Winter Time is Especially Hard on Squirrels

plans for a 12×12 shed pad base

Plans for a 12×12 shed pad base

Wow Bill: I thought I knew a lot about squirrels but I didn’t know this. Thanks for the info.

it’s ok you not the only one

Hello Bill I was wondering if squirrels shed their winter tails I saw a squirrel on my way to work and he was very thin and didn’t have a lot of hair on its tail. I feel awful for it . thank you

They do thin out their hair after Winter, but that one sounds like it had more going on than just shedding!

Bill, we hsve a baby 14 weeks with a broken back. He is paralyzed from the back down. He has been dragging himself and looks like becoming raw what can I put on it. Ty!

I know of another lady who had a paralyzed squirrel and she made her squirrel drag aprons that places a barrier betwen the squirrel and the floor. You could treat the abrasions with soap and water and Neosporin ointment.

Do you have an email contact. I have a few questions about my squirrel that do not pertain to this blog. One of them is. have you ever kept one of your squirrels rather than release? I know release is the very best result.
Thanks
Elizabeth

Hi Elizabeth! My e-mail is SquirrelNutrition@Yahoo.com

Could I build a squirrel box on my deck or tree only ? I just wanna make sure my local squirrels are safe. We are having cold nights

Thanks for writing!

Regarding putting a squirrel box on your porch, you will more than likely have tenants that you don’t want! Squirrels like boxes that are as high in a tree as you can get them! At least 15 to 20 feet!

I had a squirrel box on a 12 ft. pole that was strapped to my cherry tree. I had to evict a young opossum from it twice. The third time I taped the hole shut with duct tape, while he was sleeping during the day,and took the box down and drove it 4 miles away to our local reservoir and released it in the woods.

Squirrels feel safer high up in trees. Unfortunately for us, we don’t! One easy way to do it is to mount your squirrel box on an 18 ft treated 2X4 and put the other end against the tree and walk it hand-over-hand up into the tree. Then, strap it to the tree with a couple of ratchet straps!

Elizabeth I have had a squirrel living with me for almost 4 years, I tried releasing her but she just kept coming back. And since I have a mean neighbor who shoots squirrels if they enter her yard I have been keeping Galileo in last spring and this one. I used to let her go out. She seems okay with it I let her have free run of the house when I am home and she makes all sorts of messes and trouble but I love her so much that it’s okay. The only thing is you have to make sure you feed the squirrel right. Make sure he/she gets plenty of calcium rich foods. And squirrel blocks from Bill helps or another place that deals with squirrels. Galileo gets lots of avocado and fresh baby spinach and some of her other food I sprinkle ground calcium and mix it in. If I don’t get the squirrel blocks.

How high in the tree should I place the nesting box? Thanks.

Hi Tracie! A nesting box should be 20 to 30 feet above the ground in a non-food tree, ( don’t put them in nut trees.) Ideally, hole should face South to take advantage of winter sun when the sun is tilted toward the South. Squirrels usually only occupy them for giving birth as they are too hot to live in during Summer. Besure to clean it out after every occupant. Bill

Hi I have a baby squirrel in my care and since I have never raised one could use a little help any help is appreciated

If you receive this response, contact me at SquirrelNutrition@Yahoo.com and I will be able to send you information you need.

Hi Bill: I want to order a nut square kit problem is I don’t have a dehydrator and worry that other animals may get to the nut squares if I leave them outside. How long does it take for them to dry in the house in a sunny window?

Nut squares can be dried in the open air, a sunny window, under a heat lamp or light bulb, or in a warm, (not hot,) oven. Check any local Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift stores. I’ve seen dehydrators in these places for just a few bucks. Drying times vary depending on what method is used. I dehydrate mine for 24 hours. It may take several days just leaving them set out. They don’t have to be dried to start feeding. Squirrels love the dough. Keep them refrigerated or frozen after drying. Each kit comes with complete instructions. Disregard the note about not feeding anything an hour before or an hour after the Nut Square if you are feeding them to outside squirrels, as that note only applies to captive squirrels. Bill

Hi Bill I am going to feed them to both Galileo my inside friend and some to the outside friends as well. But Galileo is my main priority as I have raised her from a baby and she lives with me. She’s going to be 4 years old this year. I tried setting her free when her first spring came and she enjoyed coming and going but I found out the neighbor who lives in the house behind me shoots squirrels that she catches coming into her yard. So I keep Galileo indoors now. She seems happy as long as I let her have free run of the house when I am home. She’s pretty funny. When I come in if I don’t get her out right away she starts thumping and making noise as if to say hey don’t forget about me, let me out.

How often does a mama squirrel feed her babies?
What causes and what can you do for diarrhea in the babies?

A female squirrel really doesn’t feed her babies as often as we do when we have them in captivity. It’s only a couple times a day, and the babies only get between 1/2 to 1 cc of breast milk. But, what a mother squirrel lacks in quantity, she makes up for in quality. Squirrel Breast Milk is between 12 and 24% milk fat. That is second only to seal and whale milk in richness. With our formula recipe, we are able to get the fat content up to 6 to 7 %, but since we feed every 3 to 4 hours between the hours of 8AM to 11 PM, we are able to get our babies plenty of fat from which they are able to senthesize everything they need for growth and development.

Diarrhea can be caused by a number of conditions. Feeding the wrong formula is high on the list. The other is to fail to bring milk and cream that you use to a boil to kill the cow enzymes in it before feeding.

Another condition can be low bacteria count in the gut, ( the good kind of digestive bacteria.) This can be corrected by feeding a 50/50 mixture of plain Insure Plus and live culture plain yogurt for a few days.

For persistent diarrhea, a few drops of Kayo Pectate can help.

Hope this information helped!

we came back from wintering in FL to our MN home (rural area north of the Twin Cities ) early in may and still have not seen even one squirrel in our yard. Usually we have a gazillion squirrels as we have many tall trees and border a large pond and wetlands area. This year i put out corn cobs to keep them from my bird feeders, but theyve not even been touched in a week so far. did this years harsh winter kill them all?

Minnesota winter weather would take it’s share of squirrels by natural selection. ( The old, the injured, the genetically handicapped, etc.) But a really bad winter could wipe out many more because of numerous factors.

If the ground gets so frozen that a squirrel is unable to dig up the food it squirreled away the previous summer, it wouldn’t matter how healthy or how much winter fat it had, if nobody was around to feed them, they would starve to death.

Also, for those that would survive and venture out in search of food, the harshness of extreme weather would be felt all the way up the food chain. Birds of prey, foxes, coyotes, etc., who are subjected to the same extremes, are equally desperate for food, and would take every opportunity to make a meal of a weakened squirrel.

Nature is a harsh master, but nature is also makes it possible for species to stay strong genetically. When there is a “wipe-out,” like you are experiencing, it opens an area for other squirrels to migrate to. This migration moves the gene pool around so there is less likelihood of interbreeding.

Whenever we get an abundance of squirrels in our neighborhood, I occassionally live trap some of them and move them several miles away to less populated areas. I’m careful to make sure that the area has sufficient natural food sources to support more squirrels, because we have areas of our city that have no natural food trees, and no residents that are willing to feed them. These are usually the areas where I have to rescue starving babies because their mother’s don’t have enough nourishment to produce milk, and they start kicking them out of the nest.

My suggestion to you would be to ask around to see who still does have squirrels in their area, and see if there is someone who could live-trap and move some males and females to your area. Check the phone book for licensed trappers who deal in moving nuisance animals. These individuals often trap and remove squirrels from attics, etc., and relocate them. They would probably be more than happy to repopulate your trees.

Hope this helped!

