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  • Writer's pictureadrianne

Living The Free Life

Warning: photo heavy post ahead!

I've told you all about Kevin's release that happened thirteen days ago, and you may be wondering how he's doing. We've been quite blessed to have seen him every single day thus far since release. Some days all we get is to see him, and other days he visits & interacts with us. The photos I'm sharing have been taken across all the days he's been free, starting on May 19th.

He came in the house and spent the night Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday the first week he was free. He came in at dusk, and the first night we didn't even know he was in until I checked his room at 9:30pm. Squirrels raised in captivity and released quickly revert to their wild nature, and Kevin started disconnecting from us almost immediately. The nights he slept in the house were a little tough on me because he didn't want to interact. He would come out of his cube when we went in his room, accept & eat a pecan, and then immediately go back in his cube. No visiting, no wrestling, no handling. I have to tell you my feelings were a little hurt at first, but I realized it's the way it has to be if he's gonna be free. I could keep him, sure, and wrestle & play with him, but he would be a prisoner in that room. He has open access to his room, and if he wanted to be there, he could. But he wants to be outside, and that means disconnecting.

He has since taken up residence in our oak tree and has a nest near the top. We see him working on it sometimes and chewing on branches & taking them to it. He's also been very good about chewing on the mistletoe that's taken hold of our tree. I find new bunches of it on the ground nearly every day. Thanks Kevin, that stuff is awful! He was originally in a different nest in the tree--there were at least five empty dreys up there--but we saw a scuffle one day at that nest, I think Kevin must have been the loser because he's in another nest now, and a different squirrel is in the original nest.

The first few days, he was really standoffish with us outside. He would come to the squirrelio to eat, but he didn't want to have anything to do with us. We gave him his space and didn't try to force anything. After a few days, I think he realized we weren't gonna try to capture him, and he began visiting with us, jumping on us & accepting food from our hands. No touching from us though. One morning I stepped out, and he ran to me & seemed happy to see me. After he ate, he jumped on me and initiated a wrestling match! For 5-10 minutes, we stood in the front yard wrestling, and it made me so happy! It was the first time I had touched him since he left, and he even let me stroke his cheek and tickle him under his arm.

If you look closely, you'll see a second squirrel in the bottom left of the photo. No, they're not playing--Kevin is being chased. It was tough to watch, but there are things over which I have no control.

New day, and Kevin survived being chased. I was so happy to see him alive & well and looking for breakfast.

Eating a Healthy Block. Making sure he has food & water is very important in the early days as he's figuring things out and sourcing these things.

He found our swing and checked it out.

Little tough boy!

Going home.

New day, out foraging.

But always back to the tree if something spooks him.

Sharing this one because it tickled me.

Every time I watch him climb the tree, I realize how completely fake the little forest we created in his room was.

He's visiting with us by the time this photo was taken, so I'm able to be closer to him for photos.

He's burying a nut. I was standing right beside him, and he kept on with his business.

I started feeding the birds and leaving a few things for the other squirrels. Kevin transitioned on his own from eating at the squirrelio to eating here.

He's at my foot in this photo, and I'm wondering if he was using me to scare the other squirrels away from the food source.

Bury a nut in one place, dig up a nut in another place. Squirrels are very busy creatures!

This is NOT Kevin; this is the squirrel with whom he shares the oak tree--the one who kicked him out of the original nest. Another male. No name yet.

What's this I see? A seemingly shy youngster who showed up a few days ago. He would poke his head around the tree and watch Kevin interacting with us. Each day brings him a little closer until one day he was brave enough to check out the food stand.

Smaller than Kevin, younger than Kevin, oh-my-word, he's adorable!!! I've named him Baby Groot.

He finally made it up to the top.

Little bitty guy...

Don't be fooled by his utter cuteness though. While I call him Baby Groot, Jamie calls him Little Devil. We've watched Baby Groot chase Kevin, and we've watched him take over the seed stand. Kevin sat on the swing while Baby Groot ate & ate & ate. What's up with that, I don't know, because Kevin is bigger & older.

In the evenings, we sit in our chairs and call to Kevin....."Little Feller! Kevin! Come get your supper!" Neighbors probably think we're crazy, but pffft! And most evenings after a bit of calling, he comes down the tree. (Sometimes he surprises us by appearing from the side yard.)

Sometimes he comes right to his food, sometimes he does a little foraging first.

This is his "not sure about it" stance. He crab walks to something he wants to investigate. This was after Baby Groot had hogged the seed stand, so maybe he was being extra cautious because of that.

He could easily jump up there, but he's still being cautious. (Baby Groot might jump out & yell "Boo!")

The hazelnut is the first item he chose this day. It varies. Most times I don't offer a nut until after he's eaten his veggies. Tonight, he ate three pieces of chayote squash and five sugar snap peas before he nibbled on some walnut pieces and blueberries.

All nuts in the shell get taken up the tree to be eaten. It's a high-value food, and he won't eat one near us.

Once the hazelnut was opened & eaten, he came back to see what else was on the buffet.

New day, and he's foraging a bit.

Sugar snap peas are a favorite treat for him. While he can have as much of the chayote squash as he wants, I try to limit the peas.

On a side note, I have sugar snap peas planted along the fence in the front yard. They're putting out pods now, and I'm wondering how long before Kevin discovers them.

He likes the walnut pieces too, but he's mostly uninterested in the seeds. Even though he doesn't care for them, he will chase away the resident cardinal from the seed stand when he flies in for a bite.

Posing for me. I'm using my 70-200mm lens to give him space to eat in peace.

New day (yesterday), and Jamie had to point Kevin out to me because he blended so well with the tree.

Pretty sure I have the photo now of him I'll use for his portrait on my pet wall. Nothing I took of him in his room compares to this.

This evening after he came down for supper, we caught him napping on his favorite lower limb.

It's hard to follow him when he gets high in the tree and especially so if there's other squirrels in the tree at the same time, but we're fairly confident this is his nest.

How high up is it. I put this photo together with four separate photos. Kevin's nest is circled in blue, orange, and red. There near the top. His little cube in his room could never compare to that.

On this particular morning last week, he was apparently feeling extra good & frisky. We watched from the living room window as he played right in front of us. He rolled & dug in the dirt around my blueberry bush, hopped around, tried to jump on a bird that landed in front of the window. When I stepped out the front door with his breakfast, he ran to me and ate right there by the door. Side note: those aren't apple slices in the bowl; that's chayote squash.

Carnations are his favorite flower, and I try to offer him one from my garden every day. He prefers the pink over the red.

I know as time passes, we'll see less of him, and the day is coming where he won't want to jump on me & visit with me. So I'm enjoying now for what it is. Because, as I mentioned before, there's something magical about a friendship with a squirrel.

How's he doing? We think he's doing great! He's eating well, and he's healthy & happy. I've only seen one minor bite mark on him, and that was a couple days after his release. This was taken this evening, and he looks good. Big difference from that little guy we picked up off the sidewalk way back in March. Good job Kevin!

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2 comentarios

02 jun 2022

You have some great photos of him. I can relate Kevin to my peas, especially Victory who wanted to be petted often on his terms.

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31 may 2022

Love the update and photos.

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