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Thread: Backyard Release: Friend or Wolverine in the Works?

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    Default Backyard Release: Friend or Wolverine in the Works?

    After a tree came down in our backyard we nursed a male grey squirrel that Mom left behind. She took 3 & didn't come back for him. Trust me, we were patient! it was not our first choice to bring him in & take on the responsibility of nursing, weening & releasing him. My significant other is a wildlife enthusiast & has nursed a variety of animals & released them. I, on the other hand, would not have attempted this on my own! But was happy to help nurse him.

    At 11-12 weeks old, Peanut was foraging on wild bird seed, eating fruit, nuts & some veges & no longer interested in puppy milk feedings. He wanted out of his caged life! So we built him a squirrel box in the backyard & are working on a soft release. We live on an acre of property in a residential neighborhood with lots of food sources. It has been a week since the release. He seems to be mingling well with the other squirrels. We have a water bottle out there for him & are still hand feeding him some nuts & apple slices & sprinkling wild bird seed (maybe hand feeding is a bad idea).

    Heading into the second week of his release, he now follows us around the backyard and is assuming he can leap onto us whenever he feels like it. I am starting to imagine how this could go further down the road & growing concerned. He's not aggressive, he's currently loving & affectionate but I've read a little bit about their territorial ways & their potential to be food aggressive. Basically, I don't want to create a backyard Wolverine who attacks my friends at the summer BBQ's or bloodies a niece or nephew over an apple in the backyard.

    Your feedback would be very much appreciated! Thanks in advance!

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    Default Re: Backyard Release: Friend or Wolverine in the Works?

    I wish I knew the answer to that. Since it's early days from release he may jump on you less as time goes by. Maybe don't encourage him, like just stand still until he loses interest and gets off, and don't feed him anything while he's on you, but you're probably already doing that. Squirrels are so different from each other. Others have various experiences including being savaged by their formerly loving babies, so your concern is warranted. Do you have other people over now? How does he act around them? Is he cautious/standoffish or does he treat them like potential perches and food sources?

    My baby would jump on me until she disappeared for good, but I wanted her to. I fed her from my coat pocket. She also jumped on my tallest brother on the one or two times, months apart, that he was in the yard at the same time she was. She jumped from a tree to his shoulder, then jumped back. He just made like a tree. She would also jump and climb around a bit on my niece soon after release, but my niece wanted to interact with her so she'd seen more of her than almost anyone besides myself. I would like to hope she learned to be cautious of strangers, but have no idea. It haunts me that she may have been too forward with the wrong person who may have killed her out of fear.

    My wilds only trust me, and even the one that jumps on me and helps herself to almonds from my coat pocket makes herself scarce when others are around or if my sister who she sees every day has a prolonged conversation with me while we're outside. I would hope our releases can learn the same caution.

    Maybe only feed him in one designated area, as far away from where any future human activity will take place as possible, and if you do have people over, just tell them about the squirrel. Maybe have one or two "test" people over first and see how he acts. Maybe he'll be shy and just hide. If you plan on large gatherings I would think the noise and activity might send him into hiding. Also the smell of charcoal if that's what you use might be offputting to him, may act as a natural squirrel repellent.

    Hopefully others who've been in your situation will have better ideas from their experiences.
    "I hope everyone got or gets their Baby Love today"~Shewhosweptforest

    https://www.henryspets.com/1-baby-squirrel-care-guide/

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    Default Re: Backyard Release: Friend or Wolverine in the Works?

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! I must admit, there is certainly a piece of us that enjoys our social interactions with him but I also understand that love isn't selfish and I want to do what's best for him!

    Do you think we could train him to not jump on us without being invited, by using a water spray bottle? Like one would train a cat to stay off furniture?

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    Default Re: Backyard Release: Friend or Wolverine in the Works?