I feed the squirrels in my back yard, Daily. I enjoy watching them scurry around, chasing each other, and always burying the shelled nuts that I put out. At night I chop an apple into slices and put it outside. Do Squirrels eat apples? I also have one Rabbit it back. is he eating the apple? It is always gone in the morning. I feed my Sqirrels a mix made for them, by my local Elevator company. I add nuts in the shell, also, I have a heated water bowl out there. I will get some fresh avacado & baby spinach for them today. I am thrilled to have found you, Thanks for the scoopage on how to take the best care of my Squirrels. ❤️🤗

I took in an orphaned squirrel and I set him free about 5 weeks ago. He is doing great. I see him everyday. My concern is this winter. Is there anything that I can leave out for him to take to his nest to help keep him warm this winter. I did cut up an old shirt I used for nesting when he was a baby and he took a square up to his nest. I planned on leaving him out food this winter to make sure he is ok. I will feel much better once he makes it through his first winter.

Don’t give him any cotton or other natural fiber cloth, because they will attract and hold moisture and he will be trying to sleep in a damp environment that will encourage mold when the weather warms. If you want to offer cloth, give him synthetics like old panty hose. They don’t attract and hold moisture.

Squirrels use dry leaves to make their nests. dry leaves do not attract moisture as long as they are protected from the elements. You could build or buy him a squirrel box and hang it up in the same tree. That would give him a dry and protected environment to build his nest that would be warmer and less vulnerable than a leaf nest that can be blown apart by high winds.

As far as food, give him high energy items like avocado during the winter. The omega fats in the avocado are great for his skin and coat and gives him good fat calories for keeping warm.

A well fed squirrel will suddenly get a little chubby during the month of October when they put on a layer of insulating fat in preparation for winter. They also grow a thick underfur that will remain until late March and through April when they start to shed their underfur and layer of fat. They then get a new coat of fur in June, and if you fed them avocado all winter, their new hair comes in as soft as mink and more beautiful than you’ve ever seen. ( I know because I’ve fed my blind squirrel avocado every day for the past two years and she has had the most beautiful coat of hair over the past two years than she ever has had in the 6 years she has been alive!)

Your boy will do good if you keep him well fed. Bill

PS. If you want our free plans for building a squirrel box from a single board, just send me an e-mail requesting “Squirrel Box Plans” to SquirrelNutrition@Yahoo.com .

I have left out avacodo slices and he hasn’t eaten any yet. Is there anything else I could try? Should i just do as I am and leave him out nuts. I leave walnuts, peacans, almonds, and cashews. Is that going to be enough? He has moved into his nesting box which my husband added a shingle over the slanted roof. Thank you for your help.

please send me the squirrel box plans.
Thank you

I hope this gets to you! Please send your request for Squirrel House Plans to SquirrelNutrition@Yahoo.com, so that I have an e-mail address to send them to. I can;t send them over my Blog.

Squirrel box plans please

Please write and request the plans at SquirrelNutrition @Yahoo.com.

I cannot attach the plans to a Blog request.

Thanks for writing!

The tabs for the recipes don’t come up on my screen. Also, one of the wild squirrels that comes to our bird feeders lost most of his/her tail late last winter. I want to ensure it has good nutrition.
Will squirrels choose avocado?
Once the biscuits are mixed, are they baked or dried?
I put apple pieces in a squirrel feeder. Something eats them, but I havn’t seen what it is. Does apple block calcium absorption, like grapes do?

Sorry about the problem with the website. Send a request to: SquirrelNutrition@Yahoo.com, and I’ll send the recipes to you.

Squirrels love avocado and it is a great wintertime food choice because of the fats contained in it. Gives them lots of energy and warmth producing calories, plus it is great for their skin and coat.

Don’t worry about blocking calcium on wild squirrels. They have their sources of calcium that’s unavailable to captive squirrels.

I dehydrate my biscuits for 48 hours due to high moisture content from the vegetables. If an oven is all you have, bake them at the lowest setting until dehydrated and crisp, then, keep thm in the freezer until served.

Hope this helped!

In the outdoor, sheltered 6′ x 6′ cage where I have just put my 4 orphaned squirrels. I am now wondering how old they should be before I open the door of the cage.I am guessing they are close to 3 months old. I rescued them about 2 months ago. the door of the cage will remain open for them for as long as they want to come back and eat and sleep. Thane you. june

Sorry I’m so late answering this! I’ve been swamped with orders and advice e-mails for the past two months.

Release of squirrels is a very individual thing with several factors that need to be considered.

One is the weather where you live. If your winters are really cold and snowy, you might want to release in the spring. Just make sure that they have a good squirrel box to live in with plenty of dry leaves to make their own nest. Many people make the mistake of putting the same material,( like cloth,) in their outside cages to keep them warm. If that cloth is not synthetic, it will draw moisture when the weather changes back and forth, above and below freezing. When the temperature hits the dew point, non synthetic cloth will draw moisture and become damp. Then , the squirrel(s) are trying to sleep in a damp bed with the potential for mildew and mold to form. Dry leaves are excellent insulators and do not attract moisture.

Squirrels need to be moved out in time to grow the winter fur and fat layer also, just like you mentioned.

Another consideration is whether you will be around all winter to feed them. They will be totally dependent on you for food until they are able to forage for themselves.

I had a pair of males that wintered over in my big release cage a few years ago during a really cold winter. They did just fine and we released them in early June the next Spring. So, it’s really your call!

Hi Bill,
First of all, thank you for this wonderful site and all your advice.

I have two squirrels that are now 12 weeks old. They fell out of their nest at around 4 weeks (eyes were still closed). I am in NYC, but lucky enough to have a small garden which is where i moved the squirrels to about 2 weeks ago. They had been in my house up until then just living the good life. The idea was to rescue to release and someone informed me that if I wanted to release them I should put them outside so they can start growing that extra layer of fat and fur you have talked about.

Now I am wondering if it is too late to release them at this point. I understand that if i do, I have to move their wood box to a tree at least 20′ up hight and provide food for the rest of the winter. What is your thought i this?

Second question. If too late to release. Is it also too late in the season, at their age to have them outside in a cage for the rest of the winter? Do they have enough time to grow their extra layer of fat and fur by the time we hit Dec/ Jan in the East Coast?

Thanks so much. Sky and Gingko will appreciate your help.
madeley

Moving squirrels outside at this time of year depends on where you live. If you have mild winters, you could probably do it. But harsh winters can be a factor. The sooner you make the move, the better because the changing season causes hair growth and a bit of a feeding frenzy to put on a fat layer for insulation.

If you have a patio or enclosed porch, you could always try moving their cage out there as a trial. I usually keep my squirrels caged over the winter and release in June when the leaves start coming out on the trees. I have wintered squirrels over in my outdoor release cage, and they did just fine,(even through a harsh winter.)

The main thing is having you around to provide food, because, obviously, they have not had a chance to forage and bury food for winter.

I would not put an inexperienced squirrel in a squirrel box up in a tree that has lost it’s leaves. Leaves provide cover and help keep them out of the view by hawks that can see movement from hundreds of feet in the air. A squirrel that has not learned the sight and sounds of predators is very vulnerable when released at this time of year.

I hope this helped!

Hi my name is Kathy and I have a pet squirrel who visits me everydaty,what can I put in my tree that will keep him warm during the winter months

Hi Kathy!
If this is a wild squirrel, the best thing you can do for him is keep him well fed. If he is living around your house, he has a den or dray where he sleeps. When it gets really cold, squirrels revert back to their childhood behavior of sleeping together to keep warm.

See my video on how squirrels stay warm in winter:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XLK9SYb_RU

Thanks for writing!

