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Squirrel Rehabilitation Handbook, 2003 edition

Shirley J. Casey and Allan M. Casey.

WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation Inc.



WildAgain’s Squirrel Rehabilitation Handbook has recently been expanded to 265 pages, including over 120 black and white photos; 18 illustrations, and 20 data charts. Previously only available for those attending WildAgain’s 2 day squirrel rehabilitation seminar, the manual includes detailed photos of juvenile squirrels at different developmental stages, information on diets, and cage plans, as well as descriptions of common squirrel health conditions and treatment options.

Four of the 7 appendices are new articles, including tips on preventing aspiration problems in juvenile squirrels, gastrointestinal conditions in squirrels (35 pages+), urinary conditions in squirrels (10+ pages), and a comparison of commercial rodent chow products. The bibliography includes citations from over 115 references, as well as including useful websites.

The authors, co-founders of WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation in Evergreen, Colorado, have rehabilitated over 1,700 squirrels since 1986, and have worked with over 15 species of tree and ground squirrels. The authors have presented much of the content contained in the Handbook at state, regional and national rehabilitation conferences as well as published on squirrel rehabilitation (an example of an article by the authors is on this website; see "Utilizing Squirrel Natural History in Rehabilitation Decisions"). Please see below for ordering information. Also see below for the $30 registration discount you receive at one of WildAgain's 2-day squirrel rehabilitation seminars


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Squirrel Natural History

Squirrels in the United States, general information, habitat and range, natural diet in the wild, behavior, physiology, reproduction, developmental stages and aging photographs, some common North American squirrels, and a North America distribution map.

Chapter 2 - Preparation

Supplies, publications useful for wildlife rehabilitators, wildlife rehabilitation organizations, caging and habitat materials (needs, designs, plans).

Chapter 3 - Talking with the Public

Fundamentals, common questions about squirrels and possible responses, juvenile squirrels in need, injured adult squirrels, transport tips, hostage negotiation.

Chapter 4 - Admit Procedures

Admission. handling precautions, initial examination, common initial conditions and treatments.

Chapter 5 - Diet and Nutrition, Feeding Technique and Elimination

Commercially available milk replacers, feeding instruments for infant and juvenile squirrels, preparing diets for infant and juvenile squirrels, feeding techniques for infants and juveniles, feeding amount, feeding schedule guidelines, diet and nutrition for older juvenile and adult squirrels, diet for injured or weak adult squirrels, elimination. This chapter also includes a 2-page chart with general feeding guidelines.

Chapter 6 - Caging

Design considerations, bedding, nesting boxes, water source, cage and nest box plans, examples of outdoor squirrel enclosures, cage cleaning.

Chapter 7 - Orphaned Squirrel Considerations

Raising orphaned squirrels, habituated squirrels, cage occupancy and management, water source.

Chapter 8 - Squirrel Health Considerations

Learning what is normal health, initial physical examination, daily monitoring, veterinary assistance, holistic care options, 44 common health conditions, etiology and some treatments.

Chapter 9 - Release Considerations, Euthanasia and Managing Risks

Preparing squirrels for release. release criteria, release time, release sites, considerations for euthanasia decisions, euthanasia procedure, risk management, health and safety concerns, legal concerns and liabilities.


Bibliography (including literature cited (118 references) and several useful Internet web sites)


Appendices   (click on underlined titles for links)

•  "Utilizing Squirrel Natural History in Rehabilitation Decisions" by Shirley Casey

•  "Mammal Nutrition: More than a Cookbook" by Allan Casey

•  "Selection and Use of Commercially Available Rodent Chow Products" by Allan Casey

While many rehabilitators use commercially prepared rodent chows with pre-weaned and weaned juvenile rodents and adult rodents, others do not. This paper begins with some of the reasons that rehabilitators use or do not use rodent chows. It describes different types of rodent chows with varying levels of fat and protein, such as high performance diets for breeding and reproduction, growth or full life cycle diets, and maintenance diets. Charts compare 27 different products used with rodents that are offered by several manufacturers, as well as the guaranteed and typical nutritional analyses. While the author does not recommend a specific rodent chow product, he does describe criteria used to select one product over another, including the animal’s stage of development, ratio of protein to fat, ingredients, and source of nutrients. This article clearly shows that rodent chows are not created equal.

