone taking her box and considered whether I should maybe get a box or two for the wilds! Question: I will be gone Tuesday to Sunday of Thanksgiving week so I can see her Tuesday and again Sunday but will not see her for four full days. Will that affect her in anyway? She'll still stay around, right. (I'll have someone putting out food.)

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  16. #9
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    Default Re: First time squirrel-rehaber

    Definitely a yes to more boxes. I have 5 in the only two trees I have in my yard and they arenít always in use, but most times are. My resident mom always takes one with her babies, but then the babies move into another till they decide to leave. Females do tend to stick closer to home, especially if you have a close bond with them.

    While youíre gone Iím not sure how sheíll react. Squirrels seem to like routine and the social interaction if youíre their person. Having someone continue to feed her will be helpful. Also, feeding the wilds in another area is good....less competition for her. You might consider supplementing the seeds and nuts you feed with some healthier options like fresh avocado (no skin or pit), fresh coconut and fresh corn chunks. I feed this to my wilds as well as boo balls I make up with ground rodent block. The rodent block is 100% nutrition so I feel like they are getting some healthy nutrients. I give a bowl of these things in the morning and then for happy hour at night they get another round of boo balls before nuts are handed out.

  17. 4 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to Mel1959:

    Bella's Mom (11-03-2020), Buddy (10-29-2020), island rehabber (10-29-2020), stepnstone (10-29-2020)

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