I’m dehydrating the squares now, but it didn’t say what temperature to use. Now they are on 95, low enough to not kill off nutrients. Is that will 24 hours? I’m feeding a lone black squirrel that hangs around in the trees and on the roof of the condo across from my patio. I don’t know where it goes at night. Think it’s a she, because of the size. Yesterday she ate the avocado I left, one of the raw almonds and I saw her burying another.

Anything below 140 degrees F is fine. 24 hours for soft and chewy, longer for hard and crunchy. My squirrels like them soft and chewy. I keep them in the freezer, then take out what I need and warm them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. When it is cold, they seem to really appreciate getting something warm to eat. Bill

I am wondering how much Squirrel Biscut Mix I need to buy in order to feed my wild squirrels? There are about 5 of them they feed in our yard. And a female just to up residence in the squirrel box in our tree. I’m so excited! Also, I did try this summer to be friend our squirrels- I did everything I read on here and yet the squirrels were skittish and never came close to me but would eat the nuts I left for them when I was 20 ft away. We live in town in Cresson, PA. I do have 2 little chichuaus that roam the yard too- one of them will the squirrels up the tree when they are on the grass belie our bird feeders. Thank u very much for your site, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning! I am an animal

Hi Mary Jo!
I think you answered your own question about why your wild squirrels won’t warm up to you. Your yard is marked as DANGER to squirrels, and it is spelled “Chihuahuas.” It’s not that they would not warm up to you, they are just constantly on the alert because of the past experience of being chased.

As to Squirrel Biscuit Mix, we no longer sell that mix because it was using up all of our pecan meal. It was over 90% pecan meal, and we were constantly running out of meal for our Nut Squares. We still provide the recipe, and at some point in time hope to be able to offer pecan meal for sale, but it is very expensive, ( $100.00 per box,) and we just cannot do it financially right now.

We now make a mix to replace Squirrel Biscuits. It uses the same base mix as Nut Squares, so we don’t have to switch back and forth making two separate items. We call the new product,”Squirrel Veggie Squares.” Rather than being a food addition to a squirrel’s diet, Veggie Squares are a supplement like Nut Squares with the addition of 36 fruits & vegetables in dehydrated powder form that is added to the mix. It’s been calculated out so that each Veggie Square has the squirrel sized equivalent of a 1 day serving of fruits and vegetables. Like the Nut Squares, the kit makes 100 squares and only requires 1 per squirrel per day. It’s recommended that you only give them to squirrels who will approach you close enough for you to toss or hand feed them. If you put them out on a feeder, the first squirrel to arrive will either eat them all, or bury what they don’t eat, so it’s more economical for you to hand feed these.

You’d be surprised how quickly other squirrels that won’t approach you will catch on when they sense they are missing out on a treat!

So, if you have 5 squirrels, a single kit will last you 20 days if everyone gets one everyday. The nice thing is that the squirrels that get them, are getting all the vitamins and calcium they need!

What we did do, was

I think my squirrel has a cold, he has a nest on the porch . It was damp and the fan was on. He’s still drinking water but not running around like normal.

If you put out 3 ounces of water with 1 ounce of colloidal silver in it, it should help!

My pet squirrel is acting different when I feed him he takes all of his nuts out of his food bowl and hides them in his house and he growls when we walk past his cage as if he thinks he needs to guard his food. Is this because of the changing season? I have considered having him neutered what are your thoughts on this?

Squirrels are insanely jealous and protective of their food. It is the number one reason squirrels bicker with each other. It’s a survival instinct that is observed from the time they are babies.

If you raised your squirrel singly, you missed out on the feeding time “free for all” that is always present when squirrels are raised in groups. You would think they were killing each other at feeding time. Growling, screeching , bullying, it is all present when they eat. The more dominant ones will steal food from the subordinate ones, etc.

Neutering will not stop this characteristic, it is burned into their DNA. Our blind female is the sweetest thing in the world, and was neutered last year, but she still growls and lunges at you if you mess with her while she is eating.

It is more evident at this time of year, because this is the time when squirrels start gorging on green acorns to put on winter fat. The Tannin in the acorns is like amphetamines for squirrels, and makes them even more short tempered. I have two huge oak trees in my backyard and you can go out in the morning or evening and hear the bickering going on as they cut acorns.

Your squirrel is being normal, but you may want to neuter him before he reaches sexual maturity, ( 1 yr to 14 mos.,) for another reason. Males can get mean, and can only be handled by one person,( usually female.) They smell testosterone on men, and usually are very aggressive toward them, and they do not like children if they think they are getting more attention. ( they become very possessive of their handler!)

Hope this helped!

I live on a lake in southern Illinois. There are numerous large oak trees and hickory trees in the area along with a sizable population of gray tree squirrels. I have lived here for over 30 years and this is the first year none of these trees produced nuts.. Not one! My question is, how will this population of squirrels survive a normal cold winter without this critical food source?

I look forward to any responses to this question. Thanks in advance.

Trees cycle through year of plenty and years of scarcity. A good healthy squirrel will squirrel away 3 years worth of food every Spring, Summer and Fall, but I’m sure the squirrels in your area would appreciate a helping hand through this Winter.

Food shortages are just one of Nature’s way of limiting population growth, that and predation by animals up the food chain.

It’s kind of weird that all the trees are doing it at once!

I am so grateful to find your site and urgently in need of your advice.

I have two squirrels. The female I found in my side yard late September; hand fed her;eyes opened 10/2. I found a rehabber near by who assisted me with a cage and one of his weaned youngsters for a companion to her; and for him to release together when ready. Unfortunately, the male seemed to be struggling a bit with eating solids, seemed weak/thin, and not maturing as quickly as the female. I then discovered that his (Beebz) lower teeth were over grown and preventing his uppers to cut through. Once trimmed, he began to recover, but was a bit behind in growth compared to my Zoey.

So now they are both extremely healthy; Beebz remains small but mature; but they have been kept on longer than expected, and I now fear a Fall release. As much as I would love to release them here, protect them and remain a part of their lives, there are too many predators here. They as well are not prepared for the cold coming on (fat content); I live in upstate NY.

The one rehabber near me would over-winter them, however I fear he does not pay enough attention to the calcium definciency I have read so much about, and I,too, hate the thought of them being kept in a cage any longer.

Another rehabber offers a release cage with a tarp protecting the nesting box; allowing them to come and go in a wooded area, feeding them every day, no heat source. As much as I like the concept of their freedom, I don’t think they’re prepared for this with as fast and hard as our winters come on here.

What would be the best case scenario for my little ones? They are so loved, and it is hard for me to realize a demise that I don’t have the means to protect them from.

Best case? Keep them until the leaves come out on the trees in the Spring so they have cover when they explore the trees for the first time. Then, they have the whole Summer and fall to establish their own den or dray and gather food.

Factoid: Most baby squirrels don’t make it to their first birthday!

The more mature they are at release, the better their chance of survival.

Hello again, and thank you for responding, Bill.

Trouble, troubles, troubles. I have so many questions.

I am experiencing great difficulty finding the perfect scenario for them.

The rehabber I mentioned previously would winter them over; however he would put them in a cage with his other squirrels. In my opinion, there is not enough room. The cage is small, and his squirrels don’t look very happy. They remain in their nesting box; no branches; no. I realize that rehabbers take on an immense amount of volunteering and commitment, and I respect it. It takes a lot of heart and dedication to do what they do. Feeding Zoey at what ever hour I was hand feeding her. Making sure of this or that. Beebz. getting him on the right track. I did this with two. I can’t imagine it multiplied by how ever many more. You really have to love animals! Most people think you’re crazy to take the time or involve your self with it, but they don’t witness those helpless thankful eyes looking at you and in to your very soul. Every one of those moments have been priceless to me, and I am so proud of them and their progress.

