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Thread: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

  1. #1
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    Default 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    Hi all!
    So I found my red squirrel, Squeegee, at around 4 weeks. That was on Mother’s Day 2022. So he is around 16 weeks now! He has been on FV 20/50 for the majority of his time with me (the first week he was on powdered puppy Esbilac while I waited for FV delivery). So concern number one, he STILL has not self-weaned. He eats his HHBs like a champ and eats veggies (he’s very picky, I have tried almost everything from the food pyramid diagram sheet from Henry’s Healthy Pets and he really only likes cauliflower and tomatoes). But despite this, he still wants his formula.

    I have also read that reds tend to wild up faster, and be just a bit more territorial/aggressive in general. Well Squeegee is just…not. I’m the only one who cared for him, but because of the setup of his supervised out-of-cage playtime sometimes my dad enters the room briefly to grab something, and he runs TOWARD the human entering. This has happened with anyone who has entered for even a moment to grab something. Runs toward them “oinking” (what I call the happy “muk-muk” sound) and immediately tries to jump onto them. When I put him back in his cage he will literally grip my fingers and lick all over my hands and FALL ASLEEP on my hand while gripping me, like making sure I don’t leave him almost.

    He is never aggressive, not even about food! He somehow found an M&M during his playtime and I immediately took it but I literally had my fingers in his mouth (knowing the risks of course) and he didn’t even chitter angrily at me. Just let me take his food. I keep trying to keep him in his cage longer without contact hoping he will lose interest in me but it only seems to make him more excited and more clingy when I do come to feed him or take him out.

    I let him sit by screens while I monitor him to hear and smell the outside world, and there are plenty of birds and squirrels and chipmunks etc for him to listen to and watch! And yet, he has never once even tried to bite his way out. In fact he gets disinterested or scared pretty quickly and just immediately runs to me! He still will climb up me in about two seconds and go in my shirt and try to get cozy and sleep.

    He doesn’t hoard food or try to make a midden, doesn’t try to nest in his nesting box despite me putting bits of cotton around his cage. I even hang bits of cotton balls from the bars of his cage hoping he will see it as a game and it will get him to forage for nesting material while climbing…he pulls the cotton and just lets it fall wherever!

    I have no idea why he isn’t seeming to access any of his wild squirrel instincts, especially as a red! He’s basically fully grown! What do I do! My local rehab center isn’t taking any new animals at the moment also, I already checked with them hoping to get him around other squirrels! I’ll attack some pics of him under this message. Thank you so much!



    Attachment 322422
    Attached Images Attached Images       

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    P.S. I should note, he isnít lethargic by any means. He loves playing and running and is a little acrobat! He doesnít show signs of MBD or aspiration pneumonia. Heís justÖweirdly docile. To the point where I worry sometimes he is dealing with a cognitive impairment of some sort! For background, he was found as the only survivor in my momís carÖI believe somewhere in the AC system. He was emaciated when I found him but sometimes I wonder if the car fumes somehow stifled his neurological development. Iím also just a worry wart by nature though, so I try to outsource these issues before my brain runs totally amok :-)

  3. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Syd and Squeegee from:

    CritterLover (08-02-2022)

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    Default Re: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    Is it me or does that 4th picture remind me of Seinfeld George's 'pose'.
    He is so dang cute. I have a theory that hand raised guys can occasionally take more time to come into their own. They are so removed from nature, and have no one wild to glean cues from, that things can progress much slower, plus they are all very different. I also haven't read much about reds however.

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    Syd and Squeegee (08-02-2022)

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    Default Re: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    Quote Originally Posted by sundoesshine View Post
    Is it me or does that 4th picture remind me of Seinfeld George's 'pose'.
    He is so dang cute. I have a theory that hand raised guys can occasionally take more time to come into their own. They are so removed from nature, and have no one wild to glean cues from, that things can progress much slower, plus they are all very different. I also haven't read much about reds however.
    Omg! The George pose! Honestly the second picture a bit too 😂 Iíll have to start calling him Squeegee Costanza!

    To be honest the info Iíve gleaned about reds and their development in rescue/rehab environments hasnít been incredibly thorough, just a general sentiment that they tend to be a little faster/more intense in their wilding. I also know that in the wild, they are much more territorial and aggressive than greys, and incredibly solitary at that. Squeegee is such a glutton for attention and never even complains when I have to pick him up to return him to his cage after playtime. And heís a male, so in my head at least that testosterone should lead to even more pronounced aggression. I just canít imagine him being ready for release right now.

