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Thread: One eyed young squirrel releasable?

  1. #1
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    Default One eyed young squirrel releasable?

    I'm new to rehabilitating young squirrels and releasing them. I have a young female grey (black) squirrel who lost an eye when she was about seven weeks old. She is now about 12 weeks -still on formula twice a day but showing signs of reducing. I built her a 2x4x8 ft release cage and put some very study thick branches in it so she can start to climb. She is doing great on the wire and is starting to go crazy running around. She jumps on the branches but doesn't yet show signs of climbing them quickly. I really want to release her in about a month but I am very concerned since she only has one eye. I'm looking for advice or some positive stories to help me to know when she is ready for release. Thank you

  2. #2
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    Default Re: One eyed young squirrel releasable?

    I have a couple of squirrels that live around me that have only one eye.

    And I have released 3 at least that were blind one or had lost one eye.

    1) A Hit By Car (HBC) wild adult male, he was very unhappy recovering form his injuries in captivity. He never would have been happy as captive squirrel. He stayed around here for at least 2 years after release, and he was a mature (2 years minimum) male when he arrived.

    2) A Fall 2017 released girl came back to me for help after she suffered a terrible head injury in Fall 2018. She ("My One-Eyed Girl") surprised me by having three babies while in my care. She was an almost daily visitor right up until about 5 weeks ago.

    3) A fall 2020 baby who came in with a brother and sister after mom died and they fell to the pavement from their nest. One of the boys, Pumpkin, has extremely low vision in one eye. He was recently released and doing extremely well. His eye looks "healthy" except upon close up.

    I have had other wilds with only one eye that have been or were, regulars for years. The one's like Pumpkin when it is hard to tell they have a compromised eye from the outward appearance seem to have less a disadvantage that ones like My One-Eyed Girl. The ones I have released have lived a lifespan comparable to most wilds, if not longer. I have no regrets and know in my heart they had a full squirrel life in the trees that cannot be replicated in captivity.

    I have plenty with injuries that prevented them ever being released, and I would pay just about any cost if I were able to give them a life in the wild as they deserve.

    Does your girl have litter/cage mates that she would be released with?


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  4. #3
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    Default Re: One eyed young squirrel releasable?

    Thank you for the response. No unfortunately she is alone. She was found alone and appeared to be part of a hawk attack. She had puncture wounds on her belly and on her head and her eye was punctured. It was treated with antibiotics but it drained and now it is gone and her eye is permanently closed. She is healthy and I'm looking forward to her being released so she is able to be in the trees with her fellow squirrels. I have a section of the yard/woods fenced off for my chickens that a couple other black squirrels like to hang out in. I think I will release her there so she has a bit more protection from ground animals. I think her only true threat would be hawks. Thank you for the stories. It makes me feel better to know that her chance of survival isn't too low.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: One eyed young squirrel releasable?

    Somewhere here on TSB is a thread about my Louisa, who was hit by a car near my home and brought to me by a police officer I know. She lost the sight in one eye along with half the skin on her face, but she recovered beautifully. I observed her in my pre-release case for as long as possible and saw that she was fine -- coordinated, fast, and responded to warning cries from other squirrels. I let her go and saw her for many months afterward.
    Island Rehabber
    NY State Licensed
    Wildlife Rehabilitator


    "Ancora Imparo" (I am still learning)
    Michelangelo


    *
    If you can't afford the vet,
    You can't afford a pet.
    NEGLECT IS ABUSE.

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

    '...and the greatest of these, is Love. '

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  7. #5
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    Default Re: One eyed young squirrel releasable?

    Squirrels do not have a central focal point. Their eyes gather information from the whole field of view, a very handy feature when on the constant watch for predators. A squirrel with two healthy eyes has a 270 degree field of view. There tails serve many purposes. In the summer they exchange heat, provide shade and are held aloft in their blind spot to the rear and above. This would give a brief tactile warning of any approach from behind.

    They also have excellent hearing and a superb sense of smell, both of which cue them into the presence of predators. In a suburban environment if a predator is present it isn't just the squirrels that will give a warning call, but the birds as well and in suburbia there are many of those. Studies suggest that these warning calls relay specific information about the threat. They have also vibrissae hairs in numerous locations on their head, as well as their wrists and forearms. These hairs are very sensitive to touch and give plenty tactile feedback.

    So, squirrels have a great many other senses which can become more acute to help compensate for the lack of visual information from the one eye.

  8. 2 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to Rock Monkey:

    ADawn (05-19-2021), olorin19 (05-20-2021)

  9. #6
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    Default Re: One eyed young squirrel releasable?

    Thank you, this makes me feel much more confident in her release and will help me sleep better.

  10. Serious fuzzy thank you's to ADawn from:

    Rock Monkey (05-20-2021)

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