He gave me another rehabbers name with larger cages. She would winter them over. However when I spoke to her today, she had something contaminate her cage. Other animals she placed in this cage died within days. She still hasn’t come to a conclusion as to what the cause. The cage is in her garage. She is in the process of tearing it down and rebuilding, and said she would be ready for me in about a week. It makes me nervous that she hasn’t come to a conclusion of what caused this, and don’t want my two to be a practice run of whether or not the problem was solved.

Another rehabber I found offers the same as the other rehabber I mentioned in my previous email; out door release cage; no heat source.

I do not have the right environment for them here. They have out grown the cage I have them in. Zoey is pacing and dominating the branch. Although Beebz tries not to be submissive to her, he is, and is not getting the excercise he needs. I don’t have a situation for a larger cage to over winter them.

I live in Rochester, NY. I would drive how ever many hours it takes to graduate them to their next steps with the right person.

Do you have anyone you can advise me to in my surrounding area?

Thank you so much.

Adair, you might ask for advice at the interactive website of The Squirrel Board, thesquirrelboard.com ; that Board networks together squirrel rehabilitators nationwide. The Board is very active. Quite possibly they can help you locate an expert in your city or close by. I was in just your situation a year ago and received very prompt, expert, and continuing help from that group. I live in a cold-winter area, was an utter newbie raising two baby squirrels born in the Fall, was hopelessly devoted to them, and was desperate to know whether, when, where, and how to release them (answers: Not yet; build them a “release cage” with nest box to live in indoors for the winter. In the Spring after the trees have leafed out –end of May, here. At your place, if at all suitable. No hurry, with acclimatization time in their release cage outdoors, five weeks in my case, April and May, here.) and what to do in the meantime (Ans.: Love them, pay attention to their nutrition –Henry’s Healthy Pets –see their website– has recipes & supplies and nutritional guidelines.). Everything Bill has said here echoes what I learned there.

Adair, allow me to simplify the advice I wrote to you, above. First, proceed one step at a time. I remember how overwhelmed I felt, and how urgent it seemed to get my babies placed outdoors at this time last year.

From the advice I found, however, it was for many reasons too dangerous to release my babies, and now your babies, outdoors at this time of year.

The good news is: Build them a “release cage” to overwinter them indoors in your house. You’ll have the whole winter to consult rehabbers on the Internet and learn and study and evaluate whatever advice you find, and feel better-informed by the time you do release them . and in the meantime treasure your squirrels as they grow and prosper and remain safe with you through the winter.

No hurry to release them now! And when Spring comes, the release cage can move outdoors with the babies inside, ready for the next step, which also does not have to be hurried.

A release cage is not hard to build, if you can find a friend who knows a tad bit about carpentry and has a few tools. Not expensive. 1-by-2 lumber, wire mesh, nail gun, staple gun, wood glue, hinges, simple door handles. Search Internet for examples and designs. Make it large yet able to get out through the door of your house in the Spring. Make a plywood nest box to mount in an upper corner of the cage. Designs readily found on the Internet.

One step at a time. No hurry. No panic. Consult others, study the advice you find from experts on the Internet, such as Bill, here, and thesquirrelboard .

Hi Will: How have you and Lucky been doing. Last time I read anything Lucky was having her ovaries removed. And came through the surgery fine. I hope she is still doing well I myself have been very busy lately, I do care giving and as of late Uber driving and have a boyfriend now. All this keeps me pretty busy.

The reason I am writing to you today is that Galileo my little squirrel friend who lives with me has been losing hair on her under side. I read you article on skin diseases. It does not appear to be crusty but the skin to me looks pretty pink or red I have coconut oil that I bought at trader joes extra virgin cold pressed. I rubbed it on her hair loss area and also let her eat some the past couple days. Last night on my way home from work I bought two coconuts that I am getting ready to open and give her some of the meat for breakfast. She eats squirrel blocks that I buy from Leigh up in New york but think they are sold in Florida and avocados and I also give her walnuts and pecans Her fur is full and healthy looking everywhere else. She is happy and energetic as usual, she also has not been getting cranky lately, She used to get cranky with me every so often and not want to be handled. When she gets like that I just give her her space till she comes by me on her own and then she’s fine. I suspect that is a hormonal thing with her. ( the crankiness) right now though she is being gentle and loving towards me and likes to be picked up and petted and kissed, yes I kiss her I love her very much. Like you I have had her since she was a baby with closed eyes someone killed her Mom and I raised her. When she was ready to be released in the spring she kept finding her way back into the house till I finally gave up and she is just an indoor squirrel now. She has not been out in 2 years. She is six years old. Anyway if you could advise me on this hair loss I would appreciate it.

I forgot to tell you, Lucky has been doing fine. She has stayed healthy, and the hysterectomy has solved the recurring hormone/ infection problem. It has also evened out her mood and she is sweet and docile 365 days a year. She does put on weight easily and is constantly on a 150 calorie per day diet. She had quite a belly after her surgery and it dragged on the bottom of her cage and wore the hair off. But, sticking with her diet, she has trimmed down to where he belly no longer drags, and the hair has grown back. She has grown her winter coat over the past two months and she is a little puff ball of thick soft hair. Feeding her a little avocado daily over the past two years has paid off big time in keeping her hair soft and consistent. That, and the grow light have made a huge difference. In the summer time, and on decent days in Spring and Fall, we take her out into the sunlight as much as possible.

Sounds like you are feeding her well, so I don’t think it sounds like a dietary thing. Possibly lack of direct sunlight that causes Vitamin D deficiency. Sunlight through glass doesn’t count, because it filters out the spectrum of light needed to synthesize vitamin D.

A full spectrum grow light shining on her cage 4 to 6 hours a day should help!

Female squirrels do get moody a couple times a year due to hormones. Your squirrel should go into heat again in a month or two. The best way to tell is that she will start making nests everywhere in her habitat.

Indoor squirrels often have hair problems. If it continues and she becomes real itchy or irritated, contact me at SquirrelNutrition@Yahoo.com. I’ve got some other new remedies that have shown real promise!

im sorry to ask so many questions, but just a beginner. I am starting to make progress. I bought acorns on an acorn co, but how many of them do I give my outdoor squirrel per day,, thanks so much Joanne

If the acorns are not roasted, I would take them and roast them in the oven for an hour at 275 to 300 degrees for an hour, it will make them easier to crack.

If you feed an acorn in the shell, they are likely to take and bury it because it take energy to open them. If you crack them open, they only need one or two per day to get by. Just remember, if you put them out on a feeder all at once, the first squirrel to arrive will either eat or bury them all, so you have to have a way to fairly dole them out. Otherwise, somebody goes hungry, usually the most timid of the group.

how many acorns per day for 1 outdoor squirrel

Just a couple per day should be fine. They are really high in carbohydrates!

Bill: Is there any way you can make the vegie squares for me and then mail the 100. I will be glad to pay whatever. I am in my 80;s and had a hard time making them. It would be much easier for me. and I want to take care off my outdoor squirrels (2 so far) thank you

What good timing you have! I just set my daughter up in Boise,Idaho as an authorized re-seller of our finished Nutrition products. She wants to be a stay at home Mom by the time her daughter gets out of school next summer, so I set her up in this business to help accomplish that dream.

She has her own website.

For Veggie Squares, visit:
http://squirrelybynature.weebly.com/veggiesquares.html

For Nut Squares, visit:
http://squirrelybynature.weebly.com/nutsquares.html

Thanks for writing!

