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Thread: Releasability of a squirrel with physical limitations

  1. #1
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    Question Releasability of a squirrel with physical limitations

    I can add more details as needed. He is about 8-10 weeks old. Hard to tell, the normal benchmarks for age do not apply here. He is the runt of the litter on top of his deformities also making him smaller than he should be. He has "I am a wild squirrel" DNA in spades! He has always thought he was bigger than he is, ready for things he was not, and is an opiniated toddler dressed up as a squirrel. Tantrums and all. If he does not want it, does not want it that way, or differs from his plans he will have a full on temper tantrum. It literally looks like a little person chewing you out, loudly. Otherwise he will bury his face in the towel until the offending food disappears, or more recently, we are now anti-bottle and want it in a 'bowl.' Too big for it in his head I guess. I figured it was coming we he was showing signs of annoyance with it. He is so adamant about no bottles that he will go without food unless it is in the bowl. It is the same food.

    Whatever happens yes or no on the releasability he is having an excellent life, he is being challenged in a safe way, and he has a unique set-up that allows him to be a squirrel while figuring out how to deal with his limitations. He is independent and driven enough he does the rest. I am fairly sure he is not releasable, just hoping to be wrong for his sake. He really has a strong will to live and wild squirrel DNA in abundance.

    His Limitations:

    He is missing all of the right foot past the ankle.

    He is missing the second part of the toes and the claws on his left foot.

    His right arm is 1/2 the size of the left arm. The left arm is his one perfect limb!

    His right hand/paw is missing the 2nd part of the inner fingers and the claws. One of the full fingers has a non-working claw. It is to far down and on one side only.

    His jaw does not have the pressure that it should. We are working on this as there is no obvious reason that this is like this. He is given soft nuts like walnuts that are out of the shell and broken into smaller pieces and veggies/fruits that are soft. He had little interest until this week. I set them on the ramps in his ceiling fort for him to try or chew on. He also chews on (cleaned) sticks and other toys to encourage him to bite and strengthen his jaw.

    He has trouble grooming due to no foot and short leg, no claws on foot, and short arm. He does what he can and we have a quick grooming check-up when he comes down for his formula.

    He cannot sit on his hind quarters for more than a few seconds. We are working on this, but it is slow going for him.

    He had a fur thing, but that is resolved. Whatever was going on in the nest and directly after caused him to pull out what he could reach. A couple baths, daily grooming, and a stress free environment seemed to resolve this, but I am keeping watch. I caught him pulling it out the first week here, so I know he was doing it.

    Thank you.

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    Chirps (11-22-2022)

  3. #2
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    Default Re: Releasability of a squirrel with physical limitations

    Aw, the poor little guy certainly was saddled with some issues! I can't imagine in good conscience releasing a squirrel with these issues.

    I would spend as much time handling him and loving on him as you can. Once he goes through adolescence with it's hormone dump and gets that out of his system, he may calm sufficiently to stop bossing you around!

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  5. #3
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    Smile Re: Releasability of a squirrel with physical limitations

    Hello Critter Mom:

    Thank you. I figured as much. I just feel bad for him because he really, really wants to be a wild squirrel. He really did get saddled with a lot of issues, but he has a strong will to live, so he is thriving despite the issues. I am not 100% sure what happened, but I have wondered if he fell out or was unceremoniously pushed out. He is really afraid of falling either way. He won't even walk on the blanket under his ramps despite me putting him on it many times to show him it would hold. His bottom teeth were longer than they should be. Perhaps mom squirrel was not appreciating it and figured out he had issues that would prevent him from thriving.

    I've got a good set up for him and we will just keep adding to it as he gets bigger. He has 2 nests (baskets filled with microfiber towels) hanging from ceiling hooks joined by ramps with a slight incline and then one is pretty horizontal. There is an eight foot run with a board to prevent falls, but with cutouts for spying. His new hobby is spying on us in the living room. There is also a blanket attached to the nests that runs under the ramps just in case he falls.

    He has been a handful since day one, but it is mostly protesting. The other bit is he knows how much he wants to eat, what foods he is ready to try and how he wants his food delivered. I can understand and it sure has made things easy. The complaints are funny. I usually pick him up to look him in the eye and he just goes to town. Not trying to go anywhere, just a full on toddler meltdown. Just picture holding a squirrel around the middle and he rests his arms/elbows on your hand and just starts in complaining loudly, head tilts and all. Mr. personality that one.

    He is really a weird one. When he wants to come down for his formula he sits in his ramp and stares at me until I notice. Then when everything is ready and as soon as I stand on the ladder/couch/stool to reach him he runs off and hides (usually in the run). He then protests, growls and hisses (some weird noise, kinda like a vampire [the old ones] makes) until I put my hand on him he goes from AHHH HUMAN! to Oh it's my human. No biting (knock on wood). He also organized his own 'litter box' training and use. I used to put him in a basket with hay I stole from the bunny while I heated up his formula and he thought that was his bathroom time. Every time I feed him I have to give him time in the basket. I put one in his ceiling fort for evening use with some wheat grass pellets under the hay because hay soaks up nothing.

    Any ideas on getting him to play. For the first 1.5 months he was like a vampire (twice with that word! would explain a lot . No light of any kind, always had to be covered by a blanket. Lately I have been working on convincing him he is not nocturnal and needs to be okay with some light. Progress is being made, but this tendency has made play difficult up to this point. He is an absolute snuggle bug right before and after meals and he knows he needs my help to groom and itch all those places he cannot reach, so I am hoping he will continue to behave somewhat nicely. I put toys in his ceiling fort and I hear & see him playing. I am having trouble getting him to engage with me in playing. Perhaps a bit more time is needed.

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  7. #4
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    Question Re: Releasability of a squirrel with physical limitations

    I was wrong about the right foot and additional information on the left foot. I am fairly sure this does not help his situation, but is more accurate. Trying to closely inspect him is a challenge to say the least.

    His right ankle is there and is rather robust. He has the first part of the foot, with no toes or claws. The part he has is robust.

    His left ankle is not quite as robust as the right. His foot however is paper thin and the toes are thin as well.

    I was checking them more closely to see if there would be a way to attach a brace, 'shoe,' or some other device to help with itching and balance. Haven't figured out what that would look like, but doubt it matters, the danger for broken bones or worse injuries due to the ankle being thin and the foot being flat as a pancake. If anyone has any ideas I am open to them. Not for climbing, but more for balance and comfort. If he is going to climb he is going to have to sort it out with his front paws due to safety issues.

    He can climb up a 2x4 covered with microfibers that is at an angle.

    He can climb up my arm when it is raised up. At a pretty steep angle as well.

    I tried a couple of wooden dowels (1 is .75" diameter the other 1" diameter) taped together and at a very gentle slope leading up to his ceiling fort. He did not even bother when I set him on the 1" dowel. I placed him on the .75" dowel (he was half way up, no refusing possible) and was there to catch him (usually makes him braver), but he could not do it unless I put my hand under him as a step. So, that was a fail at least for now. He has not even tried with thinner branches.

    Any other ideas how to challenge or work with him to sort this out is appreciated. Even if he cannot be released he definitely wants run, jump, and climb like any other squirrel. I would like him to be safe as possible.

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