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Thread: Can I rehab and release a 5yr imprinted squirrel?

  1. #1
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    Default Can I rehab and release a 5yr imprinted squirrel?

    Hello,
    I have a hard situation that I am hoping I can get some advice and suggestions on.
    I have an almost 5 year old female eastern grey squirrel. I rescued her at 3-4 weeks (eyes were not open), her mother can been killed, and I have had her in my care ever since.
    I wasnt able to take her to a shelter because they said they would have to euthanize her since she is considered an invasive species in this state.
    I lived in an apartment in the middle of a very busy area until recently I was able to move to 5 acres of remote land.
    Is it possible she can be released? I am concerned because I have had to clip her teeth many times as they grow unevenly. She also doesnt seem like she understands the danger of predators as she has been protected her whole life. I fear if I let her go she will be killed quickly and I obviously cannot let that happen.
    Is there a slow long process in which I can follow to successfully prepare and release her?
    Thank you for your time, I sincerely appreciate you and this forum!

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    Default Re: Can I rehab and release a 5yr imprinted squirrel?

    Her teeth will continue to grow wonky in the wild and will eventually kill her. That isn't something caused by captivity, it is a permanent problem. Is there a reason you cannot keep her?

    I would rather see someone euthanize their maloccluded squirrel than release them. It is a horrible way to go.

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    Default Re: Can I rehab and release a 5yr imprinted squirrel?

    Ok I thought that might be the case. I wasnt sure if it was caused by captivity and could be corrected if she was free.
    I definitely can and will keep her, I get spooked that it isnt the right thing to do when I read things online but i understand i have a case that she is unreleaseable due to her teeth.
    For the past 4 months they have been breaking and keeping themselves in check when she eats her nuts, can I have your thoughts on this?
    I will be keeping her regardless though.
    Thank you so much!!

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    Default Re: Can I rehab and release a 5yr imprinted squirrel?

    A lot has to do with how they are messed up. Getting good pics is really tough and usually requires two people. Breaking off isn't good - wearing off IS. Breaking is uncontrolled and if it breaks off high enough to expose the pulp inside the tooth you are looking at decay and extraction. Many people trim their squirrel's teeth every couple weeks to control the growth. If you can soehow get a pic it will help us help you.

    While you are here, what is her diet? Specifically, does she eat a rodent block of any kind? There are a lot of specifics to their diet and many people are not aware of them, so we always try to steer people the right direction there because it is so important.

    At 5 she is reaching her middle age and I honestly think it is sort of cruel to try to release a this age regardless. When they first leave the nest they are just a whirlwind of development - not just physical but mental, too. That is when they are learning EVERYTHING about being wild in their dangerous world. She is long past that nonsense! Girl needs some soft microfleece blankies, a nice hanging cube, healthy chow, and a human who will love her and give her lots of attention.

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    Default Re: Can I rehab and release a 5yr imprinted squirrel?

    Quote Originally Posted by CritterMom View Post
    A lot has to do with how they are messed up. Getting good pics is really tough and usually requires two people. Breaking off isn't good - wearing off IS. Breaking is uncontrolled and if it breaks off high enough to expose the pulp inside the tooth you are looking at decay and extraction. Many people trim their squirrel's teeth every couple weeks to control the growth. If you can soehow get a pic it will help us help you.

    While you are here, what is her diet? Specifically, does she eat a rodent block of any kind? There are a lot of specifics to their diet and many people are not aware of them, so we always try to steer people the right direction there because it is so important.

    At 5 she is reaching her middle age and I honestly think it is sort of cruel to try to release a this age regardless. When they first leave the nest they are just a whirlwind of development - not just physical but mental, too. That is when they are learning EVERYTHING about being wild in their dangerous world. She is long past that nonsense! Girl needs some soft microfleece blankies, a nice hanging cube, healthy chow, and a human who will love her and give her lots of attention.
    Ok thank you for saying that, I am encouraged that I am doing the right thing. She definitely has many soft micro fleece blankies, she is currently taking a nap in her cube and has a mama who kisses and cuddles her at any given chance! It's fair to say I am obsessed with her and just want to give her the best life possible.