Bill,
Forgive me if this is duplicate, but my I lost the page while I was entering first. I live in West Central FL and on Labor day this year a 2 week old baby girl fell out of tree nest in my yard. She had only 1 small cut on her face, thankfully, and thanks to your website and others she has grown into a beautiful, smart, affectionate young lady! Large release cage outside was not an option but we made do with large dog crate and at 8 weeks she was spending her days outside with cage door open in my fenced back yard and coming in house at night until about week 11 when one evening she ate her dinner and headed up the tree. To my amazement, I watched her build a tree nest over a weekend and she has integrated with the other squirrels that frequent my yard. She comes to back patio door morning, noon, and evening for her meals and we still play everyday after work and on occasion she will take a nap in my lap like she did as a baby! My concern is she has not yet grown a winter coat like the others have. She was outside when the days got shorter and I thought this may trigger her to grow thicker coat. Last night was our first cold night in the 50’s and is already warming up, but we will get down below that in Jan and Feb and usually have a couple nights that reach freezing. Short of knitting her a sweater, I don’t know what she will do outside in that kind of cold. She is in good health and weight and gets avocado everyday along with block, nuts,seeds and a few vegetables she still will eat. She is a bit picky! What are your thoughts? Thank you for all the work you do and for helping all of us who have had these babies literally dropped into our lives. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Noelle

The 40’s and 50’s are not hard on squirrels. At those temperatures she doesn’t need a really thick coat and layer of fat like my backyard friends up here in Ohio where we can go well below zero.

If you can find some, get her some acorns to eat. They are mostly carbohydrates and our squirrels gorge on them during Sept/ Oct to put on their layer of Winter fat. But, the avocado you feed is really a better “warming” food than acorns!

It’s the amount of daylight hitting the retina of the squirrel that triggers winter hair growth. The further North you go, the less hours of daylight you have in the winter. Monday will be the shortest day of this year as we hit the Winter solstice and the days will start getting longer again. Obviously, you being in Florida, do not have as short of daylight time as Ohio, so your squirrels will not be stimulated to grow as much Winter fur. Plus, squirrels have other things going for them in the warmth dept. In addition to the blood valve in the tail, they have the ability to increase the rate at which their body burns calories to 5 times normal if needed. If I could do that, I would be comfortable going out to shovel snow in shorts and a t-shirt. So, being well fed does more to protect them from the cold than anything else!

But, I understand where you are coming from! You’re just trying to be a good mommy and make sure your baby stays warm! But, knitting a sweater? Naw, I don’t think so. You’d just make the other squirrels jealous! :>)

Thank you Bill for your quick response. A lot of good info and facts I didn’t know! I feel better now and won’t worry so much. My yard has 4 oak trees so the acorns are practically endless and she loves them. I guess I just have “1st baby” jitters 😉 Happy Holidays, Noelle

Oh, my! Such plagiarism and misinformation you do tell! I’m really surprised you’re not ashamed of yourself. Karma will catch up to you sooner or later.

I will not be checking back on this pseudo site. If you have comments, you can email me directly.

what is clarissa talking about, I have not been given any misinformation from you. everything you tell me is good

what is clarissa talking about, I have not been given any misinformation from you.everthing you tell me is good

Hi Joanne!
Sorry I’m so late in responding, this is normally a slack time for business, but not this year! :>)

Let me preface what I am about to say with this: I would recommend Clarissa’s site to anyone seeking information about raising a squirrel. She gives good information, and is one of the few who recommend feeding squirrels a high fat, milk formula.

Now to our differences. Mainly, her definition of plagiarism. Plagiarism is using someone else’ writings verbatim, without giving them credit or footnoting that you are quoting.

She comes on my Blog periodically to Snipe at me, never producing an example of what she is talking about, but implying that she was the source of all that I talk about on my website.

I’m sure that the main things she is sniping about has to do with the fact that I sell Nut Squares and she has a recipe for Nut Balls that she has been hyphenating “Nut Balls-Squares” since her revision of her site in 2009 when I went into business.

She has a copyright on her recipe, but a copyright on a recipe is only good for the recipe as written. If someone takes the recipe and changes one ingredient, they can re copyright it as their own. A recipe cannot be patented, because edibles are considered natural products, which you cannot patent.

As to the name, by her definition of plagiarism, we would both be in violation of just about every dessert cookbook ever made because Nut Squares and Nut Balls are in most of them.

What she fails to acknowledge is the fact that early in my writing, I gave her credit for the recipe, up until I changed it because I have strong objection to one ingredient.

If you read her site you would think she invented the milk/cream formula. Again, I gave her credit until my research led me to a study conducted back in the 1960’s that proves Ohio State University was feeding Milk with added milk fat to baby squirrels. You will not find any footnoting as to her source for that, so, is she plagiarizing about her formula?

I could go on, but I’m going to run out of word count. E-mail me if you want the rest of the story. Bill

someone told me if I feed my outdoor squirrels peanuts in the shell it would give them diarrhea. is this true also I have 2 or 3 squirrels they all look the same I cant tell if they are all getting the Vegie squares I bought They seem to all chase one another away. can You overfeed your squirrels, or do they leave when they are full. Don’t eat the sesame seeds, but like the sunflower seeds.
Wont eat any vegies I put out, pls let me know I don’t want to do any harm to them thank you

I don’t know where they got that information but there is only one scenario where I could see that happening.

If a single squirrel ate a whole handful of salted peanuts, and enough salt got into the gut, it theoretically could produce the same results as a hypertonic saline enema.

But, in reality, the squirrel would probably absorb the salt and the only effect would be to increase it’s blood pressure until the kidneys got rid of the excess sodium.

Bottom line is that peanuts are not the best nutrition for squirrels. They are basically fat, ( peanut oil,) and protein. If the shell of a peanut sits out in the weather and gets wet, it becomes an ideal media for growing a deadly mold called “Aflatoxin.” If a squirrel ingests Aflatoxin it will destroy their liver and they die. This usually isn’t a problem if the squirrel opens and eats the peanuts. The potential for Aflatoxin poisoning is greatly increased when a squirrel takes an intact peanut off and buries it. It sits in the soil and gets wet. When the sun warms the soil and that wet peanut, it becomes a perfect media for growing Aflatoxin mold. Along comes a squirrel and digs out the peanut and in the process of opening it, ingests Aflatoxin. Bye- bye squirrel!

If peanuts are the only thing you are feeding squirrels, here is the ideal way of feeding them. Make sure they are raw, unsalted and not roasted. Take the peanuts out of the shell before giving them to the squirrel. Feed as long as they are eating them, and when they stop eating and start burying, stop feeding them.

If you put them out on a squirrel feeder, again, only put out the peanut, not the shell and only put out enough that will be totally consumed. You can always put out more.

If you want a complete list of foods to feed and not feed squirrels, write to SquirrelNutrition@Yahoo.com and request our food lists.

Hope this helped!

I have 3 outdoor squirrels that come diaily for their food. they will not eat sesame seeds but like sunflower seeds, when the weather gets warmer do I still feed them or are they ok to fend for theselves. or can I just leave them a few nuts in the summer or maybe some fruit. thank you they are all fat

Life is definitely easier for squirrels in the Spring, Summer and Fall, so food is not so much a life and death struggle for them. Feeding in the Summer is not critical, but water is all year around. They actually need water more in Winter. because low humidity exacerbates dehydration. Squirrels do appreciate food in the Summer, if for nothing else, to keep them aware that you are a source of food when they need it. Bill

do you sell any packaged squirrel food for the warm weather time. I have been feeding them sunflower seeds and walnuts and its getting expensive. I was told not to feed them sunflower seeds and that corn was ok. pls. let me know

If you write to me at SquirrelNutrition@Yahoo.com and request our recipes and food lists I can send them to you as attachments.

I have been feeding the squirrels since late fall. I’d like to stop feeding them, as they are making a mess out of my deck. Don’t get me wrong, I love them. I just want to know if they forget how to forage, If they’ve been fed for a few months. How do I taper off, so they don’t die?

