Why Do Squirrels Keep Dying In My Yard [8 Reasons and 4 Solutions]

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Every animal has a specific life span, after which it dies naturally. Sometimes, the animals die before they even complete their life cycle, i.e from young, adolescent, and adult. This can be due to several reasons. Squirrel dead bodies are spotted in different places, but why do squirrels keep dying in my yard?

Squirrels keep dying in the yard due to several reasons like cars, falling from a tree branch, escaping predators, poisons, or disease. Sometimes one sees dead bodies, but the exact cause of death cannot be traced back.

In this article, we will examine why the squirrels keep dying in the yard and what can be done about them. In this article, we will view every reason for the squirrel’s death. 

[8] Reasons Why Do Squirrels Keep Dying In Yard

1- Due to Viral Diseases Of Squirrels 

a) Distemper Virus 

Death due to disease is quite common among squirrels. Viruses prevail in our environment, and one of the leading causes of squirrel death is the animal distemper virus. This disease affects the squirrels, so it has been known to wipe out colonies of gray squirrels in America. 

This virus has no cure so far. The symptoms lead to respiratory, neurological as well as gastrointestinal disturbances. Ultimately, the animal succumbs to the disease and dies. 

b) Rabies Virus 

Rabies is prevalent in rodents. The virus is known for attacking the Central Nervous System. This virus can be transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal like a cat, dog, squirrel, or raccoon. 

The signs and symptoms of rabies are severe, i.e., include headache, fever, and fatigue, which later progresses to paralysis and convulsions. The animal feels suffocated and dies suffering from this virus. 

Rabies has no cure. Only timely prevention is there through immunization. It is better to have your squirrels immunized, so they do not contract this particular virus. 

c) Squirrel Pox Virus 

This particular virus can be transmitted from infected animals like fleas and mosquitos. This can lead to neurological disorders and death in squirrels. 

With time, the squirrel develops lumps on its body. They are referred to as scabs. If the virus goes to the brain, nothing but death awaits the squirrel.

2- Bacterial Diseases Of Squirrels

a) Toxoplasmosis

Usually, a cat’s feces is infected, and if the squirrels come in contact with it, they get a bacterial infection. This contact can develop through food or water contaminated with a cat’s fecal particles.

  The animal develops a neurological disorder that proves to be fatal for the squirrel. Currently, there is no cure for this disease and the squirrels die suffering from it. 

b) Bartonella

The ticks, lice, or fleas can carry Bartonella. It can be spread through a cat’s scratch to the squirrels. The symptoms include swelling of the gums, mouth, and eyes and developing a fever. 

A worse form of the disease can develop diarrhea and chronic vomiting. Squirrels cannot withstand all the complications and die if they are not given any timely medical treatment.

3- Chemical Poisons Ingested By Squirrels 

Chemical poisons are those that can be consumed by squirrels accidentally. They affect multiple organs in just a short period and lead to the animal’s death within a few hours to one day. 

Insecticides are also considered chemical poisons, and they can be absorbed through the animal’s skin. When accumulated, they can cause seizures and tremors and lead to the death of the squirrels. 

Rodenticides also fall under the category of chemical poisons, and they initiate internal bleeding if they are ingested. If these rodenticides have been consumed directly, they can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. 

This results in dehydration and then leads to organ failure. The best immediate treatment is by giving vitamin K1. Timely intervention can save the life of squirrels. 

4- Nutritional Poisons Consumed By Squirrels 

Nutrition is essential for having a balanced diet. The animals require them in minute amounts, but they still play a significant role in developing and regulating organisms’ metabolism.

However, if the level of some nutrients exceeds the average threshold, it can be harmful to them. In the case of squirrels, zinc phosphide and strychnine salts have been proven to have adverse effects.

Similarly, some heavy metals, when consumed, can lead to liver damage. It depends on the external environment of the animal. If these nutritional poisons are abundant, there are more chances of squirrels consuming them and getting affected. 

5- Predators On The Chase

The squirrel predators are always on the lookout to hunt. Though the squirrels are agile and fast runners, sometimes they fall victim to this predator-prey chase and end up dead. 

The common predators of squirrels are cats and dogs. They are considered to be natural predators. They have a habit of chasing squirrels till they are successful in catching them. So, if a squirrel is not fast enough, it will get eaten quickly. 

Some wild animals, like raccoons, badgers, weasels, coyotes, and bobcats, also love to feed on squirrels. Squirrels can easily climb up the tree tops, but sometimes even, they cannot skip these predators as they can climb trees to catch up to squirrels. 

6- Bird Hunters

Every organism on the ground can be eaten by the birds up in the sky. So, even if the squirrels escape the land predators, their lives can be endangered by those roaming the skies. 

Squirrels must watch for flying birds like falcons, eagles, owls, and hawks. They can spot the birds up high and grab them in their claws.

