Problem Behaviors

Joan
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Problem Behaviors

Postby Joan » Wed Sep 01, 2004 9:36 pm

Sudden Aggressiveness
Flyers don't go out of the way to bite someone just to be "mean." There could be several reasons for this happening. The most common cause is an odor. Something on the hand that smells like food. Or it could be an odor the flyer doesn't like. A lot of flyers do not like certain soaps, perfumes, lotions, colognes, hair spray, etc. It can cause them to attack or bite owners who have had their flyer for years and had never been bitten. Flyers have a very keen sense of smell.
Female flyers generally reach sexual maturity (estrus) around 10 months ... (youngest recorded mother of pups was 4 months old). With estrus, often comes biting behavior... a sort of Flyer PMS that is normal. There is a swelling of the vulva during this time. Often it is not noticed. The PMS symptoms usually subside over a period of 5 days or so if she fails to mate. Females can experience a second estrus within 40 days if she did not mate during the first. The PMS symptoms tend to decrease with each subsequence estrus. Females in heat (estrus) and those pregnant often develop "an attitude" which includes biting and generally "obnoxious behavior." It will pass. Read Bev's correction method for "PMS" at: http://www.voy.com/81231/8538.html

Biting
An aftershave or other smells can turn a flyer "off". The "way" you take the flyer from his nest might contribute to the problem. Take a bit of bedding fluff with the flyer, especially an adult, and drop the whole bundle down your shirt. "Grabbing" at a flyer can make they very nervous ... remember, they are prey animals -- and see humans as a predator. Yell "NO!" if bitten and hold his face to your chest so he cannot bite or else time him out in a carrier. A loud hiss when your pet looks ready to bite can also work.

Ear Biting
If things get very very bad, you may have to paint your ears with Bitter Apple. Just a side note...never, ever stop giving the fliers hard shell nuts, UN-cracked. Trimming or filing their teeth is also an ugly situation.

Water Discipline
An excellent discipline aid for many undesirable animal behaviors is a small spray bottle of water. Set the tip to fine mist and have it handy so you can squirt them IMMEDIATELY after the undesired behavior. It's very effective and relatively harmless, but avoid spraying their ears or face. A small squirt combined along with a firm "no" and they understand that you are displeased.

Another technique that might work (if the squirrel is tame enough). While you hold him, firmly but GENTLY wedge the TIP of your finger into his mouth, and hold his mouth open wide with your finger for a second or two. Be gentle but firm. The idea is to teach him to associate a slightly uncomfortable feeling with your finger being in his mouth. Try this a couple of times a day for a few days.

A combination of techniques can best of all. Behavior problems are kept to a minimum when your let your pet know you are not only in LOVE with the little sweetie, you are in CHARGE.

Won't eat veggies
Buy some baby food spinach, mix it with berry yogurt and a tiny tad of peanut butter. Add a bit of granola, roll into a little ball. You can also crack open a nut and mash a bit of cooked kale into the nut's crack. Be creative. Try plant matter, such as Spanish moss, likens, mosses, dandelion flowers and tender new leaves, rose blossoms, honeysuckle flowers and fern fiddle heads.

Stereotypic Behavior
The words "ritualized" and "clockwork-like" have been used to describe these behaviors. The salient points are that the behaviors:
a) do not occur in the wild
b) are repetitive
c) are apparently functionless.

Back flipping can be a stereotyped behavior akin to feather plucking in pet birds and other problems due to excessive boredom. Some flyers can become so accustomed to doing back flips that they cannot run in a straight line. Some have become so habituated that even running across the floor, they will run a foot jump straight up like bouncing off something, run a foot, jump straight up, etc.
Also, if you watch a squirrel that really does a lot of back flipping, they will get dizzy. When they stop their head will nod for a bit and they sometimes start falling over like they are off balance. Running a circular track pattern around a cage isn't much different from back flipping. Running in a wheel isn't much different then running in a straight line. They won't get dizzy or lose the ability to run in a straight line.
Encourage them to use a running wheel. Place them in it occasionally and they will get the idea. They have lots of excess energy that needs to be burned off. If they don't use a wheel, they may develop habits like nonstop back flips, running in circles, etc.

Back Flipping may be a phase a young squirrel is going through. We just don't know what all the flyer behaviors really mean all the time -- it's a 'best-guess' sort of thing! It seems to be just a thing some of them do and grow out of. Not every case of "back flipping" is the same. Young flyers, in particular, will "practice" a new skill over and over.

