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Thread: after the tragedy qustions

  1. #1
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    Default after the tragedy qustions

    i'm keeping it simple so nobody has to read an essay. if there are questions afterwards i will try to give as much information as possible.

    i live and do tree work for a living in lower upstate ny. i have two male sibling greys (Pepper and Layne) that i rescued 4/6/18 that have never had issues and are still very content.

    august 6th i found three tiny pink babies that were in the one week old range (two female and one male).

    being it was so late in the year and late births or not common in my area i didn't have a kit with all of the ideal items with me so i went with warm water esbilac for immediate formula feeding and used an incubator to maintain a stable heated environment when not feeding them. a week later i ordered the fox valley 32/40 and used that until the four week range and then switched to 20/50 up until current.

    at somewhere around six weeks old i brought them to a friend of mine who owns a pet store and when he saw them he declared them red/grey hybrids so that evening i went scouring the internet to see what i could learn as i didn't previously know there was such a thing. it seemed plausible and probable but i found no information that caused me to think i had to do anything differently than i already was.

    roughly three weeks ago i started weening them and giving them small pieces of henry's blocks and different vegetables with tiny amounts of fruit and nuts to see what they could stomach. they were at this point large enough that i felt confident leaving them home instead of taking them to work with me every day. as with my older grey boys, i had been bringing them with me to work to feed and keep track of their well being until they were stable enough to leave home. i was giving them formula in the morning before work and at night before bed. during the day they had an assortment of things to nibble on if they so chose. it's hard to say how much they ate and how much they just chewed on and left as debris. my grey boys were like this in the beginning.

    two weeks ago the female that from the beginning had developed fastest and seemed the strongest (her eyes opened two and a half days before the other two and she was mobile with balance far more quickly) decided to self release while i was doing a 5k cancer walk on a tree farm. one moment i had all three of them and the next there were only two. it was no more than two or three minutes before i noticed. i immediately started looking for her but i was for real in the woods and there were infinite trees and places for her to play/hide/investigate. there were oaks and hickory trees in every direction and the nut drop in that area was decent. she had plenty of reason to scamper off. as i said, she was further developed and it did not surprise me. i was saddened. the week before she had run up a four inch beech sapling and stared at me from some thirty feet up as if to say look what i can do (i was at a loss for words) and then came back down to me like nothing had happened. winter is fast approaching and it had been my plan to transition/release them in the spring, but it honestly was a wonderful place for her to choose as a home. i went out two days after because it was raining and i felt awful for her and thought i might give her a second option but i had no luck. her name was Popper.

    this all leads me to this evening coming home after work to discover the remaining male (Pignut) and female (Batina) dead in their cage.

    i have zero clue as to why and i am truly heartbroken. i have already buried them and shed a great many tears. i am now calm enough to try and figure out what i did wrong because i need to not have this possibly happen again.

    i am not a licensed rehabilitator. i do not have years of experience. i did not even intentionally keep the two older greys whom i love dearly. it was snowing and raining on the day i cut down their rotten and hollow apple tree home spilling them into the cold. there was nowhere at all i could leave them and be sure they wouldn't freeze to death before we were gone and the mother felt safe enough to return and try to rehome them. i tried to find a rehabilitator and had fast no luck so i started doing the research and before i knew it i was their father and they accepted me and have ever since. i know i got lucky.

    these three were in a large willow i was cutting down and i only kept them because there was a hawk across the street in a sycamore making noise all day and i wasn't going to take the risk it got them before their mom could.

    a side note about the willow home i found them in:
    red squirrel apparently will eat willow seeds when they don't have enough conifer seeds of their choice. the research i did on red/grey leads me to believe the father was probably the grey and the mother the red and she chose the willow as a home/food source. i could be totally reaching and be totally wrong. it hardly matters.

