A fluffy tale

Squirrels don’t hibernate during winter, but they do slow down their metabolism to conserve energy. Research suggests that their immune systems partially shut down as a result. Perhaps for this reason, squirrels often develop mange in winter.

Our resident alpha squirrel, Blacktip, developed a bad case of fur loss over winter. It started on his neck and chest, but soon spread to his belly and thighs, leaving him pink and itchy. Apparently squirrels usually recover on their own once spring arrives, but this particular critter showed no signs of getting better. I took the feed box away so he wouldn’t spread whatever it was to the other squirrels, and considered my options.

After reading everything I could find on the Internet about squirrel fur loss, it seemed pretty clear that the culprit in this case was notoedric mange–the symptoms matched exactly. Further research revealed that there is a common animal parasite medication that is used to treat notoedric mange in squirrels, as well as in rabbits, rats, and other small mammals. It was pretty cheap, too. The information available on the net suggested weekly doses, for a period of 2-3 weeks. It seemed doable.