This section is intended
as short term advice on what to do if you find a wildlife casualty. It
is not meant for long term care, and we urge you to seek experienced help.
Wild species have their own set of problems which the uninitiated will
not be aware of, and more harm than good can be done if the finder attempts
long term care, especially in the hand-rearing of orphans.
Whether or not there are immediate signs of illness
and injury to a squirrel, dehydration and shock are important factors.
Squirrels should not be cold, and in youngsters this can quickly prove
fatal. See WARMTH. Do not try to feed a squirrel
that is in shock or is very cold.
Water is essential for digestion and if the bodys reserves are depleted
other body functions will suffer. Check that the squirrels nose
is moist, and if possible try to check that the mouth is wet. If necessary,
use the pinch test. Hold a fold of skin on the back of the
neck so that it is raised. When released the skin should return to normal
straight away. Try the test on the back of your hand, perhaps. If the
skin doesnt retract immediately, it is probable that the squirrel
is dehydrated. Vets sell a powder called Lectade (or similar) which can
be mixed with water and administered orally with a pipette. Failing this,
use the International Rehydration Solution:
Half a litre of water (preferably filtered)
Half a teaspoonful salt
Half a tablespoonful sugar or glucose
Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved and administer lukewarm. If the
dehydration lasts more than 12 hours (or if the squirrel refuses to drink)
it would be wise to see a VET who may well administer
a rehydrating solution subcutaneously.
This may be hard to diagnose. If you think a squirrel is suffering from
shock, it is advisable to offer warmth (not too much), quietness, darkness
and shelter for a while unless it obviously needs emergency veterinary
care. In general, dont cause the squirrel any additional stress.
An adult may be administered a couple of drops of Bachs Rescue Remedy
if it will take it.
Any squirrel that is unable to, or refuses to take food or drink may need
to be referred to a VET.
Squirrels are susceptible to a number of diseases, many of which are not
widely understood by most vets, who will often prescribe antibiotics.
One of the prime aims of this website is to promote and exchange knowledge
and experience, to develop a better understanding of squirrels.
Symptoms that may require attention include :
- Sneezing, coughing, sickness, shivering or wheezing.
- Discharge from the ears, eyes, nose or mouth.
- Scabs, rashes or lesions.
- Diarrhoea or passing of blood.
- Evidence of parasites, including a heavy flea burden.
- Overgrown incisors.
- Seizures, wobbling or spasms.
Severe flesh wounds, abscesses, bleeding or broken bones will need immediate
veterinary treatment. Internal injuries may be hard to diagnose, but possible
symptoms would be bleeding from nose, ears or mouth and/or severe listlessness.
Squirrels are prone to falling from trees and this is a common cause of
Minor injuries such as cuts, bites or scratches may be dealt with patience
and care. Firstly, clean with a saline solution of table salt and water
(approximately 1:10). Treat any wounds with a small amount of Savlon,
Germolene or similar antiseptic (not disinfectant).
Flies may lay eggs on a squirrel that is not 100% healthy, especially
on a wound. All eggs must be removed immediately with a pair of tweezers
or they will hatch into maggots and cause further problems. Check orifices
carefully for maggots and remove them. If you fear the maggots may be
internal or extensive, refer to a VET.
The majority of young squirrels brought to us have been caught by a cat
(or sometimes a dog) or may have fallen from their nest. They may have
injuries such as puncture wounds. If the injuries seem serious or the
squirrel is in some distress, get to a VET as soon
as possible. In particular, cat saliva can prove fatal if it reaches the
bloodstream, so an antibiotic may be necessary.
Refer to paragraph above about minor injuries.
Young squirrels will not survive long without being fed.