I didn’t know there was any such thing as a squirrel dentist
Mrs. Mousebert is an animal nut and is into animal rescues – big-time. I’m not going to go into the menagerie we have in our house in the past, at least not at this point. However, one of the current issues in our household is Chippy, our not a pet squirrel. Did you know you cannot have a pet squirrel? I could understand having to have a license for a pet lion or tiger or a bear, but the squirrel? What is the critter going to do? Run up your neighbor’s leg going after his nuts? So Chippy the squirrel is not a pet. So don’t sic animal control on me, okay.
Chippy was rescued after she fell out of her nest and injured her face. She was found by a friend of my wife’s brother, who from the description did not have a great deal of experience of raising baby squirrels. Of course, Mrs. Mousebert, using her superior animal rescue skills swooped in. What is a baby squirrel compared to all the other animals that we have raised? And by WE I mean that she does the work, and I paid the bills and have the pleasure of smelling and cleaning up after them. Well Chippy fell from a tree out of her nest damaging her upper incisors. This was not so much of an issue prior to her being weaned, but when she was weaned, it was. I’m sure everybody already knows that squirrels are a member of the rodent family and that rodents incisors continue to grow throughout their lifetime being worn down by eating or gnawing on items, like one’s neighbors nuts.
So with Chippy’s upper incisors damaged the balancing action of gnawing down her teeth is disrupted causing her lower incisors to overgrow. Well for rodent, that is really bad news. If the lower incisors grow too long the critter will be unable to eat and subsequently starve. That means Chippy can never be released to the wild. (Crap!) It also means that Chippy has to have her lower incisors ground down every several weeks. Which cost $$$. (double-Crap!) (Have you ever tried to file down a squirrel’s teeth?)
I imagine one could create a little device to place the squirrel in with a cutout of its body and with Velcro to hold it still while one took a drill file to its lower teeth. I suspect that would look something out of a medieval torture chamber. I also think the squirrel would be screaming and yelling so it doesn’t sound like a very pleasant afternoon. The alternative is to take Chippy to the squirrel dentist. Okay it’s really a veterinarian who specializes in rodents. Imagine the looks one gets at a party when someone ask you what you do in your reply is “Oh I’m a squirrel dentist.” I would think squirreled dentist would not have a particularly busy practice. And for the prices they are charging they don’t need to have a particularly busy practice.
Somehow the topic came up at work and I got up on top of my soapbox about having to take the squirrel to the damn squirrel dentist. Now I am known as the doctor who has a squirrel. Here I am a person who frequently is the leading expert in my field in a lecture hall at an international meetings, and I am now known as the doctor who owns a squirrel. (Okay, I am most frequently the leading expert in the room because no one else has arrived yet.)
I have been requested for my next lecture to bring photos of Chippy. It was also suggested that I set up a pay link to help defray the cost of Chippy’s dental bills. That sounds like a good idea but with the crisis in Haiti it seems a bit crass. Instead, I suggest you text message to the Red Cross with a $10 donation to “HAITI” to 90999 for the relief efforts in Haiti.
Update: Sad news. Chippy died today, 2-Mar-2010. She was not her usual self last night and we were going to take her to the vet. Had an appointment later today around 4 P.M.