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Thread: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

  1. #1
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    Default sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Hi there!

    As the title suggests, would have loved to work into it. But we have a big question here so I will just start and five in:

    Three years ago we bought a house, thought a bird feeder was fun. Bird = Boring. Squirrels Stealing Bird Food = Fun. We met Enrique the squirrel and then Joe. They were cool. Joe stole my heart, found out she was a he, so JoJo - in short - became my best bud. She is amazingly simpatico with us all these years. Comes in the house for coffee and avocado (well only the latter for her ... try to take care of her a bit and enjoy her company. She is so much more gentle than the other squirrels who, while happy to feed, are a bit more transactional. No worries. But JoJo has become a dear friend who we talk about, worry for etc., and mostly enjoy her family growing here. Its JoJo, her daughter for a long time now Hillary (she's a tough one), and then some new kids like Freddy, Margot and Eve. These are the family.

    We have watched JoJo go from the king (queen) of the hill, dominating by far... and in the last year Hilary has come up and now rules the roost to a level. Jo comes in off times, sometimes is attacked by Hillary, mostly does the shadows a bit instead of her old "I own this block" self. Its the way it seems to go. The other kids are fine, mostly Hilary coming of age.

    Ok so... we just found an amazing house that we purchased and are in escrow on. It is 1 mile down the road in a suburb of Los Angeles (the San Fernando Valley area). The idea of being without Jo is hard. But we want the best for her.

    I KNOW this will cause controversy - but we want to consider her coming with us - especially with the idea that when the food bonanza dries up after we move - while all the kids should do just fine - I imagine that Jo will align on a path to a shorter end with Hilary taking over. Jo will be in the shadows. UNLESS. Unless she comes with us.

    I can get into details but from what I know: the new home has an amazing tree that seems un-nested. We have space to do an enclosure to acclimate if necessary. I will own both houses so have time to manage the transfer. BUT - how can I best provide for Jo if we say that "NET NET" Jo will do better long life with us continuing to feed and provide. I am bracing for the storm but really I feel that she will indeed do better in the end with us and want to try to successfully have her move with us.

    Please let me know thoughts, be kind and know this is from a caring place. I get that this is not ideal at ALL but really when it comes down to the binary "move or not" i have struggled and feel it's best if she stays close to us.

    I can provide more info, its a lot, want to start here. Was going to put up a few boxes and take the one Jo moves into. That's the start... we can talk.

    THANK YOU.
    AkaMomo

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Well, you may get flamed but it won't be from me. Your proximity with both houses - close, and both under your control, means that you can do this properly, and if you opt to do it properly, I would relocate her.

    Properly: Get the outdoor enclosure built in advance. I can give you some pointers on how to build it to make her feel comfortable and safe in there if you do. It needs to be located where neighbors cannot see it, as notifying wildlife authorities almost always ends with a dead squirrel. I would also use your current home to furnish it - familiar branches, things in your yard she commonly sits on - stuff that smells like home needs to go into it. I would start NOW teaching her to enter a carrier without fear. Place something on the bottom so it isn't slippery and then cover that with dirt and leaves and mulch that is familiar. Put a wadded up piece of blanket in the back that she can hide under. Wire the door open so it doesn't accidently swing closed and frighten her. Sit next to it when you feed her, and start putting treats inside so she can go in and get them and then leave. It isn't something that will take days - it will likely take weeks. When she will enter it willingly, unwire the door and lean it closed when she is in there - start with just a couple seconds and work up. Don't latch it, so she can just nudge it open with her nose if she wishes. If you do this, the day you have to latch it and take her to her new home it won't be so scary.

    If you plan to release her in the yard, an outdoor enclosure to acclimate her to the new area is absolutely necessary, and she will need to be in it for a while. If you discover that her age and condition are iffy, you may be looking at bringing her in, and that is something you need to ponder, too.