Not to worry! Squirrel eat things that you probably had no idea they ate! Like, bark, buds on trees, roots, vegetation, occasional bugs and worms, etc. Even pine needles for vitamin C. Their body knows what it needs and they eat accordingly by whatever their body craves. It may even be the eggs or baby birds out of a nest if they are needing calcium. Spring, Summer and Fall are a veritable Smorgasbord for squirrels, when they gather and eat whatever is in season. It’s Winter that is really hard on squirrels, especially if there are large numbers of them in your area. One thing people forget that squirrels need all year round, is a source of fresh, clean water. In winter, if you have freezing weather, squirrels have to eat ice and snow, which lowers their body temperature. If food is scarce, their body has to use their limited calories to produce heat to warm that water to body temperature.

On freezing cold days, I put out hot water, that quickly turns to warm water. You should see the squirrels flock to my water pan to get a drink of warm water, you’d think they were having a coffee
Clatch!

Now, during birthing season, if a nursing mother squirrel has to drink out of mud puddles, she often picks up Giardia on her fur and carries it back to the nest. As her babies root on her to latch on to a nipple, they can ingest small amounts of Giardia and get an intestinal infection and start dying of severe diarrhea and dehydration. If a baby gets sick, the mother will push it out of the nest to protect her other babies.

If you want to have squirrels come around all Summer, put out a pan of fresh water for them everyday. They will be more than happy to stop by for a cool drink everyday and you won’t have to clean up any mess other than some wet little footprints! If you want to be really nice, put a level Tablespoon of KAL Dolomite in a gallon of water. This will make it calcium/Magnesium water, and may spare a few baby birds or eggs. Bill

My backyard borders the woods. In the winter I put out food for the squirrels and for the birds year round. Now that Spring is here the squirrels are always begging. I also see them chewing on the tree trunks and branches. I am really worried that I have caused a dependency since there were a few very young squirrels born late in the season before winter. It’s very sad to see them still hoping I will put out food. Can you tell me if there is food in nature at this time of year (April) or are they really starving. Also can you tell me what if anything is available in nature that they can survive on right now? Or, what kind of food I should put out for them and how they will learn to eat without being fed by me?
Thanks, AB

Relax! You are viewing squirrels from a human standpoint. The squirrels you are viewing, are doing exactly what their body is telling them to do, you are just misinterpreting their behavior.

Spring, Summer and Fall are a veritable Smorgasbord for Squirrels. Eating bark, eating tree buds, eating mushrooms, eating newly sprouted plants, moss, dandelion leafs and flowers and flower bulbs, eating maple seeds, ( those little whirlybird seeds that fall from the maple trees in late Spring,) Even eating birds eggs and even baby birds, ( if their body is needing calcium,) are all normal behavior for squirrels in Spring.

Think about it. IF, ( and that is a BIG if,) they just survived the long Winter, their body is desperately needing numerous nutrients. You might see a squirrel eating the new growth of pine needles off of a pine tree and think, ” That poor squirrel, it’s so hungry, it’s eating pine needles!” When in reality, the squirrels’ body is telling it that it needs Vitamin C, ( Have you ever heard or seen a reality TV survivalist program where people surviving in out in Nature say to take pine needles and make tea and drink it for Vitamin C?)

People write me all the time fearing that they have made their Squirrels dependent upon them, simply because they fed them through the Winter, and now they are showing up everyday wanting food.

Squirrels are very efficient feeders and have been since God created them. Did you know that squirrels are called “Living Dinosaurs?” That’s because their remains are found in the same strata as the ancient Dinosaurs, and they are exactly same in fossilized remains, as they are today. Squirrels have been around since the times of dinosaurs and have not changed or evolved in any way.

That tells me that God made them the ultimate survivalists, and that they will continue to survive even if we are unable to help them. I’m not saying to stop feeding them, but what I am saying is that squirrels are very smart.

If I were a squirrel today, and I knew that some nice man or woman provided me with food all Winter, I would go and eat the foods my body was telling me to eat, then, I would show up twice a day at that nice lady or gentleman’s house hoping that they would fill my belly with all kinds of tasty things, just so I could start early on my midday siesta. If it didn’t happen at their house, I know a few other houses where there are people who feed me, or have bird feeders or gardens and flower beds or gardens I could raid.

And while I was taking my midday siesta, I’d be dreaming about the fact that, “Life is good when you’re a well fed squirrel!”

Hope this puts your mind at ease!

Hi. I have had a baby squirrel I’ve been caring for since April 18th. A Raven from the area had landed w/the squirrel in our yard, our cat ran down which scared off the bird & our dog ran down also. The squirrel was still alive, so traumatized by the bird, cat & dog that it was frozen stiff & crying like a baby. The Raven was right there in the tree squawking so loud & very mad. The baby squirrel’s eyes were open & had fur. I would say it was maybe 5 weeks old not sure. We tried to let it go the next day in the area we know it came from, but it was a cold day, didn’t know exactly where it was taken from & it was still so traumatized. So we decided to take care of it till ready to release him in the area we know it came from. It’s been going well so far & we’ve done everything websites have recommended. I feel soon it will be time to release it but I need for it to warm up to be able to bring him outside in a cage. But the area we are in is filled w/night time predators so that even making a cage would not keep the squirrel safe. The cage I have him in now is too big to bring in & out every day. I have a smaller one I was going to use for trying to get it acclimated. I have read horror stories about other dominant squirrels in the area, people, etc. Also, I have kept my cats & dog away from the squirrel which is what I read to do. I’m also afraid of keeping him too long to a point he becomes aggressive. Right now he’s a joy to have. I am looking into getting or making a nesting box in order to keep him safe & to have a place to store his food bit how do you keep other squirrels from getting in that want to cause harm. I worry cause he’s alone. I didn’t want to turn him over to a rescue place cause I knew he was from the area. Has anyone else been in this situation that can give advice/recommendations. I would be appreciated & thank you for your help.

Thanks for writing!

Here’s a statistical fact to chew on: “Most baby squirrels don’t live to see their first birthday.”

Immaturity and predation are the two biggest killers of baby squirrels. You’ve already witnessed the biggest killer of baby squirrels, crows. And hawks come in at number two. Your babies best chance of survival has already been taken from him, his mother. You are his second best chance. We keep ours until the following Spring, both early season,( like yours,) and late season. So the youngest we release are 8-9 months old, and the oldest are a little over a year.

An outside cage, with a good warm squirrel box does nicely for wintering over. We move them out in late August to get weather hardened in preparation for winter. We have a platform by the cage where we put food to attract other squirrels, so they spend the winter observing and interacting with their own kind. When we release just after the leaves come out for cover, they usually come and go from the cage, and usually buddy-up with another squirrel of about their same age. If they are male, they usually go off to find their own territory. While females usually stick around aand stay friendly with you until the day they die.

By insuring that they are good and mature before release, they have the greatest chance of survival.

Thank you for your advice & help.

I have an outdoor squirrel I feed that is pregnant. Will she be able to build her own nest. Can I put a nesting house on the ground between shrubs so she will be safe. I have no predators in my area. Or do they have to be high up. I don’t want to waste my money if she wouldn’t use my squirrel house on the ground. Pls help, I worry about her. She is around my house most of the day.

If the squirrel around your house is pregnant, she has already gone through her nesting phase, which means she has built a primary and back-up nests in preparation for giving birth. The thing you need to do is make sure that her primary nest is not in your attic, because squirrels can literally destroy your home by gnawing on the wrong thing, (like wiring,) in the attic.

If you put up squirrel boxes, they need to be at least 12 ft off the ground.

