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What to do about dead birds and itchy squirrels

DEAR JOAN:  I have some bird houses on my back deck, and a mom and dad (wrens, I think) have chosen one in which to build a nest and lay multiple eggs.
They have hatched and some are alive and some not. There is a back door that I have opened and quickly investigated when mom and dad were away.
Should I remove the dead ones or just leave them alone? It doesn’t seem healthy to have the deceased remain there. Please, please advise me.
Suzanne B., Walnut Creek
DEAR SUZANNE: Removal might seem a kindness, as well as a sanitary gift to the growing family of birds, but it’s best to just let things be. The parents will take care of the issue when they’re ready.
There also is a chance the babies you saw aren’t dead. Unless, you know, they were obviously dead. Recently hatched babies can be extremely lethargic, plus they don’t have a lot of motor skills or abilities when they first leave the shell.
Best to leave things alone and let nature take its course.
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DEAR JOAN: I have squirrels that come into my backyard because I have bird feeders. For the first time I noticed this squirrel had no fur, and I can only assume it has mites or scabies. It looked all wrinkled and is constantly scratching.
Will it spread the disease to the mourning doves that come to my backyard? They share the same ground area. I don’t want it affecting my birds. Is there anything I can do to keep it away, other than removing my birdseed feeders?
Carol C., Dublin
DEAR CAROL: Your hairless squirrel could have the mange, which is caused by mites, but it also could have another squirrel skin ailment, dermatophytosis, which is a fungal disease very common in late winter and early spring.
The best way to tell the difference is by appearance. If your squirrel has red sores, a rash and crusting over of the sores, it likely is infested by a mite called sarcoptes scabiei, which causes the mange. If the squirrel doesn’t have any skin blemishes or sores, it has dermatophytosis.
Either way, your birds should be safe. Mites generally are species specific. Birds have their own special mites that plague them, but don’t feed off anything else. Likewise, the fungus shouldn’t infect the birds either.
If you don’t want the squirrel in your yard, you’ll probably have to stop feeding the birds for a while.
If you’re certain the squirrel has mange, you can treat it with a tiny bit of  Ivermectin Paste , spread on a shelled nut, once a week for about three weeks. Don’t do this if you have a shepherd breed dog — collie, Australian shepherd, Shetland sheepdogs, Old English or English sheepdogs. Ivermectin can be deadly to them.
If the squirrel has the skin fungus, it will clear up on its own after a while, but you can speed the healing by feeding it raw coconut or raw coconut oil.
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