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Young squirrels are wild animals, and as such should be released into the wild with as little human contact as possible. If you’ve come across an orphaned or abandoned squirrel, you should contact a professional squirrel rehabilitator who’s trained to care for and release squirrels. However, not all areas have a professional available. In those cases, releasing a squirrel into the wild after you have been caring for it takes some hard work and dedication to ensure a safe and successful release.
Ensure that the squirrel is old enough for release. Squirrels may easily become prey if released before 5 months old.
Obtain a cage that is as large as possible. Make a nesting box by filling a shoe box or a shallow cardboard box with leaves, dead grass and small twigs. Place a squirrel feeder filled with stripped sunflower seeds and raw peanuts or squirrel food inside the cage. Also, place a bowl of water in the cage. Cover at least part of the cage so the squirrel has an area protected from rain.
Place the cage in a safe area, away from places subjected to harsh weather conditions or predators, and place the squirrel inside the cage.
Leave the squirrel in the cage for three weeks. Make sure the squirrel has plenty of food and water, but gradually decrease your interaction with the squirrel so he begins to rely less on your presence.
Open the cage door early in the morning after the first three weeks so the squirrel can explore his surroundings. Leave the cage door open throughout the day, replenishing the food and water as needed. Close the cage door and secure it at night to keep predators out. Continue this process until the squirrel no longer returns to the cage.
Leave the cage in the yard for at least one week after the squirrel stops returning, as a safety precaution. Carefully monitor the squirrel in your yard if you can see him to ensure he is adapting well to his new surroundings.
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