01.19.2005 - This was a very interesting job. A squirrel was entering and creating a mess in an antique store. It was running all through the shelves, knocking
things over, and it broke several expensive glass pieces. The store owner was very upset! He called me to trap and remove this squirrel. I came to the store
and the building had all sorts of flaws. It was easy for animals to get in by many places, such as a wide gap around the perimeter of the ceiling. It would be
impossible to seal off all the squirrel entry points without major renovations. The owner simply wanted the squirrel gone.
The squirrel wasn't inside when I came to the store. It must have been outside foraging. I set some traps up on the shelves that the squirrel was running on, and baited with both peanut butter and orange slices, which I find squirrels tend to like indoors. Sure enough, I caught it within only a few hours. I noticed then, that the female squirrel had lactating nipples. I knew then that it was a mother squirrel, and it must have had a nest of baby squirrels inside the store somewhere! No wonder it was constantly running about inside the store!
I set off looking for a nest of baby squirrels - inside old ming vases, antique phonographs, the cushions f of an old couch from the 1920s. Then I saw it - a little treasure chest up on the shelves. I peeked inside, and there I found exquisite treasure - three pink, baby squirrels. The mother squirrel had gathered insulation from the attic and carried it down to the little treasure chest and made a nest there! How darling! I took the above photo of the baby squirrels, which are probably only a few days old, and brought them to a wildlife rehabber to raise them in a more conventional container. The antique store owner promptly lowered the price of the treasure chest by 20% since it was used.
The Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), is one of the most widespread nuisance animals in the country. It lives throughout most of the United States. It is arboreal (likes to live in trees), but just as commonly atticeal (likes to live in attics). It's a member of the rodent family, and is prone to chewing and gnawing. Squirrels are active during the daytime, particularly morning and evening. They are active year-round. They give birth to two litters of young per year, in late summer and late winter, commonly inside buildings they've chewed into. They are very agile and great climbers, and are active animals. They are cute, but often destructive, especially when they enter an attic.
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Adult squirrels are cute, fluffy creatures that we admire, but life doesn't start like that for them. A squirrel comes into the world blind, deaf, toothless, hairless, and without nails. However, over the course of the next 14 weeks, it transforms into that cute little creature we recognize. In this post, we're going to dive into the life of infant squirrels.
Gestation and Birth
There are over 200 species of squirrels in the world. Typically, the mating period runs between December through February and June through August. Through sniffing female scent in the heat, a male can locate her up to a mile away. After winning the fierce competition against other viable suitors, one thing leads to another - courtship into copulation into insemination, then pregnancy. The pregnant female builds a nest high up in trees or human settlements like an attic, although some species build underground nests. Depending on the specie, the gestation can last anywhere from 30 to 60 days before they give birth to a litter. A litter consists of about 4 pups on average, but it can be as high as 7.
Pups, kits, and kittens are alternative names for baby squirrels. Typically, squirrels give birth twice a year - February through April and August/September. However, some species give birth more often. The mother is solely responsible for nurturing her pups.
Weeks 0 to 2
A newly born kit weighs between 10 and 18 g (half an oz.) and is about 1-inch long. With no fur, teeth, and closed ears and eyes, they depend entirely on their mother for nourishment. It's almost always asleep, except when it's being weaned. The mother will lactate for the next 70 days to wean her pups.
Weeks 3 to 5
At this stage, the kit is about 4 inches long (excluding the tail) and growth progresses rapidly, gaining as much as 1 inch per week. Although still blind, its ears begin to open and the lower front incisor erupts. At the end of this period, it begins to see and it fur starts growing. It starts playing with its siblings in the nest.
Weeks 6 to 14
The adolescent squirrel's sense of sight, hearing, and smell sharpens during this period. About 7 to 8 inches long, it is fully covered in fur. At 8 weeks, the toenails become sturdy and sharp enough to grip tree bark to enable them to climb. At this point, their mother teaches them survival skills. Now, less sleep and more fights with siblings set in. It begins to venture out of the nest and feeds on solid food. By 10 to 12 weeks, the teeth are fully developed and they are fully weaned.
Post 14 weeks
After weaning is complete, the female progressively begins to spend more and more time away from her pups before she stops completely. The pups are then left to fend for themselves. But at this point, though young, they have learned what they need for survival.
After about 9 to 11 months, they become sexually mature, and they mate to continue the life cycle.