I have a female black/grey squirrel who cannot use one of her back legs, she has to drag it but she manages to climb but with some difficulty. Would she survive the winter to retreive the food she stored. My dogs scared her quite bad one day as someone let them out without first checking the yard and I havent seen her for 4 days but has been extremely cold, I live in southwestern Ontario Canada. I would appreciate anything to ease my heart from crying for her. Thanks

It’s always heartbreaking to see a crippled squirrel, especially when you think about them having to function through a hard winter. If the squirrel were here, I would try to live trap and keep it in one of my outside cages and keep it well fed, to see if it regained any function to the leg. It may be fractured and only needs time to heal and regain function.

It’s hard to say what might be going on with this squirrel. It could be Metabolic Bone Disease, which is a severe lack of calcium in the diet.

Not sure about Canada, but you might call a wild animal rehabilitation facility and ask if they would take it in. It’s a long shot, but may be worth a try.

I have a 8 month old squirrel I’ve raised from a baby. When she opened her eyes I was the first thing she saw besides my husband. We took turns feeding her and fell in love with her instantly. Now that she’s older it’s of course more difficult. We know the best thing for her is to be released but she’s so dependent on US and their are so many predators in just our back yard I wouldn’t feel right letting her go while they wait to get a go at her. Also she’s always been nice never hitting until recently. Is this hormonal ? My husband has been given testosterone by his doctor. Is she smelling it and getting agitated ? We feed her a very good thorough but varied diet. Am I missing something? She now only wants me and still gets aggressive with me some. She still hasn’t bit me like she did him. I’m worried somethings wrong but keep reminding myself she’s a wild animal and that’s her nature to protect her nest and food. Am I right. Thank u for taking the time to answer. Heather

You answered your own question! It’s hormonal and what your husband experienced is normal. My Lucky girl used to swat me all the time, for no reason, when it was mating season. Your little girl is growing up, and is approaching full sexual maturity. At 8 months, she is the equivalent of a teenage girl. December is the start of the first mating season, so you can expect moodiness for the next month or so. Come June, you will go through the same thing with her for a month or so. In June, she will probably start doing butt dragging, because as her estrogen levels climb, it will cause vaginal hypertrophy, (swelling,) which feels like constipation to her. So, she will drag her butt the way other animals do when they have anal discomfort. You can know when she is coming into season because her vulva will feel hard. You’ll need to watch her for urinary tract infections, because this butt dragging can introduce bacteria into the urethra.

The only cure for this is to have her uterus and ovaries removed. We spent 4 years putting Lucky on Bactrim twice a year to treat her bladder infections. In her 5th year, the medication quit working, so we had her spayed. She’s not had a problem since.

Getting emotionally attached to a squirrel is normal, because they are so lovable and endearing to humans. This is especially true when it comes to thoughts of releasing. There is no right or wrong answer to whether to keep or release. It’s a question that only you can answer. I do know that some of the sweetest backyard friends I’ve ever had, were the female squirrels that I raised and released. They have also been the source of a lot of heartbreak when I’ve had to scoop them up off of the road in front of my house. So, I fully understand your dilemma!

Sorry, your comment or question didn’t come through.

You can e-mail me at SquirrelNutrition@Yahoo.com.

Hello, I was wondering if a pregnant ” wild ” squirrel if caught & placed in a cage will still take care of her young? A friend of mine caught a female, she had 4 babies but they all died within 48 hours. Did the mother not feed the young or did she kill them?

Trapping a wild squirrel is a highly stressful event for a squirrel. It needs to be done in a way that minimizes stress for the squirrel and should only be done to move a squirrel or render medical treatment.

If the squirrel was pregnant prior to trapping, it is possible that the stress of the event prematurely sent her into labor. The babies may have all been born prematurely and were not ready to survive outside the womb.

Also, stress may have prevented her from lactating. If a baby does not receive colostrum from its mother it will not survive.

A female squirrel makes a primary nest for giving birth, plus a number of back-up nests. It’s part of their nesting behavior prior to giving birth. Being captured prevented her from following her plan.

The squirrel should have been released immediately so that she could have followed her plan. One or all of the above mentioned scenarios are probably the reason(s) the babies didn’t make it!

Hello,
I found 3 baby squirrels approximately 1-2 weeks old in July in my yard. Two of them died the next day, but I have been able to raise one of them (Marvin) and he is doing well. He’s around 10-11 weeks now and I’m trying to find the best way to release him. My husband and I are both primary caregivers but I probabaly give him more love. We had him out running around the back porch a few days ago and he did well, stayed close but was climbing and playing well, then he just started chattering and bit my husband and brought blood! He hasn’t done this since but I have been more cautious of handling him. I have started putting his cage on the front porch since the only tree we have and the one he fell out of is in the front. I’m just wondering what to do next. Do I start just opening his cage and let him go in and out, or do I put his box up in the tree and put him in the tree? He usually jumps on my if I let him out and try and walk away. Just not sure what to do next. He is eating pretty good (I have still been feeding him formula a couple times a day but sometimes he won’t take it) and has good shiny hair, his tail is bushy and he’s usually very sweet. Thanks for any advice you can give!

The ideal age for release is 16 to 20 weeks. If you have him in a cage that can be protected from rain, and he has a squirrel box to sleep in, you should move him outside and put food around his cage to attract wild squirrels so he can observe them.

Stop handling him and stop letting him out. He is still too young to make it on his own. He will form a bond with one or more of the wild squirrels that visit. mark your calendar for a date somewhere in the 16 to 20 week range and on that day open the cage and let him explore. He will come and go to the cage for a few days so continue to put food in it for him. You will probably see him start to pal around with a wild squirrel and he will probably not return to the cage overnight because he has discovered where his friend sleeps. When the weather is cool they revert to their childhood behavior of sleeping together. So, don’t worry about him freezing to death. His instincts and observations will kick in and he’ll eventually find or build a nest or den of his own. He may continue to return for food which is fine. He’ll need it for the Winter. You should start gathering and feeding him fresh acorns because this is the time of year they gorge on them to put on winter fat for insulation. ( Acorns are mostly carbohydrates.) In bitter cold climates many people winter them over in an outside cage, feeding them all winter and releasing them in the Spring when the leaves first come out on the trees.

Hope this helps!

Hi Bill, I have 3 Squirrel siblings who are 3 months old- I have them in a cage in a screened porch so they are getting used to the temperature change- i was going to release them in early November but I read that you recommend keeping them over the winter to increase their chance at survival- they will be 16 weeks in early November- so I don’t know if I should keep them until the leaves come out on the trees, probably April? That would be 5 more months.

That would be fine. They will be even more mature by then!

If you have a nice big cage on your porch with a nice squirrel box and you don’t mind feeding them through the Winter until the leaves come out, by all means, do it. I like to get them out in a cage where the wild squirrels can come visit them so that they can observe and identify with the wild one for at least a month before I open the cage and let them go. I do this by putting food around the cage to attract the wild ones. This is called a soft release and has worked well for me. Really big and busy rehab facilities often do hard releases, taking babies that are 12 to 14 weeks old and just turning them out into the wild. A small percentage of hard released young squirrels do survive, but the majority of them end up being food for predators!

My early season babies born in Feb-April I release when they are 16 to 20 weeks old which mimics what a mother squirrel does with her babies. They don’t venture more than a few feet from her nest until they are 4 to 5 months old unless she is killed.

It’s been my experience that if you allow them to be more mature when you release they seem to do better!

I submitted a message to you and I haven’t heard back from you.
It was about an order I placed and it was about Nut Balls vs. squares because these squirrels are wild. Can you please get back to me?
Thank you.

I’m sorry about not getting to your question. The Blog is probably the worst way to contact me. If you could, please submit your question to SquirrelNutrition@yahoo.com. Thanks!

