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Thread: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

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    Default Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Hi! I’m a complete squirrel newbie and I hope you can help me. I’m based in the UK, so bear with me in terms of what is advised and available here. Ten days ago I found what I think was a two/three day old baby grey squirrel on the pavement. Based on that, we think he is about 12 days old now. His bottom teeth have recently come through and he is getting fur on his body. He still has the stump of his umbilical cord.

    When I found him he was really cold and wriggling around. It was just before sundown and given that we could not see a nest anywhere, no mum, but lots of cats around I decided to pick him up and take him to the vet (around the corner). We were lucky that a lovely nurse took pity on him and helped me. She warmed and hydrated him and gave me supplies to feed him at home. Here they recommend Royal Canin powered puppy milk for baby squirrels, so that is what I have been feeding him following his hydration feeds (originally I added some added single cream, to the milk but I dropped that after reading that this may not be ideal for babies).

    When I found him he had severe bruising on his head, some small puncture marks on his body and a few days in developed an angry looking infection on his chin. Luckily that cleared up by itself. The bruising on his head cleared too and other than a swelling on his leg (hopefully you can see it in the picture), he seems ok now injury-wise. The nurse thinks that this may have been a result for the fall still. See pictures.

    The first couple of days I worked toward getting 5% of his body weight in him milk-wise though I have found it hard (totally new to this and terrified of AP, so have been super careful). He has been putting on weight steadily, though feeds take a long time (30-45 mins easily now). He was 13gr when found him (so tiny!) and he is 25gr now, ten days later, so he put on 12gr in 10 days, which seems ok (is it?).

    What worries me now is that he is not exactly ‘plump’, which I keep seeing is what you want them to look like. I have been reading a lot of threads about the dangers of underfeeding and babies not thriving, so I have been trying really hard to hit at least 5% of his body weight with each feed, steadily working my way towards 6% (and up). After some challenges with feeding him every 2/3 hours (milk line wouldn’t disappeared fully), I have now dropped to every 4 hours (including at night) and I give him additional hydration (diluted warmed apple juice) in between. This works better and I can get the full feed in him, though he is not easy to feed, which is why it takes so long. I have tried everything to make it easier; wrap him in a warm blanket, make sure the milk is really hot, but nothing seems to work that well. Hopefully that will improve as he gets older!

    Could you have a look at the pictures of what he looks now please and let me know what you think? Please note, he is not on towels anymore after I read about the dangers! I went for a check-up at the vet’s yesterday and the nurse who has been helping me thought his body condition was fine, though she is not a squirrel expert, so I turn to you. What do you think? The last two pictures are from today. Any thoughts on what more I can do to help him thrive? I’m very willing!

    Thank you so much in advance for any help you can give me. I’m totally sleep deprived from the night feeds, but really want him to pull through! My little girl has named him Cheeky Hackee and we are all very fond of him. He’s a real little character! Sorry for the essay…


    When we found him and injuries:
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Quote Originally Posted by CheekyHackee View Post
    My little girl has named him Cheeky Hackee and we are all very fond of him. He’s a real little character! Sorry for the essay…
    Your little him appears to be a girl...

    Quote Originally Posted by CheekyHackee View Post
    What worries me now is that he is not exactly ‘plump’, which I keep seeing is what you want them to look like. I have been reading a lot of threads about the dangers of underfeeding and babies not thriving, so I have been trying really hard to hit at least 5% of his body weight with each feed, steadily working my way towards 6% (and up). After some challenges with feeding him every 2/3 hours (milk line wouldn’t disappeared fully), I have now dropped to every 4 hours (including at night) and I give him additional hydration (diluted warmed apple juice) in between. This works better and I can get the full feed in him, though he is not easy to feed, which is why it takes so long. I have tried everything to make it easier; wrap him in a warm blanket, make sure the milk is really hot, but nothing seems to work that well. Hopefully that will improve as he gets older!
    Not exactly plump, that is accurate... but not terribly thin. How much diluted apple juice are you giving between feedings.. and is this between every feeding?

    The Royal Canine is proper formula for a baby squirrel.

    At this stage she should really be getting fed every 3 hours, but you are correct to wait on the milk line.


    Feeding Frequency.pdf

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spanky View Post
    Your little him appears to be a girl...

    Not exactly plump, that is accurate... but not terribly thin. How much diluted apple juice are you giving between feedings.. and is this between every feeding?

    The Royal Canine is proper formula for a baby squirrel.

    At this stage she should really be getting fed every 3 hours, but you are correct to wait on the milk line.


    Feeding Frequency.pdf
    Thank you so much Spanky!

    She's a girl!!! I'll let the nurse at the vet's know. She was adamant it was a boy

    I give her (!) 0.5 ml apple juice roughly between every other feed, though not in the night. So not very much. And today I noticed she was peeing quite a bit so my sense is that 1ml apple juice a day should be enough. Or should I drop it all together?

