Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 33

Thread: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    California
    Posts
    25
    Thanked: 27

    Default 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Hello, I have 2 roughly 10 week old CA ground squirrels I have been rehabbing since they were about 5 weeks old. This is my 3rd season of rehabbing orphans (we live on a 100 acre ranch with tons of squirrels and each season, sadly, brings a few orphans). I started them on Ebsilac Puppy mixed with Fox Valley 20/50 and slowly weaned off as they ate more and more solid foods. Their solid food diet consists of nuts (walnuts and almonds mostly), greens (usually kale, broccoli) some fresh fruits and veggies (carrots and Apples), oats, seeds (generally pumpkin) and some oat cereal (unsweetened cereal). One is doing fantastic, actually both were until recently. I noticed one dragging his hind legs today. He is very timid and always scurries into one of his many hiding places when I enter their space so its possible that he has been this way for 24 hrs. I read on other threads that calcium deficiency can be to blame. Could I have weaned off formula too soon? What to do now?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    9,491
    Thanked: 8637

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Yes, I would get them back on formula if they will take it. How many nuts are they eating? Also seeds?
    You didnít mention a rodent block. They need a rodent block to provide the minerals and vitamins they require. Dragging the hind legs is a classic symptom of Metabolic Bone Disease.

    Give me a minute and I will gather some information together. You need to treat them both for MBD.

  3. 3 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to HRT4SQRLS:

    Nancy in New York (06-20-2019), stepnstone (06-20-2019), stosh2010 (06-21-2019)

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    9,491
    Thanked: 8637

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...-MBD-Treatment

    This is the link for treatment of MBD. I would start the treatment STAT.

  5. 2 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to HRT4SQRLS:

    Nancy in New York (06-20-2019), stepnstone (06-20-2019)

  6. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    9,491
    Thanked: 8637

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Welcome Jilla08

    We can help you. We don’t wean baby squirrels. We let them decide when they want to stop. Babies will usually self wean anywhere from 8-12 weeks. We encourage the young ones and try to not let them wean at 8 weeks. Many will drink formula from a bowl. The first solid food we give is a rodent block. There are several types that are good. Henry’s Healthy Blocks, Envigo Teklad 2018 (Formerly Harlan Teklad), Mazuri Rodent block, Oxbow rodent block.

    After they are eating the block we introduce healthy veggies.
    Here is a chart with the Healthy diet for captive (pet) squirrels.
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...-Pet-Squirrels

    The problem with nuts and seeds is that they are high phosphorus foods. Phosphorus competes in the body with calcium. There is a delicate balance in the body of these two minerals. That ratio is 2:1 (Calcium: Phosphorus) When very high phosphorus foods are feed the body will attempt to re-establish this balance by pulling calcium from the bones. This is what causes Metabolic Bone Disease. The first visible symptoms are hind end paralysis and seizures. Without treatment the next symptom is death. That is why it’s imperative to get the calcium levels back up by mega-dosing calcium.

    MBD is brittle bones but it is far more than just brittle bones. It is an entire metabolic syndrome due to the importance of calcium in many metabolic processes. MBD doesn’t develop over night but the symptoms do. It will take weeks to reverse the complications of MBD and regrow bones. The good news is that the condition can be reversed and the symptoms will often disappear quickly. That doesn’t mean the MBD is gone.

  7. 3 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to HRT4SQRLS:

    island rehabber (06-21-2019), Mel1959 (06-21-2019), Nancy in New York (06-20-2019)

  8. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    California
    Posts
    25
    Thanked: 27

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Thanks all. I will read the MBD protocol and start it right away. Regarding the rodent block, I have a couple of questions: Is it likely something I will need to order or does anyone know if any of the big chains tend to carry it (Petco, Tractor Supply, etc)?

    On another note, our rehabbed squirrels are always released back to the wild. We built a large release cage and usually around 12 weeks old (or when they are eating solids, drinking water, jumping, climbing and telling me they are really tired of their cage in my bathroom, the squirrels go the large outdoor release cage for several weeks to acclimate to the environment before release. There is alot of natural food here for squirrels (acorns, seeds, etc) but we always continue to place plenty of the same kind of food they were raised on in the area of the release cage. It is very close to our pig pasture and our pigs eat grains, fresh veggies and so our squirrel population tends to do quite well.

