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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Baby Squirrel Blues

Because I see a lot of exotic pets I often get some strange cases referred to me.  Today I had someone who does wildlife rehabilitation bring in a baby squirrel that wasn't weaned.  It had fallen out of a tree a week ago and her dogs had brought some of the babies to her.  One of them had suffered a wound to its head and she was worried, so I got to see him.

Unfortunately, the wound was pretty bad, with skin missing on the top of his head and showing no signs of growing back together.  His left eye was also injured and didn't appear to have normal function.  Situations like this can be difficult for many reasons.  First, because it's a wild animal, you can't easily keep them in captivity even when raised from a baby like this.  Thankfully the person was experienced with keeping wildlife, so this didn't concern me.  The squirrel needed surgery to do a skin graft and remove the injured eye, which wasn't inexpensive.  And lastly this is a risky surgery in such a small, young animal (110 grams), so there isn't a guarantee that he would survive surgery.

From a medical perspective it's interesting to see uncommon animals like this, and would be a great surgery to perform.  However, with the risks and costs, it may not be realistic.  And at this point the squirrel will never be able to be released into the wild because he is blind in one eye.  It's a tough decision, and one that hasn't been made yet.  The owner was going to talk to her husband and let us know.  If I hear back from them I'll post an update.