    I had a yard girl named Tank who lived in the woods behind me. I have a feeder for the squirrels and have MANY that come daily, but Tank was my special girl. She was here for 5 years and I would search for her daily so I could run out and give her special goodies. I used to laugh because until I spotted her I would be concerned and obsessively looking out the windows, and once I spotted her it was like the fear would just drop away. I can't tell you how many times I would throw my phone down mid-conversation and race outdoors, often in just socks, through the snow, to get her goody to her. Last January as I filled her with some extra special stuff because it was going to be very cold that night, she did something she had never done - she placed both paws on my hand and stared up into my face...with need? Longing? I almost ushered her into the house - she had chewed through the screens before to let herself in. But I didn't. Five minutes later I was out there again, looking for her, but I had missed my chance. Tank died that night. Wouldn't any of the others sleep with her to help keep her warm? Did she freeze to death? I will never know, but I can tell you that it BROKE me, because if I had let her in, it wouldn't have happened. The human who she trusted let her down at the very moment she needed help, and that fact will haunt me to my grave. I have never told Tank's story here because it hurts so bad. My eyes still hunt for her - I can't stop them. I KNEW WHAT I SHOULD DO AND I DIDN'T DO IT. So I will never advise anyone to make that same error if they have the ability and means not to.

    So there is my more than 5 cents worth. I am the queen of squirrel enclosures and can suggest some ideas that might not be intuitive but are based on endless observation and several indoor squirrels if you go that route.

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Interestingly similar situation happened with a squirrel friend of mine, her female getting up their in years was actually born in her home, stayed in her yard her whole life had babies but lived somehow in her garage.
    Well last year they moved 8 hours away. She had debated what to do, where she was moving had many trees mostly woods. I told her I would help trap her and she could take her with as we don't believe new owners would appreciate a squirrel living in their garage 🤫
    Well long story but they left her and I went back once before the house sold and I saw no sign of her girl 😒
    It's been almost a year and I still wonder what happened to her.
    For me if she isn't feeding babies I'd take her with 😉
    Now I may get slammed for that but I dont care 😁
    Charley Chuckles gone from my arms FOREVER in my heart 8/14/04-3/7/13
    Simon, our time was too short together, but you gave us so much love, be with CC now 3/7/14


    The "CHARLEY CHUCKLES MEMORIAL RAIL TOUR" leaves the station choo chooo
    *Deland,FL. *Washington DC *Boston (Back Bay) *Boston (North Station) *Wells,Maine *Albany,NY *New York (Penn Station) *Back to Deland FL. "July 1- July 22" 2013

    http://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/s...RIAL-RAIL-TOUR Check it out here
    http://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/s...OW-A-NEW-MOMMY!!!!!
    http://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/s...RAINBOW-BRIDGE
    http://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/s...e-called-Simon
    charleychuckles1@gmail.com

    I'm not poof reading any of this

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Thank you for the replies. I feel they are positive so that helps a bit, we are still torn and so I have some questions please if possible in followup:

    * If I go forward as written, how long should she stay in the enclosure or how do I know when her chance of fleeing is low enough to allow her out?

    * Any thoughts on her having issues with “local” squirrels? There is a massive tree (elm?) that I will check out but I believe it is clear. The property in back I have been told has squirrels coming to raid the fruit trees there.

    I am thinking about putting up a couple nesting boxes at my current home in hope that she moves into one (that could be relocated for her to the new home). This leads to another issue:

    Jo seems almost certainly pregnant (or nursing?) - the timing seems correct. Our move is at time that hasn’t been moved down - in from six to ten weeks basically where we would be fully in the new home. We will have some notice but otherwise it could be happening at a really bad time for this whole thing. I was also hoping the nesting box would help me somehow monitor this easier as I am not sure exactly where her drey is that she is using right now. She moved back into her “home tree” I believe after an absence where I think she wanted her last litter to move.

