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Thread: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

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    Default Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    Hello The Squirrel Board,

    Two weeks ago, my neighbour gave me a very dehydrated 6 week old European red squirrel. We found the drey, installed a surveillance camera and discovered no adult for 18 hours and decided to capture his two siblings.

    I’ve rehabbed a squirrel before so hydrating, milk feeding, intro to solid food all went very smoothly. However they all remained so scared of us. I would feed them in the box they were living in and didn’t handle them as they would start trembling with fear.

    They gained weight well but we decided to release them into our large soft release enclosure (2.5m3) outside yesterday, because they needed space to run, they had no direct sunlight and were stressed indoors.

    However I cannot syringe feed now since they’re so scared. However 4-5 days ago, they lost interest in milk. I started to train them how to use a water bowl a week ago.

    The problem: one baby squirrel (the one who was initially very dehydrated), isn’t sleeping with his siblings and just doesn’t look great. I might be able to capture him and rehydrate. When he’s running, he’s alert, running and eyes bright. But I feel he’s lost weight in 24 hours and I’m not sure if I’m panicking too soon and should give him some time to adapt.

    They have access to hazelnuts, walnuts, dandelion leaves and flowers, sweet almonds, pear, apple, sweet potato, zucchini, arugula, kale, reindeer antler, Water, water with a little bit of honey, and a bowl of milk. Also plenty of sticks, bark, pine/ spruce cones, young leaves).

    Any recommendations? Or should I just give him some time. Generally I’m quite anxious that I cannot syringe feed them anymore but they were so stressed and panicked living indoors, it was definitely better to take them to the enclosure.

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    Exclamation Re: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    Quote Originally Posted by DCSquirrel View Post
    Any recommendations?
    Stop feeding them nuts immediately... ESPECIALLY since they are not taking formula (and they very young to have weaned). Good chance they stopped formula precisely because they have been getting nuts... it's like offering a human toddler the choice between a wholesome, well rounded meal and a McDonald's happy meals with cotton candy and gummy bears for desert... and a sugary soda as a bedtime treat! And like a human toddler that will have health issues on a diet of McDonald's, gummy bears and cotton candy so will these young squirrels.

    Are they getting any rodent block? Mazuri, Teklad, Oxbow etc?

    Good chance the worrisome one is showing signs of MBD which is a result of a calcium robbing diet (nuts, seeds, dried corn).... and if they are getting calcium robbing foods, no amount of calcium will counter the affects.
    Squirrel Advocate

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    Default Re: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    Thanks for checking in here. You mention "milk" several times. What kind of milk are you giving them? If cow's milk, please stop immediately. Squirrels do not digest cow's milk very well, if at all. Part of their behavior might well be due to significant abdominal distress. Fox Valley 20/50 (there are other varieties - 20/50 is the only one that is appropriate. As Spanky said, no nuts. They create a calcium deficit that will kill your squirrels in a horrific way. Get some rodent blocks from one of the vendors recommended by Spanky. Fleet Farm, Farm and Fleet, Tractor Supply, and most pet stores carry these. I'd also get them back inside, in a dark warm place, until they have regained equilibrium and are ready for a soft release.

    Please share anything else that might help us help you.

    Thanks,

    Jamie
    "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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    Default Re: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    Just saw where you live. Not sure where, in your neck of the woods, to get rodent block. Feed stores, pet stores, etc. If what they offer is full of corn, sunflower seeds, and assorted other seeds, keep looking if you can. If you can get to a health food store and get powdered calcium citrate or carbonate, bring some home and sprinkle it liberally on whatever they are eating that is not nuts or seeds. If that is not readily available, crack some eggs (half dozen?) and wash their shells until there is no egg in them. Dry them and put the shells in the oven on 95 degrees Celsius, bake them for 20 mins or till they're brittle, let them cool off, powderize them in a food processor or a blender (extra fine powder,) and sprinkle over the kids' food. Make fruit sandwiches with the eggshell powder (calcium!) in the middle. (Thanks, CM, for this emergency calcium source tip) Get as much of this into your little guys as you can - when their poop starts turning from black to gray to white, you can start backing off the calcium.

