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Thread: Cancer in Squirrels

  1. #1
    aluv4squirrels Guest

    Default Cancer in Squirrels

    Is there anyone who can give me information regarding cancer in squirrrels and what the signs or symptons are?

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    Question Re: Cancer in Squirrels

    Hi!

    Well, that's a very general question! Yes, squirrels can have cancer. Depending on the type of cancer and the part of the body, there could be too many symptoms to possibly list, ranging from so subtle that it wouldn't be noticed to a squirrel who is obviously very ill. Severity of symptoms would also depend on how long the squirrel has had cancer.

    Is there something in particular that you're worried about?

    hazel
    aka The Beastmistress
    Veterinary Technician

    Vegetarian since 1974

  3. #3
    aluv4squirrels Guest

    Default Re: Cancer in Squirrels

    Hi,

    Actually I was wondering about the cancer for a few reasons 1 being that we lost a squirrel a bit ago who was 6 years old (and had been with us since a baby at 8 weeks old), and his passing was believed to have been from cancer. We did not have a necropsy done. He was very ill for the last month of his life, (plus he had tiny seizures from the day we received him to the day he passed and the seizures would last for less than 1 second, but he would have several throughout each day). Anyhow for his last month of life he would be ill then get better, ill again, better again, like a roller coaster but just could not fully recover this time from whatever was wrong, he was having more ill days than better days. He was very listless, slept almost 24 hours/day, had some sort of pain going on inside him that was preventing him from doing any activity, he would try and sit up to eat but could not so he had to lay down, also he seemed to have difficulty at times swallowing (at least that what it seemed like), same pain happened when drinking his water, but he actually would drink his water standing up but had to hold onto something, his breathing was extremely rapid to the point the last 3 days of his life his breathing shook his enitre body even his head, and he had to sleep or lay with his head cocked up. He stopped walking, he could walk but did not want to and when he did walk he would only take 1 or 2 steps and lay down immediately or go to sleep. He seemed very weak. Also at times when he would stretch or urinate he would cry. He still ate okay up until the day before he passed he only ate a few bites of fruits and 3 sunflower seeds. His fur and eyes was very shiny so I thought that they were good signs, but then to my shock he passed away. He was sneezing a bit and had some white mucus in his right eye a few days before he passed, but earlier that month he had a bit of discharge from his nose or dried up mucus and some white mucus around his eye, so he had been put on amoxi drops, figuring he may have a respitory porblem. That seemed to have cleard up the discharge, but he still would not fully recover from the original symptons that he had been showing, which was the pain or discomfort he was having inside his little body. You could tell he was in some kind of pain due to every time he would try to sit up to eat or to groom himself or even walk he had to lay immediately down. He just could not do anything due to whatever inside of him was hurting. Does this sound like cancer? or pnemonia? I am trying to learn as much as I can about cancer in squirrrels which was another reason I had asked for some help.

    Thank you!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Cancer in Squirrels

    I'm sorry your poor squirrel suffered so much....that must have been awful to watch. To be honest, the symptoms you describe sound like MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease), an ultimately fatal disease that cripples and kills squirrels who do not live in the wild. Squirrels require very high amounts of calcium in their diet and if their diet is lacking in calcium they will get MBD. Approximating the correct amount of calcium in a squirrel's diet is very very difficult for us well-meaning humans. Squirrels who eat too many sunflower seeds, peanuts and nuts and not enough natural green, leafy vegetables as well as buds, flowers, bark, branches and shoots from natural sources will develop MBD. It is always a danger with both pet squirrels and any squirrel in a long-term rehab situation. MBD cripples the squirrel, causes seizures and lethargy, and ultimately death.
    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. '

  5. #5
    aluv4squirrels Guest

    Default Re: Cancer in Squirrels

    Hello,

    Yes at first we thought it was MBD. He was almost 6 years old though, can MBD still happen at that age? His diet consisted of avacado, cucumber, snap peas, romaine, canteloupe, orange, apple, peach, squash, spinach, brocolli, etc...he loved almost any type of fuits and vegetables. He only had seeds as a snack and he also ate pecans, pistachios, walnuts and filberts. Have you seen MBD develop in older squirrels? Is the rapid breathing a sign of it also, plus when he slept at times (for like the last 2 months of his life) you could hear some type of knocking sound going on internally, I tried to listen closely to him but still could not find exactly which area the sound was coming from, I do not know if it was in his breathing, but the noise got very loud that you could hear it from across the room. We would awaken him and the noise would stop. Have you ever heard of this before?

