There are times when you may be suspecting that your squirrel is dying or it is showing signs of ailment. A healthy squirrel is popularly known for its healthy-looking fur, perky nature, and a high level of speed, precision, and energy.
However, it may be hard for some people to determine whether their squirrel is sick. This is because squirrels can carry disease and may not show any visible symptoms. Noticing any changes in your squirrel’s appearance and behavior can help to show that your squirrel is not healthy.
In this article, we will highlight how you can discover whether your squirrel is dying and how you can treat your squirrel at home.
9 Signs Of A Dying Squirrel
Squirrels are susceptible to a wide range of diseases.
However, some squirrels can easily carry the disease for a long time without showing any visible symptoms. Some of the signs that you can watch out for to help detect whether your squirrel is dying are stated below.
- Spasms or seizures
- Discharge from their eyes, mouth, or nose
- Wheezing, coughing, or sneezing
- Lesions or rashes
- Lethargic behavior or weakness
- Visible tumors
- Skin abnormalities like bare skin or spots.
- Passing blood or diarrhea
Do Squirrels Die Of Old Age?
Squirrels can live up to 12 years as pets, but, like other animals, squirrels still die of old age. Some squirrels can live more than squirrels’ average lifespan but they will naturally die after certain years.
It’s better prepare to say good buy to your buddy before he suddenly passed away.
How To Tell If Your Squirrel is Sick?
Some of the common symptoms that you can use to detect if your squirrel is sick are the changes in their behavior such as weakness, baldness and spots on their skin, and also visible tumors.
Some of the common signs of sickness in squirrels are:
- Lethargic Behavior And Weakness
- Loss Of Appetite
- Skin Conditions Or Abnormalities
- Loss Of Weight
Lethargic Behavior and Weakness
A healthy squirrel is known for its high level of speed, energy, and precision. However, lethargic behavior and weakness usually indicate that your squirrel is sick.
A lethargic behavior symptom can indicate that it is suffering from diseases like rabies to the bubonic plague or internal organ infection.
Once this happens, it is best if you stay away and seek expert help immediately.
Loss of Appetite
This is one of the most obvious ways that you can tell that something is wrong with your squirrel.
This is because squirrels always have a high appetite and can easily eat just about anything. Furthermore, they are omnivores and will eat anything that looks delicious to them.
However, when you notice that your squirrel is disinterested in any food that you put in their tank, you should take them to the vet immediately.
Skin Conditions or Abnormalities
If you notice that your squirrel is suffering from any skin conditions like baldness, bare skin showing spots or tumors then it indicates that it is suffering from some type of skin disease.
Furthermore, squirrels that suffer from bacterial and fungal infections may have hair loss and dark patches on their skin.
When there are tumors on the skin of your squirrel, then it may be suffering from squirrel pox.
Loss of Weight
Loss of weight can be a tricky way to determine if your squirrel is sick. This is because it is interconnected with several signs such as loss of appetite, lethargy, etc.
Your squirrel will surely lose weight if it does not eat. Furthermore, once it loses weight, it will become lethargic and weak.
However, once your squirrel starts to show weight loss symptoms, it may be too late as it has become too weak to even fight off the ailment.
Once you notice that your squirrel is losing weight, you should rush it to an exotic vet immediately for treatment.
Can You Treat A Sick Squirrel?
There are some squirrel illnesses that can be easily treated at home. Some of them are stated below.
The Ill Symptoms That You Can Treat At Home
Some ill symnptoms in squirrels can easily be treated at home such as MBD, squirrel pox, encephalomyocarditis, injury.
Metabolic Bone Disease
Metabolic bone disease is a common illness in captive squirrels that are not getting sufficient natural light.
Furthermore, squirrels can develop MBD if they are suffering from a poor diet, especially that lack of Vitamin in their nutrient. Some of the symptoms of metabolic bone disease in Squirrels are lethargy and pain.
You can easily treat squirrels with a metabolic bone disease by providing your squirrels with about 20 minutes of direct sunlight per day or by using full-spectrum light bulbs in their cage.
Squirrel pox is also called squirrel fibroma and it leads to the growth of tumors on the epidermis of your squirrel. The tumors may also metastasize into a serious tumor that affects their internal organs.
Squirrel pox is usually more vulnerable to young squirrels and it is transmitted virally which can be from mosquitoes or from a squirrel.
There is no known cure for squirrel pox and you can only try to prevent the spread by quarantining the affected squirrel.