    With that being said, considering it is already August, do you think I should anticipate over-wintering him? I know reds spend their summers building up their middens and adolescents search for an unclaimed territory to defend. Even if he wilded up in the next month, I worry he would not have time to stake out territory and build the necessary food stockpile for winter. In the wild, I guess it is the norm that kits develop and defend their own territories when they are between 2 and 3 months old, so he would be behind the eight ball compared to his compatriots (fun fact I learned recently, a single red controls a territory of 1-8 acres! And they are tiny! Like 240 grams for an adult male!).

    Thank you for the response and letting me know this is probably more common than I realize, definitely helped eased my mind a bit knowing his behavior doesnít necessarily mean heís past the point of no return for developing the skills necessary for a wild future. :-)

  7. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Syd and Squeegee from:

    sundoesshine (08-02-2022)

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    Default Re: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Syd and Squeegee View Post
    I have no idea why he isnít seeming to access any of his wild squirrel instincts, especially as a red! Heís basically fully grown! What do I do! My local rehab center isnít taking any new animals at the moment also, I already checked with them hoping to get him around other squirrels! Iíll attack some pics of him under this message. Thank you so much! Attachment 322422

    He is unlikely to wild up much indoors, in a room and controlled environment in pretty much constant contact with humans. Living indoors like this they usually do not wild up until they are around 8 months to 1.5 years of age... too many make the mistake of keeping the squirrels as if they were pets and then one day the "pet" attacks them, a family member or visitor. To get his natural instincts to kick in, he needs to be exposed to his natural home and surroundings. He'll learn from teh wild squirrels, what are threats and how to respond.

    He'll need to be placed in an outdoor release cage 24/7 in the area that he will be released, which means he will be exposed to other squirrels that are in the area. Limit the human contact... feeding and watering only. They typically stay in the release cage 3 - 4 weeks... I go at least 4 weeks with singletons like this.

    There is a lot of information on the proper soft release process in the link below:

    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...ials-and-ideas

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    sundoesshine (08-02-2022)

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    Default Re: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Spanky View Post

    He is unlikely to wild up much indoors, in a room and controlled environment in pretty much constant contact with humans. Living indoors like this they usually do not wild up until they are around 8 months to 1.5 years of age... too many make the mistake of keeping the squirrels as if they were pets and then one day the "pet" attacks them, a family member or visitor. To get his natural instincts to kick in, he needs to be exposed to his natural home and surroundings. He'll learn from teh wild squirrels, what are threats and how to respond.

    He'll need to be placed in an outdoor release cage 24/7 in the area that he will be released, which means he will be exposed to other squirrels that are in the area. Limit the human contact... feeding and watering only. They typically stay in the release cage 3 - 4 weeks... I go at least 4 weeks with singletons like this.

    There is a lot of information on the proper soft release process in the link below:

    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...ials-and-ideas
    Thank you so much! It makes a lot of sense that they would have a delayed wilding process. With it being August already, and the reality that itíll probably be a few weeks until I will be able to acquire an outdoor release cage, should I anticipate over-wintering him? I obviously want to avoid coddling him but I also donít want to send him out for a winter he will be unprepared to survive.

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    Default Re: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    Way back when, I knew a rehabber in the northern Midwest that fostered a large litter of red squirrels. They made a condo for them for at this age they become very territorial and each then at this age, needed their own space. II had recommended that they also include a full chain-link surround for these squirrels to provide additional protection from predators, since they were going to place the cage in a wild area; yet they decided to pass on that. One day, when bringing them food, they pulled up to see a badger trying to rip into the cage; they chased the badger off. So they decided to add a full surround chain-link enclosure with the wire and wood frame release cage placed within it. After the release, they continued to bring the squirrels food; when they approached the then empty release cage to place the food within it, they could hear the reds chattering in the bushes and trees.

    It is interesting that those that rehab raccoons use chain-link surrounds for cages within the perimeter. What they keeps raccoons in is the same that keeps them out. I knew of another rehabber that didn't provide a full chain-link surround in a rural area, that most sadly lost all the squirrels that they had raised to raccoons that ripped into the wire and wood cage even with a cement base. For these reasons, it's essential that a red squirrel be supported not just with a release cage but a full chain-link surround.