    I don't know that I'd want to use a water spray bottle. It seems like a betrayal of his trust in you. I would use something like that if he became aggressive and was attacking you. (Someone here was dealing with that situation and may have tried spraying their boy, I think to no avail. Hmm. Now I'm wondering how they're doing, need an update on that one.) Maybe let him jump on you but just don't feed him if he's on you? Maybe I already mentioned that. Sorry if I did, it's just that I'm always trying to get my wilds to have the nerve to take food from my person. (But wilds are the opposite of a squirrel who has only known you as safety and food providers.)

    If I were in your situation I'd want to maintain the relationship too. It's NICE to have our babies grow up and do their squirrel thing but still be our friends. I hope others tell you of their experiences. I can only tell you about my girl. She may have been released too soon but it worked out. She lived in a box someone made for me, in a big yew tree not twenty feet from my back door. She came to me every day for treats and rodent block. The only bad thing that happened was one day I was giving her pine nuts. I was always scouring the stores for things that she might like that were natural foods. Actually pine nuts are horrible because of the calcium to phosphorus ratio, but I didn't know that then, just thought she'd enjoy them. So I'm holding them in my hand and she's sitting on my wrist eating, and I stupidly tried to stroke her back, trying to feel how well her winter coat was coming in. She growled. I can't remember almost 4 years later whether I stopped or not. I probably didn't. Anyway she grabbed my pinky and took a deep chomp. I was shocked (shouldn't have been probably). Thinking about it, she may have been making little growly food aggressive noises even before I stroked her, because the pine nuts were little things, not like a block or pecan (her usual treats) and I think she didn't like that she couldn't just pick them up and hold them but had to eat each one off my palm individually, and they were new and yummy and just triggered extra greediness and food aggression.

    Anyway after she bit me I think I froze, not wanting her to bite again. I think she finished and I was in fear she'd be mad they were gone and bite up the empty hand in anger or belief that I'd stolen them somehow, but she just jumped off me or climbed down when done. My pinky bled all the way down to my elbow with blood dripping off to the ground. I was lucky though and it healed up well.

    BUT from that day on she never got pine nuts again, and I always fed her things she could take from my fingers and hold in her hands. In time she learned to go into my coat pockets to help herself. One time months later my hand was in my pocket when she slid her head in. I froze my hand, scared to move it and have her think I was "in there" with her and competing for the whatever. I was even scared she'd push against my hand and make it move and think it was me moving and bite the hell out of me, but she just found what she wanted and pulled her head out. She never bit me again but I was always careful to avoid situations that might provoke her, and I cherish the memory of her eating pecan after pecan on my shoulder, until she finally had enough and took the last one and "cached" it under my shirt collar at the back of my neck, shoving it under with her nose, gently trying to pull my hair over it to "bury" it and patting it down carefully.

    Sorry for the book, but I guess you just have to weigh some things. Maybe your baby is still young enough for you to get through this summer at least without him bothering guests. Maybe some squirrel 101 can help guests, like don't try to interact with him, and if he jumps on you anyway, tuck your hands under your armpits. Hands and fingers are easier (and more provocative) bite targets.

    I hope others who have releases living in their yards and who have barbecues weigh in with their experiences.
    "I hope everyone got or gets their Baby Love today"~Shewhosweptforest

    https://www.henryspets.com/1-baby-squirrel-care-guide/

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    Default Re: Backyard Release: Friend or Wolverine in the Works?

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I truly appreciate your time.

    We took your advice & made a designated feeding post, about head high beneath his tree house (where we are also keeping a water bottle ). We're currently filling a small bowl with a wild bird seed mix that a local pet shop owner gifted us during the weening process. He has nursed & released several squirrels. We add a few pieces of apple & whole peanuts. I had originally stopped in his shop for rodent block or feed & he deterred me from buying commercial products. He felt natural foods would be best. When he was still in his cage, we watched what the other squirrels were eating in the backyard and clipped branches off of those trees or bushes and introduced that to him as he was weening as well. We're filling his bowl in the morning & again in the evening. That seems to have curved his desire to hunt us down in the yard and leap on us. lol.

