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Thread: Most common ailments/medical issues of LONG TERM captive squirrels and how to prepare

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Thanked: 4

    Default Most common ailments/medical issues of LONG TERM captive squirrels and how to prepare

    Hi all.

    I've had my little girl for about 6 months now since she was a baby. I didn't think I would have her long term, but it's looking more like that will happen.

    I am in a state where keeping captive squirrels is illegal. I plan on releasing her as soon as my situation permits, but right now, I want to prevent or be ready for any type of physical ailment she might develop - because if anything were to happen to her, I wouldn't be able to take her to a vet in my state (or anywhere nearby). I do have a connection to a wildlife rehabilitation center that I have volunteered with for years, but to be honest I don't trust them so I would like to not resort to asking them questions.

    I know that on this board people write in with all kinds of medical issues but I would like to not have to scroll through all of them to figure out what are one-off situations or what are really typical situations that I should try to prepare for.

    So my question is, to those of you who have had experience caring for grey squirrels in LONG TERM captivity -- what are some of the most common physical ailments/problems that happen with squirrels that are kept captive long-term? And how can I prepare, in case something happens? How would I get medication and how would I know how to deliver it to her (besides coming to this board in a panic)?

    I'm looking for feedback specifically from those who have cared for multiple captive squirrels for years at a time.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    City Island, Bronx, NY
    Thanked: 16436

    Default Re: Most common ailments/medical issues of LONG TERM captive squirrels and how to pre

    As a licensed rehabber I have only had two non-releasable squirrels in the past 17 years; I believe strongly that quality of life is more important than sympathies of human 'owner', so I do euthanize non-releasables who cannot live a happy life.

    THAT being said, some of the things to be wary of in non-releasables include:

    * malocclusion Teeth that do not grind down against each other properly will overgrow into the palate and down into the neck and jaw. It's a death sentence; owners must either clip teeth every 2 weeks forever or have incisors removed. Mother squirrels will toss babies out who are maloccluded, and somehow they can tell very early on. So sometimes the reason we find a baby on the ground in the first place is because it is a malloc.

    *Odontomae Growths stemming from the root beds of a squirrel's incisors, often due to constant cage bar chewing. They cause pain, infection, and a host of other issues. Can be surgically treated but only safely by the two or three experts in the field, at considerable cost.

    * Metabolic Bone Disease An imbalance of calcium to phosphorous in the squirrel's system, causing what can be described as osteoporosis on steroids. It cripples and kills. Poor diet (too many phosphorous-laden foods like nuts and corn, not enough greens and natural foods with calcium) AND lack of sunlight (UVB) are the main reasons so many captive squirrels end up with MBD.

    Things to have on hand:

    Antibiotics. Clavamox, Baytril or Cipro, and SMZ/TMP are often required for infections of various types. You need a prescription for all of them but sometimes you can borrow one tablet from friends or family, and that will make plenty of doses for your squirrel.

    Silver Sulfadiazene (Silvadene*) cream for everything from urine scald to burns to open wounds

    Betadine antiseptic wash to clean wounds

    Hope this helps. As I think of more (just woke up) I will add.

    Island Rehabber
    NY State Licensed
    Wildlife Rehabilitator

    "Ancora Imparo" (I am still learning)

    If you can't afford the vet,
    You can't afford a pet.

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

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

  3. 4 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to island rehabber:

    Grinderhead (12-16-2021), Mel1959 (12-16-2021), stepnstone (12-16-2021), TubeDriver (12-16-2021)

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    East coast of Florida
    Thanked: 11686

    Default Re: Most common ailments/medical issues of LONG TERM captive squirrels and how to pre

    You ask how to get medication? You would have to call family and friends to find any leftover medications, if you don’t have access to a vet that will provide meds. Don’t try and dose anything you get by yourself. Some meds are better suited for one type of infection versus another. Folks on here will let you know about the meds and breakdown and dose any meds you need to use based on the strength of the medication and the weight of the squirrel.

    If you need dosing help then you need to post in the emergency section of the forum and someone will help you.

  5. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Mel1959 from:

    island rehabber (12-18-2021)

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