    My family goes back and forth where there is concern that we are moving her where “she’ll be fine”. I really (a lesson here, some regret I guess due to the dilemma) that we have impacted her life by supporting her daily (healthily food wise but being very involved). The idea being “she was here before, she’ll be fine” and the move isn’t worth the disruption. But with her support she raised a large and very healthy litter last who are all here and its a lot I believe for her to manage. The main issue being her extremely dominant daughter from a couple years past. But now its the kids to a degree, not so much today but making me again think she will live a longer better life with us in the new place and that I am responsible for her to a level. We have connected to so its a lot of things - I am trying to really put her first and not make this anything to do with us. Believe me with the work to do it correctly I am very sober in weighing what it will take, and am willing - but have doubts about the idea at moments. Tough one for us.

    Okay thank you again, I am open to input and appreciate helps with the specific plan if I am to follow through.

    😎 🙏

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    When I have to make a very difficult decision, I seek to find where the PEACE is in me. So in your case, do you feel more peace in your heart to leave her? Or do you feel more peace in your heart when you think of taking her?

    It's not always easy to discern this, but sometimes this can push aside all the other pros and cons that the mind is mulling over, so go to the heart and it might be more simple. I find that the heart knows the truest path. For sure we need our mind. Without it we could not plan and execute things, you'll need your mind to build the new enclosure if you go that route. But I don't find that the mind is the one who makes the best decisions for our true life path to take.

    Also, please try to drop any guilt feelings for having her so close in your life. As feelings of guilt are negative and cloud the true issues. Guilt won't help you feel clearly where your heart stands on the matter. I know exactly how you feel as I struggle with these thoughts too because I have a backyard family of squirrels who know me so well that their babies this year all played inches from me and I didn't raise any of them. I was flabbergasted at what was going on. To them, I am now apparently a very big squirrel who is a friendly part of their community. And I have wondered is this good for them?

    We never do everything completely right, but we don't do it all wrong either. It is my understanding that everything has a yin/yang-positive/negative substance to it. It just is, try not to judge it. Kind of like the year we get lots of rain, all the plants and trees that need dry roots die or wither badly, then another year that is is extremely dry, those who loved the water fail and the dry loving ones make a comeback. I believe it is very similar to squirrels with human friends and those without, each has a benefit and a deficit. I would not condemn the wet conditions or the dry ones, they just are, and so with squirrel human love. I feel that humans were meant to live in peace and harmony with the animals, when we got selfish as a species, we left that. The very fact that squirrels will reach out to us for love and companionship when nuts are not always involved to me is clear evidence that they do want and benefit from some type of inter-species involvement. I once had a wild squirrel who I would occasionally give nuts to, but she would find me in the middle of the day by shaking the branches overhead until I saw her, then she would run down to the lowest one and lay there. I would stand below her and we would both enjoy the afternoon together about 4 feet apart for about 15-20 minutes. In those times, she never asked for a nut, she just wanted companionship.

    I feel that many of us who love squirrels are just touching the tip of the iceberg in understanding a part of us humans that was lost eons ago. No, we don't always get it right, and sometimes in our trying to love we actually are smothering oppressive or downright not acting in the best interest of the squirrel. I'm not talking about any of that, all of that needs to mature and grow up. You have stated that you want to do what is in the best interest of the squirrel. And if that is what we want, we should not be condemned if we make a few mistakes along the way, because none of us are perfect. If/when we make mistakes in that we see what we are doing does not feel the best for the squirrel, we quickly re-calibrate and do all we can to change it.

    I feel what we all truly want is a relationship with squirrels in which we benefit, but that they benefit equally if not more. That is what I want. That is a win win. Some squirrels want to live lives not much with humans, but some seem to want to get to know us. I don't yet really understand what's behind that. But because it's happening, it has to be okay the way it is.

    See if you can find in your heart what would bring Jo the most benefit. There will be trouble on both side of this for Jo, so don't look so much at the trouble. Moving will be difficult and so will staying without your love and support. Which one is truly best for her? And you too? Look more at the benefits gained by this. You will have both, so look to the benefits end of it. Will it benefit her more to stay or go?

