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  • Writer's pictureadrianne

The Post I Started Monday, May 16th

Kevin has been free now for nine days. He came in and slept in his cube three nights in a row last week but left early each morning. He came in to his room for a few minutes one evening this week but didn't stay the night. Before I tell you how he's doing now, I want to backtrack a bit and tell you about his release. I started the post below Monday night, May 16th but got sleepy before I finished it. It is Part 1 of his release story, and I'll finish it now. Tomorrow night, I'll tell you Part 2.

I've been fretting & worrying for weeks over how to do Kevin's soft release. The prescribed method would have us build a soft release cage, measuring at least 4'L x 4'W x 8'Tall and putting it in a quiet spot in the yard. Kevin would go in the cage to get acclimated to the outside world and to wild up. For the first week or two, I would feed & interact with him as normal. For the second week or two, I would feed him but have no interaction with him. At the end of that time, a small portal would be opened for him, and he would be free to go. The portal would remain open, allowing him to come & go as he pleased, and I would continue leaving food for him daily until two or three weeks after his last return.

The size of the soft release cage is to allow squirrels to practice & perfect their jumping abilities. Kevin however, hasn't been in a cage that limited his jumping; he's had an entire room with tree limbs & branches & a floor to ceiling cat tree, and his jumping abilities are amazing already. The soft release cage also allows the squirrel to acclimate to the sights, sounds, & weather of the outside world. Kevin however, has had access to all this with the wonderful squirrelio Jamie built for him. I can see the benefit of allowing time & space for the squirrel to revert to wild before release. With that in mind, we picked out a nice quiet private spot for his cage and started planning.

Kevin seems to genuinely enjoy our company, jumping on us immediately when we walk in his room, and he seems to like being handled, and he loves our wrestling matches. He trusts me, and I wasn't sure I could put him in a cage in the corner of the yard and walk away. Not only would he be all alone, but he wouldn't even be able to see us as we left & arrived at the house. And even though the cage dimensions are generous, it would be a lot smaller than what he's used to. I've tried to do the best by him in everything, and I kept telling myself this was the best, but man, was I torn! I've spent weeks getting to know this little guy, and this way just didn't feel like it was the best for him.

After much much much discussion & back-and-forth thoughts, we decided to go a little bit of a different route with Little Monster. He's been hanging out in the squirrelio and watching the wild squirrels in the front yard for weeks, and we decided to treat his room & the squirrelio as his soft release cage and release him from there. I came up with a plan that followed the prescribed timeline, and we committed to it.

Kevin is a singleton, and I was told to expect he would take longer to totally disconnect & release. Since he's shown himself to be timid where new things are concerned, we decided to start in earnest at 14 weeks instead of 16. (We're flying to Montana July 3rd for a week for Seth's wedding, which gives me only six weeks to accomplish a total release. That adds a level of pressure.)

First up, how to get Kevin to want to leave his room. We've been bringing him out of his room and letting him explore the rest of the house, but he always pretty quickly goes back to his room. Even with the door open, he doesn't want to come out. After talking with a couple people who've released squirrels they raised, we decided to introduce Kevin to the great outdoors.

We talked about this for several days, and we had to acknowledge the possibility that he could take off the very first time we went outside. Because he's timid and looks to me as his safe spot, I didn't feel that would happen. But it could, and I had to accept that.

This afternoon, Jamie cut a small hole in the squirrelio--3" so Kevin can fit but nothing larger can follow him back in--and we coaxed Kevin outside. Yes, coaxed, because the little feller didn't want to come out.

Once he was out though, oh was magical to watch him taste freedom for the first time. This is what it's about.

Jamie put a couple limbs against the squirrelio, and Kevin was content to explore those for a few minutes.

Up & down a few times without touching the ground, but he did stop long enough to nibble a little bit on my lavender.

For weeks, he's watched the wild squirrels forage in the grass in our yard. When he finally, cautiously, stepped out onto the grass, I thought my heart was gonna pop right out of my chest. I told him to be brave, and he was a big brave boy!

Back to the safety of the squirrelio every few minutes...

We gave him a pecan, and he took it and ran.

And just like a squirrel does, he buried it...

...and hopped away for more adventure.

"What's this? Why is Jamie walking toward where I buried my nut?" Jamie went to find it to make sure Kevin got it when we went back in the house.

I've mentioned before that squirrels are very possessive of their food and can become quite aggressive over it. Kevin let Jamie know that it was NOT COOL that he was near his pecan.

He bounced off him. A warning.

Jamie didn't heed the warning.

♪♪ Everybody was Kung Fu fighting...♪

♪Those squirrels were fast as lightning...♪♪

He ran over to his pecan, unburied it, and saved it from being stolen by Jamie.

After this, something spooked him, and he ran back to the squirrelio. He was desperate to get back inside his room but couldn't figure out to go back in the portal into the squirrelio first. We ended up catching him and walking him in the house through the front door, which was a little frightening for him too. He was quite happy to get back to his familiar room, and I'm wondering if he won't be hesitant to go back out for a couple days.

Stay tuned.

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