After eating the flesh out of the squirrels, these birds get rid of the skeletal bones by dropping them to the ground. So, it may be one of the reasons why squirrels keep dying in your yard. It may be because your yard is suitable under the eye of the hawks up in the sky.

7- Not Surviving A Fall

A squirrel loves to climb up the buildings as well as the trees. Their bodies have been made in such a way that facilitates this kind of behavior. Similarly, squirrels can withstand the impact of falls when they drop down from a branch or a tree top. 

Sometimes, the squirrels are not fortunate enough, and they do not fall correctly. They do not make a landing in the correct position and end up hurting themselves badly. Still, their landing can be fatal if they experience an injury before falling. 

If the squirrel injuries go unnoticed, they may succumb to their wound and eventually die due to bleeding. Moreover, an injured squirrel is more prone to predator attacks than the usual, healthy squirrels. 

8- Being Rolled Over By A Vehicle

Vehicles are one of the leading causes of animals that stroll the land’s surface. They get subjected to road kills. The squirrels are agile, and they can easily detect an oncoming car. 

Sometimes, a squirrel darts right in front of the car, and the driver does not get sufficient time to make a sudden stop. As a result, the squirrel gets rolled over under the vehicle brutally. 

The squirrels sometimes can also hide in the walls of the vehicle wheels. So, if you sit in the car, ignite the engine and start driving, you may end up killing a squirrel unintentionally. 

How To Prevent Squirrels To keep Dying In Yard

So far, we have read about all the reasons why squirrels end up dead in your yard. You can prevent this from happening by taking a few precautionary measures. These will help reduce the squirrels’ death toll, and you will be happy to save the lives of countless squirrels. 

1- Avoid Using Chemicals

For those who like growing fruits and vegetables in your yards, it is advised that you stop using insecticides or other poisons immediately. This will help in restoring the squirrel’s lives in your area. 

The chemicals also involve rodenticides. If you have rats or mice in your home and have been using rodenticides to kill them, you may want to look for alternative ways. A squirrel is also a rodent, and indirectly, you are getting rid of squirrels too.

These little creatures feed on the small tablets and die in your yard. Once you are done getting rid of the rats; you should completely avoid the use of rodenticides. 

2- Keep Your Pets Indoors

Squirrels are prey for common household pets like cats or dogs. So, if you really do not want your squirrels to drop dead in your yards, you should take care of not letting your dogs and cats out of the house. 

If the cats and dogs have been domesticated, it is well and good. You can easily have them outside the house under your constant supervision. Otherwise, as per the laws of nature, cats, dogs, and squirrels cannot co-exist in the same environment. 

3- Keep An Eye Out While Driving 

It is often observed that the squirrels hide under the car wheels. One thing you can do is, once you have started your car, you can wait for about 2-3 minutes before driving it. This way, the squirrels will move due to the sound of the engine, and this will save their lives. 

While on the road, you can go at a lower speed if your area has squirrels. This will give you enough time to pull the brakes and save the life of a squirrel you will hit. 

4- Keep Them Protected From Infections

Though this is very difficult to attain, you can do one thing: look out for the signs and symptoms. If more than one squirrel is getting sick and dying, you need to eliminate the source of infection. 

For instance, the symptoms of rabies are quite obvious. Your first thought should be looking around for a rabid dog that has rabies. If you get rid of that particular dog, you can save your squirrels from being infected. 

The other thing you can do is opt for the right course of treatment. You take your squirrel to the vet in time and get the right medicines to treat it. Giving medicines timely can save your squirrels from dying.

Wrapping It Up

Squirrels can be found dead due to a number of reasons like infectious diseases, road kills, poisons, and becoming prey. This leads to a rise in the number of deaths.

You can trace down the reasons for their death and then implement on the solutions mentioned above. This way you will be able to implement the best course of action and save the lives of squirrels timely.

References

Baldwin, R.A., Becchetti, T.A., Meinerz, R. et al. Potential impact of diphacinone application strategies on secondary exposure risk in a common rodent pest: implications for management of California ground squirrels. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28, 45891–45902 (2021)

D’Silva C, Krishna B. Rodenticide Poisoning. Indian J Crit Care Med. 2019 Dec;23(Suppl 4):S272-S277. doi: 10.5005/jp-journals-10071-23318. PMID: 32021003; PMCID: PMC6996659.

Olah DI, Páll E, Cerbu C, Zăblău SD, Duca G, Suătean MI, Potârniche AV, Vasiu A, Spînu M. A Peek into the Bacterial Microbiome of the Eurasian Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris). Animals. 2022

Shuttleworth CM, Everest D, Holmes P, Bell S, Cripps R. An Opportunistic Assessment of the Impact of Squirrelpox Disease Outbreaks upon a Red Squirrel Population Sympatric with Grey Squirrels in Wales. Animals. 2022

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