Last Thursday I brought my first set of squirrels back home from the Wildlife Center and released them. Yay!
I actually got a bonus squirrel out of the deal. I had been down at the center a couple of days earlier. When I checked out the enclosure, I was quite surprised to see a black squirrel running around with my guys. What probably happened was that s/he escaped from one of the other enclosures and whoever caught him/her didn’t know which one s/he came out of. Oh well, no such thing as too many squirrels in my mind! 🙂
I finally have a chance to report on how the transfer to the enclosure at the wildlife center went last Monday.
The first challenge was just transferring them from their cage to the cat carrier. Three of them went easily; the other two, not so much. But eventually I managed to snag all five of them. I put some of their bedding in the carrier with them so they’d have familiar scents around them during the trip.
Here’s a picture of their new home:
It’s 4′ x 6′ x 8′, which gives them a heckuva lot more room for running and climbing than the little cage in my spare room. Before I moved them in, I did a little prep work. I had taken the nest material from their hammock at home with me and filled up their new hammock with it, and spread some food around the ground to give them an incentive to come out of the carrier.
More pics. My little charges will be heading back to the Wildlife Center tomorrow to spend a few weeks in a large outdoor enclosure until they’re ready to be released. So I’m posting a bunch more photos so we won’t forget them while they’re gone. 🙂 The good news is that they will be back, as the plan is to release them in my own backyard. I already have a few eastern grey squirrels here, so we know it will be a suitable environment for them. Until then, though…
Another video. I shot these clips by holding the camera, rather than using the tripod, so they may be a little shakier than usual. But it was easier for me to follow the action this way.
These were taken when they’ve been going to town on the solid food after their formula feeding. I had tried avocado when they were younger and they didn’t seem to go for it. But as you’ll see in the last shot, that’s not the case anymore. One of the things I find really funny about these guys is when one of them is eating something, like a grape or a dandelion leaf, and another one tries to eat it at the same time, even though there are plenty more of the same thing in the cage.
I don’t have a shot of this, but one of the girls was able to crack open a walnut yesterday. Previously, they could only get into them if they were partially cracked already, but she definitely got this one started all on her own.
On another note… I’ve mentioned a few times about the wonders of Pedialyte for taking care of the squirrels’ various health problems. Today, I ran across this article about some athletes swearing by it as well:
> Three Yards and a Drink That Tastes Like Dust
Again, a routine day today. In fact, unless something unusual happens in the next few days, or I get some particularly great pics or video footage of the gang, I may not post about them again until Monday. They’ll be fully weaned by then, so I’ll be taking them all back to the center to be housed in a large outdoor enclosure for a few weeks. There, they’ll be able to run and climb a lot more and also get used to being outside, while still being in a safe environment. After that, they’ll be ready for release.
Sigh. They grow up so fast. 🙂
Nothing special to report today, so I’ll just post a few new pics. I was able to take these through the open door of the cage, so you can actually SEE the squirrels here… 🙂
I love this first one, with the little guy just peeking his face out from the hammock.
I was finally able to get my little guy out of the cage today—twice! In the morning, he only drank 3cc of formula, but my bigger goal was to weigh him, since I hadn’t been able to for a couple of days. Well, easier said than done… When I put him in the shoebox on the scale, he wouldn’t pause for the second it takes for the scale to register the correct weight. Instead, it kept rotating through a list of numbers, ranging from about 180g to 290g! Not too helpful. But I was able to weigh him this evening, and he seems to still be gaining weight, so that’s good.
Today was a fun day. I turned the squirrels’ cage into a bit of a jungle gym, by putting some dead branches from my oleander trees through the wires and using some binder clips on each end to prevent them from slipping back inside the cage. Watch a couple of the guys checking them out:
One of the gang seems to have weaned himself, which would be fine except that he’s the smallest of the bunch. For both feedings, he retreated to the back wall of the cage where I couldn’t reach him. This was the same guy who was climbing the wire front of the cat carrier before his eyes were open, and who then opened his eyes when he was still quite small, so it’s possible he was the runt of his litter and is underweight relative to his age and level of development. I’ve been putting the leftover formula from a feeding session into a shallow container and placing it in the cage so he can drink from that if it’s just a matter of him not wanting to be hand-fed. I did see one of the squirrels drinking from the bowl, but it wasn’t him, so I don’t know if he’s taking advantage of the option or not. Oh, well, I’m sure if he was hungry enough, he’d come forward. It certainloy doesn’t seem like he’s suffering from any loss of energy…
A couple of new developments today:
- The squirrels have started to build a nest in their hammock. I was re-reading the manual and I saw a note that dried corn husks make good nesting material. At first I was disappointed, because my friends and I ate a lot of corn last week, but I didn’t think to save the husks. But then I had a brainstorm. I had grown some corn in my garden earlier this year and a few of the cobs overripened while I was out of town. So I had just left them on the stalks, which meant that I had a bunch of already dried husks I could harvest. And the manual was right—those are primarily what they’re using for the nest.
- I introduced some walnuts in the shells to the mix. I partially cracked a few of them to get the squirrels started, and boy did they! They were going nuts for them! (Pun intended. 🙂 No one’s managed to crack one of the whole ones yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long.
Not much else to report. Everyone’s eating well and jumping around the cage like crazy. It’s nice to not have to worry so much about their health as I did when they were smaller. Basically, I’m now just working towards weaning them over the next week or two, so they can be transferred to an outdoor enclosure for a few weeks before they’re released. Boy, the time sure has flown…
And, we’re back.
I actually picked the gang back up on Tuesday, but haven’t had a chance to post again since then. They’re all doing really well and are MUCH bigger than when I sent them off to the babysitters—they’re all over 200g now and my biggest crossed the 300g threshold this morning!
The first day back was a bit difficult, because they weren’t as trusting of me as before when I tried to pick them up. And we have a new, bigger cage, to give them more room to climb, but it doesn’t have the best door setup for getting them in and out. And I can’t just put them in a shoebox after they feed anymore, because they can open it. It took me a while to figure out another option. I didn’t want to just put them in my cat carrier, because they will go right to the back of it, making them hard to reach (and making it easier for one to escape while I work on taking out another). So I put a couple of boxes in the back of the carrier and pressed towels in the gaps, so it’s not so deep. After a couple of shaky feeding sessions, it seems to be working out well now.