I spent most of today worried about one of my girls. She's the smallest one of the group, although only by a few grams. She's also the one who's had occasional digestive problems, with some minor diarrhea and constipation. But recently she had been totally fine. In fact, even when she had those issues, she was always one of the more active ones when I would feed her. She would excitedly clutch at the syringe and when I reached for another one, she would run all around my lap until the next nipple showed up. And I've been saying all along that, as long as they're running around full of energy, I figure they must be fairly healthy.
But at last night's final feeding, when I picked her up from the cage, she was almost limp. She showed no enthusiasm for eating at all and didn't struggle when I held her up to look at her belly—not like her at all. So I figured she must have overeaten during the day and by morning she'd be fine.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. She was pretty much the same, so that's when I really started to worry. She didn't want any formula so I gave her a bit of Pedialyte, hoping that would help. But she hadn't improved by the next feeding either. She also had diarrhea. Not really awful, but worse than she'd had it before. So I gave her some more Pedialyte, but I practically had to force feed her. In fact, I didn't notice right away that some of it wasn't going in her mouth, and when I turned her around, she was all wet on her face and her front leg. That really freaked me out until I realized what had happened. After I finished feeding them all, I left them to sleep but couldn't stop worrying about her. I had to go in before the next feeding to check on her. I just picked her up to see if she still had any diarrhea, and was relieved to see she didn't. AND, she fought a little against me as I was holding her. A good sign.
I have to admit, though, I was holding my breath when I went in for the third feeding. I made up some less concentrated formula for her (I didn't want to skip it altogether, as she needs the fat and protein in it). When I put her on my lap, she immediately started to move around and, then, when I held the nipple in front of her, she took it right into her mouth. I was so relieved! It was like she was a completely different squirrel from a few hours before. I'm going to have to write a letter to the president of the company that makes Pedialyte and let him know what an amazing effect it has—on squirrels at least!
At the final feeding, she was the same again. I wouldn't say she's 100% better yet—maybe 85%? But that's a huge improvement. Of course, I'll probably still be a little anxious tomorrow morning to see if this improvement “holds.” But I'm sure I'll sleep better tonight.
When I lost that one little squirrel that came in a few days after I got this gang, of course I was sad. But I had only had him for a few hours and he had a number of scratches on him, so I felt like there wasn't anything else I could have done for him at that point. But if anything happens to one of these guys, who've been coming along so well these past three weeks, I know I'd be devastated and would definitely feel like I must have done something wrong. I so want them all to “graduate” back out into the wild, but today's incident has made me realize that I can't take anything for granted yet.