    Here are two links from a highly regarded US source for squirrel care. One for MBD (Read and act on this FIRST) and one for caring for baby/infant squirrels. Several pages on the second one, be sure to click through all of them:

    https://www.henryspets.com/what-is-m...-bone-disease/
    https://www.henryspets.com/1-baby-squirrel-care-guide/

    We're here to help. Please let us know of anything else you need.

    Jamie
    "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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    Default Re: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    [QUOTE=TomahawkFlyers;1369619]What kind of milk are you giving them?


    Sadly in Sweden, I donít have access to the Henryís blocks or milk powders that are consistently mentioned on this page. Iíve tried to buy them and sadly they donít deliver outside US.

    I have been feeding puppy milk replacement powder. Last year, I bought rodent specific replacement powder from the UK and it worked will with the baby squirrel. But I couldnít get that in Sweden. The other major factor was that squirrel last year, gnawed on reindeer antler everyday and licked the bone.

    ❗️The current update: I managed to capture the baby squirrel and syringe fed him warm honey water with crushed calcium (contains calcium carbonate, isomalt E953 and orange flavouring. I also have calcium with Vitamin D3. I crushed four of the first tablets and two with D3, with a spoon and throughly blended two teaspoons into the water. He drank around 4-5 ml. I will continue to give this every couple of hours.

    The other squirrels are having a grand old time in the cage eating spruce cone buds, cones, lichen and tree bark. I removed all food and covered sliced apple, pear, courgette pieces in the calcium powder. But so far no interest.

    When they feel sleepy, I hope they will go into the box and I can capture them and bring them inside. And will provide the same honey calcium water. Iím worried about the female because sheís very wild. Screams, bites! But Iíll work hard to syringe feed her!

    Thank you so much for your help. I suspect the Royal Canin milk powder I bought (I saw was recommended on The Squirrel Board two years ago to people in Europe) doesnít have sufficient calcium levels. Maybe the recipe has changed in recent years. If they want to have milk via syringe, I will add the calcium powder.

    I will update you.

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    Default Re: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    Quote Originally Posted by DCSquirrel View Post
    I also have calcium with Vitamin D3. I crushed four of the first tablets and two with D3, with a spoon and thoroughly blended two teaspoons into the water. He drank around 4-5 ml. I will continue to give this every couple of hours.

    We don't recommend using calcium tablets that contain Vitamin D since that the amount of Vitamin D.. intended for a many kilogram human... is too much for a small squirrel and can even be harmful!


    Quote Originally Posted by DCSquirrel View Post
    I suspect the Royal Canin milk powder I bought (I saw was recommended on The Squirrel Board two years ago to people in Europe) doesn’t have sufficient calcium levels. Maybe the recipe has changed in recent years. If they want to have milk via syringe, I will add the calcium powder.

    The Royal Canine is a good formula for squirrels and has adequate calcium as long as the entire diet is in balance. I cannot emphasize enough that it is impossible to feed enough calcium to prevent MBD if their diet includes way too many calcium robbing foods. The "bad" of a Big Mac super-sized meal with an apple pie cannot be offset by drinking a diet coke and popping a few vitamins... it does not work that way at all.
    Squirrel Advocate

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    Default Re: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    How are things going?
    "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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    Default Re: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomahawkFlyers View Post
    How are things going?
    The original baby squirrel stayed indoors for 24 hours and I gave formula with a bit of calcium, or honey water with calcium throughout the day. And this morning I put him in the soft release enclosure so he could be with his siblings. He was running around, play fighting, playing chase. And this afternoon Iíve captured all of them and given formula. Theyíll take a small amount but donít want to swallow much. Theyíre pooing a lot (and itís greenish) so they must be eating something . Iím still concerned that all of them arenít eating a lot. Maybe Iím just not seeing it. Up here, sunrise is at 2am so I donít see them until 5-6 am.

