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Thread: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

  1. #1
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    Default Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    I just noticed that this one didn't have any postings yet and this is probably the biggest and most frequent concern for captive squirrels. I will post the best description that I can. All you rehabbers out there feel free to add to it.

    Metabolic bone disease is a severe calcium deficiency. It not only strikes squirrels but many other animals such as reptiles. Symptoms can include:

    going down in back legs
    seizures
    bone deformities
    paralysis
    brittle bones (which can result in breaks)
    death

    Metabolic Bone Disease is easily prevented. Here is how:

    All captive squirrels need sunshine. If direct sunlight is not available full spectrum lights can be bought at pet shops, especially ones that deal in reptiles. Make sure that the sales person is knowledgeable about reptiles. They will be more likely to quide you to the proper light.

    Feed the squirrel a wide variety of green leafy vegetables. These contain calcium.

    Calcium suplements can also be used. If the squirrel is still on formula they will not need a suplement. the formula contains calcium. Prime is a popular brandwith squirrel rehabbers. It is a calcium suplement for birds and can be found in pet stores. A calcium liquid can also be used. This can be added in the water bottle. This can be bought in a drug store. Do make sure that the liquid calcium only has calcium in it, no other vitamins.

    MBD is very painfull and very deadly. This one should not be taken lightly. the quicker the treatment the better the chances of recovery. some of the paralysis and any deformities cannot be reversed. It can however be stopped in its tracks therefore quick treatment is very important. treatment consists of:

    calcium suplements

    Give the squirrel a heating pad under half of the cage (therefore if it gets too warm it can get off of it). The heat will help soothe the aching bones.

    change in diet. Make sure that the diet is in a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and nuts.

    keep themin a small cage until the pain is gone. this way the little guy won't have to movefar to get his food or water.

  2. Serious fuzzy thank you's to squirrelfriend from:

    Daisey007 (05-18-2016)

  3. #2
    Gabe Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Good info squirrelfriend, another reason to keep them in a small cage, called "cage rest", is to prevent climbing and thereby falling and breaking the already brittle bones.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Another thing to note per:Wild Mammal Babies
    The body needs a proper balance of calcium and phosphorus at a 2:1 ratio.
    Last edited by island rehabber; 03-18-2007 at 09:13 AM.

    Pa. licenced Rehabber

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Seeds, nuts, and corn are high in phosphorous and contain low, or no, calcium (almonds and hazelnuts do have a small amount of calcium, but also contain phosphorous). The body needs phosphorous as well as calcium, but when phos ratios exceed calcium ratios, the phos blocks the absorption of calcium, making it unavailable to the body. If one feeds a low amount of high calcium foods, and a high amount of phos foods, it will cause mbd. Therefore, calcium foods must be the major component of the diet. Squirrels love nuts, seeds, and corn and will eat those foods exclusively if given the opportunity. When these foods are the major component of the diet, they are the nutritional equivalent of candy. When given as small portions of a diet, with high calcium foods being the major item on the menu, seeds, nuts, and corn become just one more nutritional element, in this case a positive element. Again: a diet of seeds, nuts, corn will cause metabolic bone disease if they are the major, or only, components of a diet.

    Symptoms of MBD: general body soreness, activity levels decline, lethargy, sometimes a drop in appetite, sometimes labored breathing, increasing in severity to seizures and or paralysis, then death if not treated. The symptoms usually manifest around the age of 10 weeks; the caretaker may not see the symptoms, or recognize what he or she is seeing, until the symptoms become severe and the animal goes down. This is the point at which people usually call me crying, “something is wrong with my baby, he is paralyzed (or having seizures).” Some babies are dying in the person’s hands as we talk. This anguish is so preventable if one feeds a high calcium diet.

    Pa. licenced Rehabber

  6. #5
    queenmom Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Is Wardleys reptile calcium ok to use? If so, what is the proper dosage?

  7. #6
    Abacat Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Queenmom,
    I'm not sure about that, but I'm no expert. I have read that PRIME is okay, it's a bird supplement, or liquid calcium (only) from a pharmacy..but usually best to get from natural sources. Try Dannon la Creme Vanilla yogurt.. I give Riley(red squirrel) 2 tsp/2X day...he Loves it. Just started adding heavy cream to it per a friend to help with low fat in his diet. Loads of nutritional info. here to help you...

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    I rarely see fox squirrels coming here with the posibility of MBD It seems to always be greys? Is there a reason, other than there is probably a larger population of greys than any other squirrel?

    Pa. licenced Rehabber

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Quote Originally Posted by rippie-n-lilgirlsmom
    I rarely see fox squirrels coming here with the posibility of MBD It seems to always be greys? Is there a reason, other than there is probably a larger population of greys than any other squirrel?
    I think it's just the law of averages.....greys are everywhere across the US and parts of Europe. Foxer and red populations are only in specific areas.
    Island Rehabber
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    NEGLECT IS ABUSE.

