Monday, December 28, 2009

"Baby" Squirrels Report

Sunday afternoon we drove out into the country to pick up my three squirrels from Chris. Finally. She'd been babysitting them nearly two weeks. By Sunday, though, the roads were clear (although her long driveway was still hazardous) and the cold that had kept me mostly in bed over Christmas was mostly gone. So the time had come to resume my squirrel responsibilities.

The squirrels aren't exactly babies anymore; they're juveniles, and nearly full-grown.

They're weaned now, too. Chris said she put a bowl of formula in their cage the first day (when I went to Fort Wayne) and they never came out of their nest bag to eat it, so she said that was enough of that, and only put solids in afterward.

So from now on, it's going to be easy to take care of them. Lift their wire cage onto new sheets of newspaper every day (with a plastic sheet between newspaper and floor). Roll up the newspapers with the shells and scraps and smelly stuff and dispose of the whole package. Fill up their water bottle, put a fresh bowl of food in the cage, wash old bowl.

They won't go outdoors for a while yet, as it tends to be bitter cold at night. Need to acclimate them gradually. So they're back in the sunroom for now, which is toasty warm during the day and chilly or even rather cold at night.

Once they're outside, it will be easier in some ways. That is, the wire floor of the cage will be directly over the ground, so won't need daily cleaning. Just lift up the cage and shift it to a slightly different spot.

On the other hand, the water bottle will freeze and need replacing at least once a day. And of course there will be the winter weather to slog through.

I had spent most of a morning last year cutting a large hole in the top of their cage, which I cover with a sheet of metal, weighted down. The hole matches one in the bottom of another cage. I usually put the two holes together eventually, and with the help of several bungee cords, make a double-tall cage for the squirrels' winter quarters. But I don't do this until after the squirrels have gotten well accustomed to being in the smaller cage. That's frightening enough for them at first.

Well, Chris has very kindly mended that hole for me with a big square of hardcloth. She did a very thorough, professional job, too. Must've taken her an hour and a half, at least. Looks like it'll take me at least that long to undo it!

Squirrels are bouncing fearlessly all over this cage.


elizabeth said...

fun! (too bad about future water bottle freezing) ... but so cute to imagine them bouncing all over a cage... :)