View Full Version : Pox in the central FL area?

06-15-2019, 06:57 PM
Hey Guys,

So one of my regulars was missing for awhile and then magically showed up on my back balcony for nuts again, only, she does not look so good :(
I've never actually seen squirrel pox before and I've never heard of it being in the Orlando area, but that's my best guess. At first I thought maybe she'd been attacked by an animal because the wounds looked raw and one was bleeding. But when she got close enough to take a nut from my hand I could see that these looked more like swellings or boils. She has one on her back that's a large, leathery black protrusion that doesn't look much like pox or an abscess (which is what I first thought it might be). After scouring the internet, I decided that it might be pox after all, but as I've never seen it first hand, I couldn't actually say. I have pics below (sorry for the poor quality. I only had my phone with me and she wouldn't let me get a good shot. I finally just took a few seconds of video and then snagged a screenshot from that). Sadly, I wasn't able to get one of the mass on her back, but I'll try again tomorrow.

Does this look like pox to anyone else? Do we have evidence that it's in the Central Florida region? I mean, it makes sense to me that it would be with our mosquito populations, but in 20 years here I've never actually seen it.

06-15-2019, 07:13 PM
Poor thing. Whatever it is, I hope she could be treated and heal from this.

06-15-2019, 07:53 PM
The pix are hard to tell from but I am wondering if you are looking at bot fly warbles? You DO have those in Florida - tons of them. The "black/leathery sounds bot-like...

06-15-2019, 08:30 PM
Hi mel-la-fee. Iím in SE Hillsborough County, south of you. I have never had pox here... thankfully.
Pox is in FL but not where I am. In St. Pete they seem to have pox every year. I also hear of occasional reports of pox throughout the state. Have you had a rainy spring? We have been extremely dry until a week ago. I have received 8 inches in about 7-8 days. Here the mosquitos are few due to the rain just starting. Give it a week or two and they will be brutal. Pox and bot flys are linked to rain/mosquitoes... especially pox. I have noted that when we have a dry spring the bots arenít nearly as bad. If itís a wet spring... look out, they will be horrible. That was a personal observation from several years.

To be honest with you what you describe does sound like bots but itís early for that in my area.
I donít see bots until July. August and September are horrible and by October they have run their course.

Your squirrel does not look like pox at all. It usually starts around the eyes and on the toes.

Frankly, I have never seen a bot bleed and I have seen MANY. I wonder if these are wounds from a hawk attack. Hawks will key in on an injured or compromised squirrel. The fresh blood could be from a hawk taking advantage of an injured animal.

Try to get more pics tomorrow and I can tell you for sure if itís bots or wounds. It is not pox.

06-16-2019, 09:28 PM
It doesnít look like pox to me, either. We did have pox in Brevard County, Fl. about 15 years ago because I had several yard squirrels that had it. It seemed to last for a couple of years and then disappear. It was horrible! Since then I have not seen any of my squirrels with it.

06-18-2019, 12:18 AM
Well, I tried 2 days in a row to get new pics and no luck. We had massive rain storms at every moment I was home, so none of my usuals were making an appearance, including her. I'm glad it doesn't look like pox to anyone. I did actually think of a bot fly infestation, but that's another thing we've never had in my area, so I have only internet images to guage by. I've been leaving clean water and extra food out so that she doesn't go hungry at least (though I'm sure my indoor squirrels are not happy about me sharing their avocados!).

I know the pics don't show it well, but it really does go beyond the typical presentation of wounds. I think it could still be an injury from another animal, but it would have to be at a point where some of the wounds have abscessed. The swelling is presenting as round, large protrusions that look cracked and blistered. I was a little surprised she was still so agile because if infection has set in, I would expect her to be a little more cautious and tired.

In any event, thanks for the feedback. I'll update as soon as I get a chance to take better photos of her. The forecast calls for rain again tomorrow, but I'm hoping she'll stop by before it hits.

06-29-2019, 09:53 PM
Ooph- OOOOOH MAN. So, I didn't see my girl for awhile but she came around today and everyone was right. She has a super crazy botfly infestation. I've never seen it in person before but it is awful. The one on her back has already started to heal over but she has at least 6 other warbles, 2 of which are about to pop.It was very distressing for me. She was otherwise active and her weight looked good. But .. Just... Ugh. I'm a bit squeamish I guess because it freaked me out and all I want is to pin her down and drag those larvae out of her.She was released almost 2 years ago so that's not going to happen...she is very much a wild baby now. But is there anything I can do to help? I'm thinking ABs from the vet to combat possible infection after nature takes its course. Maybe I can coat almonds and walnuts with it?