    She eats 2-3 Henry's Healthy Blocks a day as well as a variety of lettuces and greens like beet greens (not iceberg lettuce). I give her a wide variety of veggies like yam, bell pepper, squash, cucumber, mushrooms and also blueberries.

    She loves doing "teefers" and I can get a video and take a still shot of her teeth, this is from a few weeks ago and they are more even now but still grow uneven and break often on the in shell nuts I give her. Name:  Screenshot_20230419-155134_Video Player.jpg
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    Default Re: Can I rehab and release a 5yr imprinted squirrel?

    Oh yay - good diet! I am going to suggest a couple changes.

    First, I see why her teeth are breaking. If she tries to eat with one tooth so much longer than the other it is inevitable that the longer one is going to snap. So for now, I very strongly suggest she gets NO MORE nuts in the shell. Her diet is wonderful - you can still give her treats, just get her favorite in the shelled variety. They are four times happier to get a nut broken into gour pieces than they are to get just the "one" nut anyway.

    First, the teeth should be evened up. Will she let YOU trim them? Do you have help? The best tools are little flush cut pliers like these: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Klein-To...2755/100647983. Store them on their own, wrapped in something so other items aren't hitting the blade so they stay nice and sharp. You don't cut to the desired length with one big cut - I would "nibble" smaller cuts until you have evened things up.

    The second dietary addition is some of these: https://www.ebay.com/itm/23385020909...Bk9SR-rR7sDzYQ. Get the smallest bag (2lb). These blocks are really, really hard - they are nothing like the Mazuri blocks. They can be left in the cage without worrying they will spoil like the Henry's (which you continue to feed - these are an addition). I almost never give my squirrel nuts in the shell. He gets little fragments hidden so he can hunt them down as treats, and the Teklad blocks keep his teeth perfectly trimmed. They are hard enough to keep them ground down but not hard enough (like many nut shells) to do damage.

    There are videos on Ebay showing tooth trimming. You want to use something like a tongue depressor behind the front teeth to both isolate them and to block tooth fragments from falling into the anima's throat and being swallowed. If you can get a good method that both of you can handle, you can do frequent very small adjustments instead of major cuts.

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    Default Re: Can I rehab and release a 5yr imprinted squirrel?

    Hello CM,

    Is the no-shelled-nuts advice intended only for Petriesmama's squirrel due to her uneven teeth, or for all squirrels to avoid as a risk of breaking teeth ?
    I've been giving our reds some shelled walnuts, almonds, pecans. I slightly crack the shelled walnuts and pecans, which they gnaw at but easier for them to open up. Shelled almonds they have no problem opening on their own. I don't give them shelled hazelnuts anymore as the first ones i gave they gnawed at but could never open them, and they are difficult to crack without busting wide open (no point in it).
    Was not aware of the Teklad, for something to wear their teeth on and nutritious.... i ordered some this morning

    thx, SL.

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    Default Re: Can I rehab and release a 5yr imprinted squirrel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevelisa View Post
    Hello CM,

    Is the no-shelled-nuts advice intended only for Petriesmama's squirrel due to her uneven teeth, or for all squirrels to avoid as a risk of breaking teeth ?
    I've been giving our reds some shelled walnuts, almonds, pecans. I slightly crack the shelled walnuts and pecans, which they gnaw at but easier for them to open up. Shelled almonds they have no problem opening on their own. I don't give them shelled hazelnuts anymore as the first ones i gave they gnawed at but could never open them, and they are difficult to crack without busting wide open (no point in it).
    Was not aware of the Teklad, for something to wear their teeth on and nutritious.... i ordered some this morning

    thx, SL.
    What you are doing is okay and having one single tooth sticking way past the other automatically makes it more prone to breaking as it lacks the support of the other tooth.