  9. 3 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to Jilla08:

    island rehabber (06-21-2019), Nancy in New York (06-20-2019), stepnstone (06-20-2019)

  10. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    9,491
    Thanked: 8637

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    I wanted to add Jilla that I am not at all familiar with ground squirrels. Their diet is probably somewhat different from tree squirrels. The consequences of MBD would be the same so I wouldn’t hesitate to start the MBD protocol.
    Any ground squirrel specific dietary needs can be tweaked later. Right now my priorities would be to start the MBD treatment and get them back on formula as the calcium in the formula would be great.
    One other thing ... no more nuts or seeds right now. Nuts are only fed as treats in limited amounts due their high phosphorus and association with MBD.

  11. 3 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to HRT4SQRLS:

    Jilla08 (06-20-2019), Nancy in New York (06-20-2019), stepnstone (06-20-2019)

  12. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    9,491
    Thanked: 8637

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    You can buy Mazuri rodent block and Oxbow at PetCo. Tractor Supply might also have a rodent block. The Envigo and Henryís blocks would need to be ordered online. The Envigo and Henryís are the best blocks. Your squirrels are more likely to eat the Henryís Picky Eater block than the other blocks. They will hate the Mazuri and Oxbow. You would probably have to grind them and use the powder as a base for mixing tastier flavors in like apple sauce, almond butter or even small amounts of ground nuts to enhance the taste. There are many recipes on this board for making rodent block palatable. Once a squirrel has tasted nuts it is very difficult to get them to eat rodent block.

    Your release protocol sounds fine. We do put them in a predator proof release cage to allow them to acclimate. I have put weaned 12 week olds in the release cage to finish growing up. Those teenage squirrels get pretty rowdy in the house. We donít release before 16 weeks but again Iím not familiar with ground squirrels. We give them the full diet that they would be eating when inside. We supplement that with native foods like tree branches, etc. We can talk about acorns later as they have risks due to moisture and harboring mold and aflatoxins.

  13. 3 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to HRT4SQRLS:

    Jilla08 (06-20-2019), Mel1959 (06-21-2019), stepnstone (06-20-2019)

  14. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    California
    Posts
    25
    Thanked: 27

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Update: I was able to get about 3/4 of a 500mg dose of calcium into him and will offer 100 mg every few hours for the rest of the day/evening and follow the MDP protocol going forward.

    I am wondering about his buddy. I hate isolating any wild animals and the pair are used to sleeping together. At the moment, I have the MDP squirrel locked inside of his sleeping cage alone so he can rest and eat without interference from his rambunctious sibling. Both are boys. Is it ok to let them sleep together or too risky with his frail bones or potentially injured spine? Want to keep him safe obviously but would hate to separate needlessly.

  15. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    California
    Posts
    25
    Thanked: 27

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Correction: MBD (not MDP). Need more coffee.

  16. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    9,491
    Thanked: 8637

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    I think I would let them sleep together. You want to minimize stress. Stress can be a seizure trigger for a squirrel with MBD. Personally I would treat them both. Just because the one isnít showing symptoms doesnít mean his bones are sound. If he ate the same diet his bones are compromised.

    He needs to be in a low cage. Iím guessing here but I assume ground squirrels would be in low cages anyway being ground dwellers. Tree squirrels are in tall cages and those are risky when MBD is an issue. They are subject to falls and that can have disastrous results when the bones are brittle. I have seen it happen. A squirrel with MBD fell and broke his back. That canít be fixed with Tums.

    If tomorrow the motile one is overpowering the MBD boy, itís time to move him to a cage by himself.
    I think sleeping together is fine.

    Try to space out the calcium doses so as to keep the calcium levels up.

  17. Serious fuzzy thank you's to HRT4SQRLS from:

    stepnstone (06-20-2019)

  18. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Planet Earth
    Posts
    15,864
    Thanked: 9278

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Quote Originally Posted by HRT4SQRLS View Post
    Just because the one isnít showing symptoms doesnít mean his bones are sound. If he ate the same diet his bones are compromised.
    Back in my early "not know better days" I had one go down soon after the other, same "diet."
    Step-N-Stone
    State Licensed
    Wildlife Master Rehabilitator


  19. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    California
    Posts
    25
    Thanked: 27

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Thank you. I sort of figured he would be calcium deficient as well so already added some calcium for him too (not the emergency dose but gave him 100mg in a peanut butter ball and offered formula (note, formula was never entirely taken away, just not syringe fed every 4 hours). I was at the point of putting some in a small dish (similar to their water dish) once a day sort of as a treat. They would take some but usually not finish it. That's my style of "weaning". Adding a bit more formula back in throughout the day starting now and changing up both of their diets. Will post updates. Thanks so much everyone!