    I am sure you are feeling that if you had not established this bond, you would not be facing this difficulty. True, that would make it easier. But both of you were probably greatly blessed by this bond. So nothing has gone wrong, this is just an opportunity to rise to the challenge of what you are facing and take it on with courage whatever way you choose. I don't believe there is a wrong choice. Just make it with your heart if you can. And then do all you can to Trust that things will be as they are meant to be. And be grateful for what you have chosen and what they are. I think it is an amazing blessing to have personally known the sweetness of the lovely life of a squirrel.

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Thank you for the very thoughtful reply, this is really something I have already re-read to try and listen to.

    I do feel today that it is best for her to move but only with one reserve that I have no idea about really., I need squirrel expertise here and I guess it might not be a very common subject:

    To put it directly - and maybe this has been answered with the advice already about *how* to move her - but there is concen here that ANY squirrel could handle an environment change like this. We think hey she grew up in this tree and at this house, its all she knows in some regard. It is that change vs the support that she seems to now very much dépend on.

    Well again, let me say thank you, I will re-read your reply and keep thinking on this. Thank you!

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Every juvenile or adult squirrel that is injured and taken to a rehab center ends up being released in an area they did not previously live. That is the reason for a period in a release cage - so they can look around at the area, become acquainted with it, meet the local squirrels through the wire, etc. If you can locate the release cage close to or directly under trees (you want to go for deciduous trees, not evergreens - gray squirrels don't usually live in conifer type trees). If you build or buy a good, predator proof nest box for her to live in inside the release cage, you can take that box, all full of HER smell, and attach it to the tree. That way she has her house right there, in an area she has been looking out at for weeks.

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Thank you. So the time in the enclosure is a few weeks typically? I think I might private message if you don't mind with a couple photos of the areas available to us and start learning about enclosures so I can process if this is something we will live up to properly on. I was always expecting that to be a "days" period not weeks. Hard for me to think of Jo in there for that long but I suppose we can build a larger-sized one, we have space. I hate the idea of her being worried during this process, or making it harder than it has to be. Trying to wrap my head around it and that's where - not having a squirrel head - its hard to know how bad losing her current setup is vs losing us. Lately we feed her in sort of "cover" from the other squirrels who dominate her now, running guard so she can eat without getting into a fight (which had happened immediately prior, resulting in her taking large falls and stuff like that)... hence our obsessing on this a bit recently trying to make plans.

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    More… so Jo seems to be nursing older kits… so my hope is that we move together (us, Jo, no kits) when its time for them to move out of her drey and force the kits to be independent. No idea how to get that timing right but its a solid goal. I am going to try and get some cameras out, they were supposed to be about a new nesting box so dunno what I can learn… will try. Any help knowing when she is good w her kits would be great - expect that is a camera on her drey (unlocated in a tree I know is hers).

    Thank you!

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    I'd like to hear what others think, this one might not be so cut and dry in my opinion. This situation of her nursing fall babies could make it a little more complicated.

    It is my understanding by observation that summer babies start exploring outside the nest at about 8 weeks. I know I have heard it stated on TSB that babies do not leave the nest until 12 weeks of age, but my own crew has not followed this timing. There were about 8 babies out in the patio at 8 weeks. Maybe that is partly because they know my yard is a very safe place to be. They were so at ease, I had to walk very slowly as not to step on any of them. The summer babies that were born this past spring explored my patio from about 8 weeks old to 16 weeks old, and then a bit after that, some of them began leaving my yard, especially the males. At that point, they are pretty much out of the nest, and or because mama has a new batch of fall babies she need to tend.

    Now fall babies are possibly a different matter. The summer babies are born with plenty of time to find food and build a nest. The fall babies will be maturing about the time that the leaves are falling off the trees thus nest building is not easily done and food is more scarce. I think mama may store extra food for them, and I've heard it said that fall babies might actually spend the winter in the nest with mama, as she won't have any more babies coming until the spring months.