    I do know that continuously giving hard shelled large nuts - hickories, black and even english walnuts that have the squirrel spending hours gnawing with their mouths open so far is as much a possible contributor to odontoma as cage bar chewing is. Cracking the big hard ones for your little pipsqueaks is a good idea. So are the Teklads. My gray actually likes them and when you hear them chewing them you will recognize how much nice, controlled, gentle grinding they are doing when they are eating them (great sound - like fingernails on a blackboard)!

    I knew that those plus all the lumber and furniture he chews was keeping his teeth looking just fine, and NOT giving whole nuts let me give him so many MORE nuts (he thinks) by cutting the shelled ones into multiple pieces. He very much looks forward to his "nut hunt" every night.

    Their top incisors float in the jaw and will spread apart - looking at the squirrel from the front they look like an upside down V - which anchors the nut like prongs so the bottom teeth can scrape a hole in the shell that they can then use to lever the shell open. The top teeth - the ones that tend to develop odontomas - are meant to move from side to side. NOT front to back, which is what cage bar chewing (they hook their teeth over the bars and pull backward) and trying to break into a hard shelled nut is doing - putting pressure on the teeth from a direction they are not designed to function. Over time, I very strongly think those two things, if never made possible for the squirrel, would make a difference in the incidence of odontoma in squirrels that did NOT suffer facial trauma in their fall from the nest as babies. That is just my personal opinion, and I am certainly not a vet or dentist (though I do have one that I give huge amounts of $$ to). But forcing parts of your anatomy to function in ways they are not built for just seldom ends well.

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    Default Re: Can I rehab and release a 5yr imprinted squirrel?

    Quote Originally Posted by CritterMom View Post
    What you are doing is okay and having one single tooth sticking way past the other automatically makes it more prone to breaking as it lacks the support of the other tooth.

    I do know that continuously giving hard shelled large nuts - hickories, black and even english walnuts that have the squirrel spending hours gnawing with their mouths open so far is as much a possible contributor to odontoma as cage bar chewing is. Cracking the big hard ones for your little pipsqueaks is a good idea. So are the Teklads. My gray actually likes them and when you hear them chewing them you will recognize how much nice, controlled, gentle grinding they are doing when they are eating them (great sound - like fingernails on a blackboard)!

    I knew that those plus all the lumber and furniture he chews was keeping his teeth looking just fine, and NOT giving whole nuts let me give him so many MORE nuts (he thinks) by cutting the shelled ones into multiple pieces. He very much looks forward to his "nut hunt" every night.

    Their top incisors float in the jaw and will spread apart - looking at the squirrel from the front they look like an upside down V - which anchors the nut like prongs so the bottom teeth can scrape a hole in the shell that they can then use to lever the shell open. The top teeth - the ones that tend to develop odontomas - are meant to move from side to side. NOT front to back, which is what cage bar chewing (they hook their teeth over the bars and pull backward) and trying to break into a hard shelled nut is doing - putting pressure on the teeth from a direction they are not designed to function. Over time, I very strongly think those two things, if never made possible for the squirrel, would make a difference in the incidence of odontoma in squirrels that did NOT suffer facial trauma in their fall from the nest as babies. That is just my personal opinion, and I am certainly not a vet or dentist (though I do have one that I give huge amounts of $$ to). But forcing parts of your anatomy to function in ways they are not built for just seldom ends well.
    This makes alot of sense. I am stopping hard shelled nuts immediately and will order the Teklads. Luckily I do have help to trim Petries teeth, I burrito her and my partner trims. We have been using Chris' Favorite Teeth Cutters. I have a brand new pair on stand by at all times just in case they are needed, they do dull quickly in my experience. Even though I am able to trim her teeth it is still super hard to burrito her, she is five and fiesty! Do you have any suggestions I can use to help chill her out before teeth trimmings? Thank you again i appreciate you greatly!!

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