This is a viral illness that leads to the inflammation and degeneration of the heart and skeletal tissue and then destroys the nervous system of the squirrel.
Encephalomyocarditis can be transmitted by contact with infected rodents or through the secondary bacterial transmission.
Some of the symptoms of encephalomyocarditis are elevated heart rate, blisters, respiratory problems, and lack of motor function.
In the case of secondary bacterial infection, you can easily treat infected squirrels using antibiotics.
The common cause of injury in squirrels is when they fall from trees. You can treat minor injuries like bites, cuts, or scratches with patience and care. All you have to do is clean the injury with a saline solution of table salt and water.
You can also treat any wounds with a small amount of Germolene, Savlon, and other similar antiseptics (not disinfectant).
There are situations when flies will lay eggs on the wound. You will need to remove all the eggs immediately with a pair of tweezers or else they will hatch into maggots and cause more problems.
Squirrels need water for digestion and if the body’s reserves are depleted, the other body function will suffer for it. You can detect if your squirrel is dehydrated by checking whether their nose is moist or if the mouth is wet.
You can also use a pinch test. In this method, you will fold the skin on the back of your squirrel’s neck to raise it. Once released, the skin should return to normal immediately. If your squirrel is dehydrated, you can buy a powder known as Lectade from the Vet.
You will then mix the powder with water and administer it orally with a pipette. You can also use the International Rehydration Solution which comprises of
- Half a teaspoonful of salt
- Half a liter of water
- Half a tablespoonful of glucose or sugar.
You will then stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved and then administer it to your squirrel lukewarm. Once the dehydration lasts for more than 12 hours or refuses to drink it, it is best to take your squirrel to the Vet to help administer a rehydration solution subcutaneously.
It can be hard to diagnose that your squirrel is in shock. Once you notice that your squirrel is suffering from shock, you should try to offer it warmth, darkness, quietness, and shelter for a while. This is unless your squirrel needs emergency veterinary care.
However, you can also administer a couple of drops of Bach’s Rescue Remedy to your squirrel if it will take it. It is advisable to take a squirrel that cannot or refuse to take food or drink to the Vet.
When You Need A VET?
Squirrels are susceptible to a wide range of diseases; they are also more exposed to environmental threats than humans. The best thing to do once you notice that your squirrel is sick is to take it to an exotic veterinarian.
At the vet office, you should try to provide enough detail about your squirrel including the feeding habits and living conditions. This can help the vet to determine the cause of the ailment. They will then help to suggest the ways you can improve their living conditions after the treatment.
Once your squirrel is treated by the vet, you can then provide good supportive care until it recovers completely.
How To Help Prevent Sickness In Squirrel?
Always Clean Their Cage
Squirrels are usually exposed to environmental threats and can easily fall sick under dirty living conditions.
It is best to clean squirrel cages at least once a week. You can use soap or detergent to clean the walls of the cage and also remove any residual food and fecal matter.
Squirrels need a healthy and balanced diet to stay healthy. When keeping baby squirrels, avoid feeding them with a baby squirrel formula or milk.
This can lead to death as they need specific vitamins and minerals. It is best to take a baby squirrel to a vet or wildlife rescue to learn how to feed it properly.
Buy Their Food From Trusted Sources
There are some specially designed foods for squirrels and you can get these at your local pet store.
However, there is some state where you are not allowed to keep the squirrel as pets. You can then order squirrel food only but it may take a few days before it will be delivered.
Proper Hygiene When Handling/Petting Them
You should always clean your hands before and after handling your squirrel. You can clean your hand with disinfectant to prevent infections.
Quarantine Your Squirrel
Whenever you notice that a squirrel has an infection or could be ill, always try to isolate it from the rest of the squirrel. This will help to prevent the spread of disease from one squirrel to the others.
You need to ensure that your squirrel spends time building his muscles whenever you plan to keep your squirrel for a long time.
You can give your squirrel access to one room of your house at least for an hour a day.
Your squirrel can then climb, run, and play in this room.
Whenever you are going outside with your squirrel, ensure that it is in a cage. This is because they can be hunted by hawks and other predators and if they even escape, they can get spooked and run away to fend for themselves.
Squirrels are usually affected by several types of illnesses. However, they can carry the disease for a long time without showing any visible symptoms. Whenever you notice any changes in your squirrel’s appearance and behavior, this can help to indicate that it is not healthy.
The safest method that a pet owner can use to spot a sick squirrel is by taking it to a vet regularly.