Welcome Lil'Mo! This little girl is only about 4 weeks old. She came to me a couple of days ago with her eyes still closed. I have called all around trying to find another little squirrel to raise with her, but everyone else's baby squirrels are at least 8-10 weeks old. She must have been part of one of the last litters born in the area. She was found all alone, skinny & flea infested. A BIG THANK YOU to Heather, who found her & cared for her for a few days. More important that all that she did for her, like de-fleaing her, and giving her fluids and warmth, was that Heather knew when it was time to bring her to a rehabber. Many people try to raise squirrels on their own with very kind intentions, but all to often these turn out to be sad stories. Squirrels are very prone to metabolic bone disease, so they need the proper nutrition at every stage of their development. They also need to be properly socialized and acclimatized to the wild so that they can be free and happy when they are ready. Squirrels are NOT domestic animals and no one should try to keep one as a pet. they can be destructive and messy and cannot be trained otherwise, that's just what they do.
Speaking of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), I have some very sad news. Do you remember that adorable littler of 3 day old bunnies I got- first pictured on the blog post of 5/16? As of Wednesday, they all died. Little Gold, Naked, Green, Pink & Blue. All gone. I also lost little BrokenArm, aka Happy. Happy probably died of complications from the lacerations from the cat. But he was a hoppy chub ball up until the end. The itsy-bitsies, i.e. the litter of 5, all died of digestive issues and/or MBD. I use the term "itsy-bitsies" to refer to bunnies younger than about 5-6 days old. They are notoriously hard to keep alive, only about 20% make it. I had so much bravado, as I was waking up at 4am to feed them and looking after them around the clock, that they would all make it. First Green went due to digestive issues. All the others were doing really well, but suddenly Naked wasn't moving her legs. X-rays showed she had broken both thigh bones and had MBD. Then Gold went (MBD left him with a broken femur right by the hip joint), then Blue (from digestive issues, but Xrays indicate that he also had MBD), and then little Pink (MBD led to a broken spine). Below are Naked & gold's Xrays.
Pink started limping one evening. I made this sling for her to take some pressure of her limbs for a few hours. Then I took her out and placed her in a small padded cage so she wouldn't have to move about too much. Before I went to bed I checked on her. She had chewed off her toes on one foot. Obviously she was in great distress and probably couldn't feel her toes any more. She was put down the next day.
Goodbye dear Blue. I'm not putting in these pictures to be morbid, but so all who red this blog can understand that it's not all fun and games doing rehab work. Not only are the so many hours and hours of work, never ending feeding and cleanings, but there is so much emotional energy put into caring for all of these little creatures. There is so much worry and sadness. I am consoled knowing that they had good care and for their few weeks they had great fun hopping around with a bunch of other little bunnies. They even got a chance to try fresh dandelion greens (see below) and hay.
Also, these lovely tinys may teach us something. MBD is almost unheard of in bunnies. Of course, it is possible that it is unheard of because not all rehabbers have the facilities to get Xrays and see the state of the bones. So, the local vets and I are X-raying other baby bunnies to see whether the age at which they are orphaned makes a difference. We x-rayed Brokenarm, who was about 6 days old when he was found, and his bones look much stronger. In those first few days it is critical for a baby bunny to get the nutrients that only a mother can supply.
So please everyone, be careful gardening, and think twice before you let your pets roam around outside!! These are all the main causes of baby bunny distress, and a lot of them suffer greatly due to their injuries and stress.
But to end this on a happier note.... I went to visit another rehaber yesterday. She has great facilities, and has fawns and foxes and lots of species of birds. Included in the latter category are Mallard ducklings. We took them for a walk around her land, and they followed us just like good little ducklings do! She has a great pond for them to go to when they get older.
Also, another picture just for laughs- below is a picture of Pikanti, aka Piki. he is one of the WTS resident chinchillas! He has adopted this new method of cleaning his feet. He wedges his rear end in between the wheel and the side of the cage, and sits like this and cleans his feet. He'll also sometimes twist around so that his feet are against and underneath the wheel, his back against the side of the cage, and he "runs" albeit upside-down. Crazy Kid!