Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Squirrel Malady

Some of the little ones are showing signs of the "red spots" infection. This is what it looks like:

And here's a closeup:

And here is Red Fox's lesion back on February 12, which has totally healed now.
We still don't know if it's bacterial, viral, fungal or parasites. I'd like to catch one and bring it to the vet to see if we can get a diagnosis, but they get skittish when they have this disease which makes them more paranoid than usual and harder to catch.

We lost several of the babies this winter over in the west side of the park, in the area near the fountain. The snow storms hit them particularly hard as they were already weakened by the disease, and they just couldn't survive.

Unfortunately, the infestation has now spread to the east side of the park. A couple of the darling gray babies over there have become infected. Here's one:

And I recently discovered that Mr. Operator -- a fully grown healthy adult -- has the disease. He had a big red boil on his back that looked painful. It's starting to look a little better now, as he has a fully developed immune system which I guess is helping him to fight it off. Click for a slightly larger view:

The other day I gave him some avocado with red marine algae sprinkled on top. He ate some of it, but maybe not enough. If this is squirrel pox then it's a virus that might be treatable with the drug zovirax (acyclovir), which is used to treat viruses in the herpes family. Red marine algae is an inexpensive alternative to the drug, and is possibly even more effective. But it does have the taste of seaweed, which may be a turn-off for squirrels. So I try to bury the taste in avocado or peanut butter.

Today I gave him and the babies fresh coconut, which is supposed to be a great antiviral. And they liked it. Luckily the Korean Deli sells it, already cut up and ready to serve. It's a treat for the squirrels, sort of like ice cream. When they get a piece they take off for places unknown to enjoy it -- that's how you know it's a special treat.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    What your squirrels have are wolves. They are pupating larvae from bot flies. The flies lay the pupae on mammals and they bury into the flesh of the animal where they pupate until they are about to hatch. They then come out of the flesh and migrate down into the soil to hatch into new bot flies. This sounds gross and can even happen to humans but the flies cause no permanent damage to the host and are host specific. The animal, once the flies has exited his flesh will return to normal appearance, unless he is infected by another fly. I have one that lives in a tree just outside my house and looked it all up. Just do a Google search for Bot Fly and you'll find lots on them including pictures of squirrels like yours. Hope that helps!