    if there are questions some of you can ask me for things that may help make sense of this please ask away. i don't know what to add other than the basics. they had fresh sweet potato, snap peas, beets, dried oats, portabella mushrooms, apple and avocado and plenty of fresh water. last night i had them out and they behaved as they have with nothing at all to notice as upset or sick. i put them in their cage for bed where they had a small box with one of my clean shirts to nest in. this morning i woke up terribly late and did not give them their typical formula breakfast. i also did not talk to them or inspect them. i looked at their water and food and split. this is the only break in my routine since i found them. i can't see that this is what killed them but i am mentioning it as it happened. i got home from work some ten hours later and found them stiff. while burying them it felt to me as if Pignut's stomach was slightly warm. i can't be sure but i don't think i was imagining it. it is entirely possible that they died over night and not during the day while i was at work. i wish i had checked on them before leaving this morning. it probably wouldn't answer anything for me though and i probably couldn't have saved them. i am not near anywhere that handles wildlife like this and i am on my own for better or worse.

    worth mentioning is that across the same room from where they have been sleeping i have the large cage that my greys share. i have never had them close or loose at the same time. they have never shared items. the boys have eaten the exact same food but they were fed independently without chance of cross contamination.

    finding them on august 6th and them being roughly a week old then, that makes them twelve weeks old give or take.

    i'm brand new here and do not know any of the taboos or unspoken rules. i read what i could before posting this and then wanted to get it all out before i might forget anything important. if i have done something incorrect i am sorry and will do whatever is appropriate to make it better. i love animals of all kinds. i encounter all manner of them at work and in the woods where i spend a great deal of my free time. i try to do right by them every bit that i can. i try to let nature be nature and leave as few footprints as possible. i do not believe i know what is best and only help when i think it is helpless and hopeless if i don't.

    thank you,
    nicholas

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

    Buddy (10-22-2020)

  3. #2
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    Default Re: after the tragedy qustions

    Nicholas. What a truly awful tragedy you have experienced. After 16 yrs of rehabbing squirrels I have absolutely no idea what killed your poor kids. Nothing jumps out at me at all regarding diet, housing, or otherwise. Without having necropsies done, i don't think you'll ever know and maybe not even with them done. 12 week sudden death is truly strange.

    All I can say is I'm sorry. It sounds as if you came here with an open mind and took our info to heart and used it wisely. I wish I knew what the hell happened.

    PS: Your friend is a bit mistaken; reds and greys do not mate, there are no hybrids.
    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. '

  4. #3
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    Default Re: after the tragedy qustions

    I am very sorry, Nicholas, that you are going through this. It’s obvious you cared a great deal about them.

    Sometimes we don’t get answers to why things happen. I hope others will read your story and offer some type of explanation.

    You say they were running around fine the night prior. That doesn’t sound like they were exhibiting any signs of MBD, but MBD can kill. There are usually some outward signs before that, though. I always worry about MBD if they have been taken off formula too soon.

    Was there any new foods given? Were all three free when the girl released, where they could have ingested something?

    Again, I’m very sorry for your loss.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: after the tragedy qustions

    What a tragedy! Iím so sorry for your loss.

    The only thing that sounds even remotely possible is a toxin, possible an aflatoxin from mold. Squirrels are notorious for stashing/hoarding food. I have found some disturbing messes where they stashed moist foods like their veggies. Even though their food bowl seemed reasonable on visual inspection maybe because they didnít get their formula they went into a hoarded food stash that was bad/contaminated with mold. Aflatoxins are deadly.

    Have you given them acorns? A hoarded acorn is a very real possibility as they have been implicated in multiple squirrel deaths similar to yours. Acorns are moist inside and will mold. They look perfectly fine but the mold can be deadly if it is a toxin producer. The reason I mention acorns is that this is the season.

    In my mind I would almost have to be something they ate for both to die suddenly. The only other possibility would be carbon monoxide but that likely would have killed all including the greys.