Several HOFs have had pups with flipping behavior with no ill effects.

Judy C: I've had lots of 'back flippers', but they have all outgrown it. I have about decided that it is somewhat like the phase that toddlers go through when all they do is ask "Why, Momma, why"! They can drive you crazy, and answering them doesn't really do any good -- two minutes later, they ask "Why" again, about the same thing. I think they are just honing skills and playing, for the most part. They are comforted by routine, just like kids want the same story read over and over every night. Other stories are enjoyed, but you have to finish up with "Go Dog, Go" every time.

Stellia: I have noticed Mika finds new stuff to do and does them over and over till she gets bored and moves on to the next new thing that she finds entertaining. For example, a month ago she discovered the closet wire shelves empty of any clothes hangers and would hang upside down where the hangers would've gone and run back and forth upside down over and over, chirping as she went. Then she'd hang like a monkey and climb all over it like a playground gym ... now she's moved onto other stuff like jumping back and forth on the stair railings. It's all fun and games to her.

Beverly: http://www.voy.com/81231/ ... repetitive exercise is normal, for a flyer, especially when they're young. Molly Kule had a 16 x 22 room in which to play, and yet her favourite 'exercise' was to run from one tall box type speaker to another, along the shelf upon which they were positioned. She'd climb up one tower, stop for a second, then down again, across the shelf to the other, up it, pause, down again. It rather reminded me of a kid on a skateboard ramp - back and forth, back and forth. She'd run this 'track' for what seemed like hours! If I put my hand up to impede her travel, she'd just leap over it, and continue on her way. Clearly, there were other things she could have been doing. I was worried that the behaviour might indicate a neurosis over being a 'house' squirrel, but was advised that even in the natural setting, pups will 'run a track', following a specific 'path' through the branches of a tree. It's thought that such behaviour helps develop balance, etc, while also familiarizing the individual with a 'flight path', should it be needed ... work on getting a photo of this back flipping routine!!! I am soooo wanting to actually see a flyer doing back flips!"

Trembling/Vibrating
New owners are often frightened when they discover their flyer trembling when being held. This is really NOT a problem, but often ultrasonic communication that is out of human hearing range. Another reason is "bruxing" in which the flyer is grinding it's teeth. This is a natural phenomena in flyers who need to keep their teeth ground down.

Nails Too Long
1. Put a flat rough stone under the food dishes. They have to walk
across the stone to get to the dish.
2. There are cement perches for birds that help keep the nails
short.
3. You can also get a nail-o-matic that fits in a Wodent wheel
http://http://www.sugar-gliders.com/glider-nails.htm Less
expensive way is to cut a strip of fine sandpaper and line the
inside of the wheel.
4. Put hardwood branches in the cage and there is usually no
problem with long claws.
5. As a last resort ... the nails can be trimmed. If you look at them
the tip is a lighter color and that can be trimmed off.


Overgrown Teeth
Flying Squirrels don't make very loud noises unless they are cracking nuts in the middle of the night. Make sure flyers have wood and nuts in their cage to gnaw on. This helps decrease the size of the incisors.
One reason for overgrown teeth is a jaw problem which causes him to not want to gnaw. You will have to consult a vet for this. The second reason is just being lazy because he always had something else to eat and didn't HAVE to gnaw open nuts. Try withholding all softer foods and only give him dry corn, rodent blocks, Zupreme monkey chow and nuts. If he only eats the monkey chow, use only Rodent blocks that contain most necessary vitamins and nutrients. They are about 1/2" square or rounded blocks sold at most pet stores. Zupreme may be better nutritionally but not as hard.
A chinchilla lava block and/or a peanut/lava block (found in bird section of pet stores) may invite him to chew. Some flyers will chew those cement bird perchs.

Chewing Things They Shouldn't
The only downside to a Flying Squirrel is that they will chew things. If it gets away from you and gets into the attic (for example), it can chew through wires. They are also able to chew on wood, plastic, and fabrics. If your Flying Squirrel isn't bonded, be sure it is restrained in some way to prevent escape.

Gnawing is usually caused by needing the teeth worn down but can be from boredom or hunger. Make sure your flyer has a good supply of hard shelled nuts in the cage. Hazel nuts are good because they are small but have a hard thick shell to get through.