    But to answer your question, in general, I think babies are good to go at about 16 weeks. It would be optimal for babies to stay with mama until they are ready to go, but here's what can happen in life that is not optimal, and squirrels still make it, that's just life.... A few years ago, I had a 3 year old release get hit by a car, that was so tough for me, and it was October, and her babies were 11 weeks old. That means that she was just about done nursing them and they were eating some solid food; so I did not have to give them any formula, they weren't that tame anyway, that wouldn't have worked easily. Since I was around, I gave them extra seeds and nuts to carry them through the winter, and I'm sure they stayed in their mamas old nest. They all made it. At 11 weeks old, they might have made it without my care, but for sure my care was helpful to them. That's just my experience. That give you a little bit of info from my point of understanding.

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Thanks for the nursing info. I posted to another thread where the thought is she has “older kits”… she’s coming 2x plus a day now.

    I am going to get some more info as we have time. This will hopefully include a camera near where she is nesting as the suspected tree is directly adjacent/touching our home.

    I certainly will want to be cognizant and do not want to separate them any earlier than they would be expected to be on their own already. Last litter she moved down the block at one point (to force them out?) but I do have good timing on that.

    Camera comes tomorrow (cheap battery unit) and as I said maybe can get some more intel.

    Thank you!

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Quote Originally Posted by akamomo View Post
    I am going to get some more info as we have time. This will hopefully include a camera near where she is nesting as the suspected tree is directly adjacent/touching our home.

    Camera comes tomorrow (cheap battery unit) and as I said maybe can get some more intel.
    Be sure to check out the camera's settings, the less expensive the camera, the fewer the settings. The closer to the nest the greater the likelihood that the camera's motion sensor will be triggered and a picture taken. However, if the camera is too close this may unsettle Jo Jo. Often a brief light will flash when a picture is about to be taken and the shutter may make an audible noise. Most camera's have a flash for taking night pictures, some manufacturers claim this will flash will be invisible. However even if you don't see the flash, it might exist in part of the light spectrum that Jo Jo can see. The conservative choice would be place duct tape over the flash if night pictures cannot be turned off by a setting.

    If you aren't getting pictures from the camera being in one location, try changing the location. You will likely get some photos caused by wind.

    I would be inclined to take Jo Jo with you given the slow transition procedures Critter Mom suggested. However, this should not occur until her babies are fully independent.

    As was mentioned, fall babies will often over winter with mom to share warmth through the cold winter. However, I noticed that you live in California. How cold does it get overnight at its coldest where Jo Jo currently lives?

    If it doesn't get too cold, then over winter separation would be less of a concern.

    A lot of squirrel mortality ultimately relates to food, directly or indirectly. If a squirrel has ready access to plentiful, healthy food, life expectancy is much greater. Out in the wild there can be massive variations in the mast crop from year to year and with it mortality.

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Quote Originally Posted by akamomo View Post
    Last litter she moved down the block at one point (to force them out?)
    Our mama squirrel had her nest in our neighbors shed. Once they were pretty much out and about this summer she just moved out and left them the shed I think. (she'd had Enough, and her poor little nipples showed it!) I'd see her head off to bed up the hill. I think you'll be able to tell by everyone's behavior when she's ready.
    I vote for taking her especially if she is getting sort of overpowered by the young ones now. Maybe your can let her "tell" you how she's feeling by how she tolerates things. As someone else mentioned, you can always pivot as you go, depending on her feedback.

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    I am stressed if Jo feels betrayed when I close that travel cage and until she’s in her release enclosure (ok 20 minutes but still). I have never closed the door when she comes in our home and I feel it’s a pillar of our trust.

    I need help with some more items please:

    1) advice on the cage
    2) advice on a mild sedative? Not sure on sourcing but hey let me start by asking.

    Thank you again.

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    I'm not sure how to handle the betrayal/trust thing, I do understand you. You might need the sedative...I'm just trying to be a little light-hearted. I know it's not funny. I would feel the same way, if I have any thoughts that come to me later, I will post them. I'm clueless at the moment.