    When I was feeding her every 2/3 hours she just wouldn't take the milk and her milk line was still really visible, hence dropping to every 4 to make sure milk line had cleared. Should I try to get back to every 3 hours? Happy to try that tomorrow.

    Thanks for your advice!

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Yes, I would attempt every 3 hours... then 3 1/2 hours if 3 is too soon.

    If you want to continue the hydration, use just plain water... but if she were to eat 5% every 3 hours hydration would not be necessary.

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Thank you so much for this advice Spanky! I wanted to give you an update on how I got on yesterday. I started with the feeds every 3 hours to see how we'd get on and to my surprise it worked so much better than it had a few days ago. For most feeds she was able to take 6% of her body weight and as a result had a total of 8.5ml of milk compared to 6.1ml of milk + 1ml of juice (7.1 ml in total) the day before. Really pleased with that!

    She’s also eliminating better than before and seems much more regular. Her wees are still frequent and indeed the milk alone must be keeping her fully hydrated. She continues to put on weight too and is 27gr now (put on 2gr). Overall, I think she looks a bit more bulked up too.

    One thing that I wasn’t entirely sure about is that for the late evening feed at 23:15 her milk-line was still quite visible, although it had definitely gone down a lot from the feed before. I still went ahead with the feed and she took it all, but it would be good to get some feedback on that milk-line. Because she was quite full after that late evening feed I gave her 4 hours until the next feed in the night. And then only left 3 hours to the one after that.

    Some picture below. Thanks again so much for your quick response and advice. I felt really supported and I’m delighted she continues to do well. Long may it last!

    Milk-line still visible (ok to feed again?)
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    Milk-line after the feed
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    Looking full after feed
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    Milk coma after feed (cosy in her nest)
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    Looking a bit bulkier this morning pre feed
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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    A couple feeding tricks:

    Make the formula warmer than you think it should be. For whatever reason, they prefer formula that is quite a bit warmer than a mama squirrel could ever produce even with the highest fever! It is important to keep it warm throughout the feeding, which can be difficult when they take a while.

    Fill a mug with quite warm water so that if you drop your feeding syringe tip down in the mug, the water comes almost to the top of the barrel. Once you fill the syringes with warm formula, you can drop them in the hot water mug until you are ready, then grab them to feed. If you only get part of a syringe into HER and she gets fussy, drop it back in the hot water to keep the temp up. See if she needs to potty. Then get your still nice and warm formula syringe and continue feeding. They will ABSOLUTELY balk at eating if the temp isn't high enough.

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Thank you so much CritterMom! I *thought* I was giving it hot already (this was key in what you wrote: 'Make the formula warmer than you think it should be'). I was already doing as you suggested, keeping syringes warm in a tall cup of boiling water. I just fed her and adjusted two things: I made sure syringes were fully submerged (they weren't before); and I gave her the milk even hotter. I always test it on my wrist first and when they first come out and the milk nearly scalds my wrist I leave them for a little bit. This time I left it for less time and then tried and she drank the first one almost without stopping. So I was clearly not giving it hot enough. The second one she was fussier over, but even with that the feeding time was pretty much cut in half, so hopefully this wasn't a one off. Thanks again so much!

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Cheeky is continuing to do well. She's still on feeds every 3 hours, which is a good schedule for her. She lost her umbilical cord stump last night and now weighs 30gr.
    I'll take her to the vet again in a couple of days to check on her leg. Her joint is still swollen, so keeping a close eye on it.

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Aw. It is sort of difficult when you are doing all you can to keep them warm, but can you discern a difference in temperature at the swollen joint?

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Thanks CritterMom! Good idea! I just fed her and tried to do this (assessed it with my upper lip), but I could not feel an obvious difference; as in it was warmer than the rest of her leg. But it was not easy because she is so tiny. What I did not notice is that it looks like it might be going down. Some pictures below for comparison:

    This is from almost a week ago
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    This is from this afternoon
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    Both legs from this afternoon
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    To me seeing these images side by side, it looks maybe a bit less angry now. What do think? It also looks like the location of the swelling has moved slightly?
    I'll take her to vet on Thursday to have it checked again. When the nurse saw her last week she thought she may have dislocated it at some point, most likely linked to the fall originally. I don't know because I don't have clear pictures of that leg from when we first got her. When she crawls around in her nest I sometimes think she is being more careful with it than the other leg.

    Taking these new pictures I noticed her skin looks a bit dry. Should I do anything about that? I could put some coconut oil to moisturise it. What do you think?

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    It does look a little smaller. That's good!

    Instead of rubbing oil on her, wad up some paper towels, place in a heavy ceramic mug, and thoroughly saturate them and make sure you have an inch or two of water in the mug with the towel sticking up above the water surface. Place it in her container right on top of the heat source. The paper towel will wick moisture into the air around her and the heat will help that happen faster. Sauna! The mug is too heavy to tip over so you can leave it in with her. Dump and replace towels and water at least once a day.

