It’s been a busy time and a while since I’ve documented Seymore’s growth. I received an email from a friend at A/C asking if Seymore was okay. The answer is yes and Mike, thanks for asking, that made me smile. Since the last article, a lot has happened.
Gender Identification Issues
Our little squirrel Seymore is all girl. As she grew older, we realized, she just didn’t have the parts necessary for a little boy squirrel. Even though my daughter believes we should change her name to Seymora, I’m all for leaving it at Seymore since she…kind of…answers to it. She’s wearing big girl pants now and is completely weaned but spoiled rotten.
Since the last Seymore article, she’s had a big scare, built a nest for Dolly, a plush purple and red stuffed toy cat and best buddy, moved into an even larger apartment and learned to fly. Well, not really fly but leap about five feet, which is much farther than I can, so I consider it flying.
There’s a lot more to raising a squirrel than I ever realized. She needs to be out an hour a day to learn new skills, investigate things and practice her jumping techniques. Her daily schedule consists of one hour of guided release from her cage for playtime where she climbs on us, plays catch me, catch me and hides in our clothing. I read it was difficult to housebreak squirrels. One woman said, you simply follow them with a dust buster and she was absolutely right. She saves her poo for playtime and in the first five minutes, her butt is a machine gun of tiny pellets. I follow with a paper towel picking them up as she goes.
In order to avoid getting her deposits on our clothing, we now both have Seymore clothes for playtime. I use my old bathrobe (which I wear over my clothes in the winter) and Mike throws on his gray sweatshirt. We do a poop check on each other every few minutes.
Seymore’s Big Scare
One particularly significant event was Seymore’s big scare. While she may act independent, this incident proved just how fragile she was. I decided to put toys in her area for entertainment. We had a bell with bright pink plastic that resembled the shape of the top section of an old wire coat hanger and the bell hung from the middle. I put it in her bedroom cage right smack above her bed.
She was curious and batted at it. I was quite smug about my ingenious idea and went down the basement. Only a few minutes later, Mike yelled down, “There’s something wrong with Seymore.”
I ran upstairs to find her huddled in the playroom cage next to Dolly. She shook and refused to move from the area.
I then realized that the shadow cast from the toy that hung from her ceiling resembled a large bird, a bird of prey. Even after taking down the bell, she was reluctant to go back into the cage. I held her and let her sleep in my hand for a while. After some coaching and her favorite treat, a pecan, she inspected the area and decided it was safe. The next day, she stole paper towel from us and made a nest for Dolly.
Like Mother Like Daughter
My circadian rhythm has been messed up so long that there’s no hope. Seymore follows the pattern. Every night at 1:30 A.M. she rattles the door and creates a commotion. She’s ready for playtime again. No milk, food or chastising can calm her. We have a night squirrel.
Her New Cage
Seymore is the great escape artist, so we built a cage even bigger….stronger….and she still managed to get out. The new cage is 2 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet. We used mesh screen, which seems to be a new favorite food of our gal. After patching up her escape route and putting up cardboard in front to give her privacy from the cats, we still have to replace the mesh with heavier metal screen, one section at a time. If you look closely at the pictures, you’ll see Seymore on the open door of the cage.
The Dreaded Release Postponed
Even though she’s weaned, she still doesn’t have the skills for living on her own over the harsh Indiana winter. In fact, even when spring comes, our girl will be quite surprised to find that the wild doesn’t offer her favorite foods, radicchio, avocado, pecans, grapes and squirrel blocks ($1.00 a day habit). However, she’ll have a garden full of fennel, twigs and cherry tomatoes, which run close seconds.
We also found two owls nesting in an old tree cavity outside the house. Seymore would make a delicious snack for these birds and until she’s bigger, there’s no way release is an option right now. So, we’re gathering bags of leaves, acorns, twigs and pinecones to winter over our little girl. Before we release her, we’re also getting a rabies shot for her…just in case she wants to come home.