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Common squirrel afflictions
Squirrel pox or fibroma, is a viral disease that produces multiple tumors on the skin. Transmission of the virus occurs via insect bites. The tumors can occur anywhere on the body but when they occur on the head/face and the feet, the animal is unable to feed and move naturally. Pox lesions can range in size from 2 to 25 mm in diameter, are white and gray in color, and often coalesce with one another forming a large mass. The carcasses of affected animals are safe for human consumption.
Notoedric mange is commonly seen in squirrels and the mite (Notoedres centrifera) that causes this disease does not infest any other species of animal. The mite burrows into the layers of the skin where it lives, causing an irritation and resulting in hair loss. Hair loss can be scattered or can affect the entire body. Scabs are occasionally seen on the skin but normally there is very little reaction to the infestation. Extensive hair loss can result in death of the animal due to exposure if the squirrel is affected during the winter. The notoedric mange mite can’t infest humans and the carcass of an infested squirrel is safe for human consumption.
Warbles are the larval stage of the botfly (Cuterebra sp.). They usually live within the skin and in the sub-cutaneous space in the inguinal area of the squirrel. The larvae complete their development in this space, changing color from white to black and reaching sizes of ½ inch x 1 inch. Warbles are normally present in the squirrel during the summer months but it is possible for some to still be present during the early portion of the hunting season. The warble can have a debilitating and possible fatal effect on the squirrel. Humans can't be infected with the larvae so the carcass is edible.
Thoracic cavity/abdominal cavity
Cysticeri (cysts) of the tapeworm Taenia crassiceps occur in squirrels, being disseminated through-out several organs (heart, lungs, liver, spleen, and kidney). These cysts are small and contain clear liquid and a single white floating object (the head of the tapeworm). The cysts are throughout the viscera and often the hunter finds the animal aesthetically displeasing and is not interested in consuming the carcass. These cysts are not infectious to humans so the carcass is edible.