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Thread: Release Questions

  1. #1
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    Default Release Questions

    I have been taking care of marty the fox squirrel since about 5-6 weeks of age. He had suffered a cat bite, and the woman who found him didnít know that he needed formula or anything to eat other than berries, so he was struggling quite a bit with dehydration and diarrhea when I got him. I am friends with a vet, who was able to get us some Baytril and provided me with esbilac (which didnít helpt he diarrhea) until I was able to get him on Fox Valley formula (having read here that this was the best thing!).

    Marty is now a strong, energetic, bouncy 10 week old with healthy poops! He loves his Henryís blocks (he gets 2 a day now) and is eating healthy greens/veggies/flowers/tree branches from the safe list along with his fox valley formula twice a day. I take him out to play in my spare room twice a day for at least an hour at a time.

    Iíve done the best I can for him - with one regret - that I didnít know enough to call the nearby Squirrel Refuge in Vancouver, WA to find him a buddy to be with before he turned 8 weeks old. I almost took him there, but he so quickly bonded to me and I think I let my emotions get in the way a bit in convincing myself that he would be best with me. Iím a little worried about him not having friendship/a play buddy once I distance myself to allow him to wild up. Any reassurance/advice here???


    It is also becoming harder and harder to provide him with the exercise he needs. I exercise him as much as I can, provide lots of variation in toys and hidden food in his cageÖ but he still seems like he hates being in his cage (approximately 3x3x3.5). he gets really mad if I donít take him out when Iím in the room (paces, chews on bars etc.). When Iím out of the room, I have a pet camera to make sure heís not pacing/Chewing on the bars - he seems to be fine when Iím gone.) Anyways - I am really discouraging the bar chewing, and heís getting the picture, but I think the underlying issue is that he needs more space.

    AnywaysÖ
    My questions.
    1) I am building him a large covered 4íx4íx8í outdoor pre-release cage with double doors, branches, things to climb on, etc. I have the ability to run a metal tube from the outdoor cage to an indoor cage in my house via window portal. Iím working on this. How soon can he begin to spend time in the outdoor cage? Iíd like to be able to take him out there to exercise soon, as I donít feel Iím able to give him the exercise time he needs. (Note: Iím in Northern Oregon and the temps here get down to 40 at night already. 48-50 during the day. Winters can vary a lot. Some years we get ice storms. Other years we only get mild rain)

    2) Iím assuming I will need to over-winter him this way - for how long should I continue to interact with him a lot? He still loves to cuddle and wrestle. He is currently using the back of my head as a springboard as I write this. I know he may end up telling me what he wants, but I want to try to allow him to wild up if possible. [Note: I have a ton of squirrels in my backyard that he can watch]. One factor in this is that I live in a neighborhood and do not want him jumping on random people. Iíd probably cut a hole in the hardware cloth to let him explore the real world around April, based on what Iíve read here, and then heíd have the outdoor cage+a nest box to come back to as he wants.

    3) Do you think his indoor cage will need to be bigger even if he has a portal to a giant outdoor cage?

    I feel like I had more questions but now I canít recall! Appreciate your time in reading this lengthy post. Hereís a cute pic of him with his furball snuggie in his hammock. we call his furball ďdadĒ.
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    PS: Thank you to all of you who answer these questions! This place has been invaluable to me.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Release Questions

    Well itís confirmed. We played for about an hour this morning and he did NOT want to go back in his cage. Was throwing a straight up temper tantrum in his cage (hanging on the bars, bobbing his little body up and down, chewing on the bars). I try to distract him then by throwing a fresh branch or two in thereÖ which works for about 2 minutes and then he resumes the ďi want outĒ behavior. Each time I open the cage he jumps out and does figure 8ís running all over my body and trying to wrestle.

    Anyways. Temper tantrums while Iím sitting in there trying to do my online class, and then as soon as I leave the room I watch on the video camera and he just calms down and seems content.

    This little guy is workiní me!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Release Questions

    Yes, heís working you.

    I wouldnít get overly anxious that you didnít get him a friend. Itís water under the bridge so donít look back. Singletons released do fine. My only concern is living in a neighborhood. Singletons that are overwintered do tend to stay human friendly for a while after release. I actually love that because neighbors arenít a concern for me but approaching random humans in the neighborhood after release will be a problem.

    I think your overwinter cage plan is awesome. It will give him plenty of space. Donít let him convince you otherwise.

  4. Serious fuzzy thank you's to HRT4SQRLS from:

    Bigmonspawns (10-22-2021)

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Release Questions

    Would it be an option to drive him to a new location? Take his nesting box out of the pre-release cage and put it up in a tree at the new spot? I have friends who live on the Willamette river, with lots of space. Unfortunately then heíd have hawks and eagles to contend with as well.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Release Questions

    I rarely ever think it’s a good idea to relocate squirrels, unless there’s imminent danger where they have set up their home. Being u familiar with an area is a disadvantage and then throwing in predators like hawks and eagles sounds like a recipe for disaster. IMO.

    What are you trying to accomplish by relocating him? Is it because you have neighbors and you’re concerned he’ll be too friendly? There have been some horror stories, but I live in a neighborhood and have raised and released friendly squirrels and from my experience they all eventually “wild up” to the point that they won’t allow themselves to be touched and become very selective who they jump on.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Release Questions

    Because youíre raising him, he wonít have memory of where he came from. Are your neighbors close? You have time to think about release. Donít stress over it now. I guess another question is, are your neighbors friendly? Would they understand? It is true that they wild up pretty fast and avoid humans. I just worry about that first couple weeks where he might be a little needy and be drawn to a human especially if overwintered. Most hit the trees and are so happy that they donít hang around and cause problems. Some do stay around and maintain a degree of Ďfriendlyí with a healthy distrust as they wild up.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Release Questions

    Perhaps I can distance myself from him as spring release approaches. My neighbors are friendly and arenít really out much. I do live near a small park though.

    Thanks for your reassurances. I do feel he will avoid other people.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Release Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmonspawns View Post
    Perhaps I can distance myself from him as spring release approaches. My neighbors are friendly and arenít really out much. I do live near a small park though.

    Thanks for your reassurances. I do feel he will avoid other people.
    That sounds perfect as far as the neighbors. The park is a little sketchy but realistically squirrels in many parks are somewhat friendly because people feed them. How would you know the difference between a Ďfriendlyí rehab vs a Ďfriendlyí human fed squirrel in a park? No difference as far as I can tell.

    I think we are talking about worst case scenarios because most rehab squirrels wild up pretty fast just like their wild counterparts. My one overwintered girl wouldnít allow me to touch her on about Day 2 even though she would climb on my shoulder. When I tried to pet her, she bit the crap outta me. That never changed. Every time I was tempted to pet her, she bit me. She trained me pretty fast. In just a few weeks she no longer climbed on me.

  10. Serious fuzzy thank you's to HRT4SQRLS from:

    Bigmonspawns (10-25-2021)

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