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Yes, the leg seems to look a bit better. She's definitely using it, so hopefully it's improving. She's still eating well and putting on weight (31gr now).

    Thanks for the 'sauna' idea. I had wondered if keeping her in a cardboard box had contributed to her skin drying out... Plus we've put the central heating back on so that may have had a drying effect as well. In any case I've rigged something up today. I've put her box in a larger plastic box with a divider so that she cannot get to the glasses with the water. They're covered with fabric and secured with elastic bands as well just in case she does somehow climb over. The sides are also protected with fabric so she would never be able to touch the glass directly.

    She's not on a heating pad, but on a hot water bottle (wrapped in a towel with a tea towel over it so she doesn't snag in the towel). I change that every four hours (I have two boxes with a hot water bottle each, so when once starts to cool, I pop her on the new one). That's worked well so far, but I'm happy to look into upgrading the setup as she is getting older. At the moment she doesn't really leave her nest (inside of a hood of a winter coat), but I realise that as she gets older she will need to have a different set up.

    In any case she seems to be enjoying the steam. You can see her little pink body exposed (she did that so it must feel good). When I put my hand in the box it did feel pleasingly warm and humid. I can give her steams like this in the day time when I can regularly keep an eye on her, but will take it out at night.

    Thanks again for the useful tip! Really appreciate the support of this community

    Cheeky sauna
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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Took her to the vet today and the nurse who has been helping us had a vet take a quick look at her too. They now think that the bump on her leg is not related to a joint as it seems to have moved up. They were not sure what it was so we'll keep an eye on it, but agreed that it looked better than last week.

    They agreed that it would be good for me to continue with mini squirrel saunas for Cheeky to deal with her dry skin. After my experiments yesterday I decided to treat her to a humidifier. Messing with glasses of hot water worries me, so this will hopefully be a good solution for us. That comes tomorrow.

    She's continuing to put on weight, 34gr now, and eating much better than before. She's on 2ml per feed now, which seemed unimaginable just a week ago. She's become a lot of more active as well, which is lovely to see

    I was very impressed that the vet had a quick look at her for free. And the nurse has been really supportive too (has never charged me for anything). Really happy and genuinely touched that little Miss Cheeky has so much support, including from this wonderful community!

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    You are very, very lucky. This story is in NO way representative of the experiences of every other person from the UK who have stumbled on gray squirrels due to their invasive label. Send those folks a basket of muffins or something!

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Totally agree! I have learned a lot about the status of grey squirrels in the UK these last two weeks... We've been with that veterinary clinic for over twenty years for our pets, but still I have been very moved by their immediate willingness to help this tiny baby and to see her for free once a week to support me. I honestly did not realise what I was taking on when I found her so to have this support around the corner has been such a blessing. And the nurse is so keen to follow Cheeky's progress and always so happy to hear that she continues to do well, so it's already been quite a profound experience for us all. My family included. And will 100% treat them to some baked goods next week. That's a great idea

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Cheeky has been doing great so far. Was putting on 2-3gr a day and eating quite well. Today I noticed that she was a bit lacklustre and just not as feisty and energetic as normal. She has been eating 6% of her body weight and toileting well. I did notice that she was peeing quite a bit, but wasn't sure if it was something to worry about. Her skin is still quite dry and I have a humidifier in with her for parts of the day. This evening after her feed I checked her skin and feel that it didn't go down quickly enough. Should I feed her water in between her feeds for a while? She's getting fed every 3.5 hours now (she'll be 3 weeks on Tuesday). I was feeding her diluted apple juice last week, but I was advised that plain water is better (should this be cooled boiled water?). I'm a bit worried now that she is not able to get the required nutrition from her milk. She hasn't put on any weight today yet either which worries me. Please let me know what I can do to help her!

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Yes, I definitely would start water or water with a tiny pinch of sugar or a drop of honey between feedings - her skin looks lax.

    Weather you boil and cool depends on your water supply. It won't hurt for sure.

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Do you have a thermometer to measure what the temp is in his nest? I am concerned about the hot water bottles - it is so difficult to regulate temp but it is so important. Do they sell heating pads there? The best ones are pads that don't have a "safety" auto-turnoff feature.

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Thanks CritterMom! Will do. I'll start her on plain water for now and see how she goes. How much should I give her? Maybe 1ml for now? I really hope she'll be back to her perky self in no time, I've gotten so attached to her. She's such a sweet little soul.

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    Default Re: Pinkie grey squirrel in the UK – worried he is not thriving. Can you help?

    Thanks for the additional thoughts re: her heating CritterMom. I change the hot water bottle every four hours and I check her regularly. She always seems nice and warm to the touch. Are you concerned that she might be getting too warm? Or just that the temperature fluctuates too much? I'm super happy to buy a heating pad, but so far I have not been able to find any without the auto switch off setting, which is why I hadn't yet.

    This is what is available on Amazon in the UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=small+p...ref=nb_sb_noss

    If there are any that you can recommend I will but it this evening and it can come tomorrow.

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