Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Living like Rat Kings

I attached the Purple Igloo to the back of the nest box. Now it is a super-deluxe two bedroom nest box to make any New Yorker envious.

And yet, they are still crammed together.


Screaming Squirrels Day 13

I've lived in my building 3 and a half years. I've never woken up before to such loud racket. It sounded like the velociraptors from Jurassic Park were throwing a block party at 7 AM.

After checking on Theodore and Polar Bear (both asleep), I stumbled outside to find our superintendent trying to persuade two healthy, screaming squirrels away from the back doors and to the trees.

"Loud, crazy squirrels," he yelled to me, leaning on his broom.

Yes, I agreed, uncomfortably aware that I was concealing a smaller, quieter one inside the building. What a weird coincidence!

He asked me what I thought and I told him they were adolescents who likely wandered out of their drey to explore. Their mother would come back and collect them if we could just be patient.

"Oh, I thought they were sick," he said, and we spent the next few minutes watching them and marveling at their fat, awkward bodies. They were nearly adult in appearance (I'm talking Polar Bear sized), but ridiculously helpless. I'd guess they were around 10 weeks old. They froze and screamed any time we came within three yards.

I had to leave, but eventually their busy mother did come back and escort them back up into the trees.

It is a lot quieter now.

I've never heard any noise like that come out of my squirrel. He is for the most part silent now. In our first week, he would quack quietly when he wanted milk, but now that he is on a set feeding schedule, he doesn't even do that. Could it be Polar Bear's silent-as-a-monk influence? Maybe he cries when I am away?

I don't know...

but those squirrels were loud and fat.

Would-be squirrel rescuers: You should wait several hours (if the baby is not in critical condition) before intervening when you come across a young squirrel. You can't assume they are orphaned. 

Sometimes they stumble or fall out of the nest while their mom is out. She will carry them back in when she returns. When they are nearly adult-size their mom takes them outside to train them in squirrel activities. 

You don't want one of those little guys screaming all day in your home. Put your pets inside and check back later. If the squirrel is healthy and not too cold, it's best to wait til dark.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Unpacking Winter Wear

Fall is here, and it is time to unpack all those long sleeve shirts and sweaters.

Polar Bear has his own custom-made winter attire in a shoe box I pulled down. He has gained so much weight, the yellow vest I made him last year was the only one that fit. Even it looks too short.

Let's be honest, Polar Bear doesn't really need winter attire, but he does like the attention. Even people who are terrified of ...ehum... bears, are downright friendly if they see him in a scarf and sweater. Once an old lady said, "I have never seen such a small dog!" And she never will again, I bet.

They say the clothes make the man.

In this pic Theodore is sporting one of Polar Bear's old sweaters circa 2011. I don't intend on taking him on any outings, but I was amused to no end by the fact that he fit in the sweaters.

Next month is October. I might make him a superhero vest for Halloween, if he has not grown up and moved out by then (even the thought makes me sentimental).

Polar Bear is going to be superman with a blue vest and a red cape. The trick or treaters are going to love that.

I know what you are wondering.

He was dressed as a cat last year.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Nest Box

The first day we brought Theodore home we purchased a wooden tissue box from the craft store. It was perfect, because the back slides off for easy cleaning.

As you can see, Polar Bear fits. Kindof.

He has a weight problem. It doesn't help that he is eating all the extra shredded pecans, fruits and veggies.
It is courtesy of the little squirrel food processor that hasn't fully mastered solid food.

The first day we left them in a cage together, I put both Nest Box and Purple Igloo inside. My reasoning was that the squirrel might prefer to sleep alone, even though the temperature drops at night.

When I checked on them, Polar Bear was sleeping halfway in the box and the squirrel was asleep outside next to his tail. It quickly became apparent that the Nest Box is the preferred nighttime sleep spot.

In the end I slid the back half-way off the box. It was the best solution. Polar Bear's rear is still outside the box, but as you can see, they are very content.

There are some great squirrel boxes available for sale online. Here is what other squirrel rescuers have to say about types of safe wood for nest boxes and toys:
http://mothernaturesrescue.webs.com/food.htm, http://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/showthread.php?21422-Safe-Wood-for-Squirrels

The Art of Escape Day 10

Friday, Theodore broke out of his hamster cage.

My friend spotted him hanging out on one of my sculptures by the window. He looked so at ease there, I grabbed the camera.

I was both worried and proud that he figured out how to get the door open. Now I am locking the door at night with dog leash clips.

Last night they broke out again. I say they, because I have reason to believe it took both of them to push the cage to the edge of the tray it was sitting on.

 For now there is a book on top of the cage, while I work to prep the office room (a glorified walk-in closet) into a free range habitat.

A Very Squirrely Situation Day 9

The reason I named this blog Squirrel Manual is because baby squirrels should come with one.

There are wonderful moments: Theodore's tiny teeth began to appear on Day 9.

And there are anxious moments. Here is a prime example of avoidable terror:

I noticed Theodore started gasping out of nowhere while I was feeding him. His mouth opened and shut and his little arms stretched out in front of him. Choking? Heart attack? It sure looked like it, until he inexplicably went back to normal and insisted on finishing his meal.

It happened the next time I fed him. Exactly the same. I tried feeding him slower. I tried feeding him less. I tried positioning him different ways. Each time the gasping would last about 3 to 5 seconds and then he would go back to eating as though nothing had happened.

With concerns of pneumonia, I scoured the online squirrel community and discovered what other rehabbers call "the feeding trance."

Turns out it means he's really enjoying his meal. So much so that he is trance-ing out on me.

Squirrel Rescuers
Don't panic if you notice your squirrel stop eating and start gasping during feedings. It is called the Feeding Trance and it is perfectly normal. They grow out of it eventually. You should only worry if you see milk come out their nose.

If you see a small amount of blood while milk feeding around 6 weeks, it is likely the teeth coming in. Teething squirrels like to nibble on everything. Give them plenty to chew on. Be sure to squeak and pull away if it pinches you (even if it doesn't much hurt), so as to convey pain and teach the squirrel to be gentle with these new teeth.