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Thread: Help with introducing water

  1. #1
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    Default Help with introducing water

    I've been raising 2 orphaned squirrels since April. They are "probably 10-11 weeks old and I've had a self feeding water bottle (not the metal tube and ball kind) in their enclosure now for probably a week and they are not drinking it. I still feed them formula twice a day about every 12 hours. Any suggestions on how to ween them off the formula and start drinking water? They are really healthy. Eating nutrition blocks, lots of veggies, fruits and nuts but I feel that they "should" soon be graduating to drinking the water. They have been a real joy to watch grow and my plan is to release them in about a month but certainly not before they start drinking water.
    They are currently in a release cage.

    Your expertise, which has been a godsend, is always appreciated.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Help with introducing water

    Hi! They'll figure it out, especially with how hot it can get here. Is that the water setup on the front right side of cage? I can't tell from the pic what the exposure is there, but my only thought is if the sun hits there and warms up the water it will have less appeal, but based on my wilds, if they're thirsty they'll drink what's available. How long since you introduced the water? You have lots of time yet for them to learn this.
    "I hope everyone got or gets their Baby Love today"~Shewhosweptforest

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Help with introducing water

    The water set up is the blue self feeding station on the right. Since this picture, I have covered the top of their new home with a tarp to help with shading and keep the rain out. They are located under a Mimosa tree and on the cool morning sun side of my outdoor shed which provides a far amount of shade throughout the day. I've also replaced the hammock with a wooden swing which they are constantly playing on.

    How long are they "typically" on formula? Betty (the smaller - I believe the runt of the litter) has started to lick her formula while feeding instead of sucking on the nipple (not always but sometimes). BTW ... when they first arrived, they were Fred and Barney. Found out real soon that those names were not exactly appropriate (LOL). I just ordered another bag of the Fox Valley formula. I certainly don't mind feeding them I just want to make sure that I'm doing what's right for them.

    Again, and I can't stress this enough, I am so thankful that this site exists and that there are such wonderful individuals (like yourself) willing to share your expertise and knowledge in protecting and helping those too young and small to help themselves (like Wilma and Betty).

    THANK YOU.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Help with introducing water

    I don't call myself an expert since I only raised one, but from my memory and what I read on this site they should probably be starting to drink if they haven't yet. Your first post was a week ago. Have you seen them show any interest in the water dispenser, even if only to examine it?

    Also I am a bit jealous that at her age Betty is still sucking/licking from a syringe. I never had any nipples (and no, that's NOT good, but we survived luckily), and my Navvy was chewing the end off the syringe by . . . Week 7? Can't remember, but I had to get her to drink her formula from a bowl/dish. Anyway, maybe if they learn to drink formula from a dish it might get them to look at the water in a new way. You also want to be careful that they can't get their faces too deep into a water source until they learn how to suck it up without aspirating any. I can't tell how deep the bowl/drinking part of the waterer is, but if it's deeper than 1/2 inch you might want to put some pebbles in to make it so they can't plunge their noses into it. Once they've mastered "drinking without drowning" the pebbles can go, or if you aren't sure, just leave them in as long as they don't hinder them drinking. Hopefully you will have the opportunity to observe over the coming days so you can make that determination.

    When you next offer formula you might want to try letting a few drops onto a small dish or plate and have them lick it off. You can increase the depth a bit as they get the idea, but you want to go slow. Don't have it deep enough for them to submerge their nose. Squirrels don't lap. They suck water up into their mouths much like humans and horses, so they need to learn just how much of their mouth needs to be in the water/formula to draw it in but not breathe any in. Navvy learned in a couple of tries. I suppose it varies by the squirrel.

    Anyway, presenting liquid in a new way may get them to attempt to drink the water in the dispenser, especially if it's hot and they won't get their next formula feeding for a few more hours.

    As for weaning, the folks here don't. Formula is offered until the squirrel consistently refuses it. My baby started to make me think she'd NEVER wean, and then pretty suddenly stopped. She was around 12 or 13 weeks? I can't quite remember. I think there are people here who have releases who still come and enjoy some formula as adults. Hopefully someone will verify that if they read this thread.

    Best wishes, and please keep us posted.

    EDIT: Wilma and Betty, LOVE it!
    "I hope everyone got or gets their Baby Love today"~Shewhosweptforest

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

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Help with introducing water

    Thank you so much for that advice. I believe they are drinking the water. I just haven't been lucky enough to be there when they do. Wilma has not wanted formula now for about 8 days. Betty is still drinking about 10 cc's a day. Not much but she wants it (LOL). Introduced them to in the shell hickory nuts and they absolutely love them. I was planning on releasing them on July 4th - Independence Day. Before I do however, I want to put 2 escape areas in their release cage and introduce them to those areas. Still have to work on digging a hole, placing a fence post and all the other details but I'm hoping that they come and go as they please. Plan is to continue to put food and water in their enclosure and of course their box will remain in their. I will miss them terribly if they don't return but there are plenty of other squirrels in the yard and back woods to keep them company.

    Thanks so much again !!!!

  6. Serious fuzzy thank you's to dldanz from:

    Chirps (06-29-2022)

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    Default Re: Help with introducing water

    Hate to be a wet blanket on the idea of giving them their freedom on Independence Day, but if you have neighbors who enjoy their fireworks you might want to hold off until a couple of days after. The boom boom can be terrifying, and if they panic and run off somewhere in confusion, they might not find their way home, or something could happen to them before they get the chance.


    Aww, Betty still wants her formula. You said she's smaller, right? Maybe she's hoping to catch up to Wilma with the boost from formula.
    "I hope everyone got or gets their Baby Love today"~Shewhosweptforest

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

  8. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Chirps from:

    stepnstone (06-30-2022)

  9. #7
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    Default Re: Help with introducing water

    Quote Originally Posted by Chirps View Post
    Hate to be a wet blanket on the idea of giving them their freedom on Independence Day, but if you have neighbors who enjoy their fireworks you might want to hold off until a couple of days after. The boom boom can be terrifying, and if they panic and run off somewhere in confusion, they might not find their way home, or something could happen to them before they get the chance.
    Aww, Betty still wants her formula. You said she's smaller, right? Maybe she's hoping to catch up to Wilma with the boost from formula.

    In total agreement here, releasing on or around July 4th is a really really bad idea for the squirrels.
    Step-N-Stone
    State Licensed
    Wildlife Master Rehabilitator


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