2.0 Housing- aviary
Both the European red squirrel and the Japanese lis are tree habitants. They live in trees, but can be found on the ground for collecting food or materials to make a nest with. Their housing should be as high as possible with enough space and opportunity to climb and move around. There should be a few branches with some reaching the ground. This way the squirrels can go down whenever they want and their natural habitat will be imitated as close as possible. For the construction of their housing you should take in account that squirrels are strong and fast. Doors should be simple to open for humans, but not for squirrels. The preference is for housing with an attached lock (sluice). This way the chance of escape when you open the door is as slim as possible, since you will have an extra door as barrier. What you should also take into account is that the housing should be made from a material they can’t gnaw trough. The best suitable material is aluminium as a squirrel is not capable of gnawing through that. The housing can be for either in- or outside. You should be aware that the housing is dry at all times and away from wind, son and rainfall. You can use a variety of resources to help you, like a fence, plastic plates or a closed ceiling.
Japanese lissen need plenty of living space. By lack of necessary space the squirrels become very stressed. When there is no regard for this essential need, the squirrels will release their energy in an unhealthy way like spinning around or make the same movement back and forth. After a few month, this behaviour is very hard to unlearn and the squirrels will be in a negative state of mind more often and longer.
The minimal size of an aviary is 2m high x 2m wide x 1m deep. The ideal aviary is 5 or 6m3 per set. The shape doesn’t matter. The aviary can be square, round, elongated or octagonal, this doesn’t really make any difference.
Squirrels like plenty of shade and green elements. For this reason, its fine if the aviary has a closed ceilingas long as it lets the light through. Squirrels are very active. They like to run, climb and jump. This is why logs and ropes will be a great addition to the aviary. Thanks to this, the squirrels can stay in an outdoor housing all year. During a harsh winter, I frequently place an extra screen or canvas against the wind. It is important to remember squirrels are build to withstand harsh winters. Their thick fur and layer of fat protects their body against low temperatures. So there is no need to worry, but shielding against rainfall and wind is very important.
In one aviary there can be multiple males together. Multiple females is also not a problem. When there are multiple males with a female, this can be a problem. In the months February to June, the squirrels are busy with procreating and the competition between the males can be big. In nature, the “losing” party runs away. In an aviary of course, the squirrel can’t run away. Make sure that during the mating season you never have multiple males with 1 female.