    Quote Originally Posted by HRT4SQRLS View Post
    I think I would let them sleep together. You want to minimize stress. Stress can be a seizure trigger for a squirrel with MBD. Personally I would treat them both. Just because the one isn’t showing symptoms doesn’t mean his bones are sound. If he ate the same diet his bones are compromised.

    He needs to be in a low cage. I’m guessing here but I assume ground squirrels would be in low cages anyway being ground dwellers. Tree squirrels are in tall cages and those are risky when MBD is an issue. They are subject to falls and that can have disastrous results when the bones are brittle. I have seen it happen. A squirrel with MBD fell and broke his back. That can’t be fixed with Tums.

    If tomorrow the motile one is overpowering the MBD boy, it’s time to move him to a cage by himself.
    I think sleeping together is fine.

    Try to space out the calcium doses so as to keep the calcium levels up.

  20. 4 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to Jilla08:

    HRT4SQRLS (06-20-2019), Mel1959 (06-21-2019), Nancy in New York (06-21-2019), stepnstone (06-20-2019)

  21. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    City Island, Bronx, NY
    Posts
    49,056
    Thanked: 12380

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Jilla08, have you done the pinch test with the injured boy? Hold him up under his arms and let his hind legs dangle. Now pinch each hind foot, rather HARD. Do you get any reaction? Does he bring the foot up toward his belly? If no reaction at all, he may have permanently injured his spine -- sorry to say. If some reaction, it may be nerve damage.

    I am not at all suggesting that previous diagnoses are wrong -- MBD is always a possibility in squirrels, but less likely in a young squirrel than in one over a year old. I just want to cover all the bases. If there is spinal injury that is not permanent, a course of prednisone may help this little guy.
    Island Rehabber
    NY State Licensed
    Wildlife Rehabilitator


    "Ancora Imparo" (I am still learning)
    Michelangelo


    *
    If you can't afford the vet,
    You can't afford a pet.
    NEGLECT IS ABUSE.

    "Better one day in the trees, than a lifetime in a cage."

    '...and the greatest of these, is Love. '

  22. Serious fuzzy thank you's to island rehabber from:

    Mel1959 (06-21-2019)

  23. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
    Posts
    27,805
    Thanked: 5426

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Prayers for Full recovery....

  24. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    California
    Posts
    25
    Thanked: 27

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    No I have not but will do that now. Thank you. That's great info. I suspect there is an injury, though I truly hope not. He had no other symptoms (no weakness, lethargy or loss of appetite). Just dragging the back end. I am doing the MBD protocol and he is back on formula every 4 hours. I will pinch test now and update.

    Quote Originally Posted by island rehabber View Post
    Jilla08, have you done the pinch test with the injured boy? Hold him up under his arms and let his hind legs dangle. Now pinch each hind foot, rather HARD. Do you get any reaction? Does he bring the foot up toward his belly? If no reaction at all, he may have permanently injured his spine -- sorry to say. If some reaction, it may be nerve damage.

    I am not at all suggesting that previous diagnoses are wrong -- MBD is always a possibility in squirrels, but less likely in a young squirrel than in one over a year old. I just want to cover all the bases. If there is spinal injury that is not permanent, a course of prednisone may help this little guy.

  25. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    California
    Posts
    25
    Thanked: 27

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    I did the pinch test and he did pull his legs up (not alot and not quickly - he didn't jerk his leg up, just sort of pulled it up slowly and a little). I also pinched his tail and he whipped that up and around quickly. That was a relief. So, given that he has some feeling and a response, is this an indication to try Prednisone? I have plenty on hand (we run an animal sanctuary for dogs, horses and pigs) but have no idea how to dose a little guy. Can you give me some guidance?

    Also, his poop is a light green and a little soft. I assume this is the added calcium and increased formula back in his diet. Any cause for concern or dietary adjustment?

    I really appreciate all of the time and guidance from the folks here. Thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jilla08 View Post
    No I have not but will do that now. Thank you. That's great info. I suspect there is an injury, though I truly hope not. He had no other symptoms (no weakness, lethargy or loss of appetite). Just dragging the back end. I am doing the MBD protocol and he is back on formula every 4 hours. I will pinch test now and update.