    My fear is whether these regular feedings will discourage him from foraging and doing what he needs to do on his own, I suppose the jury is out on that one? Last night it was storming when I got home from work and so I didn't go out there to fill his bowl. As soon as the weather cleared up he appeared at our sliding glass door. That was the first time for this, he was running up & down the screen & along the bottom of the wall, trying to find a way in. I think it's just a matter of time before he would have found the cat door. So I went out the front door & appeared in the backyard by his feeding post & called him to me. Hopefully he thinks he was barking at the wrong door, haha! Ugh, worried he may not adjust properly if I can't figure out how to do this right....

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    Default Re: Backyard Release: Friend or Wolverine in the Works?

    P.S. We also had a test person over! He came right over wanting to leap on her too. ( This is when I was still giving him treats near the entrance gate, I have since eliminated any feedings but the one under his tree house.) When she stood far enough away that he knew he couldn't make the leap, he began foraging and burying his food on the other side of the fence. I guess if she wasn't going to feed him, she must be a threat? As an FYI, I never fed him, while he was on me. I would make him get off me & then I would feed him- which is also much like rewarding the behavior! I feel like I'm learning just a lil too late. Luckily he is still young, just 12 - 13 weeks now so hopefully there is still time for me to get this right!

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    Default Re: Backyard Release: Friend or Wolverine in the Works?

    Heh, that's cool that you were able to have a test person over. Sounds like you're doing everything you can think of to discourage inappropriate interactions in the kindest way possible. I love that you sneaked out the front door. I wonder what he thought when you appeared like magic at his bowl. I'm your neighbor in PA, and we had storms or at least torrential rain right around the same time yesterday.

    You will doubtless tweak things as you figure all this out, and as Peanut adjusts his behavior. The only thing that to me is unfortunate is the pet shop owner discouraging you from buying rodent block. If they carry one of the brands recommended by the squirrel people here, it would be a good thing to have. I am curious. Has he never had block? It is the first solid food offered to babies one is raising. Did you give him that while he was "teething" but moved away from it? I feed Mazuri because I can get it at my feed store. It was developed for lab rats to be the sole diet, so is nutritionally complete, BUT isn't nearly as yummy as peanuts and bird seed.

    If you get hold of a rodent block he will probably thumb his nose at it, at least at first, but it can be a safeguard to help make sure he gets any nutrients he may not be able to acquire by foraging. I always gave my baby a block first, then her treats after she ate it, just to know she'd got that extra boost for the day. In time that stopped, and I had to hope she was balancing her diet well enough on her own, like the wilds.

    Right now I have a crew of wilds who are at various degrees of trust in me. The boldest is TigerMom. After watching daughters from two successive litters become brave enough to jump on me for treats, she claimed me as her own, and jumps on me, climbs around to the treat pocket, and helps herself. Sometimes I try to give her a block first, but more often than not she sniffs and says, "Really???" and holds out for the almonds. BUT there are days when she scarfs it down, so I figure she knows her body needs something in the block. Wild squirrels are pragmatists. My wilds would love me to feed them peanuts and sunflower hearts every day, but they get rodent block, and take it gladly. It's a quick and easy nutrient dump and then they can devote more time to foraging for tastier and/or harder-to-come-by food. The bravest ones get almonds, and one or two of those are getting picky now and holding out for the almonds. They are so funny.

    They get rodent block every day at designated feeding stations, except on rare occasions like when it's rainy crappy weather and I know the blocks will just dissolve (they're out in the open). Then they get a peanut party. Also in bitter cold/snowy weather, since I figure the protein and fat boost from the peanuts is more important for that day or two than worrying about them getting MBD. Just yesterday it rained buckets not long after I put the block out. I had to go to work but am pretty sure that block was wasted since they were probably only just meandering in to get it when the heavens opened. Sigh.

    Thanks for the update, and please keep us posted. Still hoping others who've combined releases and backyard barbecues will chime in with their experiences.
    "I hope everyone got or gets their Baby Love today"~Shewhosweptforest

    https://www.henryspets.com/1-baby-squirrel-care-guide/

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