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Thread: Advice needed - overwinter singleton

  1. #1
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    Default Advice needed - overwinter singleton

    Daisy's Story:

    Back in September a baby squirrel found us. Ran right up my partners leg. We tried to reunite with mom to no avail. Brought her in. She has fleas and so skinny. Bathed and de-flead her. Found TSB and began to read what to do next. Got some pedialyte to hydrate her and some Esbilac temporarily. Ordered Fox Valley from Henrys along with some HHB for later on. We determined her to be 4-5wks old based on her eyes open, fur and other appearances... Long story short.. Here we are now a couple months later and I'm torn on what to do. She weaned herself after about a month.. zero interest in formula anymore. She was eating some veggies just fine and gobbling up her HHBs.
    She has a large critter cage she stayed in overnight with a squirrel box where she snoozes. In the morning I open the door and let her run and roam in our spare bedroom which I've basically cleared out and put branches in for her to climb and jump from.. she is very active.. runs climbs and jumps no problems.

    Now, lately, she has almost no interest in really any veggies in group 1 or 2 (even group 3 really, unless its squash, sweet tater, or sugar snap peas) which is my first concern. Still eating and loving HHB.. 2 in am & 2 in pm.. is that too much HHB? I worry she's not getting enough to eat... even tho I've read they won't starve themselves... I still worry... ugh..
    Nor is she really interested in 'wild' food so much -- She use to nibble on leaves and dandelion greens but not anymore... also our trees are bare so none to offer her. She shows no interest in dandelion greens anymore, could care less about grass or anything like that.. She does however enjoy rosehips from my knockout rose bush but those are becoming scarce now too.. She only gets 1 small piece of fruit (i.e. a blueberry, 1/2 a grape, 1 cranberry, small piece of apple) at night to get her into her cage. In lieu of fruit she might occasionally get a shelled hazelnut or shelled almond.

    My second concern is now that she is 3.5-4 months old and we had planned to overwinter her... I'm worried I might be doing her a disservice as a singleton.

    Basically my fear is she is
    1. Bored.
    2. Have we bonded too much? I usually go in and spend 10-15min several times/day to 'play'.
    3. Not being socialized with other squirrels (I've read they will wild up when pre-released/released but how do i know for sure)
    4. Not able to forage for herself -- lacking wild squirrel skills/behavior
    5. Will she learn how to build a nest on her own? the only 'nest' she built she used pillow stuffing from a pillow I ripped open for her.. ran it all back and forth to her basket (this was before i had a squirrel box for her)


    We have a Wildlife Rescue Center that I could take her to. Its a very nice facility with a squirrel room (for smalls) and huge outdoor prerelease cage. They really do care about their animals and I trust them. I just don't know where she would live there, if she would be in a small cage in the squirrel room or if they put them in the big prerelease cage with other? And as dumb as it sounds I don't want to send her off to a small 'jail cell' inside with no real contact w other squees.. would she think I abandoned her (ok, I'm a little crazy) ...I'd just keep her here in the spare bedroom if that were the case. These are all questions for them tho... I've sent them an email explaining my concerns and they got back with me but asked I call to chat over the phone... wanted to reach out here before I did...

    Either way, whether we overwinter & release properly or take her to the center I will always worry did I do what is best for her... and that's been my goal this whole time... Do what's best for Daisy! I'm so torn

    Side note-- Im also 38wks pregnant... have I lost my mind... am I delusional in thinking we can overwinter a squirrel AND have a newborn?? ugh.. HELP!

    All advice welcome!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Advice needed - overwinter singleton

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy21 View Post
    Daisy's Story:
    Back in September a baby squirrel found us. Ran right up my partners leg. We tried to reunite with mom to no avail. Brought her in. She has fleas and so skinny. Bathed and de-flead her. Found TSB and began to read what to do next. Got some pedialyte to hydrate her and some Esbilac temporarily. Ordered Fox Valley from Henrys along with some HHB for later on. We determined her to be 4-5wks old based on her eyes open, fur and other appearances... Long story short.. Here we are now a couple months later and I'm torn on what to do. She weaned herself after about a month.. zero interest in formula anymore. She was eating some veggies just fine and gobbling up her HHBs.
    She has a large critter cage she stayed in overnight with a squirrel box where she snoozes. In the morning I open the door and let her run and roam in our spare bedroom which I've basically cleared out and put branches in for her to climb and jump from.. she is very active.. runs climbs and jumps no problems.
    Sounds like you've done good by her and allowed her to be a squirrel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy21 View Post
    Now, lately, she has almost no interest in really any veggies in group 1 or 2 (even group 3 really, unless its squash, sweet tater, or sugar snap peas) which is my first concern. Still eating and loving HHB.. 2 in am & 2 in pm.. is that too much HHB? I worry she's not getting enough to eat... even tho I've read they won't starve themselves... I still worry... ugh..
    Nor is she really interested in 'wild' food so much -- She use to nibble on leaves and dandelion greens but not anymore... also our trees are bare so none to offer her. She shows no interest in dandelion greens anymore, could care less about grass or anything like that.. She does however enjoy rosehips from my knockout rose bush but those are becoming scarce now too.. She only gets 1 small piece of fruit (i.e. a blueberry, 1/2 a grape, 1 cranberry, small piece of apple) at night to get her into her cage. In lieu of fruit she might occasionally get a shelled hazelnut or shelled almond.
    It's typical for them to lose interest in certain vegetables, just as typical they show more interest for the veggies that need to be limited over the good ones. My personal rule of thumb, feed more green then yellow. I do allow the yellow for mine but it's 3 green - 1 yellow. Also keep in mind that in the wild a squirrel is not looking for or depending on much in the way of greenery in the winter months. They go to other sources, nuts they stashed, bugs, bark, etc. They change with the seasons and even in captivity their inherited characteristics are much the same as their wild descendants.