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    Default Re: Cancer in Squirrels

    First I just want to say I am sorry to lose a squirrel at any age is tragic,let alone one you have spent 6 years with.
    Ok can you just answer one question, actually 2, did he have a full spectrum lamp on him or was he out in the sunshine during the day? This is why I ask without one of those two his body cannot absorb any callcium that you gave to him.

    Pa. licenced Rehabber

  7. #7
    aluv4squirrels Guest

    Default Re: Cancer in Squirrels

    He was never under any lights or out in the sunlight his entire life.He liked to sit infront of the window and nap in the sunlight that came in, at times we opened the window (with the screen in and of course always watched him to make sure he did not try and chew his way out) and he would lay infront of the sreeen and nap for a bit. The pain that he was having inside of him actually started in March, slightly and got worse over the months and in July it was the worst we had seen and he passed away the first week in August. Even at the end of his life he could still walk, jump etc.,but just did not want to. He just wanted to be held and cuddled. He would sleep on my legs for 5 hours at a time towards the end, and of course for the last month of his life, I spent 24/7 with him, feeding him when he would not take food for himself, giving him his water and just keeping a eye on him to make sure he did not seizure or get hurt and to make sure that he was eating/drinking when he did not want to. He ate the same diet his entire life from 8 weeks old to almost 6 years old, so I figured he was doing okay with the calcium/magnessium etc. and that the MBD would have started earlier and would not have lasted so long, I thought the MBD was a quick disease, if at the fatal stages, am I incorrect? He never went down in his back legs, never dragged them either (I thought they were 2 signs of it being bad), he had full extension of his limbs but just did not want to use them, if he had to boy he would jump and run, like when I was trying to give him his amoxi, he took off like a madman and used his legs like nothing was wrong, but then would be so tuckered out from that small amount of exertion that he would lay right down and fall asleep.

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    Default Re: Cancer in Squirrels

    I'm very sorry that you lost your dear friend of six years. You were obviously a loving and devoted caretaker.

    Your need to know the cause of his death is understandable because it would help you achieve closure. Unfortunately it is a question that will never be answered. It may have been MBD, or cancer or something else entirely. There is just no way to know at this point.

    Would you consider starting a thread devoted to your friend in the ''All Squirrels Go to Heaven'' forum? We'd love to hear everything about him. Of course, we love to look at pictures too! You may find that memorializing him in this way helps you to heal.

    hazel
    aka The Beastmistress
    Veterinary Technician

    Vegetarian since 1974

  9. #9
    TexanSquirrel Guest

    Default Re: Cancer in Squirrels

    I'm so sorry you lost your squirrel. Six years is a long time for these little guys. You must have taken very good care of him.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Cancer in Squirrels

    I just read this thread again, aluv4squirrels, and something popped out at me that I didn't see before. You said you got him at 8 weeks old, and that he had 'tiny seizures' from the time you got him. A squirrel wouldn't have siezures from MBD at that age -- they were most likely caused by a head trauma from whatever situation occurred that brought him to you. (Fall from a tree, hit by a car, etc.) If this were true there was more than one thing going on with your sweet boy. The MBD would have happened later because he was not in direct sunlight, and didn't have a full spectrum lamp on him either. But I suspect there were some neurological issues as well. If that was the case, in a sense he was on 'borrowed time' and the long time that you had him is a testimony to your excellent care of him. You did your best with him, and he knew he was loved. Six years is a wonderfully long life for a squirrel!
    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. '

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