Go to The Squirrel Board for live online help for pets or injured/orphaned wildlife.
Small pets have special nutritional needs. Many nutrients are stored by the body: in the bones, in fat, or in organs like the liver. A large animal like a human has a lot of storage capacity; a tiny hamster has much less. Yet their nutrient requirements are high relative to their small body size. For example, the calcium requirement of a small rodent is at least 30 times that of humans, pound for pound. So your small rodent needs a diet with a high concentration of nutrients.
Also, our pets are much less active than wild animals. This means they eat less and take in fewer nutrients. So even if you could feed your pet a perfect "wild diet" by gathering all the foods he would normally eat in the wild, he couldn't eat enough to get the nutrition he needs. The only way for your pet to get the nutrition he needs to stay healthy is by eating a concentrated block like Henry's Healthy Pet Foods.
Although your pet needs fortified food to get all the nutrients she needs, a diet of nothing but commercial pellets is called a "dead diet" because it's 100% processed. We believe fresh foods are very important for your pet. They not only provide fiber, micronutrients, and fresh vitamin C, but also the interest and variety your pet craves. That's why Henry's Healthy Pet Foods are made from whole food ingredients like fresh nuts, whole grains, and real eggs. We also recommend you give your pet a selection of fresh healthy vegetables every day.
Most pet squirrels and flyers won't eat commercial rodent blocks. They are picky eaters and simply don't like the taste. As a result, most captive squirrels end up with a diet of nuts, seeds, and vegetables, which is deficient in calcium and protein as well as other nutrients like B vitamins. This can lead to metabolic bone disease (MBD) which causes lethargy, paralysis, seizures, and can be fatal. A lack of protein can cause dull, sparse, or patchy fur.
Some squirrel owners try to get around this problem by feeding supplements. The problem with dusting food with calcium, putting vitamin drops in water, and so on is that you never know how much your pet is getting: too much? not enough? With Henry's Healthy Blocks, no additional supplements are needed.
Exercise is very important for your pet. Make sure your pet has daily out-of-cage time to run and play; a selection of branches and other things to climb and explore; and at least one active play session per day. This will help keep her both healthy and happy. It's also important not to overfeed your pet, or feed too many snacks and treats. Being overweight causes many health problems and can lead to diabetes, especially in older animals. Healthy weights may vary, but in general, your pet should look sleek and well muscled and not have rolls of fat. Avoid foods that are high in sugars, starches, or fat, especially if your pet is older, overweight, or less active.
It's important to feed a variety of healthy vegetables. Choose different colors (dark green, light green, yellow, orange) and different types (root vegetables like carrots, leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage, flowers and stalks like broccoli, and mushrooms, which are actually fungi). Don't let your pet get hooked on only one favorite vegetable!