In the last few years, with almost daily feedings during the winter months, the squirrel survival rates at PCV have been on the increase. You don't see as much of the "walking wounded" as there were in past years. Those wounds can be pretty nasty. When they get infected they can last a long time, maybe the entire winter, adding to the squirrel's discomfort in the cold, and when it packs down for warmth with other squirrels in the nests and holes.
Why do squirrels get these wounds? Not sure, but I believe it has something to do with cabin fever coupled with food insecurity that makes squirrels turn on each other. When squirrels know where their next meal is coming from, one sees less of these kinds of wounds.
What one does see these days is bald, pink spots where the fur has fallen off, due to mange. Mange is caused by mites and is transmitted from squirrel to squirrel by physical contact or sharing a nest. Mange can result in loss of enough fur to leave the squirrel very vulnerable in cold weather. Although fur loss is limited and temporary in most healthy squirrels, squirrels can die of exposure from extreme fur loss.
Mange in its early stages, as seen in the black squirrel below, is quite easily corrected with good nutrition. Feed a "pinky" for several days and the fur starts coming back in an amazingly fast turnaround!
Think of all the well-fed pets -- cats and dogs -- that you know of. And realize that a squirrel is no lesser an animal for being wild. It needs and deserves our help! But feeding squirrels in the winter gets expensive, so I'm asking for your help. You buy the peanuts, I'll do the legwork. Please click on the button to the right and make a donation. However small, it will be doing some good and will be greatly appreciated.