    Since mother red squirrels often allow their juvenile young to share their midden (large cache of nuts and seeds found near the base of trees and in fallen logs), and their nest also during the coldest months of winter (body heat advantage); providing and keeping a stocked midden for a released red squirrels with organic hazelnuts (filberts) and organic walnuts (not other nuts that aren't optimum to support their nutritional needs), is needful to support their survival through to spring.

    Be looking for these organic nuts, especially the organic filberts grown in the USA and fresh; not having been shipped from overseas, they don't have allot of bad nuts with worms and fungus. Hazelnuts are available in a very limited supply; get midsized bags to store in a cool dry place. A source in Oregon I was told will have organic hazelnuts available in September.

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    Default Re: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Syd and Squeegee View Post
    Thank you so much! It makes a lot of sense that they would have a delayed wilding process. With it being August already, and the reality that itíll probably be a few weeks until I will be able to acquire an outdoor release cage, should I anticipate over-wintering him? I obviously want to avoid coddling him but I also donít want to send him out for a winter he will be unprepared to survive.

    I believe if you get started by September you will have plenty of time to release him... are you in S MI, N MI or Da UP?

    IS your plan to release him on your property / around your house or a more rural area?

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    Default Re: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Spanky View Post

    I believe if you get started by September you will have plenty of time to release him... are you in S MI, N MI or Da UP?

    IS your plan to release him on your property / around your house or a more rural area?
    Southeast MI! Probably more ruralÖI am staying with my parents temporarily in the suburbs and there are lots of neighborhood dogs that wander. My own home is in the boonies but it is farmland rural, not forest rural. And certainly no coniferous trees which I know reds prefer!

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    Default Re: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Spanky View Post

    I believe if you get started by September you will have plenty of time to release him... are you in S MI, N MI or Da UP?

    IS your plan to release him on your property / around your house or a more rural area?
    Okay something weird just happened right after I replied to this and figured I would put it out here in this threadÖSqueegee just now was sitting by a screened window with me right next to him, itís raining and heís sniffing (smelling, not sniffling) like crazy. Then out of no where he seemingly gagged! He was unfazed and was immediately back to sniffing and being a little hellion. It was so weird. Never seen him do that before. He was on his hind legs with his front paws on the screen looking out and he suddenly sort of hunched over with his tongue out and made a very small lurching motion, literally exactly like a human would when gagging! He had just eaten a Henryís Block beforehand (literally got in the mail this morning and took it from the freezer straight to him, so it wasnít rotten). I immediately started recording but he didnít do it again and continued doing his thing like nothing happened!

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    Diggie's Friend (08-04-2022)

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    Default Re: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    I see you're in the Great Lakes region. I have a close friend who lives in Duluth, MN, who has Reds in her yard. Although Reds inhabit conifer forests; by forest in this region I mean mixed hardwoods and conifer forests, that include White and Silver Birch, Sweet maples, beech, poplars, oaks, Spruce, Pine, and various other conifers. Also, filbert bushes, berry bushes, mushrooms.

    The problem of introducing a red into the territory of other reds is because they are highly territorial of the natural food supply. Should you have friends or relatives in such areas that are willing to support him with healthier nuts over the colder months of the year; then after his time in a release cage you could transfer him to a nest box with drop floor to protect him from predators and a slide down door to secure him within the box (see threads on nest box design) stocked with organic hazelnuts for his journey to a new yard, where there are mature trees to secure the box up high in, he would be set.

    Red squirrels may also build nests in an underground chamber which they excavate. These chambers are approximately 23 cm (9 in) long, 10-13 cm (4-5 in) in diameter, and 30 cm (12 in) beneath the surface of the ground. Buildings, logs, stumps, log piles, bird houses, and rock walls are other locations.

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    Default Re: 16 Week Old Red Squirrel Not Wilding Up

    Here the article the quote was from; I just love the little face poking out of the hole!

    Be aware! Never give (toxic genus Amonita) mushroom, nor any other toxic mushroom, nor any unidentified

    mushrooms to any squirrel. For though sometimes reds survive the toxins, not all do.

    https://www.esf.edu/aec/adks/mammals...er%20locations

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