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  10. #9
    queenmom Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    I had a bit of a problem diagnosing her, but it makes sense. She was always a plaster gnawer, but for the last 3 months, has had limited access. Since I started her on calcium and a heating pad, and a full spectrum light, she is not in as much pain but is still a bit slow moving. She was at a point that she couldn't move without making a stressful noise. Her appetite is good and she is doing her business without any problem.
    Thanks for all your help

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    MBD is a big problem in flyers, too. As small as they are, it doesn't take them long to go down. Any time I get one in that is sick, I always try to eliminate MBD as the cause before I even consider anything else. Flyers are very healthy little critters, and if you don't have an obvious problem - cat bite, severe fall, etc. - it will nearly always be MBD. I don't use a calcium supplement on their food. I DO have cuttlebones, calcium blocks and antlers in each cage at all times, and I feed yogurt at least 4 or 5 times a week, in addition to other calcium rich foods. I use L&M liquid vitamins in their water every day, since they are nocturnal and do not get vitamin D from sunlight.

    muffinsquirrel
    The Southeast Texas Acorn Academy

    Already we have hickory nuts, black walnuts, pecan nuts, peanuts, hazel nuts, oak nuts, beech nuts, chestnuts.......and now you're here!


    http://www.nfsa.us/phpBB2/index.php

  12. #11
    queenmom Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Is straight liquid calcium available? Seems like everything also has D3 for absorption or something else.
    I bought some LaCreme vanilla. She took one sniff, thumbed her nose and went back in her nest. It will not be wasted though, tastes like cheesecake!
    I will try plain yogurt and see what happens.
    Is it possible to overdo the calcium?
    She is soooo much better. Hard to believe that 3 days ago it looked like she might not make it. I know she's probably got a bit more time til she gets back to herself, so I will keep a close eye.
    Thank you so much for all your help. This is a great resource. I also contacted other forums and have yet to hear back.
    She is the "queen", hence the name "queenmom". She is also the only other woman that I will share my bed and husband with.

  13. #12
    Abacat Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    I'm sorry she didn't like the yogurt, but hey, glad to hear it won't be wasted .You can do a search for any topic on threads posted here, simply click on search on the blue "toolbar" then type in your topic (must be logged in to do this). I searched for liquid calcium and found a thread under General Squirrel Discussions, named liquid calcium. I do believe it probably is best to use what has worked for others...That PRIME powder I mentioned... the hard thing about using a liquid is measuring what they actually are ingesting, course I suppose that's also true of foods dusted with the powder . But as I said I'm not an expert in the matter, this is my first squirrel, and have learned alot from everyone here. Riley is a Red squirrel, and will be released when weather permits. Good luck, keep us posted of her progress...
    Oh and yes, I've read it is possible to overdose the calcium... Anyone else?

  14. #13
    VampireFerrets Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    I don't have experience with squirrels. I am here to learn. But I do have extensive experience with domestic skunks. Like squirrels, their number 1 dietary problem is MBD. I have researched this extensively. Yes, calcium can be over done and create more problems than it was intended to correct. You have to make sure your animal is getting the proper source of digestible calcium in the proper amount.

  15. #14
    Gabe Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    VampireFerrets, can you give us the symptoms of too much calcium?

  16. #15
    Abacat Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Very high levels of calcium can result in appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, confusion, seizures, and even coma.

    (I took this excerpt from a web search on google)

  17. #16
    VampireFerrets Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    The wrong type of calcium and too high of doseages can result in bone spurs, bone fusing and kidney stones. Abacat listed some of the symptoms. Once there is bone fusing, often times a vet will recommend putting the animal down as little can be done to help that.

  18. #17
    Gabe Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Thanks guys for the symptoms. I always thought they were very similar to too little calcium.

  19. #18
    TexanSquirrel Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    VampireFerrets! And thanks for the info!

  20. #19
    VampireFerrets Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Thanks for the welcome!

  21. #20
    ctpeach1977 Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Hi There~!


    I need some advice on what to feed my squirrel to help avoid MBD. I already know about the leafy greens, cal/phos ratio of 2:1 etc...etc...
    The problem I have is that I CAN NOT GET HER TO EAT ANY RODENT DIET! I have tried both Zupreem primate diet and MAZURI rodent block and have mixed both with peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter... the list goes on, and she still wont eat it. Ive tried the liquid calcium in the water and she refuses to drink. She does however like to eat kale and sometimes rarely dandelion greens, also chews daily on her femur bones and deer antlers and basks in the warmth of her ott light. Any suggestions for other leafy greens that they like to eat??? or any other brands of food and or calcium supplements?

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