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Thread: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

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  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 08:13 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.

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  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?

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


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  12. #11
    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?

  13. #12
    Mars Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Have you tried a hard boiled egg still in the shell? You can try small pieces of cheese. Some like it, some don't. Yogurt is well excepted. Look for an organic live cultured yorgurt in vanilla or blueberry.

  14. #13
    squirrelangel Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    I joined the Squirrel Board yesterday for the first time hoping to find a cause and possible cure for my 6-month old "Rocky". According to his symptons(paralysis in hind legs, loss of interest in food and everything else, and whining when he moves) I believe he has MBD. I'm sure he's in pain(I've taken the advice of putting a heating blanket under his cage) so I'm a little uneasy with handling him. He has always liked running around and laying with me on the couch so I feel as if getting him out of his cage would maybe make him feel better..If he happens to bite me because I may move him in a way that causes discomfort will that cause me any injury other than a broken heart?

  15. #14
    Mars Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    If you are concerned about rabies Don't be. Squirrels are very low profile for rabies and they need to have been exposed to the disease to have it. There is no other disease I can think of that a squirrel bite might cause. If it breaks the skin it will bleed and it will hurt. And if left untended can become infected. I would suggest moving him slowly and carefully perhaps on or wrapped in a blanket.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Sorry to here your baby is sick, my junior has been sick and it was because I had the wrong light, Please Please go get the FULL SPECTRUM LIGHT and make sure it says that, if I hadnt gotten mine Junior would have died. He has been sick all week, originally we thought it was his teeth, which they are a problem, but he needed that light and today he is so much better, he had the same symptoms, except he didnt get down in his hind legs, but was really sore and couldnt hardly get around, today he is better. We have to put his food in a processor and chop it up real fine so he can eat because of his teeth, if you dont have the light please go right now and get one, the sooner the better, if you dont your baby will die.

  17. #16
    squirrelangel Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Thank you all so much for welcoming me so nicley. I can't say how very glad I am to have found this site. When I explained what I needed to the associate at the pet store she sold me a "basking spot lamp". I'm thinking this isn't the right thing to have gotten. I live in a small town with a VERY small pet store so she may not have been familiar with what i was referring to. If it isn't- would a store like Petsmart or maybe even a Wal-Mart carry the Full Spectrum Light?

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Thank you for he information..I know iM GUILTY OF DOING alot of reading but no, replying..I think its really7 nice of you to take the time to give out all the grat advice to taking care of these sweet little angels..
    Rachel............

    http://youtu.be/QuHbwPx4lWE American Sign Language- song - SUPER AWESOME- a must watch &listen! ~FLUFFYTAILNUT~Rachel & Bean~[/FONT]

  19. #18
    Critter_Queen Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Please also note that squirrels with MBD have achy bones and joints from the lack of density. Giving them a continuous source of supplemental heat is a must until the squirrel is spending most of its time off of the heat voluntarily. You can provide supplemental heat with a heating pad on low (sometimes medium, but be careful...heating pads vary!!!) under half of the box or carrier or under the cage floor. Make sure the squirrel can NOT come into contact with any part of the pad or cord. You need to pad the floor of whatever you keep them in as well.

    I have had bad luck keeping a recovering MBD squirrel in a wire cage. One week after healing from her initial broken leg, she re-broke it in an 18" tall wire cage. I would recommend a large aquarium with a 1/2" hardware cloth top. Bunge strap the hardware cloth top to the aquarium by wrapping the bunges (one in the front and one in the back...more in the middle depending on the size of the aquarium) around the entire thing and hooking the hooks to each other over the top. They can chew the plastic rim on the aquarium, but that's about it. My MBD squirrel chewed through a rubbermaid tote and a pet carrier before I resorted to the aquarium. Just be sure you don't leave it anywhere that is too warm! Keep the squirrel in this "cage" until it has been eating a high-calcium diet WILLINGLY for at LEAST a month.

  20. #19
    squirrelangel Guest

    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Once I changed Rocky's (which has MBD) diet to the high and moderate calcium foods his appetite has lessened. He has had the FSL on him for approx 22 hours. His alertness has risen slighty and his mood doesn't seem quite as negative but now I'm concerned with his appetite. Are there any tricks or different preparations that I should try? Also, should he be drinking plain water or should I mix anything in with it? I apologize for seeming ignorant to this matter-I just want to make sure that I'm doing what's best for him.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Metabolic Bone Disease symptoms

    Quote Originally Posted by squirrelangel
    Once I changed Rocky's (which has MBD) diet to the high and moderate calcium foods his appetite has lessened. He has had the FSL on him for approx 22 hours. His alertness has risen slighty and his mood doesn't seem quite as negative but now I'm concerned with his appetite. Are there any tricks or different preparations that I should try? Also, should he be drinking plain water or should I mix anything in with it? I apologize for seeming ignorant to this matter-I just want to make sure that I'm doing what's best for him.
    Any change in food can affect his appetite. You can try sprinkling the calcium carbonate powder on a nut (just one a day). Which foods does he seem to like/dislike?
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