What Does a Wool in a Squirrel Look Like?
So you’ve seen a squirrel and now you’re wondering, what does a wool in a squirrel look like? There are many theories out there about the origins of squirrels, but the one fact that seems to always be the same is that they are creatures of the wild, carrying all kinds of diseases and parasites. Fortunately, this article will explain what a squirrel’s wool looks like, and how it can be used to make your own.
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Warble bot fly larvae
Tree squirrels and chipmunks are known to feed on the fruit of the swamp tupelo. These creatures have two areas of bare skin on their back that are filled with warble bot fly larvae. These larvae attach themselves to the animal at the time of hatching and burrow underneath its skin for three to four weeks, feeding on the fluids of the host. When infestation is suspected, a veterinarian will remove the larvae by using forceps to remove the warble pore.
Once the tree squirrel bot fly larvae have emerged, they will continue to grow and eventually emerge from the burrow. They will then fall to the ground to complete their pupal stage. The pupae will then hibernate a few inches underground before emerging as adult flies in spring. When the adult flies emerge from the tree squirrel, they resemble a bumble bee. The lifespan of the adult bug is only two weeks.
Squirrel bot flies are not parasitic worms
The scientific name of the squirrel bot fly is Cuterebra emasculator, which means “skin-boring testicle remover.” This insect was first described by Asa Fitch, one of the nation’s first professional entomologists. Tree squirrels infested with the larvae of this fly develop barrel-shaped lumps on their skin. Hunters often mistook these lumps for tumors or signs of infection.
The larva of the Tree Squirrel Bot Fly attaches itself to a squirrel’s body by using a hole in its butt. The larva feeds on the host’s blood and lymph fluid while living in a molting cycle that is accompanied by two pupae. The larva then molts into its adult size in its egg, and once mature, emerges from the egg through a slit on the top of the shell.
Squirrels carry diseases and parasites
Squirrels can carry parasites and diseases that can be harmful to people and pets. Common examples include Mycobacterium lepromatosis, which is the causal agent of Henson’s disease in humans. Squirrels can spread the disease to humans through respiratory droplets or through cuts or bites. Thankfully, most squirrel diseases are easily treatable and rarely affect humans.
Hunters also often harvest squirrels that have tumors. These tumors are most likely the larvae of squirrel bot flies, natural parasites that infest both squirrels and rabbits. Historically, old folks called these parasites “wolves,” and said to discard infested squirrels and wait for the first frost before they cleaned them up. Unfortunately, many hunters are unaware of this parasitic problem and may not want to risk destroying a squirrel’s burrow to avoid catching the disease.
They can infest humans
If you have squirrels in your yard, you may have seen the larvae of a small fly called a botfly. These larvae can live in the wool of squirrels and infest people. The adult flies do not cause illness, and the larvae live only in the first instar. Nevertheless, if you catch a squirrel with botfly larvae in its fur, you will have to discard it because the meat is not edible.
The larva of the botfly are harmless to humans. They do not slither up your wrists or enter your bloodstream. However, you should wash your hands immediately after handling any squirrel. There is a slight chance that the flies could be in your hair if you have had contact with them. Although it’s not advisable to touch a squirrel, you may find their eggs in your clothes.
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.