Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Los Angeles California Wildlife Rehabilitation Real Estate

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Mary Cummins Animal Advocates in IWRC 2005 newsletter, Los Angeles, California


Mary Cummins, Animal Advocates in IWRC 2005 Autumn newsletter, real estate, Los Angeles, California

Mary Cummins, Animal Advocates "how to" squirrel article in International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council.

http://www.animaladvocates.us/IWRC%20Magazine-Autumn%202005.pdf


FORUM: RAISING BABY MAMMALS

Every issue, we invite rehabbers to submit articles on raising babies. These field experiences do not pretend to be the “last word” in any area, but are valuable to new rehabilitators, showing how others do the hands-on job, adding to the information they have received through classes and through monitoring. Even seasoned rehabbers may learn a trick or two! This is the first in our series on mammals.
- The Editors

Raising Baby Tree Squirrels Part 2 From Weaning to Release

by Mary Cummins Founder, Animal Advocates California DFG permitted www.AnimalAdvocates.us

THE WEANING PROCESS (Those are my husband's hands)


Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
As soon as a tree squirrel's eyes open completely and are focused, generally between ages five and eight weeks, depending upon species, it is time to begin the long weaning process. Often the first step is to begin thickening the formula in the syringe. Some choose to use powdered rodent blocks, others may add baby cereal as a thickener.

TIP: I use a coffee grinder to grind crushed rodent blocks into a fine powder, which makes it easier to mix with formula and push through the syringe hole.
It may be necessary to make the syringe hole larger to accommodate the thicker formula.

TIP: I find the easiest way to enlarge the hole is to heat the tip of a 1mm nail over a burner. (Be sure to use a hot pad or other insulator; the nail will get hot all the way down!) I poke the hot nail through the oral syringe hole on a 3cc or 5cc syringe to make it wider.

Syringe Feeding

When the squirrels have become accustomed to eating this thickened formula, I syringe-feed them through the cage bars. I continually monitor the weight of each squirrel, beginning with five feedings a day, and making sure each squirrel eats successfully.
TIP: If I have to be away for longer than a couple of hours, I put some formula in a hamster-type water bottle or in a shallow ceramic bowl. The formula should not sit out more than four hours or it may spoil.

INTRODUCING SOLID FOODS
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Eating Pine Cones
After each formula feeding, I hold a piece of solid food (such as a bit of apple) dipped in formula in front of the squirrel's mouth. Generally the young squirrels will lick, suck, or even nibble on the solids. They may chew the food, but often will not swallow at this age. Persistence is needed.
A small bowl of solid food is provided twice a day for exploration, while I continue to syringe- feed. Since the taste of the rodent blocks is familiar from the thickener if powdered rodent block is used, it is a good "first food." Once the squirrel is eating the rodent block consistently, bits of other more natural foods are added such as apple, nuts, broccoli, spinach, orange, squash, corn on the cob, and other fruits and
vegetables. The supplements should be nutritious and at this point provide only a small portion of the diet.
TIP: To break rodent block into easily handled pieces, use a nutcracker.
New foods should be introduced slowly and one at a time to avoid abrupt changes in the digestive process. As with the initial solids, the squirrels may just put their mouths on the food, then lick, suck, or start to nibble unfamiliar foods. In just a few weeks, this will progress to the squirrels’ sitting up and holding the food, much as they would in the wild. This is a natural progression.
I add a glass water bottle to the cage at this time, and a small shallow ceramic bowl of water as the squirrels become more coordinated. It's best to watch carefully as the squirrels first explore this water. Some will put their faces into the bowl and suck rather than lap.

FROM THE INCUBATOR TO THE CAGE
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California

Cage with shelf
The IWRC/NWRA Minimum Standards recommends that a litter of pre-weaned tree squirrels be provided the equivalent of a 20-gallon container, which is 4,608 cubic inches. A 2' x 2' x 2' cage (13,824 cubic inches) is more than sufficient.
There are many ways to furnish housing. One setup that works well for me is to use a row of plastic storage containers, such as can be purchased at warehouse-type stores. Place the incubators on the lower shelves. The pre-weaning cages fit well in the middle shelves. The top shelf can house a cage that can be divided in half for younger squirrels by using the bottom wire mesh inlay as a new floor for an upper cage.

An appropriate substrate is placed on the bottom wire of the top cage to avoid waste matters from falling into the lower cage.

TIP: I use tall ferret cages, which fit easily on storage shelves and are easy to clean.
It is important to move the squirrels into larger caging when crawling becomes a coordinated effort. Squirrels must learn to climb and build muscle strength and agility, the old adage "practice makes perfect" is applicable to squirrel coordination, as well. Natural branches attached to the cage wall and a hammock increase cage c o mp l e x i t y .

TIP: One of the quickest ways to provide a hammock is to remove the side stitching from the leg of a pair of children's fleece pajamas. The pajama leg can be left whole to provide a hanging toy, by stitching up
one end and hemming up the other. Check frequently for raveling of the stitches. 

I add a piece of fireplace wood attached vertically to the cage wall and also allow natural hanging toys, such as pine cones or acorns, as this encourages exploration and exercise. I avoid the use of cedar because it may release an overwhelming scent in a small area. Other types of edible tree branches are good: apple and other fruit branches are welcomed! At this time, plastic or rubber items within the cage are removed, since they may also be chewed on.
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Chew Toys
TIP: Most bird stores carry grapevine or natural wood perches for pet birds; these are also great for squirrels. Pet shops carry sterilized bone pieces and animal hooves for dogs. These can be drilled, then hung together by a metal clip or natural fiber ropes. They provide not only valuable toys and add natural calcium, but can satisfy the gnawing instinct.