    I think this is our new strategy - Capture everyday for an afternoon indoors and feedings of formula. I suspect because itís a litter, they didnít need socialisation from people so remained very scared of us. And they seem very depressed and upset indoors.



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  11. #9
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    Default Re: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    Try completely wrapping them up in the softest blanket you can find, and leave a flap over their heads so you can flip it back to get the syringe in their mouth then flip it forward over their face so they don't see you looking at them while they eat. They may eat better and thus warm to you sufficiently to properly raise them.

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    Default Re: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    I’m in need of support again. Two baby squirrels are now showing signs of MBD (hands and fingers don’t have strength but they are running and climbing fine). I’ve been trying to syringe feed formula with added calcium from 4:30am - 6pm. I’ve sprinkled calcium on everything (salads, pinecones, sticks). But indoors they act depressed and are constantly trying to escape. And I’m worried they’ll hurt themselves. They refuse to have the syringe in their mouth and I either have to lock them down with a towel and hold their head up with gloves to angle the syringe into the mouth. I can only feed one this way, the others bury their faces into their stomachs, or try to bite me.

    I’ve taken them outside to gain some sunlight and they’ve immediately perked up. Even showing strength in their fingers.

    Most recent photo (taken 15 mins ago):
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    Video from this morning: https://youtu.be/-vsvMXjVuu4
    Refusing milk. Showing signs of MBD. Also should add, they bury their heads like this almost every time I visit them indoors.


    I have contacted the closest squirrel rehab (almost 10 hours drive south) and she is happy to take them. But with how terrified of people they are, I'm not sure how much more can be done in terms of handling them and providing formula. We would drive overnight when the squirrels usually sleep and arrive early tomorrow morning. But maybe the drive would be too stressful for them. I'd really appreciate some advice because I don't know what's best. I'd be more than happy to formula feed them but they refuse and escape from me. Today it took us 45 minutes to catch the male after he had escaped from my hands (and it's only a small unfurnished room).

    This is the soft release enclosure we have (third baby squirrel is in the top right).
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    Default Re: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    At this point, if you have access to a rehabber, I suggest you take the opportunity. He or she will make sure these babies are fit for a life in the trees and then gift them that life. For travel, going during their sleeping hours would be ideal. Keep them warm, and keep things as dark as you can for them. They'll need access to water and food, even if they won't eat.

    It is hard to say "Farewell" to creatures for whom you care so deeply. You are clearly a kind and generous soul. That is imprinted on them, just as they are now imprinted on. you. Safe travels, this is the best outcome for these little ones.

    Jamie
    "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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    Default Re: Terrified 8 week old squirrel - refusing milk, potential weight loss.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomahawkFlyers View Post
    At this point, if you have access to a rehabber, I suggest you take the opportunity. He or she will make sure these babies are fit for a life in the trees and then gift them that life. For travel, going during their sleeping hours would be ideal. Keep them warm, and keep things as dark as you can for them. They'll need access to water and food, even if they won't eat.

    It is hard to say "Farewell" to creatures for whom you care so deeply. You are clearly a kind and generous soul. That is imprinted on them, just as they are now imprinted on. you. Safe travels, this is the best outcome for these little ones.

    Jamie
    Thank you for your feedback. Funnily I had long conversations with two squirrel rehabs in Sweden and they told me they looked great and are a healthy weight so I should put them in the release enclosure and monitor from a distance. One said that stress can cause weight loss and unusual behaviour. So I put them in the enclosure and they are so happy, and eating lots. They both said theyíve never heard of MBD in baby red squirrels. Maybe grey squirrels have different calcium needs. Regardless they told me the car journey would be too stressful and they need as little amount of stress as possible. With all of that said, I think all the added calcium has been really good for them.

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