    As for a sedative, this is not actually a sedative, but a calming essence for trauma times.
    I am a fan of rescue remedy. Not everyone is. It is a flower based essence that comes in drops and a spray form. The drops you can rub on their ears, it goes into their system and is a calming essence when they are facing stress. The spray is nice, in that it can be sprayed into the carrier and the animal simply breathes it in, nothing needs to be applied. It can be used on humans and animals. There are two types, alcohol based and non-alcohol based. The non-alcohol is for children and animals. But it is not as potent, so I think I've heard folks suggesting to use the alcohol based one on animals because it is stronger.

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Thank you so much, I’ll check it out. We think the date will be in about five or six weeks (late October). Jo is here more and may have slept in another drey (she was coming from another direction yesterday). Surprised I have not seen the kits out and need to be good on that front. Hopefully this will work for timing as my final date is probably six weeks out still.

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Quote Originally Posted by akamomo View Post
    Thank you so much, I’ll check it out. We think the date will be in about five or six weeks (late October). Jo is here more and may have slept in another drey (she was coming from another direction yesterday). Surprised I have not seen the kits out and need to be good on that front. Hopefully this will work for timing as my final date is probably six weeks out still.
    Mama squirrels usually give their nest to their fall babies to live in over the winter, so this sounds just about right.

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    I am reading on outdoor release cages and have gotten great private advice too on the construction.

    Question - most threads i’ve seen speak to juveniles being introduced to the outdoors. For and adult squirrel who knows only the outdoors - she would be being relocated via release cage - what is the expected time for her to be in the release cage before i open her small port to come and go? or before i move the nesting boxes (2) to local trees? trying to wrap my head around the process a bit now that i’m understanding the mechanics more.

    Thanks!

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    Default Re: sorry to start with MY BIGGEST QUESTION EVER

    Quote Originally Posted by akamomo View Post
    I am reading on outdoor release cages and have gotten great private advice too on the construction.

    Question - most threads i’ve seen speak to juveniles being introduced to the outdoors. For and adult squirrel who knows only the outdoors - she would be being relocated via release cage - what is the expected time for her to be in the release cage before i open her small port to come and go? or before i move the nesting boxes (2) to local trees? trying to wrap my head around the process a bit now that i’m understanding the mechanics more.

    Thanks!
    I've never relocated a squirrel, so hopefully others will offer their thoughts too. She isn't a juvenile, but she will be in just about the same boat, because this will be an entirely new territory and her gut instinct might be to try to flee and run back to where she came from to have a safe place if you just put her outside in a new place, because she is not going to understand why she is here - ala that you moved and needed to take her. So in my mind, this will just as if she is a juvenile. That means two weeks at a minimum, three might be better and 4 would be okay.

    Keeping her in the release cage will keep her safe, keep her fed and let her adjust to the concept that she is in a new place for good. The longer she is in there, the more she will develop memory and presence that this place is ok, so she doesn't have to flee when you open the portal. She will experience trauma of a sort, shock, and she will need time to process this, and start living again in a different way. This is not entirely bad, it happens all the time in nature, a storm takes out a whole stand of trees and the critters need to relocate etc.

    My gut says aim for 3 weeks in the release cage. If all is very safe and watch her actions, maybe you can release her earlier. If there is anything not as safe, or she is overly agitated or fearful, maybe keep her longer as in 4 weeks to see if that makes a difference. You will need to check in with your gut on this.

    These are only my thoughts. I welcome what others might say.

    Also I would leave one nest box in the release cage so she can stay and use it as home for a while if she wants. That way she has one in the trees and one at home so to speak. If there are other squirrels in the area, they can take over nest boxes, so a nest box in the RC would be less likely to be taken over by wilds, it would give her a place to go if she would need one until she is fully established in this new environment; especially since you stated that she is no longer alpha type. And also, some just choose to have their second home option in the release cage for a long while because it feels like home to them. As squirrels generally have 2-3 nesting sites.

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