Why Would a Squirrel Lose Its Hair?
The question of why would a squirrel lose its hair often takes us by surprise. While partially hairless squirrels are not unusual during winter, the question is still difficult to answer. While hair loss in general doesn’t affect the population, it can significantly impact an individual squirrel during the cold winter months. There are several possible causes of squirrel hair loss. Dietary problems, Fungal infections, and genetic conditions are all potential causes of hair loss in squirrels.
Diseases that cause squirrel hair loss
Squirrels can lose their hair for various reasons. Fungal infections are the most common cause. They result in a thin stubble of hair that is usually surrounded by short, broken hairs. The afflicted squirrels may appear stubby due to the infections, but generally recover without permanent damage. Fungal infections can be caused by damp weather, but the shedding of squirrel hair during autumn is usually caused by a fungus called dermatophytosis.
The symptoms of mange vary between species. In the case of gray squirrels, notoedric mange has caused significant hair loss. It also causes the skin to be crusty. The hair loss is easily apparent, and the animal is easy to approach. Because the disease is not serious for humans, it has become a common reason for euthanasia. Fortunately, there are treatments for squirrel hair loss.
Squirrels can lose their hair for a variety of reasons, from thinning to balding. Excess salt in the diet can contribute to the problem, especially in the tail. To prevent the problem, never feed your squirrel with salted nuts. Instead, offer raw or unsalted varieties. Avoid feeding your squirrel more than 20% of its daily diet with salted nuts.
Another common cause of hair loss in squirrels is parasites. Fleas and ticks can cause the problem, particularly if the squirrel is housed in an urban area. These parasites may also be a contributing factor. High population density and mild winters may make them more vulnerable to parasites. Additionally, squirrels must stay away from various predators. Dogs, cats, hawks, and coyotes are all known to prey on squirrels. If a squirrel has this condition, it will not recover its hair.
Squirrels with this problem have a calcium deficiency. If the animal does not receive enough calcium, the body cannot absorb enough calcium. A deficiency in calcium can lead to rickets, a condition that leads to rear leg loss and brittle bones. Ultimately, this deficiency can lead to heart failure and permanent nerve damage. All captive squirrels must receive a diet rich in calcium.
Some squirrels suffer from hair loss due to a fungus called dermatophytoses. The hair is cut off near the skin, leaving fine stubble in its place. This condition usually clears up once the immune system of the squirrel builds up enough to fight off future infections. This fungal infection is caused by an organism called dermatophytes, which is more common in wet and warm climates. Once the infection has cleared, the squirrel will regrow its normal hair and fur. Fungal infections in squirrels are harmless to humans and cannot be passed on through faecal matter.
Some animals will shed their hair for several reasons, including mange and a genetic variant. Some of these conditions are caused by microscopic mites called Sarcoptes scabiei that burrow under the skin. They feed on the animal’s blood and leave a bald patch. A squirrel with this infection may be unable to survive the winter, so you should look for other ways to help it recover.
Some squirrels are bald because of inherited genes, and some never grow hair at all. Squirrels with bald patches may be fox squirrels or gray squirrels. The bald spots are harmless and are caused by no diseases or mites. While there may be no specific cure for this condition, reducing salt and adding coconut oil to their diets may help prevent hair loss.
One common condition that causes squirrels to lose their hair is notoedric mange. This disease is caused by burrowing mites, which feed on a squirrel’s hair follicles. These mites are microscopic and can’t be seen with the naked eye. While the condition is rarely fatal, it is often transmitted from a human to another animal and should be treated immediately. In some cases, adult squirrels may recover without treatment.
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.