    Four HHB's is giving too many for a supplement block, the recommendation for HHb's is 2 daily. You should be adding another block such as Mazuri rodent block, Envigo Harlan Teklad 2014 or 2018 rodent block, Oxbow Regal rat blocks. These blocks are to be free fed and your squirrel can eat as much as they want of them. I keep free fed block in my cages all the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy21 View Post
    My second concern is now that she is 3.5-4 months old and we had planned to overwinter her... I'm worried I might be doing her a disservice as a singleton.
    It's said to be better to have a cage mate to play. learn, and grow with. Not always possible or convenient.
    I've raised many a singleton and have never had any developmental problems when it came to release. I actually prefer singles when having a long overwinter due to their dispositions with not getting too wild/mean with having to compete with another throughout the winter months.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy21 View Post
    Basically my fear is she is
    1. Bored.
    Having that "spare room" for her is ideal, providing toys and stuffed toys for her to play with along with her climbing branches and she'll keep herself entertained.
    2. Have we bonded too much? I usually go in and spend 10-15min several times/day to 'play'.
    No. Socializing is important to a captive squirrel up to pre- release.
    3. Not being socialized with other squirrels (I've read they will wild up when pre-released/released but how do i know for sure)
    There can be exceptions but a squirrel's natural instincts are hard wired and for the majority once they are outside in a pre- release cage those instincts will take over and the change is undeniable.
    4. Not able to forage for herself -- lacking wild squirrel skills/behavior
    This is the importance of a proper pre- release before actual release. They learn the sights, sounds of their surroundings as well as the behavior of other animals and squirrels in the area. Once released their natural wild instincts will guide them. Forging is instinctive, they will tone their natural skills and learn their behavior and place among the other wilds.

    5. Will she learn how to build a nest on her own? the only 'nest' she built she used pillow stuffing from a pillow I ripped open for her.. ran it all back and forth to her basket (this was before i had a squirrel box for her)
    She has already shown the instincts to build a nest and she will build her own nest outside when she is ready but it is advisable to leave her pre-release cage open for her to return to and place a nest box in a tree for her when she is released. They usurally do come back to their cage (safe zone) until they get their selves established.
    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy21 View Post
    We have a Wildlife Rescue Center that I could take her to. Its a very nice facility with a squirrel room (for smalls) and huge outdoor prerelease cage. They really do care about their animals and I trust them. I just don't know where she would live there, if she would be in a small cage in the squirrel room or if they put them in the big prerelease cage with other? And as dumb as it sounds I don't want to send her off to a small 'jail cell' inside with no real contact w other squees.. would she think I abandoned her (ok, I'm a little crazy) ...I'd just keep her here in the spare bedroom if that were the case. These are all questions for them tho... I've sent them an email explaining my concerns and they got back with me but asked I call to chat over the phone... wanted to reach out here before I did...
    This just sends up red flags for me considering Missouri law states "Squirrels are not allowed as captive animals. No type of wildlife can be kept as pets." I don't trust the majority of facilities because in my experence with what I actually know first hand these centers will lie to the public to get and take posession of a captive animal and what they say to the public and what they do are two different things.
    In my State a facility will either take them in and
    euthinize because it had been held/raised by the public and deemed unsafe for release or just set them loose on intake regardless of age or season. If they have information to go on many will turn a person over to DNR who will seek them out, fine them, and seize the squirrel. The squirrel will be euthinized deemed unsafe for release.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy21 View Post
    Either way, whether we overwinter & release properly or take her to the center I will always worry did I do what is best for her... and that's been my goal this whole time... Do what's best for Daisy! I'm so torn
    Without knowing if you have personal knowledge of this particular facility and their intentions the best I can advise is to trust your own instincts.
    If they were to take their time to contact you without your contacting them any further that to me would be a major red flag!
    My advice would be to claim she chewed through a screen and escaped....

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy21 View Post
    Side note-- Im also 38wks pregnant... have I lost my mind... am I delusional in thinking we can overwinter a squirrel AND have a newborn?? ugh.. HELP! All advice welcome!
    This is a question that the majority of rehabilatators have asked themselves at one time or another.
    The correct answer is yes we have and we often are... many times!
    As far as having a newborn, congratulations! I hope you'll have some family help with both but as for your capabilities
    you've done good so far and that is a question only you can answer.
    Step-N-Stone
    State Licensed
    Wildlife Master Rehabilitator


  3. Serious fuzzy thank you's to stepnstone from:

    Mel1959 (11-30-2021)

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Advice needed - overwinter singleton

    In regards to the dandelion greens she’s no longer eating….have you tried other greens? Arugula, radicchio, kale, broccoli, chicory, endive, escarole and watercress are a few that come to mind that you might try. Squirrels in the wild know they have to eat a wide variety of foods to get all the nutrients they need. It’s no different with a captive squirrel. Variety is the spice of life!

    I would be very cautious talking with rehab facilities. Most play by the rules…and the rules were it pertains to wildlife aren’t fair!!

  5. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Mel1959 from:

    stepnstone (11-30-2021)

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