Here's a video: https://youtu.be/AKx77WQ4YHw

Also pics below (poor quality). Should I be worried? I know botflies don't usually kill their hosts, but it seems like she has A LOT of them

06-30-2019, 09:14 AM
Yes, I hear ya. Bot fly warbles are just about the grossest thing on the planet. Before I got into the Ďsquirrel thingí I didnít even know they existed. What a shocker when I because acquainted with these vile creatures. :eek

As a general rule you do nothing about bot fly warbles. Let them run their course. BUT you need to watch her carefully. Most rehabbers will capture them if they have 6 or more warbles and pull them. I realize that is easier said than done. The biggest problem as the warbles ooze body fluids and waste. That fluid comes from the squirrel and with our 90+ temps they are subject to dehydration. I had that happen two years in a row for one of my releases. Both times she returned covered in warbles. She was clearly compromised. She was wobbly and circling. It made it easier to capture her. I have no doubt she would have died without intervention. The first year I pulled them myself. The second year was far beyond what I could do so I took her to the vet. Between those I removed and the vet there were 24 larvae. She recovered and was released for the third time.

Just watch your girl for signs of dehydration. You would be surprised what you can do when the life of something you love is in jeopardy. Interestingly, others have been reporting warbles around the state but I havenít seen a single one.... yet.

06-30-2019, 10:27 AM
I looked at your pic again and it looks like a warble developing on the face below the eye. I really hate the ones on the face. Just to let you know, I have never pulled one on the face or jaw line. It takes quite a bit of pressure to pull them so Iíve always been afraid of putting that much pressure on the jaw. Iím afraid it could break the jaw or cause a malocclusion so I donít touch those.

06-30-2019, 01:52 PM
Just watch your girl for signs of dehydration. You would be surprised what you can do when the life of something you love is in jeopardy. Interestingly, others have been reporting warbles around the state but I havenít seen a single one.... yet.

I'm putting out fresh water and keeping an eye on her. Right now she's too fast but I have a trap I can use to grab her if necessary. I just hate to put her through that stress if I don't have to. Poor thing... I don't even want to imagine what it's like having those things in your skin like that. It's something right out of Alien.:eek

06-30-2019, 03:03 PM
Better pics (I think). Looks like it might only be 5 warbles, but boy are they huge. And one is right on the side of her head behind the ear :sadness

06-30-2019, 03:37 PM
The one with the largest block spot will probably exit tomorrow. Vile!!! :yuck

It might have been coincidence but I noticed that they always exited in the morning.

06-30-2019, 05:13 PM
Vile is exactly the term I was looking for. I have so many rescues that have dispersed and carved out their own space in the woods or neighborhood. One of my girls is just across the street in our neighbor's yard. I hear her yelling in the morning but she rarely visits anymore (she has claimed a whole fruit tree and nests in the nearby oak so I suppose she is queen over there now and doesn't need me!). Two of my boys show up in the fall when food starts getting scarcer, but most of my releases have fully adapted to the outside. One made its way about a mile down the road to my sister's house. We can't prove its of of my releases really, but he demands food from her and comes up on her front porch to sniff around while she's there but runs when anyone else is there. She stopped by my house to help with feedings while I was at work for a batch I had last year and the fact that he seems to recognize her but is wary of everyone else makes me think he has to be one of ours.
She says she hasn't seen him or his girlfriend in the past 2 weeks, so now I have to wonder how many of my wild babies are affected, and how they're fairing in general. I guess part of being a parent is learning you can't solve all of your children's problems, but it sucks.:boohoo

07-27-2019, 08:10 PM
Just to update, my girl was missing for awhile and I feared something had happened to her while her immune system was weakened, but she did show up again finally, and all the warbles are gone! She has a few bare places where her fur hasn't grown back in, but there are no open wounds and she seems as chipper as ever. She's a little on the lean side, so I make sure to put out healthy goodies twice a day. I couldn't swear that she gets all of them (there's competition in the neighborhood) but I know she at least gets the items I offer by hand. Man- botflies are just disgusting! So happy she was strong enough to get over them on her own. I wasn't looking forward to stressing her out by catching her if her condition deteriorated.