  26. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    9,491
    Thanked: 8637

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Jilla, this is a Catch22. I think we need to explore the diet more carefully and the possibility of injury. The reason is because if itís MBD he needs the calcium. If itís a spinal injury he needs the prednisone. Prednisone will block the absorption of calcium so would be contraindicated if it is indeed MDB. Thatís the reason we need to be careful which direction we go.

    When did you stop syringe feeding? You said they used a bowl. Did this little guy continue to take formula from a bowl? How many nuts and seeds did they eat per day? When did they start getting nuts? Have you seen any other symptoms before the leg dragging that would indicate MBD? Any seizures? Any white tears? Clumsiness? Sleeping more or less active?

    Are they in a low cage or a tall cage? Do you think he fell? Have you seen any falls, even minor ones?

    Babies on formula donít/shouldnít get MBD BUT I have seen babies with severe MBD when they were weaned early and given nuts in abundance. In that case, yes, they can get MBD.

    The proper diagnosis is important because the treatments are different. I would hate to add prednisone if this is MBD because it could make the MBD worse. If itís not MBD, the prednisone could reduce spinal inflammation and possibly restore mobility. So itís a dilemma.

  27. 2 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to HRT4SQRLS:

    Mel1959 (06-22-2019), stepnstone (06-22-2019)

  28. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    California
    Posts
    25
    Thanked: 27

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Oh boy, that is a dilemma. Unfortunately I don't have exacts on anything as I felt like I had my routine down so I just did what I always do. Here is the best approximation:

    I found them when they were about 5 weeks or 70 grams. I syringe fed every 4 hours for probably 2 weeks without adding anything else. I would start adding oats with a drop of their formula on them and watch for them to pick them up and eat them. Once it was clear they were beginning to eat solids I started adding some nuts and greens to the mix. I honestly can't say how many. If I had a handful of oats I would add an almond or a walnut (the walnut was broken up into small bites) and a tiny broccoli floret or leaf of greens (like a leaf of kale or similar). I would toss this mix into their cage a few times a day and reduced their syringe offerings to 3 times a day and noticed they would take some from the syringe but then just leave it and go off to do something else or grab their solid food.

    About 4 weeks in (when they would have been about 9 weeks) I started putting the formula in a shallow dish near their water. Sometimes they would lap it up and sometimes not. Of the 2, 1 was very outgoing and would always run out to see what I had and bite my toe. The other would poke his head out and then hide quickly. That is the one that is the subject of this thread. I know he ate (I could hear him chomping on whatever under his towel or whatever hiding place he chose.

    Its possible he injured himself, though I never witnessed anything. My set up is this: During syringe only feeding they are in a large cage and when they don't need heat pads anymore and become more active they get my bathtub (very large and deep) filled with towels and rocks to climb on and things to hide in and under as a sort of day time play pen. Once they are big enough and strong enough to jump out of my bathtub they essentially have the run of the master bath (its squirrel proofed in that everything is put up. But they can climb on my cabinets and so I suppose jumping down and injuring himself is a possibility. All of my previous squirrels did fine with this.

    Usually by the time they get to this stage we are not far off (a couple weeks) from transfer to the outside release cage so I just sacrifice my master bath for those couple weeks and disinfect everything after their release.

    I felt like these 2 started eating more solids sooner than previous squirrels which is why I sort of wondered if I reduced formula too much too soon.

    That said, there have been no other symptoms at all. He is still very alert, same appetite, no white tears, no lethargy and his companion is very healthy and behaves like all of my previous squirrels at this stage (super rambunctious and active).

    My feeling is that is likely an injury, but given that he is more timid than the other, perhaps he lapped up less of the freely offered formula and combined with nut intake had a calcium deficiency that led to the injury.

    Is there any way to know for sure? Vet?

    Quote Originally Posted by HRT4SQRLS View Post
    Jilla, this is a Catch22. I think we need to explore the diet more carefully and the possibility of injury. The reason is because if it’s MBD he needs the calcium. If it’s a spinal injury he needs the prednisone. Prednisone will block the absorption of calcium so would be contraindicated if it is indeed MDB. That’s the reason we need to be careful which direction we go.

    When did you stop syringe feeding? You said they used a bowl. Did this little guy continue to take formula from a bowl? How many nuts and seeds did they eat per day? When did they start getting nuts? Have you seen any other symptoms before the leg dragging that would indicate MBD? Any seizures? Any white tears? Clumsiness? Sleeping more or less active?