Some have found it helps to keep my flyers from chewing off limit things by placing live tree branches located throughout their out of cage area. Some even provide a branch that has been dead long enough to grow rather soft and gather bugs. Some flyers will forget about everything else. Of course, most people might not want 'buggy' logs in their home, but the bugs do not live long enough to cause a problem. Flyers think this is about the best banquet going.

Anti-Chew Remedies
If you are going to try and prevent chewing or sucking by using a product like Bitter Apple, know that it is like 26% alcohol (beware of using it on any tender skin) and Some flyers actually like Bitter Apple.
Fooey! now has an EPA warning on the back panel. The warning states not to use it directly on animals and not to get it on your skin. The front of the panel says it is OK to use on rodents and is safe (Very confusing). Anyway, DO NOT use it to be on the safe side.

Better Bitters! by Canopy, is NASTY, HORRIBLE tasting stuff and your best bet!
Last edited by Joan on Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:18 pm, edited 13 times in total.

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Kat
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Trees

Postby Kat » Tue Sep 07, 2004 8:46 am

Some have found it helps to keep my flyers from chewing off limit things by placing live tree branches located throughout their out of cage area. Some even provide a branch that has been dead long enough to grow rather soft and gather bugs. Some flyers will forget about everything else. Of course, most people might not want 'buggy' logs in their home, but the bugs do not live long enough to cause a problem. Flyers think this is about the best banquet going.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Very informative post Joan,and I like the tree idea.Are there any that are best to use, or any (other than evergreens)that should *not* be used ?
Kat,FHOF (future HOF :)
" You become responsible,forever,for what you have tamed."- Antoine de saint-Exupery(chapter 21- The Little Prince)

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Beverly
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Postby Beverly » Tue Sep 07, 2004 12:28 pm

I like white oak (less tanin than red ...), sugar maple, and willow, for habitat branches, Kat. The oak and maple provide hard enough wood for tooth care - and the willow is just well liked, by most flyers. :P
{D {D {D Lots of Acorns to you, from
Beverly and the Denizens of
The Den Drey at Phantom Farm
What the world needs now are MORE SQUIRRELS! Then there would not be so many NUTS running around loose!

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Kat
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I knew that Audubon Field Guide to Trees would come in handy

Postby Kat » Thu Sep 09, 2004 10:35 pm

one day ! Oak, maple and willow my flyer will have, gosh darn it :D
Thanx Beverly.

Kat, rooting through her closet for a lumberjack outfit :roll:
" You become responsible,forever,for what you have tamed."- Antoine de saint-Exupery(chapter 21- The Little Prince)

meganmm

Postby meganmm » Mon Sep 27, 2004 3:41 pm

does anyone know if pet stores sell branches and things like that? i'd hate to have to BUY branches, but i live in the city of chicago and i'd probably be shot dead for breaking of tree limbs. any suggestions?

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Postby Joan » Mon Sep 27, 2004 4:51 pm

meganmm wrote:does anyone know if pet stores sell branches and things like that? i'd hate to have to BUY branches, but i live in the city of chicago and i'd probably be shot dead for breaking of tree limbs. any suggestions?


Plenty of limbs in bird sections of pet stores.
"A lot of people spend time talking to the Animals, but not that many people listen. That's the real problem! ... Winnie the Pooh

meganmm

Postby meganmm » Mon Sep 27, 2004 4:55 pm

Joan wrote:
meganmm wrote:does anyone know if pet stores sell branches and things like that? i'd hate to have to BUY branches, but i live in the city of chicago and i'd probably be shot dead for breaking of tree limbs. any suggestions?


Plenty of limbs in bird sections of pet stores.


THANK YOU!!

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LASquirrelMama
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in general

Postby LASquirrelMama » Sat Nov 13, 2004 10:49 pm

I have found that with Pipsqueak, if he is doing something he's not supposed to (and he usually knows better) like biting or peeing on me i just blow on his face a little. He's not too fond of it and stops immediately. If poses no potential threats (unless of course you have REALLY bad breath j/k) and it's harmless to him. He's still a baby (6 months) so i'm really careful with him and don't spray him with water.
I dunno, just thought this might help someone.

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Re: in general

Postby Joan » Sun Nov 14, 2004 5:14 pm

LASquirrelMama wrote:I have found that with Pipsqueak, if he is doing something he's not supposed to (and he usually knows better) ... i just blow on his face a little. He's not too fond of it and stops immediately.


That's an excellent way to train the little guy. :D
"A lot of people spend time talking to the Animals, but not that many people listen. That's the real problem! ... Winnie the Pooh

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Sharp Nails

Postby Kathy & George » Mon Nov 15, 2004 3:30 am

We recently tacked some sandpaper to Roxy and Raiders perches
Baby Raiders nails were so sharp!
Kathy and George
owned by ROXY, Raider and Rosebud.

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Postby FLYNSQRL » Thu Nov 18, 2004 10:48 pm

Back Flipping may be a phase a young squirrel is going through. We just don't know what all the flyer behaviors really mean all the time -- it's a 'best-guess' sort of thing! It seems to be just a thing some of them do and grow out of. Not every case of "back flipping" is the same. Young flyers, in particular, will "practice" a new skill over and over.


As you know I am a virgin HOF. From the beginning I planned to raise Sabrina in an environment that, among other things, encouraged controlled-but-frequent access to all sorts of people, respected her ingrained "timetable" as much as possible, and would give her as much physical freedom as practicable.

I had not realized the "back-flipping" behaviour was happening in other flyers - having read the posts above, now I know I am not alone. When I first observed this behaviour in Sabrina, at 2 months or so, it was in her mosquito-mesh "travel cage" that she stays in when we are on the road for presentations and such, at night. She then started doing it in her larger mosquito-mesh cage. I tried a simple experiment - I simply left the larger cage open in the room and sat back and read a book. Sabrina left the cage, played around, then went right back in and did her backflips. Then she left, fooled around, went back in for more backflips. This behaviour continues to this day. She does the same with her Wodent Wheel, ropes, general gliding, etc. So I can unscientifically deduct that what we are seeing is not necessarily "zoo syndrome" (ya know, when see those poor large animals pacing about, back and forth, all day long). I have thought about about it long and hard and came up with this theory:

- In the wild, flyers are lucky to make it to their first birthday.
- In the first year, flyers are most vulnerable to predation between the time of first forays till sub-adulthood.
- I have watched juvenile flyers practice launch, glide and landing many times over the years (hilarious!) and know that everything locomotive is learned, not innate.
- I also believe that predator avoidance and reaction skills are also learned.
- Of course, our flyers, especially teenagers, have enormous appetites for physical activity, followed by "flyer naps".
- I would also suspect that, all things being equal, this behaviour is confined to younger flyers, unless my last point comes into play.
- All learning for both the skills mentioned above are based on repetition (just like us - i.e. learning how to play a musical instrument)
- The backflipping is, in my experience, not only employed as a reaction time and timing practice - it also serves to "blow off steam". I believe Sabrina enjoys it! In my situation, I don't think it is a problem because Sabrina chooses to do it.
- If I were to keep Sabrina in a small cage 24/7 (never in a million years - that is so cruel) then this activity may well indicate a psychological problem, especially if it continued into adult years.

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Postby Joan » Fri Nov 19, 2004 12:47 am

[quote="Steve Patterson"] ... The backflipping is, in my experience, not only employed as a reaction time and timing practice - it also serves to "blow off steam".

Well then, Chuck better get back to it because running the wheel isn't doing it for him. Since Mishi threw him out of the nest box and still has him barred, he's back to humping mommy's wrist! :twisted:
"A lot of people spend time talking to the Animals, but not that many people listen. That's the real problem! ... Winnie the Pooh

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Postby Joan » Fri Nov 19, 2004 12:52 am

Darra wrote:Joan, is that wrist smaller than the other?, or larger?? :lol:


Just more flyer "tracks"
"A lot of people spend time talking to the Animals, but not that many people listen. That's the real problem! ... Winnie the Pooh

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Postby FLYNSQRL » Fri Nov 19, 2004 10:43 am

Well then, Chuck better get back to it because running the wheel isn't doing it for him. Since Mishi threw him out of the nest box and still has him barred, he's back to humping mommy's wrist!


Joan, have you tried introducing other excercise opportunities, like jungle jims made of rope? Or perhaps you enjoy the status quo??? :P

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Postby Joan » Fri Nov 19, 2004 12:05 pm

Steve Patterson wrote: ... Joan, have you tried introducing other excercise opportunities, like jungle jims made of rope? Or perhaps you enjoy the status quo??? :P


Having a whole room to covort in hasn't helped, play gym hasn't helped nor has sisal rope strung through a dead crape myrtle tree. But, now that you mention it, the status quo is better than no quo at all. :smilecolros:
"A lot of people spend time talking to the Animals, but not that many people listen. That's the real problem! ... Winnie the Pooh


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