In the wild, squirrels effortlessly glide from trees. If they’re ill or hurt, you might spot them pulling their legs behind them as they move. This can be an indication of hind limb paralysis, which has a few potential causes. Here, we will investigate the reasons for and solutions to hindlimb paralysis in squirrels. We’ll also touch on if recuperation is possible for a squirrel dragging its back legs (hind limb paralysis).
Causes of Squirrel Dragging Its Back Legs
Although squirrels are excellent at leaping from one tree to another, they can get hurt and even paralyzed in the process.
In fact, hind limb paralysis is one of the most common injuries among these creatures.
Jumping From High Places
This condition is most frequently seen in squirrels who have jumped from high places, such as trees or telephone wires, and landed awkwardly on the ground.
While jumping from high places like this can help them escape predators or get food, it sometimes leads to injuries, such as hind limb paralysis.
Being hit by a car
If a squirrel is hit by a car, it may develop hind limb paralysis. Cars are one of the most common causes of hind limb paralysis in squirrels. If you see an injured squirrel, try to move it to a safe place away from traffic and contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center for assistance.
Escape from an avian predator
In some cases, the condition is caused by an injury sustained while escaping from an avian predator like a hawk. This can be fatal for squirrels as they fall from high up in the sky and may suffer hind limb paralysis.
Regardless of the cause, hind limb paralysis can be debilitating for squirrels, and many animals will not survive long after developing this condition.
Diagnosis Of Hind Limb Paralysis In Squirrels
Symptoms of hind limb paralysis in squirrels include the inability to move the legs, loss of sensation in the legs, and muscle weakness.
Serious Inflammation Around The Spinal Column
The most common cause of hind limb paralysis is serious inflammation around the spinal column, which can be caused by disease or injury.
Fracture Of The Spine
Other potential causes include a fracture of the spine or damage to the nerves that control leg movement.
If you see a squirrel showing signs of hind limb paralysis in your backyard, it is important to take it to a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
Only a professional can determine the cause of the paralysis and recommend the best course of action.
Treatments Of Hind Limb Paralysis In Squirrels
When a squirrel experiences hind limb paralysis, it may seem like there is little that can be done.
However, there are actually a few different treatment options available, depending on the severity of the paralysis, either rather easy to treat or almost impossible to treat.
For milder cases like inflammation, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
In more severe cases like spine fractures, surgery may be necessary to correct a fracture of the spine. However, if surgery is not an option, euthanasia may be the only choice.
While hind limb paralysis can be a difficult condition to treat, there are options available for those who are willing to seek out help.
Can squirrels recover from hind leg paralysis?
While squirrels are known for their agility, they are not immune to injury.
One of the most serious injuries a squirrel can sustain is hind leg paralysis.
This can be caused by spinal trauma or an injury to the legs themselves. Squirrels can or cannot recover from hind leg paralysis, depending on the severity.
If the paralysis is due to inflammation around the spinal column, it is often easy to treat and the squirrel will make a full recovery.
However, if the paralysis is caused by a fracture of the spine, it is usually permanent and the squirrel will not be able to recover.
Hind Leg Injury
If the hind leg injury is a bone fracture, recovery will take time but is usually possible.
In either case, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible to give the squirrel the best chance of recovering from its injuries.
Should I take an injured squirrel back home as a pet?
Although you may want to help an injured squirrel, please know that taking it back home as a pet is not the best solution for the following reasons:
One, squirrels are wild animals and are used to living in their natural habitat. Therefore, being held captive can cause them immense stress- oftentimes making their injuries worse.
Two, they require a specialized diet which can be hard to come by if you’re not knowledgeable of where/what to look for in general.
Lastly, they carry diseases such as rabies which can be harmful/deadly when transmitted to humans.
Always remember that squirrels are wild animals, no matter how friendly they may seem. They can still bite or scratch you, so it’s best to let people who know what they’re doing take care of them if they’re hurt in any way.
What to do to help squirrels with hind limb paralysis?
Sometimes you may see a squirrel dragging its back legs in your backyard or along the street. What should you do?
Rescue The Squirrel
If you find a squirrel with hind limb paralysis, the first thing you should do is rescue the squirrel.
If you are able to safely catch the squirrel, take it to the vet for an examination.
Reach Out To A Rehabilitation Center
If the squirrel is not injured and just has paralysis, reach out to a rehabilitation center that can care for the squirrel until it recovers.
Sometimes referrals for care centers can be given by vets or through state wildlife agencies.
Take It To The Vet
If the squirrel is injured and needs medical treatment, ask the vet if they are able to provide treatment or if they know of a wildlife rehabilitation center that can help. Many times, treatment for hind limb paralysis in squirrels includes physical therapy and cage rest.
With proper care, most squirrels are able to recover and return to the wild.
If you spot a squirrel dragging only its back legs, please don’t turn away!
The animal might have suffered a severe injury and needs your assistance. The best way to help a struggling squirrel is by bringing it to the vet for examination and care.
In most cases, with proper medical treatment, these animals are able to recover enough to return to their natural habitat.
Since they play such an important role in our ecosystem, we should do everything possible to save them when they need us.