    Are they in a low cage or a tall cage? Do you think he fell? Have you seen any falls, even minor ones?

    Babies on formula don’t/shouldn’t get MBD BUT I have seen babies with severe MBD when they were weaned early and given nuts in abundance. In that case, yes, they can get MBD.

    The proper diagnosis is important because the treatments are different. I would hate to add prednisone if this is MBD because it could make the MBD worse. If it’s not MBD, the prednisone could reduce spinal inflammation and possibly restore mobility. So it’s a dilemma.

  29. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Jilla08 from:

    Nancy in New York (06-24-2019)

  30. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    9,491
    Thanked: 8637

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    I think that was helpful. IF you have vet access an X-ray would be awesome but usually that is not an option as most vets won’t see wildlife.

    The fact that there is feeling and some movement is a good sign. Clearly the spine is not severed so there is hope. From what I read they were on their mother or formula until 7 weeks. So we are 3 weeks out from then. After that formula was sketchy but available. It doesn’t sound like they were eating a boatload of nuts... just some.

    In my notes about MBD there is a comment that says prednisone is contraindicated in MBD but if prednisone must be given it should be given with calcium. Maybe we can do both to cover the bases. It sounds like an injury might have happened in the bathroom. Squirrels do play sorta crazy at that age. I call that age the teenagers and they are little daredevils. Who knows... jumping off a vanity to the floor could have caused an injury. It might not be spinal. I had a baby that fell from a tree recently that had a broken pelvis.

    What mg of prednisone do you have? How much does he weigh? With these two numbers the pred can be dosed. I will direct someone to your thread to dose the prednisone. Some have also added gabapentin to the mix. Do you have that? I would continue the calcium for a week and then drop back to a low dose as a just in case.

    Does this sound reasonable to you?

    Edit... just a question... do ground squirrels jump like crazy like tree squirrels?

  31. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    California
    Posts
    25
    Thanked: 27

    Default Re: 10 week old suddenly cannot use back legs

    Yes, your summary is pretty accurate. How do squirrels express pain? In other words, if there was a broken pelvis or another fracture of some sort, would he squeak and be vocal when I picked him up? He does not do that and I used the tip of my nail this time with the pinch test as I think I did it too softly before (was very cautious about how hard I could get away with pinching a little squirrel foot). That was more uncomfortable and he jerked his leg away on both sides. So that was a good sign.

    I think doing both Pred and calcium sounds like a good plan. I have various strengths on hand but the smallest is 10mg I believe and yes, I also have gabapentin. 300mg is likely the smallest dose I have of that.

    I am going to ask our local wildlife rehab org if they have a vet that sees squirrels. I suspect not or I would likely already know of this vet but going to check.

    Ground squirrels climb more than they jump. They will jump but cautiously and not from a very high place unless they feel pressured or threatened and have to move fast. Generally they will climb down the wood cabinet in our bathroom. the ledge of my tub is about 18 inches off the ground and they will jump from that high but not much higher. I know that a spinal compression can happen though from even a low jump if the animal lands wrong (we have a paralyzed dog who compressed her spine playing and landing wrong). So, I think that a spinal injury remains a possibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by HRT4SQRLS View Post
    I think that was helpful. IF you have vet access an X-ray would be awesome but usually that is not an option as most vets wonít see wildlife.

    The fact that there is feeling and some movement is a good sign. Clearly the spine is not severed so there is hope. From what I read they were on their mother or formula until 7 weeks. So we are 3 weeks out from then. After that formula was sketchy but available. It doesnít sound like they were eating a boatload of nuts... just some.

    In my notes about MBD there is a comment that says prednisone is contraindicated in MBD but if prednisone must be given it should be given with calcium. Maybe we can do both to cover the bases. It sounds like an injury might have happened in the bathroom. Squirrels do play sorta crazy at that age. I call that age the teenagers and they are little daredevils. Who knows... jumping off a vanity to the floor could have caused an injury. It might not be spinal. I had a baby that fell from a tree recently that had a broken pelvis.

    What mg of prednisone do you have? How much does he weigh? With these two numbers the pred can be dosed. I will direct someone to your thread to dose the prednisone. Some have also added gabapentin to the mix. Do you have that? I would continue the calcium for a week and then drop back to a low dose as a just in case.

    Does this sound reasonable to you?

    Edit... just a question... do ground squirrels jump like crazy like tree squirrels?

  32. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Jilla08 from:

    Nancy in New York (06-24-2019)

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •