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.
I left my squirrels with their “babysitter” this morning and I miss them already! But Connie is one of the most experienced members of the squirrel team, so at least I know they’re in terrific hands.
Since I don’t have much to report today (fortunately, they were all in peak health when I handed them over), and I won’t be posting again for another week, I thought I’d just share some more videos and pictures.
Spider Squirrel, Spider Squirrel
Does whatever a Spider Squirrel Does…
Everyone was in great shape today. Just in time for me to hand them over to someone else…
I have some friends coming into town on Wednesday, so tomorrow I’m taking the gang over to another volunteer’s house to look after them for the next week, then I’ll get them back. It’s going to be weird not planning my entire day around their feeding schedule!
I forgot to mention yesterday that my big guy has passed the 200-gram mark! Pretty soon we’ll have to start feeding him through the cage, ’cause they start to become unhandleable at about that size/age.
I’ll have some more videos to post tomorrow. I’ve been trying to take some more still photos as well, but it’s almost impossible now. They’re constantly on the move and my auto-focus lens can’t keep up with them!
My little girl is back to 100%, if not more. She’s completely full of beans, and I’m lovin’ it!
Instead, today’s worry was that two of the other squirrels weren’t taking in much formula for a few feedings in a row. They’re supposed to drink 10-15cc per feeding, based on their weight, but one was only drinking about 5cc and the other about 3cc. This isn’t unusual for a single feeding, but this happened at last night’s final feeding, this morning’s first one (when they hadn’t eaten all night), and the next one as well.
They were clearly healthy—very squirmy and pooping well. So my concern was that they might be eating too much solid food, and starting to wean themselves way too early. But fortunately they were guzzling the stuff down like crazy at 5:00, so all seems well again.
Whew… when I signed up for this gig, I had no idea there would be so many little things that could cause me so much stress. I have NO idea how parents do this for 18 years!
I spent most of today worried about one of my girls. She’s the smallest one of the group, although only by a few grams. She’s also the one who’s had occasional digestive problems, with some minor diarrhea and constipation. But recently she had been totally fine. In fact, even when she had those issues, she was always one of the more active ones when I would feed her. She would excitedly clutch at the syringe and when I reached for another one, she would run all around my lap until the next nipple showed up. And I’ve been saying all along that, as long as they’re running around full of energy, I figure they must be fairly healthy.
But at last night’s final feeding, when I picked her up from the cage, she was almost limp. She showed no enthusiasm for eating at all and didn’t struggle when I held her up to look at her belly—not like her at all. So I figured she must have overeaten during the day and by morning she’d be fine.
Now that they’ve all got their eyes open, they’re becoming a lot more active, as well as a lot more interactive, as you’ll see in this video. (By the way, you can right-click on the video screen and choose Zoom > Full Screen to get a better view.)
Also, based on their weight and the fact that each of them has been not hungry for at least one daily feeding, I’ll be changing their schedule tomorrow from every 4 hours/5 times a day to every 5 hours/4 times a day. They’re definitely growing!