Squirrel Watch: Transfer Day

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.

I then put the carrier in the cage and left it open, then left the enclosure to watch them. After about five minutes, the biggest guy decided to check out the situation.

It didn’t take him too long to start exploring his new surroundings.

It took about another ten minutes before a second one ventured out, but she wasn’t quite ready to completely leave the carrier yet.

The last three weren’t quite so forthcoming. After waiting another 20 minutes or so, I pulled the t-shirts out of the carrier and placed them in front of the door, hoping that would encourage them. Nope. Then I tried tipping the cage to let gravity provide a little assistance. That worked for one of them, but the other two really dug their claws into the side of the carrier. So I stepped outside again to give them a little more time and space.

Well, after another 20 minutes or so, I decided I was going to have to play “bad cop.” I picked up the carrier and just dumped ’em! They scurried out pretty quickly and immediately made their way to the back wall, where they plastered themselves and remained virtually immobile until I finally had to leave, about half an hour later.

By that point, the other three had all been inside the hammock and the nest box, so I figure the other two would eventually make their way to those safe places as well. They had moved a little while I waited, so it wasn’t like they were totally paralyzed with fear (although I definitely felt pangs of guilt watching them cling to the wall like their lives depended on it…)

All in all, I was there for about three hours. It was hard leaving them, but I knew it was the right thing to do. When I got home, that spare room sure seemed empty though!

P.S. The exposures in these pics are all over the place because the enclosure had areas of bright sunshine right beside total shadow, so I had to keep changing the setting to compensate for the difference. And since these guys weren’t exactly standing still for me (except for the last two :), I didn’t have a lot of time to experiment…

4 thoughts on “Squirrel Watch: Transfer Day

  1. Toni

    You know, moms of every species end up having to play “bad cop” at one time or another. Sometimes daily (wry smile). I think you did a fantastic job.
    Do you feel it was a worthwhile experience overall? Would you do it again?
    My fave image, by the way, is the one of the little guy or gal under the orange shirt. It’s adorable! And overall I think the quality of the pics is pretty good given the conditions.

  2. Elizabeth

    Thanks Toni!
    Absolutely, it was a worthwhile experience. And not only would I do it again, I will be doing it again. I’ll probably get another bunch next week, since the center is still overflowing with squirrels of various ages.

  3. Toni

    Awwww, that’s so great! Warms my heart, it does. I think this is something we’ll look into when the kids are about another year older. I’ve always wanted to do wildlife rehabilitation, and this has reminded me of that, so thank you!

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