Red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris)

Note: It is illegal to release grey squirrels ( ) back into the wild across all the devolved administrations of the UK and a licence is required from the relevant authority to keep grey squirrels in captivity. The formulary below can be used appropriately for grey squirrels.

Table of doses for red squirrels

Drug Dose Comments
Gaseous anaesthesia can be used in all species and in most it is the preferred method
Alfaxalone + dexmedetomidine + midazolam
  • Alfaxalone (15 µg/kg) + dexmedetomidine (40 µg/kg) + midazolam (0.3 mg/kg) i.m.
  • Good quality of general anaesthesia for surgery, with limited cardiovascular effects and good intraoperative muscle relaxation
  • Dexmedetomidine may be reversed at the end of surgery using atipamezole.
Ketamine + medetomidine
  • Ketamine (5 mg/kg) + medetomidine (0.05-0.1 mg/kg) i.m.
  • Ketamine (75 mg/kg) + medetomidine (0.5 mg/kg) i.p., i.m
  • Relatively low dose rates of this combination of drugs have been reported to produce immobilization in squirrels
  • Medetomidine may be reversed after 20 minutes using atipamezole
  • Much higher dose rates have been used to provide 20-30 minutes surgical anaesthesia
  • Individual animal drug responses may vary and therefore suggested dose rates should be used only as a guideline
  • Medetomidine may be reversed after 20 minutes using atipamezole
Ketamine + dexmedetomidine + midazolam
  • Ketamine (15 mg/kg) + dexmedetomidine (40 µg/kg) + midazolam (0.3 mg/kg) i.m.
  • Good general anaesthetic for surgical procedures, with rapid relaxation and recovery
  • 2.5 mg/kg i.p., i.m.
  • Sedation
  • 5x dose (mg/kg) medetomidine or 10x dose (mg/kg) dexmedetomidine used
  • Reversal of medetomidine: 5 times the medetomidine dose (i.e. equal volume of the 5 mg/ml atipamezole solution)
  • Reversal of dexmedetomidine: 10 times the dexmedetomidine dose (0.5 mg/ml solution) (i.e. equal volume of the 5 mg/ml atipamezole solution when 0.5 mg/ml solution of dexmedetomidine is used)
  • In common with most species, a delay in reversal of medetomidine/dexmedetomidine of at least 20 minutes after the administration of combinations with ketamine is recommended
  • 0.05 mg/kg s.c. q8-12h
  • Control of mild to moderate pain
  • 2 mg/kg s.c. q4h
  • 5 mg/kg s.c. q24h
  • The usual considerations for the careful use of NSAIDs in dehydrated, hypovolaemic or hypertensive animals, as well as those with underlying gastrointestinal disease, should be observed
  • 1-3 mg/kg i.m., s.c. q12-24h
  • 1-2 mg/kg s.c., p.o. q24h
  • 0.5-2 mg/kg i.m., s.c. q2-4h
  • Lower does should be used in clinically compromised animals

Antibiotic use (both appropriate and inappropriate) imposes a powerful selection pressure on bacteria and is the primary driver of antibiotic resistance. Eliminating unnecessary use in people and animals is, therefore, essential to safeguard this invaluable resource. The reader is referred to the Guidelines for responsible antibiotic use for further information
  • 10 mg/kg s.c., p.o. q24h
  • Fluroquinolones should ideally be reserved for infections where culture and sensitivity testing predict a clinical response and use of first- and second- line antimicrobials would not be considered effective
  • 20 mg/kg s.c. q24h
  • 15-30 mg/kg i.m., s.c., p.o. q12h
Fipronil (0.25% w/v spray)
  • 3 ml/kg topically (lower end of the dose range); repeat as necessary at 4 weeks

    (See drug datasheet for more information)
  • Apply correct dose of spray to a gloved hand and then wipe over animal’s body, taking care to avoid risk of hypothermia
Ivermectin (50 µg (micrograms) per pipette)
  • Dose at 200-400 µg/kg topically:
    • ◦  50-100 g bodyweight = 6 drops
    • ◦  100-150 g bodyweight = 9 drops
    • ◦  150-200 g bodyweight = 12 drops
    • ◦  200-250 g bodyweight = 1 pipette
    • ◦  250-500 g bodyweight = 2 pipettes
  • Repeat at 2 and 4 weeks as necessary.

    (See drug datasheet for more information)
  • Apply on the skin between the shoulder blades at the back of the neck
  • 50-100 g bodyweight = 2 drops
  • 100-200 g bodyweight = 3 drops
  • 200-300 g bodyweight = 4 drops
  • 300-400 g bodyweight = 6 drops
  • Repeat at 2 weeks as necessary

    (See drug datasheet for more information)
  • Apply on the skin between the shoulder blades at the back of the neck
  • Do not use in animals <16 weeks of age
  • 10 mg/kg p.o. q24h for 3 days, off for 3 days, on for 3 days
  • Note that the 2.5% solution has a very low pH and should be diluted with equal parts of both water and propylene glycol (i.e. 1:1:1); there is no need to dilute the 5% solution in this way
Interferon omega
  • 1 megaunit/kg s.c. q24h for 3 consecutive days
  • 1 megaunit/squirrel or 2.5 megaunit/kg s.c.; repeat dose after 2-3 days
  • Has been reported to have been beneficial in the treatment of squirrelpox virus (SQPV) cases

NSAID(s) = non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug(s)

Nannarone S, Moretti G, Bellocchi F . (2020) A comparative study of intramuscular alfaxalone- or ketamine-based anaesthetic mixtures in Gray Squirrels undergoing gonadectomy: Clinical and physiologic findings. , 1402.

Richardson C and Flecknell P (2009) Rodents: anaesthesia and analgesia. , ed. E Keeble and A Meredith, pp. 63-71. BSAVA Publications, Gloucester.

Orr HE (2002) Rats and mice. , 4th edition, ed. A Meredithand S Redrobe, pp. 13-25. BSAVA Publications, Gloucester.

Sainsbury AW (2003) Squirrels. In: , 1st edition, ed. E Mullineaux , D Bestand JE Cooper, pp.66-74. BSAVA Publications, Gloucester.

Flecknell P (1996) Anaesthesia and analgesia for rodents and rabbits. , ed. K Laber-Laird, MM Swindleand, P Flecknell, pp. 219-238. Pergamon, Oxford.

Meredith A (2015) . BSAVA Publications, Gloucester.

Carpenter JW (2013) . WB Saunders Company, Pennsylvania.

Carpenter JW and Harms CA (2022) , 6th edition. Elsevier, Oxford.

Wilks K (2008) Red squirrels and the parapoxvirus. , 41-42.

RSNE (2011a) RSNE Advice Note -. Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE), Carlisle. www.rsne.org.uk

V Butler, personal communication.

Blackett T (2016) Squirrels. , 2nd edition, ed. E Mullineaux and E Keeble, pp. 137-151. BSAVA Publications, Gloucester




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