I have a lone baby squirrel, that started eating my bird food all summer, fall, and now winter. He comes every day, and I missed a day of feeding my birds, as was out of town, and when I came back no squirrel. I am worried he died. It got really cold, and water could have been a problem. How long can they go with out water and food? I was only gone over the weekend. I miss him so much, he was such a joy. I feel I let him down.

Your squirrel friend would not have died of starvation over a weekend, nor would it have died of thirst. They will eat snow or gnaw on Ice if they have to for water.

The most likely reason you haven’t seen him is that it is mating/ birthing season for squirrels. he could be blocks away participating in mating chases and sparing with other males. Sometimes they come home with battle wounds,(usually bites that heal quickly.)

The thing about males and mating season is that they only have one thing on their mind, and it’s not eating. They hardly eat at all at this time of year and it will happen all over again in June and July!

I must warn you that they sometimes get killed in either a battle, a fall from a tree or run over by a vehicle in their mindless chase of a female in heat. Sometime they even get chased out of their own territory by a stronger, more dominant male.

You are fortunate that an UN-neutered male has stuck around. We’ve raised over 50 squirrels and only one made it two weeks before being chased out of our yard.

Hi Bill. I have been feeding my squirrel friends through a very nasty winter. As it warms is it unkind to wean them off the feedings?
Thanks.
Bill Giese

There shouldn’t be any problem weaning them at this time of year as Spring brings out a whole bunch of natural foods, (like tree buds,) that they love to eat.

Hi Bill. You have some of the best info. on squirrels online that I’ve found. I’m not a wildlife rehabber and I’m not sure I could handle the emotions of that, but part of me wants the information they learn to help some of my backyard squirrel friends at times. I’m trying to find books on how to help the wild squirrels during various seasons. I have a list of rehabbers near me I can call. But, for some reason, early spring here in the Midwest seems to always be so hard on the sweeties. I usually get 1-2 sick squirrels this time of year and often, it’s too late for the rehabbers to help them. I’m interested in nutritional information and preventive things for these little ones. I want to be a good steward of wildlife. I feel I might encounter a higher number of sick or injured squirrels and other small animals, birds, etc. since I relocated and live near a greenbelt now. What books can I read? I did a quick search and there’s not a ton of good ones with updated information. Thanks in advance.

I don’t know of any good books on caring for squirrels in different seasons. The best you can do for them is Nutritional Support. If you write to me at SquirrelNutrition@Yahoo.com and request our food lists and recipes, I’ll be happy to send them.

As to care for their different diseases, I’m available for consultation at the above address also. If you write, try to send a picture of what you are dealing with and I’ll try to get you the information you need.

Hi Bill, we cut the top off a large tulip poplar last summer due to a crack. I had the tree company mount a nice nest box next to a limb about 35 feet up. All winter there have been 4 squirrels using it. I see them playing on the flat top of the tree at night and on the limb next to the nest box.Then they all get in the box right before dark. Tonight I saw two of them sleeping on the limb outside the box and they didnt go in it when it turned dark. Did I spoil them and now they dont have a leaf drey to sleep in now that it’s warmer? Is it normal for them to sleep out like that not in a nest?

Squirrel boxes are only used during cool weather. They’re too hot for warmer weather and the squirrels stop sleeping together. They will make leaf nests to sleep in during summer weather.

So, what you are seeing is completely normal behavior.

Hi Bill, I found a baby female squirrel in March of this year, I was never sure of her age but at the time she looked to be between 7 to 9 weeks old but I really wouldn’t know. She’s very much dependent of me, for feeding and everything. I started letting her go out to explore but always brought her in before dark, I’d call for her and she come back or sometimes she would return to my patio on her own. The last time I let her out (2 weeks ago now) she didn’t return and I’ve actively looked for her but no luck. Could she have just reverted to being wild? My heart breaks thinking that something could have happened to her. Do female squirrels disappear during June for mating?

I’ve known your feeling over 50 times. That’s how many squirrels my wife and I have raised and released over the past 10 years, and each and every one of them has taught me something different about squirrels.

If you had told me that you had a male, there wouldn’t be any question about his disappearance. I’ve only had one male try to stick around, and that lasted two weeks.

He had Wintered-over in our release cage and was bonded to me as much as a male squirrel could. But, he was sexually mature on release and joined the fray over females in heat and got his “clock cleaned” as a result. Every day he came home with a new wound or injury. The last time I saw him I called him down out of our Oak tree to give him a Hickory Nut. He ran down like the devil was after him and came running down our elevated runway from the tree. He came up so fast he missed grabbing the nut and bit deeply into my thumb causing me to drop the nut. he picked up the nut and gave me a look that said “I have to leave,” he ran off, and I never saw him again!

Females are different. They usually stay semi-friendly and stick close if they are able to. We just released 3 females from our release cage 5 days ago. They returned to the cage to sleep two nights in a row. On the third day I got up around 6:30 AM and observed a couple of male brothers about the same age having great sport double-teaming one of our girls, ( none of them are sexually mature at 20 weeks.)

I went out and chased the males off and lured the female back into the release cage where her sisters were cowering in fear. I set-up a live trap to catch the harassing males and did trap one of them and moved him 3 miles away to a reservoir park.

I was going to keep the females in the cage until I trapped and moved the other young male but the females got quite active wanting back out to explore. In there jumping around in the cage they jumped against the door enough times that it opened. That was two days ago.

I haven’t seen any chasing going on, but I also haven’t seen any of the three girls. My past experience when these things happen is that it seems that the young squirrels go out on their own ” Rumspringa” ( the Amish term for when a teenage child gets to go out and experience the world to see if they want to stay out in the world and be with the “English,” or stay Amish.)

Today, I was traveling. When I got home, my wife told me that she saw and fed one of the girls. She said she looked good, but was hungry and looked a little on the lean side, ( which is not unusual when they start climbing trees!)

Many times I’ve seen young females befriended by other wild young females of around the same age, and they pal around. It’s like the wild one takes them under their wing and shows them the ropes of being wild. Usually, when this happens, the release squirrel starts taking on the characteristics of the wild one, even to the point of being fearful of the people who raised them. It all depends on the squirrels personality! ( And, if you’ve raised more than one, you will definitely know that they have their own unique personality, just like human children.)

We try to raise all of our squirrels to have a healthy fear of humans and other animals. We had a single black female squirrel 2 years ago that was raised the same way. She was overly friendly, so we moved her into our outdoor release cage in the Fall when she was quite young and I made her a super insulated squirrel box with a sheltered area and a wind flap over the entrance. We made no attempt to encourage human contact, and every attempt to attract wild squirrels to the cage by putting food around the outside to bring them up close so she could identify with them.

The following June we set a date for release and opened the escape hatch for her to start exploring and joining the squirrel community. She proceeded to jump on my shoulder and then to my wife’s shoulder and rode around on us while we walked around the backyard. She had no interes in the trees or anything else and would have gone back in the house with us if we let her.

Long story short, she has remained friendly with us for the past two years and makes up pay a “Nut Toll” just to go to the garage or backyard. She’s even friends with our regular mailman because she knows he carries nuts in his mailbag. If he doesn’t get them out soon enough, she jumps up on his mailbag and gets down in it to help herself.

So, don’t worry about your girl. She won’t be sexually mature until probably December. So, getting pregnant probably won’t happen until next June. Just keep putting out food and watch. If you see a pair of squirrel come to feed and one is scared of you and the other looks at you like, “I know you,” but may or may not accept food from you hand, then she probably has a buddy that she is staying with.

Releasing a squirrel is like sending your last child off to college or an out-of-state job. It never gets easy whether it is #1 or #51 !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *