Question about squirrel blocks???

Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Squirrel Freak » Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:09 am

I was wondering how much of this mix do you give your flyers each night?
Or - - do you leave a supply in their cage?
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Judy C. » Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:27 am

I leave a small amount in their cage at all times. They nibble on it, but not to the exclusion of everything else - they still prefer their 'dinner plate' with fresh veggies and fruit and yogurt. Be sure to change it out frequently, or you will end up with an infestation of 'pantry moths', a creature I have learned to hate!
There is now a squirrel block that you can either make or order that will provide almost all the nutrients necessary in there diet. It is the result of the extensive studies of one of the members on TSB.You can find them, and the receipe, under 'Nutrition', on The Squirrel Board.(email address is under my signature.) My squirrels all love them, and I no longer have to dust anything with calcium or add vitamin drops to their water. This is a scientificaly thought out diet, not just something that someone threw together. It was sent to college professors and the the Mazuri rodent block people and met with their full approval. Ir should cut down, or eliminate, MBD in our pet flyers.

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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Squirrel Freak » Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:59 am

Thanks for the reply.... I have already ordered some of the blocks for my flyers as the breeder had them on this diet too.
I will remove some of the Nut_n_Berry from their cage so they will eat more of the blocks and less of the nuts.
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Joan » Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:21 pm

Judy C. wrote:... There is now a squirrel block that you can either make or order that will provide almost all the nutrients necessary in there diet. It is the result of the extensive studies of one of the members on TSB ... This is a scientificaly thought out diet, not just something that someone threw together. It was sent to college professors and the the Mazuri rodent block people and met with their full approval. It should cut down, or eliminate, MBD in our pet flyers.


Judy, can you say a little more about this? I'm particularily interested in the studies and who reviewed them as I've been unable to find anything on the nutritional requirements of flyers, particularily vitamins and minerals. Do you know if longitudinal studies and necropsies of flyers on this diet are planned? I know that Dr. Cooley, who does our necropsies, is concerned about over-supplementation in pet flyers.
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Judy C. » Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:37 pm

Joan, check it out on TSB under 'nutrition'. The blocks were created with a 1 pound grey squirrel in mind, so I adjust the size of what mine get accordingly. I'd be interested in what you think of it.

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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Squirrel Freak » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:41 pm

I just ordered some for TSB - the seller has a formula for adults & a growth formula for babies (squirrels & flyers)
http://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/show ... e0&t=15425
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Joan » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:31 pm

Judy C. wrote:... I'd be interested in what you think of it.


Sorry to take a few days, but I didn't want to rush into an answer without giving it some thought and consulting with some others. So, here's my and their thoughts:

My thought's:
This reminds me of the infamous Clarissa Summers' Nut Balls/Squares recipe. It just seems like a lot of work when a good varied diet will provide all that's needed.

Cod liver oil has high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids consisting of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and very high levels of vitamin A, and vitamin D. The vitamin mix already has 2,000 IU of Vit D.

I am concerned about The vitamin D and A since these are fat soluble and are stored rather than excreted. Getting the right calcium/Vit D ratio is important as too much can cause as much trouble as too little. The storage of fats (in the form of omega-3) and the fat solubility of Vit D and A is something I particularly wonder about as Dr. Cooley has noticed levels of fat storage in the livers of our pet flyers that he does not see in wild flyers at necropsy. At this point, we do not know the significance of this, but it is of enough concern that he is tracking it closely.

You said this was originally developed for grounds squirrels. Since they get much more direct sunlight (Vit D) than our nocturnal flyers, I'm not sure about the difference in metabolism of supplemental Vit. D.

The B vitamins are of little concern to me as they are water soluble and readily excreted in urine. I've never heard of a Vit B overdose.

I'm not clear about the purpose of the baking powder except as a leavening agent and I'm sure our flyers don't give a hoot about whether their food is leavened or not. Most aluminum-free baking powders are double acting, that is, they contain two acid salts (such as sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrosulfide, sodium bisulfate, monosodium phosphate or disodium phosphate) and also contain cream of tartar (Potassium bitartrate), calcium phosphate, and citrate (another acid salt). I'm not sure why a flyer needs any of this.

How our flyers digest and metabolize natural foods is a mystery to me, but I tend to trust mother nature and the flyers' instinctive ability to know what is innately best for them ... with the exception of junk food and sweets, which usually does not grow in their natural habitat.


Dennis Q' thoughts:
"First I don't know why there is such a quest for a "one food" item to do it all. Is this thing hard enough to keep the teeth in check? If not, adding hard shell nuts changes the whole diet intake.
If they just HAVE to have a dry block type food, why not use monkey chow?
It can be soaked in water or juice for babies or adults or fed dry. It is formulated for mammals. Chris has been selling it for years at her squirrel store. http://www.squirrelsandmore.com/product ... te-dry.htm
I keep some in my cages and it gets eaten. I don't feed it exclusively. Some rehabbers are only feeding rodent blocks and monkey chow plus veggies and fruit to squirrels."

Nonda Surratt's (she is a rehabber at Cedar Hill Wildlife Care Inc. and writes on MBD viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6933) thoughts:
WOW just WOW
Flyers, like most nocturnal animals, have adapted to utilizing D2 from foods. My concern is.. there is no blood work that I know of for flyers; so we don't even have a clue what the normals are.
Cod liver oil also has D3. WAY to much D3. Squirrels are not humans. Far too many folks see what humans need or what some think humans need and then think squirrels need the same.
You can use too much calcium and that is called hypercalcification .. 12,000 mg??? How many flyers is this mix feeding?
That it was developed for ground squirrels..and by whom? After all this was mixed up, was it tested. I mean really tested to see if it met the nutritional needs of ground squirrels? Where is the blood work used for the comparison?
From the Vet med book Birchard and Sherding (small mammals) .. Vit D3 should never be given unless blood work is done on a regular basis (monitoring) to prevent toxic overdose.
Please look at actual blood values and the huge difference in daily IU needs between such common pocket pets such as rats, mice, hamsters and gerbils ... they are all over the map. One size doesn't fit all.
Why would someone think that something developed for GS (and again by whom, based on what?) would be appropriate for a flying squirrel that has a completely different physiology? And the really burning question, why? Flyers are not hard to feed and keep healthy. IF you are going to concoct food and promote it, then get the science right .. Get the tests done, the blood work, the test of the concoction to make sure it meets the IU requirements OF FLYING SQUIRRELS, then and only then do you have a leg to stand on.
Tell Joan I appreciate what she is trying to do (in reviewing this), but where would you start? What is the Vit breakdown in the peanut butter? How does that fit in and change the other? Oats? Everything in that conglomeration has vitamins, minerals etc. so what are the IU values in the final product? Believe me you can't just scribble that down on a piece of paper.. It takes a Lab.
Then what are the actual vitamins and minerals that flyers need? We do know that calcium/Phos should be 2:1, or close, that is pretty universal, but that is really only a starting point AND flyers like tree squirrels balance their diet over time since they are foragers and seasonal eaters.
An example would be Vit C, tree squirrels don't need it, they manufacture it .. Do flyers? How much D2 (also fat soluble) do flyers get and utilize from food .. how does that work with D3? How much is too much? Excessive B-12 can cause issues in humans. HOW MUCH of any of that stuff, Vit A etc. etc. do flyers need?
Where is the science? And yes, I do mean science!
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Ardilla » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:04 pm

I've also been feeding the squirrel blocks, and now I'm entirely confused as to whether this is a good or bad idea.

I ordered one order, which were made a smaller size than normal. That order will last longer than two months at the rate I'm going with them.

I'll keep my eye on this thread.

I'll also order a small bag of monkey chow and see if Penny likes tham or not.
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Joan » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:58 pm

[quote="Ardilla"]I've also been feeding the squirrel blocks, and now I'm entirely confused as to whether this is a good or bad idea.

No one knows. That's why Dr. Cooley asks about diet when he does necropsies.

I'll also order a small bag of monkey chow and see if Penny likes tham or not.

My experience with monkey chow is that flyers like it if started on it as pups. But maybe dipping it in juice as Dennis suggested works with adults.
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby lynn » Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:04 pm

I couldn't find Nut 'N Berry at my local WalMart. Does anyone else know where to find it?

On the subject of diet, I tend to agree with Joan -- I try to feed a varied diet of veggies, seeds, nuts, and some fruit, along with occasional waxworms and some yogurt now and then. I put rodent block in the cages, and they nibble on it sometimes. I use a drop of Avitron vitamins in the water dish (not in the drip-bottle) a couple of times a week, and the 'kids' all eat when they are hungry. I'm a little suspicious of the home-made diets I've heard of, because of the potential for error, and because the nutritional needs of individual species are often not well documented. Flyers seem to eat a lot more protein than fox or grey squirrels, for example. So as for me, I'm going to stick with the 'everything in moderation' philosophy. Here's to healthy pets! :happy1: :icescream: :forthosewhothinkyoung: :hersheybar: :sushi: :pizza:
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Joan » Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:12 pm

lynn wrote:... So as for me, I'm going to stick with the 'everything in moderation' philosophy.


Wish I could do that for myself Lynn. :twisted: I need a HOF to monitor my diet.
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby lynn » Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:30 pm

Oh, did I say I was going to eat in moderation? Oops! I could definitely benefit from my own advice! :splat:
Maybe if I eat rodent block, veggies, seeds, nuts, etc. . . .
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Squirrel Freak » Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:08 pm

lynn wrote:I couldn't find Nut 'N Berry at my local WalMart. Does anyone else know where to find it?


I got my bag from PetSupermart in the wild bird section.
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Ardilla » Thu Jan 29, 2009 7:21 pm

I found Nut N Berry at Petsmart (wild bird section).
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Re: Nut-n-Berry ?

Postby Joan » Thu Jan 29, 2009 7:31 pm

I sometimes use cockatiel or parrot food ... something with big seeds. Mine never eat the small stuff in the Nut N Berry. Of course, they get a lot of other stuff.
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Henry's Healthy Blocks

Postby 4skwerlz » Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:36 pm

Hello everyone. I'm a member of The Squirrel Board and am "owned" by an Eastern Grey named Henry. I'm the person who developed Henry's Healthy Blocks. I see there has already been some discussion about these blocks, so I wanted to provide some more info about them. Although they were developed for tree squirrels such as greys and foxers, many flyer owners have expressed interest in the blocks. I am very interested in sharing information here, and finding out what is known about the special dietary needs of flyers, so that a flyer-specific formulation could possibly be developed.

First, some facts about the blocks:

1. Since there is no specific research on the dietary requirements of squirrels, the blocks were formulated according to the nutrient requirements of laboratory rats, their closest relative for which this research exists. (Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals, Fourth Revised Edition, 1995. Chapter 2, “Nutrient Requirements of the Laboratory Rat.” National Research Council. National Academy Press: Washington, DC.) The initial formulation was complete for all essential nutrients--fat, protein (including the full spectrum of amino acids), Vits A, D, E, and the B vitamins, and calcium and phosphorus, as well as containing significant amounts of many other nutrients. The formulation is currently being revised so that it is complete for all 41 nutrients listed in the "Nutrient Requirements."

2. The blocks are nut-based (pecans, walnuts, peanuts), and also contain pure whey protein isolate, eggs, nonfat plain yogurt, baking powder, and salt, along with the vitamin/mineral mix. They contain no corn, grains, starches, soy, preservatives, sweeteners, animal by-products, nitrosamines, or fish meal. Every ingredient is "food grade"; in other words, fit for human consumption. There are no "feed grade" ingredients, which are normally used in all pet foods. The Ca:P ratio is balanced 2:1. They have a glycemic load of close to zero, to avoid overweight and diabetes.

3. The blocks were designed to be fed along with a variety of healthy vegetables, natural foods from outside, and limited treats and fruit.

4. The reason the blocks were developed was because most squirrels won't eat commercial rodent blocks, and squirrel owners constantly struggled to get their squirrels to eat enough calcium, protein, and other nutrients. And MBD was all too common. Dusting things with calcium, vitamin drops in water, etc., were some of the strategies used, but of course one could never be sure how much the squirrel was getting....too much? not enough? I've written a short article describing our efforts on TSB to develop a "Healthy Diet" for pet squirrels. It describes the theory behind the blocks pretty well. I don't see any way of attaching a PDF here, but if anyone would like a copy, I'd be happy to e-mail you one.

After developing the initial formulation, I decided to bring in some expert help. I'm not a nutritionist, and I just didn't feel comfortable otherwise. I decided to start right at the top, and contacted two of the authors of the "Nutrient Requirements." Fortunately one of them, Dr. Calvert, responded and was enormously helpful. I e-mailed him the formulation, including the complete nutrient breakdown in a spreadsheet. We corresponded via e-mail for several weeks and had several long phone conversations. It was wonderful to be able to ask a true expert some of the many questions that had been bugging me for so long. Dr. Calvert contacted several colleagues in the field, including a top person at Mazuri, a leading zoo diet expert, and someone he described as probably the top animal nutritionist in the world. He actually got these people together for a meeting where they discussed the squirrel block formulation, and squirrel diet in general. It seemed to be an interesting little side project for them. But needless to say, we were all thrilled and grateful.

In the end, the squirrel block recipe was "approved" with only one small suggestion--the addition of some wheat bran to the recipe to aid in hind-gut fermentation. (This was later dropped, as the squirrels didn't seem to like the wheat bran, and we felt they got plenty of fiber in the rest of their diet.) Overall, they were very impressed with the formulation, especially the high-quality protein (Now brand 100% pure whey protein isolate), and the low glycemic load.

So that's where the squirrel blocks came from.

Here are a few things I learned while developing the blocks:

The nutrient requirements of rodents are quite high considering their body size. For example, a 1-pound squirrel needs around 357 mgs of calcium per day; a 100-pound human requires around 1,000 mgs per day (slightly higher for people over 50). Once I began analyzing the nutrients in various foods, I was stunned to discover that a squirrel would need to eat 9 entire heads of endive lettuce (very high-calcium veggie) per week to meet his calcium requirement.

I knew squirrels had high calcium requirements, but was surprised at how much high-quality protein they need. Doubtless in the wild they eat a lot of bugs, grubs, bird eggs, and even nestlings and carrion. But most pet squirrels turn their noses up at chicken eggs. A few would eat mealworms, but not enough of them. The lack of protein in the kitchen-based diet we were feeding manifested mainly in fur problems (thin fur, dull fur, missing fur, incomplete shedding and molting) but also contributes to problems with calcium absorption. Protein is even more difficult to supplement than calcium.

Captive or pet squirrels have special problems. They are far less active than wild animals, so they eat less, which means they take in less nutrients. So even if you could go outside and gather the exact same wild foods the wild squirrels were eating every day, a pet squirrel couldn't eat enough of them to meet his nutrient requirements. Or if he did, he would be obese. This is why pet squirrels need a concentrated form of food such as rodent block.

Diabetes. Three squirrels owned by members of TSB were diagnosed with diabetes in one year. None had any symptoms whatsoever; one was a young apparently healthy squirrel who was diagnosed during a routine exam; two were older and were diagnosed when their kidneys failed. It was too late for those two; the other squirrel was immediately placed on a low-glycemic load diet and is doing well so far, 9 months later. We can't be sure of the cause of diabetes in rodents, but Dr. Calvert did warn me about giving our squirrels too much fruit because of the high glycemic load; fructose in rodents apparently leads to fatty liver, obesity, and diabetes. In fact, he recommended feeding no fruit at all.

One last thing: I developed the blocks because I was concerned about my Henry getting proper nutrition, and tired of the daily struggle and worry. I provided the recipe to all (still do) and never dreamed of selling the blocks. But once it turned out that the squirrels were loving them, and we were seeing the results in their fur and overall health, people started asking me to make and sell them. So it is now a small business for me. It's one I feel very good about, since I believe I'm helping provide pet squirrels with better nutrition and preventing MBD.

Sorry for the long post. And please ask all the questions you want.
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Re: Henry's Healthy Blocks

Postby Joan » Sat Feb 07, 2009 7:23 pm

I think it is very difficult to extrapolate information from laboratory animals and apply it to wild squirrels (especially flyers) that have not been studied that much for nutritional requirements. We feed our pet as best we can for their health. The problem I see with human formulated foods for flyers is a lack of longitudinal studies of it's effect. That requires controlling the diet with very specific guidelines, studies of causes of deaths and a direct comparison to flyers not on the diet. We're talking years here of controlled studies that I doubt are going to happen.
That said, I don't know that the blocks will hurt a flyer, but I also don't know that it will help them either .... only time and study will tell.

More thoughts from Dennis and Nonda:


Dennis:
So if I understand all this correctly, this is lab rat food developed to feed ground squirrels? I guess if squirrels were rats it would be good. I see she says to feed fruits and veggies, too. So what do those do in addition to the block diet? Is anything overdone feeding both?
Where did this info come from?

"For example, a 1-pound squirrel needs around 357 mgs of calcium per day";
Is it correct? and according to whom? Is it the same for a flyer?

Nonda:

"the blocks were formulated according to the nutrient requirements of laboratory rats, their closest relative for which this research exists."

Rats and squirrels share little in common besides their incisors, being in the order Rodentia just like 2000+ other species...

Rats Ground Squirrels
Maturity at breeding age: 42-110 days 10-12 MONTHS
Gestation: 21-23 days 40-45 days
Litter size 6-14 2.5 (Love those 1/2 sqs:-)
Litters in a year Multiple 1-2
Weaning age 21 days 3 months (+ or -)
Life span 2-4 yrs in the wild, females 8-10yrs
quite possible (7-8 average)
10-15 in captivity

The physiological differences are huge and those make a BIG difference in nutrition requirements 'throughout LIFE'. So if one wants to say Rats are close, one can also say mice are close and Gp (guinea pig) and HM (Armenian) Hamster. As you can see the dietary needs in just these two vitamins is all over the charts.

This is what is needed per kilogram of food which is 2.2 lbs (dry food):
Vitamin A
GP 23,000 iu per kg = 23 iu per gram food
HM 6700 iu per kg = 6.7 iu per gram food
Mouse 500 iu per kg food = 0.5 iu per gram food
Rat 4000 iu per kg food = 4 iu per gram food

Vitamin D3
GP 1000 iu per kg food = 1iu per gram
HM 2484 iu per kg food = 2.4 iu per gram
Mouse 150 iu per kg food = 0.15 iu per gram
Rat 1000 iu per kg food = 1 iu per gram

Metabolism (heart rate): Rat 250-600 bpm
Ground Squirrel 140-350 bpm
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Re: Henry's Healthy Blocks

Postby 4skwerlz » Sat Feb 07, 2009 8:59 pm

The blocks I developed are basically "rodent blocks," which is what most of us were trying to feed our squirrels anyhow. However, I believe they're superior to any commercial rodent block you can buy in terms of being closer to their natural diet (i.e., nut-based instead of corn- or soy-based), low glycemic load, high-quality ingredients, freshness, and palatability. Our results so far have been excellent, with almost 100% of the squirrels eagerly eating them, improvements in fur, stabilization of body weight, increased muscle mass, and recovery from MBD and kitten fur syndrome.

Since the subject of the blocks had already come up on this board, I did want to clear up any confusion about what the blocks are, and hopefully learn more about flying squirrels, as they seem to have some of the same nutritional problems as we were having with our greys and foxers. If this information is in any way unwelcome here, then please let me know.
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Re: Henry's Healthy Blocks

Postby lynn » Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:04 am

Eastern Greys are Tree Squirrels, not Ground Squirrels. That said, there are definitely differences between lab rats and either tree or ground squirrels, just as there are differences between Fox Squirrels, Red Squirrels, Grey Squirrels, Southern Flying Squirrels, and Northern Flying Squirrels. In the wild, each has a different ideal habitat, as well as different metabolic requirements. I'd love to do a longitudinal study on the nutritional requirements of wild flyers; it just isn't practical (or funded!). I have found that wild babies rarely like 'rodent bloc' or 'monkey chow,' so it doesn't matter much if it fulfills all or part of the nutritional requirements!
I'm happy to hear that there have been anecdotal reports of increased weight, muscle mass, etc. If the ingredients of 'Henry's Healthy Blocks' are on the approved list of flyer foods, I don't see anything wrong with using them as part of a nutritious breakfast along with all the recommended veggies. I don't know that I will spend time making them . . . mostly because I'm a confirmed procrastinator.
Thanks for posting the information, though. A good debate is part of what keeps us on our toes. :usa
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Re: Henry's Healthy Blocks

Postby 4skwerlz » Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:59 am

Yes, definitely NOT GROUND SQUIRRELS! (don't know where that idea came from....)

The blocks are a rodent block substitute, with the same nutrient profile as commercial rodent blocks.

The ingredients are:
pecans
walnuts
peanuts
pure whey protein isolate
eggs
nonfat plain yogurt
baking powder
salt
vitamin mix
mineral mix

Actually, the researcher at Mazuri who participated in the evaluation of my block formulation kindly sent me the complete nutrient breakdown of Mazuri rodent chow, and so I was able to use that as a comparison.
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Re: Henry's Healthy Blocks

Postby Lennacera » Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:56 pm

Well.. they should work well for my rats!.. Lol.. I just can't convince my girls that the Harlan blocks are good for them... (they are addicted to the "bird seed" that the breeder started them on). So I think I might need to try your blocks for them since I know my girls aren't getting everything they need from what they are addicted to.
*grabs the rattie girls and heads over to the other board to take some notes*...
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Re: Henry's Healthy Blocks

Postby 4skwerlz » Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:12 pm

Ratties like the blocks too. Of special concern to rat owners, the blocks contain no soy products, which are believed to contribute to tumors in rats. Also, the low glycemic load helps with weight control and could help prevent diabetes.
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Re: Henry's Healthy Blocks

Postby Judy C. » Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:28 pm

I have been using Henry's Healthy Blocks for my flyers, as well as my rehab greys and foxers, for quite a while now. I make my own, according to the recipe given for them on TSB. Once you get all the ingredients, they aren't hard to make at all. All of my squirrels like them - I have had no problems with them eating them. They still get their veggies every night, and they still clean their plates. (And they still get a tiny bit of 'junk food' treats occasionally!) The main difference I have found with feeding HHB is that now I do not have to worry about whether or not they are getting what they need. I do not have to worry about giving calcium supplements or vitamin drops.

As HHB are made for a 1 pound grey squirrel, I adjust the amount I give to my flyers accordingly - not a big problem, as the blocks are easy to cut in half. (The blocks would make good 'people food' with the addition of some sugar and cinnamon! :D And yes, I tasted one!)

I hope that you will not give Henry's Healthy Blocks a 'thumbs down' because they are a new idea to you. Go to TSB and read more about them under 'Nutrition'. If you have any questions about them, or suggestions to make, please post them here so that 4skwerlz can address them. I have been talking with her about whether they should be adjusted for flyers, and, if so, in what way. My main question is whether or not the flyers need that much vit.D, since they 'manufacture' their own in the wild.

I will be using them as a 'first food' when I am weaning flyer pups this year, along with the usual veggies, and I am expecting very good results. There will not be any 'grey zone' where I have to worry about whether or not they are getting enough calcium, etc, during the transition.

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Re: Henry's Healthy Blocks

Postby Jim Cooley » Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:48 pm

The desire to have a perfect complete palatable diet as a staple that can be supplemented with fresh vegetables and the like as desired is obvious. It appears that some homework and consultation has been sought for Henry’s Healthy Blocks which is admirable. I don’t claim to be a nutritionist. In squirrels and other small animals, I occasionally see evidence of zealous supplementation. For example, it is easy to load the liver of flyers with iron from mineral supplements. Wild animals often have well-developed systems for scavenging a nutrient that is normally rare in the wild diet. I don’t see any immediate problem with the blocks as described, but I would defer to nutritional experts. Mazuri folks should be a good source.
One thing that I like and that should be kept in mind if members are making their own blocks is the part about human food grade components. This gets away from the possibility of aflatoxin in peanuts, for instance, if seed grade or waste peanuts (cracks and splits) were used. I would hope that the whey protein was from the US, since even products for children have been contaminated in the last few years. Dog owners know of some of the problems with melamine and aflatoxin in name brand dog foods.
Another question that I can think of now is the quality control issue. That is, approved commercially marketed animal feeds have a guaranteed analysis including micronutrients that is required by law to be on the label. Shelf life from date of manufacture may also be a concern. Amount of the block that is safe to feed for optimum nutrition should also be considered.
Obviously, flyers are a niche market. If there is true dedication to a quality reliable product that first does no harm and alleviates the possibility of deficiency disease in flyers, the product may be OK. Those persons using the blocks should keep good notes.
Jim Cooley
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Question about squirrel blocks???

Postby fsalter53 » Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:12 pm

ok I have 2 :lover: flyers about 3 months old and they still like their milk in the morning, thats ok right?
My question is I ordered a bag of home made squirrel blocks which is sapposed to be good for them,
but they really dont eat them like the greys do, I read alot from the other squirrel board but the diet
is so different for greys, so :doubt: nut & berry should be their main source and then all the veggies and fruit
and nuts you all listed right? I try to leave them their food :popcorn: before I go to bed, what do you give them
during the day, or what kind of eating time do you all put your flyers on?????/
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Re: Question about squirrel blocks???

Postby lynn » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:39 am

There is another whole thread on the squirrel blocks on this forum, so you might want to read some of those posts: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=7409 & viewtopic.php?f=10&t=7379
Also, look through some of the other topics under this heading, because there is a lot of good information about what, how much, and how often to feed.
I play with my bunch at night, and trick them back into their cages by refilling food and water after play time. They have unlimited seeds & lots of veggie bits; more nuts this time of year than in summer, and frequent supplements of protein, yogurt, and a little fruit. They will take a snack in the day time, but it's grab and go, saving for later munchies.
Lynn's spastic nuts: Bunpei, Boeing, Calypso, Dixie, and Piper.
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Re: Question about squirrel blocks???

Postby fsalter53 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:11 pm

Thanks, :D so Im basicly doing about the same, seeds veggies and fruit,
they just nibble on the blocks but I guess as long as I have other stuff too,
im going to go back an click on that site u told me to go to, thanks again. :)
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Re: Henry's Healthy Blocks

Postby 4skwerlz » Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:35 pm

I really appreciate Dr. Cooley's comments. I know he has done a lot of work with flyers.

To address some of Dr. Cooley's points,

I agree that using only food grade ingredients is important. Pet foods are often made with the waste materials left over after processing food for people. Literally, the "leftover stuff on the floor" is swept up and sold to be made into pet food. There are no federal standards for pet food ingredients, although some companies have adopted voluntary standards. I wouldn't eat that stuff, and I wouldn't feed my squirrel anything I wouldn't eat myself.

None of the ingredients in the blocks are made in China. The Now protein isolate is manufactured in Bloomingdale, Indiana, and is the best quality I could find. It's made for bodybuilders and will cost you $18.00 a pound at the health food store, although I get a better price by buying in bulk. This is why you won't find Mazuri or Purina making these blocks anytime soon....the ingredients are just too expensive.

Dr. Cooley is right that I can't offer the "guaranteed analysis" that you see on labels of commercial pet foods. On the other hand, I know exactly what goes into each batch. The batches are made fresh in small amounts, and shipped Priority Mail within 24 hours of baking in vacuum-packed bags. Since they contain no preservatives, they are intended to be stored frozen, and they will keep for several months this way. (My Henry likes eating the blocks right out of the freezer, but I often microwave his block for 10 seconds to warm it up for him.) Commercial rodent blocks may spend weeks or months (or years) on the shelf at room temperature, resulting in nutrient degradation. For this reason, most rodent blocks actually contain up to 400% of the minimum nutrient requirements. I know this because I received the nutrient breakdown of the Mazuri blocks. This means that the actual nutrient content of commercial blocks will vary considerably depending on how old they are, temperature and humidity during storage, and so on.

As far as the right amount to feed for optimum nutrition, this is addressed in several ways. Commercial rodent blocks are designed to make up close to 100% of the diet. Henry's Healthy Blocks are more concentrated than commercial blocks and were meant to be fed along with a variety of healthy veggies and natural foods from outside. The reason this was done is because I strongly believe that animals need fresh, natural foods for optimum health. So the blocks provide a nutritional "base" consisting of the minimum requirements of fat, protein, vitamins. and minerals, while the other foods provide macronutrients and nutrient compounds that are only found in fresh foods, like flavinoids, and also give the animal a chance to "choose" the foods he instinctively needs. Since the blocks are more concentrated, I do not sell them by the pound; I sell them in batches designed to last 1 animal for 1 month. Actually the blocks contain 125% of most nutrients, because the squirrel crumbles and wastes part of each block (they are messy eaters) and also to provide a small nutritional buffer. However, as mentioned, the commercial blocks contain 200-400% of most nutrients, so I felt that this small safety margin was safe and warranted. For nutrients that are considered nontoxic, like the B vitamins, the safety margin is slightly larger.

Since I used minimum requirements instead of optimal amounts, I was more worried about deficiencies than oversupplementation. But the results so far have been excellent. There are probably around 100 squirrels eating the blocks right now, some for up to 6 months. In every case, there have been improvements in weight, fur, and overall health and wellbeing.
Visit my website at: http://healthyblocks.com
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Re: Question about squirrel blocks???

Postby 4skwerlz » Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:46 pm

As long as they are nibbling on the blocks, that's a good start. It often takes a few days for them to decide they really like them. So far, close to 100% of the squirrels that have tried them eventually come to love them. The blocks are more concentrated than commercial rodent blocks, and each flyer only needs to eat around 4 grams of the healthy blocks per day to get the nutrition he needs. No other supplements are needed.
Visit my website at: http://healthyblocks.com
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Re: Question about squirrel blocks???

Postby Judy C. » Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:28 am

My flyers are doing great on the blocks! So great that I just made a quadruple recipe of them today. All the squirrels like them - flyers, greys and foxers - so I have to make huge amounts at a time since I have huge amounts of squirrels. I am going to try to make up a whole bunch of them to put in the freezer so that I won't have to worry about making them when baby season gets here in full swing!

