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Thread: Overwinter?

  1. #1
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    Default Overwinter?

    I want to ask for opinions about my two little greys (males) that came end of September. Eyes were open 9/24/20 ; the smallest only weighed 69g, so guessing at least 5 week old then? I read a thread where in some areas , babies can be released through December. Would that be the same for us in MS? Last winter was fairly cold here, we had some temps. down in the teens many nights. These two are still quite small but very healthy and rowdy. Taking formula twice daily.
    Iíve never overwintered squirrels. I want them to have the best chance for survival, but I also hate to keep them in a regular sized CN cage for months. I have the exercise porch for my NRís that I could potentially keep their cage in, and open the door for exercise.. But would they try to breed my NR females?? I do not want another accidental baby squirrel crisis here ! The other option would be to let them overwinter/grow up in a large RC . We could move the big one thatís out in the woods closer to the house in case a heat source is needed . Iím just trying to get a routine as I have to work fulltime now Got to get a plan here, or train family to be zookeepers....

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Overwinter?

    If it was me I would definitely overwinter the boys.
    I never had a problem overwintering in a double cn, but Sabrina who was spoiled and had a third layer ( she was my only overwinter with that type of luxury).
    I'm here in NE AL and our winter was really mild last year, but I'm not sure what to expect this year.
    I personally would not release later than the mid October, not so much due to temperature, but my backyard is all hardwood and there is 0 leaf coverage once the leaves are gone, and I think life outside is just more challenging for them starting an outdoor life during winter. They won't have a food stash, I know you'd provide for them, but that might attract unwanted guests.
    I don't have a good place to overwinter outside so I have no experience in that department.
    I'm sure others will chime in.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Overwinter?

    I agree, I think Iíd overwinter them, too. Are you able to handle them? If you are you can keep them in the CN cage and give them occasional out of cage time. If youíd feel better giving them more room then move the RC closer to the house so you can provide heat if necessary. The extra time over the winter will help them to be better prepared for release and they wonít have the winter to deal with. Older squirrels always do better IMO.

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Overwinter?

    I'm with lukaslolamaus and mel on this: I too agree with overwintering them. Either solution you propose sounds just fine, and wise. You can always start with the CN on the porch and, should you see any problem arising like getting along with your NRs, then you could always go with moving the RC close to the house. I really don't think the young ones would be mature enough to make babies with their roommates before release but others can chime in on that. For my part, I have never had any of my overwintering males impregnating any of their female companions in all my years of overwintering; I must say, however, the females were not mature NRs.
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  8. #5
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    Default Re: Overwinter?

    Everyone knows my feelings about overwintering by now, although it's definitely an opinion that comes from city life and rehabbing in a small apartment, under the nose of a vicious condo board who cannot know that the squirrels exist. Quite different from suburban or country life with large outdoor pens or even a "squirrel room" or "rehab building"!

    I feel that unless you DO have that room, or that building, that overwintering is stressful on both humans and squirrels. Stressful for us as we watch them develop neurotic, repetitive behaviors like back-flipping, pacing, and obsessively chewing the bars of the cage. I can't do it anymore; it's too awful, and cage bar chewing causes odontomae. I supplement my releases every other day with nuts in the shell and veggies -- even HHBs if they will still eat them. Never had anyone die of hunger out there, or cold.

    I may be forced to keep my two who still exhibit pox symptoms -- Charlotte and Billy -- over the winter, and I am literally losing sleep over it.
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  10. #6
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    Default Re: Overwinter?

    Thank you for these thoughts. I can handle them now , but like the last two pairs I tried not to handle them at all after weaning.
    Jon has some ideas about remodeling a building we have thatís on edge of the woods but closer for me , if they do stay. Maybe make an indoor/outdoor release pen with lots of room, just in case . We are going to study that today Thanks again

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  12. #7
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    Default Re: Overwinter?

    Iím working fulltime now so while we have good weather and the weekend, Iím trying to decide whether to move the RC today, or attempt ( under supervision) to allow to the boys to have out of cage freedom with the other NRís . If they are approx 12 + weekís sold, is there ANY chance of them breeding any of these girls before spring release?? If so I will definitely have to move the RC this weekend. They have to have more room .

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  14. #8
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    Default Re: Overwinter?

    I'm chiming in with my own overwinter questions. I have a 13 week old Eastern grey solo boy. I am fortunate enough to have a whole room he has the run of, complete with furniture to climb and jump on. He's made a nest inside an enormous teddy bear up there, and also has a wall-mounted nest box and a hanging cube instead his old cage. We visit him multiple times daily and play, wrestle, snuggle, etc.
    Despite the size of the room, frequent company, and plenty of toys and new branches/dirt/pine cones from outside to explore every day, he is spending hours pacing back and forth in front of the door to the room. I think it's only a matter of time before he makes a break for it when we enter and dread the next three months of trying to guard against a jailbreak.

    What suggestions would you have for keeping him stimulated and thriving until March? Should I just keep a rotating parade of cardboard boxes / stuffed toys / outside world objects every couple of days? Is he likely to make a break for it one day? Is his winter confinement going to make him miserable the entire time? We also have a cat and dog in the house so letting him have further roaming room is not possible.
    I'm in Western Oregon so winters are quite variable. All the squirrels I see outside are SO chubby and much bigger than this guy is. I just don't know that being inside is much kinder.

  15. #9
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    Default Re: Overwinter?

    I can relate to your situation; since I posted this , Iíve acquired another , a single male.
    Too bad we donít live closer , we could combine them AND some sort of plan! I ended up moving our RC and attaching it by a portal to a building so they can have access to an indoor cage /heat if needed. But this little one is too small to try and introduce and overwinter with them. Iím afraid they would attack him . So not sure what to do ; how to handle a third all winter but will figure something out

    I would recommend reposting your questions under a new title so hopefully you can get more suggestions. In my very limited experience, I have found that they do better with a buddy ( or more) about the same age. But there is a limited window of time ( others here can be more accurate as to the cut off age) that they will willingly accept a new friend. The younger, the better is all I know.

    For my little guy, Iím just providing limbs and cage accessories, and playtime as much as I can allow. Iím currently monitoring his teeth and other issues to be certain he will be a candidate for release and, if he is, I may seek out a buddy for him , or another rehabber to overwinter him that has the room for him to play outside of a cage .

    Hopefully others can help with suggestions.

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  17. #10
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    Default Re: Overwinter?

    Once the leaves fall the squirrels cannot build dreys. That would leave them looking for hollows in trees, but the good ones are usually all taken. Unless, they make their way into someone's attic, which usually isn't well received. Plus there is the need to bury a large and varied stockpile to get them through winter until plants start budding in the spring.

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