As the squirrels begin to become more coordinated, their nest is moved from the floor of the cage to a low shelf. These nests can be cleaned when the squirrels are busy eating. Then when the young go to bed after eating, pooping, and playing, I clean the bottom of the cage. This less intrusive way helps to reduce stress to both the squirrel and the rehabilitator.

TIP: Ferret cuddle cups make ideal first nests, as they are simple to clean and easy for the youngsters to enter and exit.

I use newspaper to line the bottom of the cage, allowing some to go up the inside of the cage wall so food doesn't go flying out of the cage. Natural bedding materials are placed over the newspaper as a substrate. Smooth carpet runners wired along the outside back and sides of the cage, with the bottom of the runner bent so food rolls back into the cage keeps things neat.

Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Cage with carpet-runner attached to wire, and with tree branches wired into place
TIP: When removing soiled newspaper, I roll it into a tube and fold over the ends of the tube to remove it without spilling out bits of food and poop.

Iwire a wooden nest box into the cage on the upper shelf as soon as the squirrels are beginning to climb well. A second hole should be drilled in the lower side of the nest box. This will allow an escape from predator's paws when it is transferred outdoors.
After the squirrels become accustomed to sleeping in this nest box, they can be easily moved to an outdoor cage by closing off the nest box holes with a gloved hand and detaching the wire from the outside. The squirrels and nest box are moved into the outdoor cage and the box affixed again with wire to the new cage. This gives them a comfortable and familiar home, and reduces the
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Nest box with tenants

OUTDOOR CAGING

The IWRC/NWRA Minimum Standards requirement for a litter of tree squirrels is 4' x 4’ x 8', but bigger is always better. An 8' x 6' x' 8 ' enclosure with a double door allows much more room for exploration and exercise.
TIP: Branches and tree trunks can sometimes be obtained from friendly tree trimmers. A hole drilled in the branch with a wire run through it and attached to the wall provides a safe toy. A loose, unattached branch can be dislodged and fall as the squirrels play, causing injury to the squirrels.

Wire mesh can be used as shelving, for ease of cleaning. The cages can be placed on cement flooring or on cement pavers so that cleanup and sterilization are easy. Carpet runners may be placed over the cage for rain protection.
TIP: I grow vines over all my cages to hide them in my backyard and provide sun and wind protection. This provides a natural cover and natural sounds.
Outdoor cage, with next boxes and branches 

TIP: Solid scrapings mixed with the wood shavings can be used as compost. Waste not, want not.

Cages should be cleaned often. Daily scrapings and hosings will reduce the smell, remove spoiled foods, and help to reduce troublesome insects. About once a week, the cage needs a thorough cleaning of all shelves and flooring. As the squirrels have been raised nearly hands-off, they are partially wild at this age. When a human enters the cage, the squirrels should feel threatened and retreat to the nest boxes to hide.

PREPARING FOR RELEASE
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
After the squirrels have been in their new outdoor cage for at least a week or more, it is time to prepare them for release. I offer them natural foods such as acorns, pinecones, and wild fruits after making sure nothing offered is poisonous and everything is clean and free of parasites. I leave fruit on the attached leaves and branches when possible, as this will help with identification of the foods in the wild.

I gradually remove small pieces of the artificial bedding and place natural bedding materials such as pine needles, leaves, and twigs scattered on the floor of the cage. During this preparation process, contact with humans and domestic pets should be extremely limited.

RELEASE!

I return squirrels to the native site, if it is safe. (Permission may be needed from the property owner; best to check local regulations about this.) It's important for the squirrels to be released in a proven area where there are known food supplies. There is also a slight possibility of introducing an undiagnosed illness into a second habitat if release is made into a new location.
TIP: Rescuers also appreciate seeing "their" squirrels back home; this sometimes brings in a second donation, which can be used to care for additional squirrels.

When considering a release date, I check the weather forecast for the next several days, supply the squirrels with a large breakfast, and then wait for them to nap in their familiar nest box. I block the entrance with a piece of 1/4 inch mesh wire across the front and sides of the nest box.
comfortable and familiar home, and reduces the stress of being relocated.

Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
Mary Cummins Animal Advocates real estate Los Angeles California
To make a feeding hole for hands-off feedings, I cut one bar out of the wire mesh of the cage above a shelf, taking care that the opening is small enough to prevent escapes. While the squirrels are eating on the shelf, the cage bottom can be scraped.

Using a lightweight ladder to place the nest box as high as possible in an appropriate type of tree, I try to get at least 20 feet up before attaching the nest box. I wrap a wire securely around a solid branch, secure the box to this wire, attach additional short lengths of wire to stabilize the nest box to branches, and finally snip the wires connecting the mesh to the box to provide freedom to the squirrels.

CONCLUSION

Raising baby squirrels can be an incredibly rewarding experience for the rehabilitator and the squirrel. With a few simple tips and tricks, the job can be that much easier. I constantly discover better ways to rehab and love sharing new ideas.
Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.


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Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.


Google+ Mary Cummins, Mary K. Cummins, Mary Katherine Cummins, Mary Cummins-Cobb, Mary, Cummins, Cobb, wildlife, wild, animal, rescue, wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife rehabilitator, fish, game, los angeles, california, united states, squirrel, raccoon, fox, skunk, opossum, coyote, bobcat, manual, instructor, speaker, humane, nuisance, control, pest, trap, exclude, deter, green, non-profit, nonprofit, non, profit, ill, injured, orphaned, exhibit, exhibitor, usda, united states department of agriculture, hsus, humane society, peta, ndart, humane academy, humane officer, animal legal defense fund, animal cruelty, investigation, peace officer, animal, cruelty, abuse, neglect #marycummins #animaladvocates #losangeles #california #wildlife #wildliferehabilitation #wildliferehabilitator #realestate #realestateappraiser #realestateappraisal #lawsuit

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