•  "Aspiration Problems in Juvenile Squirrels" by Shirley Casey

Aspiration of fluids is a rather common problem seen in juvenile squirrels in rehabilitation. Serious respiratory conditions can result from the squirrel aspirating (inhaling) fluids during feeding by the rescuer, rehabilitation volunteer, or rehabilitator. This paper suggests a variety of tips to help reduce the risk of aspiration. The first tips involve selection of feeding instruments (syringes and nipples) that compare in size to the mother squirrel’s nipple as well as limit and control the amount of fluid. The next series of tips involve feeding process, such as position of the squirrel and syringe and ensuring time for swallowing by using a “push-pause” method. Signs of aspiration problems are described, including wheezing, “clicking”, increasing lethargy, decreasing appetite, and mouth breathing. Examples of treatments used with aspiration problems are also described.

•  "Homeopathic First Aid Tips for Wildlife" by Shirley Casey and Betty Jo Black, DVM

•  "Urinary Conditions in Squirrels" by Shirley Casey and Mackenzie Goldthwait, DVM

A variety of urinary problems seen in squirrels in rehabilitation and potential treatments are described in this paper. Examples of the urinary conditions include descriptions, etiologies (causes), and potential treatments. Some of the conditions include inability to urinate, urinary infections, problems with urine, and genital injuries. Descriptions of some methods to prevent problems as well as conventional and holistic medical treatments have been included.

•  "Gastrointestinal Conditions in Squirrels" by Shirley Casey and Mackenzie Goldthwait, DVM

Gastrointestinal difficulties occur quite frequently in squirrels in rehabilitation, particularly problems with stool. Gastrointestinal disturbances can cause a variety of problems, especially during critical development stages of young animals. This 30 page paper describes ten gastrointestinal problems seen in squirrels, including soft stool, diarrhea, bloat, and prolapsed rectum. It then describes over 30 potential causes of such problems, such as overfeeding, diets too rich in fats or sugars, inappropriate diets for the animal’s age, disturbance of digestive flora due to antibiotics, and endoparasites. Suggestions are provided to help prevent and resolve digestive problems through modifying rehabilitation practices. The authors also describe some treatments used by rehabilitators and veterinarians with various digestive disorders, including conventional medicine, homeopathic medicine, herbal medicine, and acupuncture. Five appendices to the paper provide additional information on topics such as reasons that squirrels may not eat, four detailed cases and treatments, and a supply list.


Ordering Information

This Squirrel Rehabilitation Handbook is for rehabilitators, not the general public, since the possession and care of wild squirrels is usually regulated by state law. Thus, the Squirrel Rehabilitation Handbook will be sold only to permitted wildlife rehabilitators, sub-permittees, or volunteers assisting a permitted rehabilitator, and not to the general public. A photocopy of the rehabilitator's current wildlife rehabilitation state permit or license, or other information documenting rehabilitation activities must accompany each order.

The cost of the Squirrel Rehabilitation Handbook is US$40 plus $5 shipping (US Priority Mail). To keep the cost of the handbook most affordable, WildAgain does not accept credit cards, but will gladly accept for payment a personal check or money order made to the order of WildAgain. Click here for a printable order form, or please send the payment, documentation of rehabilitator status, and mailing instructions to WildAgain, P.O. Box 685, Evergreen, CO, 80437-0685.  (For orders outside the U.S., or for orders of multiple copies, please email for shipping costs.)

Please email any questions or inquiries about the Handbook to WLRehabProject@me.com.

Discount at WildAgain's Squirrel Rehabilitation Seminar

When you purchase the Squirrel Rehabilitation Handbook, you receive a coupon that entitles you to a US$30.00 discount on registration at one of WildAgain's 2-day Squirrel Rehabilitation Seminars held around North America. Click here to see the schedule of upcoming seminars and to download a brochure describing the contents of the weekend seminar. The seminar expands on the contents of the Handbook with over 400 slides on species identification, husbandry, medical conditions, caging, and much more. In addition, seminar participants receive additional handouts, vendor catalogs and product samples.


Copyright 2003-2006. © WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. All Rights Reserved unless otherwise stated.