How to Tell If a Squirrel is Dehydrated
If you’ve ever wondered how to tell if a squirrel is thirsty, you should know that there are several signs that the animal is under-hydrated, including the fact that it has a low blood sugar level. In such a situation, it’s important to rehydrate it. Here are some tips for rehydrating a squirrel, treating hypoglycemia, and even providing home-made formulas for babies. To know if a squirrel is dehydrated, lightly pinch the skin over the shoulders. If it stays tented for a couple of seconds then the animal is dehydrated and fluids must be administered.
Rehydrating a squirrel
The first step in rehydrating a squirrel when it is dehydration is to assess the level of dehydration. Check the baby squirrel’s appearance, particularly its belly and arms. They should be plump and not look wrinkled or emaciated. Look for other signs of dehydration, such as stimulated urination or loose skin. Lastly, check for signs of shock, such as trembling and disorientation.
If the squirrel is severely dehydrated, try feeding it sugar water. Sugar water will help the squirrel feel better, and does not contain dyes or chemicals. If the squirrel has diarrhea, give it Pedialyte or a starch/water mixture. If the animal does not seem to be getting enough fluids, rehydrate it with a cup of warm water. But do not feed it cold water – it will kill it.
Treating hypoglycemia in a dehydrated squirrel
First, you must raise the blood sugar level of a dehydrated squirrel. Pedialyte or a similar solution should be used. Be sure to mix it with water before feeding it. If the squirrel is too cold, do not feed it immediately. Then, transport the squirrel to a rehabber immediately. A high-fructose solution, such as syrup, is also an option. Do not feed it for 24 hours, as it could cause diarrhea.
You can test for hypoglycemia by gently touching the back of the squirrel. The skin will snap back to its normal position after a brief time. In contrast, skin that has lost turgor will remain elevated for several minutes before returning to normal position. A squirrel that has suffered moderate or severe dehydration will show a decreased turgor. Young baby squirrels have loose skin. In addition, stimulated urination is another sign of dehydration.
Stimulating a baby squirrel
A few things to keep in mind when determining whether a squirrel is dehydrated are: a soft stomach, nonformed or runny stools, and a slow rate of urination. If a squirrel looks dehydrated, it may be due to overfeeding, a transition from formula to a different food, or an over-extended stomach. To avoid dehydration, switch the animal to an electrolyte rehydration formula and contact a veterinarian to determine the reason for the bloat.
A human convalescence liquid meal can be used to save a severely dehydrated baby squirrel. It is not designed to replace proper formula, however. Depending on the severity of dehydration, the squirrel may require a human-derived formula for a few days. The first step in the feeding process is rehydrating the squirrel with Pedialyte and gradually introducing a squirrel formula containing Esbilac puppy food. For the most emaciated baby squirrels, Fox Valley squirrel formula may be used.
For areas where there are no rehabbers, this information on how to care for a squirrel can help you determine if it needs extra water and food. Make sure to warm it up while transporting it to a rehabber. This method of determining if a squirrel is dehydrated relies on the skin’s ability to pinch. Pinching the skin indicates moderate or severe dehydration, but it can’t be relied upon for emaciated or hairless babies. A reliable method is to use a powdered electrolyte.
To tell if a squirrel is dehydrated, he or she must be given water as soon as possible. This means giving the squirrel an adult rehydration fluid mixed with at least one third water. The fluid must contain sugar and not contain artificial sweeteners. It is possible to prepare an oral rehydration formula for a squirrel by dissolving 3 teaspoons of sugar in one teaspoon of salt in 4 cups of warm water. Be sure to rehydrate the squirrel when he or she is warm and avoid feeding it when it is cold.
Contacting a wildlife rehabilitator if a squirrel is dehydrated
First, contact a wildlife rehabilitator immediately if you see a squirrel with a dehydrated tail. You may want to contact the mother squirrel if you do not see her. Otherwise, contact a wildlife rehabilitator right away to help save this precious baby. A dehydrated baby squirrel is very ill and is incapable of digesting food. Use thick gloves to handle the squirrel and immediately provide rehydrating fluids. Alternatively, you can prepare your own rehydrating solution, but be sure to contact a wildlife rehabilitator to get the right treatment.
Another step in wildlife rescue is determining the age of the squirrel. Look for a squirrel that is between 75 and 150 grams, and has a tail that is flat and not fully extended. The squirrel may be friendly or a mother may carry a baby back to her nest. If the squirrel is small, it may even be carrying its own babies. Make sure to check the squirrel again several hours after rescue and take it to a wildlife rehabilitator.
How can you tell if a squirrel is dehydrated?
You can tell if a squirrel is dehydrated if its eyes are sunken in if its fur is dull and if it is lethargic.
What are some other signs that a squirrel is dehydrated?
Other signs that a squirrel is dehydrated include if it has a dry mouth if it is producing little to no urine and if it has a rapid heartbeat.
Why is it important to rehydrate a dehydrated squirrel?
It is important to rehydrate a dehydrated squirrel because dehydration can lead to organ damage and even death.
How can you rehydrate a dehydrated squirrel?
You can rehydrate a dehydrated squirrel by giving it water or an electrolyte solution to drink.
How much water should you give a dehydrated squirrel?
You should give a dehydrated squirrel about 50-60 ml of water per kilogram of body weight.
How often should you give a dehydrated squirrel water?
You should give a dehydrated squirrel water every 15-20 minutes until it is no longer dehydrated.
What is an electrolyte solution?
An electrolyte solution is a solution that contains electrolytes which are minerals that help regulate the body’s fluid balance.
What are some examples of electrolyte solutions?
Some examples of electrolyte solutions are sports drinks coconut water and bone broth.
How much electrolyte solution should you give a dehydrated squirrel?
You should give a dehydrated squirrel about 50-60 ml of electrolyte solution per kilogram of body weight.
Can you give a dehydrated squirrel too much water?
Yes you can give a dehydrated squirrel too much water which can lead to a condition called hyponatremia.
What is hyponatremia?
Hyponatremia is a condition that occurs when the body’s sodium levels become too diluted.
What are the symptoms of hyponatremia?
Symptoms of hyponatremia include headache nausea vomiting muscle weakness and confusion.
What is the most serious complication of hyponatremia?
The most serious complication of hyponatremia is seizures which can lead to brain damage.
What is the treatment for hyponatremia?
The treatment for hyponatremia is to stop giving the squirrel water and to give it a solution that contains sodium.
What is the prognosis for a dehydrated squirrel?
The prognosis for a dehydrated squirrel is good if it is treated quickly and correctly.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.