How Long Can I Leave Formula Milk Out For Three Reasons Why Baby Squirrels Die in Captivity

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Three Reasons Why Baby Squirrels Die in Captivity

Have you ever picked up a baby squirrel and started feeding and caring for it, only to have it sag and die? You are not alone! The following are three common reasons why baby squirrels die in captivity:

1. Bad Food.

Improper feeding is the number one reason squirrels die. There is a great deal of controversy about what is the correct way to feed squirrels who are nursing babies. Most wildlife reformers will tell you to buy expensive puppy formula, and never feed a squirrel cow’s milk. I’ve used expensive puppy formula with partial success, but recently they changed the formulation which left it lacking enough milk fat for squirrels. Now, suddenly, they are telling people to add heavy cream to increase the fat content! Hello! What is heavy cream? It’s cow’s milk cream! The reason cow’s milk can kill a baby squirrel is because there are substances in the milk that can give the squirrel severe diarrhea. Diarrhea will lead to electrolyte imbalance, which will lead to heart failure and eventually death from sudden cardiac arrest.

I found that if you take out the thing in cow’s milk and cream that causes diarrhea, the baby squirrel will do well on the rich cow’s milk mixture. But you need to do one simple but important thing to make this formula squirrel safe! I can teach you how to make this formula and save you from spending twenty dollars per can on puppy formula!

2. Hypocalcemia.

The second biggest killer of squirrels is Hypocalcemia. That’s a popular name for low blood calcium. Squirrels, especially in captivity, have a very high calcium requirement. Death from low blood calcium comes after they stop nursing. While receiving milk, their calcium needs are met. When they stop nursing, they need calcium supplements or they will develop something called Metabolic Bone Disease. This disease is characterized by the loss of calcium in the bones, especially in the spine and hind legs. They start shuffling their hind legs when they walk, and gradually lose nerve and muscle control. Their bones become brittle and break easily.

Low blood calcium can lead to heart failure and sudden cardiac death. A squirrel with Metabolic Bone Disease is a tragic event! Prevention is easy! I teach a very simple way to make a food supplement called Nut Squares or Nuts Balls that will ensure proper calcium intake and good health for squirrels.

3. Internal Injury.

The last major killer of baby squirrels is internal injuries. Many times a found squirrel has fallen a long way from a nest of leaves. One of the first things you should do with a baby squirrel, after you have found it in a warm place, is to carefully check for injuries. Babies usually have fast breathing and heartbeats, but if a baby squirrel has difficulty breathing or uses more than its chest muscles to breathe, it may have internal injuries. It could have broken ribs or lungs or a heart! Traumatic injuries to the abdomen can injure internal organs such as the liver, kidneys or spleen. The stomach wall of a baby squirrel is very thin. If you see a dark purple color in the abdomen, it is a bad sign of internal bleeding.

There is not much that can be done for a baby squirrel in that condition. A veterinarian can examine the animal, but chances are, nothing will be done except to observe and support the struggle to breathe with oxygen and a warm place until it passes. I have found in my years as a Squirrel Rehabilitator that squirrels love to have their head and neck gently stroked, it is comforting and soothing. Death is part of life. For me, holding and comforting a dying squirrel helps me realize how precious and short life is. I find immense joy and satisfaction in caring for these magnificent creatures, and I thank God that even in death, I can make a difference!

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