    Nicholas, we can only speculate about a cause but the reality is that it will remain a mystery. Iím so sorry for your loss.

  6. 3 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to HRT4SQRLS:

    Buddy (10-22-2020), Diggie's Friend (10-23-2020), island rehabber (10-22-2020)

  7. #5
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    Default Re: after the tragedy qustions

    I would also lean toward possibly toxic mold, from nuts or food stashed in their cage.
    Javarat
    GA State Licensed
    Wildlife Rehabilitator

  8. #6
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    Default Re: after the tragedy qustions

    I have nothing to add but condolences. Your shock and pain are known to all here.
    "I hope everyone got or gets their Baby Love today"~Shewhosweptforest

    https://www.henryspets.com/1-baby-squirrel-care-guide/

  9. #7
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    Default Re: after the tragedy qustions

    I am so sorry. That sucks.

    I had a similar loss early on.

    Other than a toxin, the next thing that comes to mind is aspiration pneumonia. From personal experience I can say that they can seem fine the day before and be on death's door the next morning.

    How deep was the water in the dish in their cage? How high were the sides of the water container? Both contribute to aspiration risk. The shallower, the better in both cases.

    Given that they weren't given formula that morning they would have more thirsty than usual. If their nostrils submerge when they drink, they can aspirate water into their lungs. It seems that the younger the squirrel, the less able they are to drink safely from a container of water. They are used to get everything from suckling from mom. Suckling is a rather action compared to drinking.

    That is how I lost Oscar. I had just rescued him a couple of days before and wasn't feeding them formula because I didn't have any and was just working with what I had on hand. I wasn't feeding with a syringe either. I didn't have one of those either at the time.

  10. #8
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    Default Re: after the tragedy qustions

    I am so terribly sorry - to lose both of them at the same time is both tragic and very odd.

    Is the cage they were in indoors or out? Did any humans besides you have access to the cages?

  11. #9
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    Default Re: after the tragedy qustions

    So sorry to hear this... My deepest condolences... RIP little ones!!
    Animals are magical....Thank you everyone who tries to help them, save them tirelessly...

    Please visit "My Buddy" thread to know more about Buddy: https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...65309-My-Buddy

  12. #10
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    Default Re: after the tragedy qustions

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    Was there any new foods given? Were all three free when the girl released, where they could have ingested something?
    Pignut and Batina were far too shy to leave my body both days that i had them out. Popper when she skipped across the ground and then ran up the beech did not eat or chew on anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rock Monkey View Post

    Other than a toxin, the next thing that comes to mind is aspiration pneumonia. From personal experience I can say that they can seem fine the day before and be on death's door the next morning.

    How deep was the water in the dish in their cage? How high were the sides of the water container? Both contribute to aspiration risk. The shallower, the better in both cases.
    it was a four inch diameter bowl two inches high with an inch of water in it. they both had practice drinking this way but not more than a week.

    Quote Originally Posted by CritterMom View Post
    Is the cage they were in indoors or out? Did any humans besides you have access to the cages?
    the cage is indoors with a decent ambient temperature. nobody else including animals had access.


    i really appreciate everybody commenting even if it wasn't with advise or ideas. i understand we all share something with these little spirits and the pain and love is universal.

  13. Serious fuzzy thank you's to desmodus from:

    island rehabber (10-26-2020)

  14. #11
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    Default Re: after the tragedy qustions

    Quote Originally Posted by desmodus View Post

    it was a four inch diameter bowl two inches high with an inch of water in it. they both had practice drinking this way but not more than a week.
    Shallower would be better, a Tupperware lid or even the lid from an oatmeal container. This way their head can be horizontal as they drink, not pointing down to get over the lip. When their head points down to drink it is more likely that their nostrils will be submerged. Also, not allowing the depth to exceed 1/8 of an inch is a more conservative fill level, which should be more than adequate given that the water will be changed every day. Out in the wild they lick up dew or moisture from the surface of a leaf.

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