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Sweet Potato Question

Postby Judy C. » Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:30 pm

This was just posted on TSB by 4skwerlz. It isn't just her opinion, but is backed up by Dr. Calvert (nutritionist). I am cutting way back on the sweet potatos I feed my flyers since reading this, and had already nearly stopped feeding the Nut 'n Berry for various reasons.

Sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, and other orange or yellow veggies contain very high amounts of Vitamin A. They are also very high in sugars and starches. This is why in the latest version of the Healthy Diet, they are asterisked with a warning to feed no more than 1 tablespoon per month. So...

Do not feed more than 1 tablespoon per month of sweet potato, carrot, squash, or other orange or yellow vegetable.

Here's the background on this:

A couple of months ago, I joined the NFSA forum (National Flying Squirrel Association). I wanted to learn more about how they're feeding their flyers and any problems they were having. They had also been talking about the squirrel blocks on the forum, and I wanted to participate in that discussion. Muffinsquirrel, who's a member of NFSA, forwarded me some necropsy reports that had been done by a vet interested in flyer health and nutrition. He was finding severe fatty liver, which had probably caused the sudden premature death of at least one apparently healthy flyer. This got me curious, so I looked into the possible causes of fatty liver in rodents and then analyzed what they were feeding their flyers. One possible culprit emerged: Vitamin A overdose causes fatty liver, and they were feeding sweet potatoes (which contain a LOT of Vit A) regularly:

1 tablespoon of cooked sweet potato contains 2,883 IU of Vit A.
1 teaspoon of cooked sweet potato contains 961 IU of Vit A.

The estimated daily requirement of Vit A for squirrels = 153 IU per day.
The estimated daily requirement of Vit A for flyers = 51 IU per day.*
(*extrapolated from that of rats, adjusted for body size and metabolic rate)

Clearly, even one teaspoon per day would be an overdose of Vit A.

I was concerned enough about this to call Dr. Calvert yesterday. I told him about the necropsy findings and described the typical flyer diet. I also mentioned I was worried about feeding sweet potatoes because of the Vit A. He saw three immediate problems with the "typical" flyer diet:

1. Too much Vit A.
2. Feeding too much fruit.
3. Not enough protein.

Interestingly, all three of these factors can cause fatty liver. Vitamin A has been clearly shown in studies to cause fatty liver in rodents, and in humans. Fruits contain highly concentrated food energy, which the body can't metabolize quickly enough, so it stores it as fat in the liver (and elsewhere, like the blood, raising cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease). Also, apparently a lack of protein in the diet further reduces the body's ability to metabolize food energy. So all these factors could be working together to cause fatty liver in flyers. Unfortunately, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc., have two problems: 1. high in Vit A, and 2. high in sugars/starches, just like fruit.

Incidentally, Dr. Calvert was also concerned about the Nut 'n' Berry mix which many flyer owners feed. This is a seed/nut mix that is spray-coated with a vitamin/mineral mix according to the nutritional requirements of birds. He did not recommend using supplements/foods designed for birds or reptiles and felt that foods/supplements designed for rats or mice would be much better for squirrels.

Sweet potatoes were already somewhat restricted in the old Healthy Diet, due to their high starch/sugar content. So the good news is, if you're feeding the Healthy Diet, your squirrel is already getting enough protein and not eating too much fruit. Just watch those orange and yellow veggies! And any problems created by overfeeding of Vit A should clear up with time on the proper diet. As a side note, keeping your pet as active as possible will also help avoid these problems by increasing their metabolism.

Below is a list of the approximate Vit A content for some orange/yellow veggies, per tablespoon:

Sweet potato, cooked = 2,883 IU
Carrots, raw = 2,555 IU
Pumpkin, canned = 2,335 IU
Sweet potato, raw = 2,128 IU
Squash, cooked = 1,673 IU
Squash, raw = 1,595 IU
Pumpkin, raw = 1,108 IU

(The difference between raw/cooked probably has to do with shrinkage during cooking, as the Vit A amounts are based on weight in grams, which was converted to volume in tablespoons. I only did the weight-to-volume conversion once--for the sweet potato--and used that same factor for the other veggies since they have similar densities. So the amounts for the other veggies will be off slightly. The idea is to show the general range of Vit A amounts, e.g., "sweet potatoes have more than twice as much Vit A as raw pumpkin," and so on.)


I thought ya'll might find this interesting - we're all constantly looking for ways to improve our flyer's lives. Oh yes, the necropsies she mentions are the ones done by Dr. Cooley on two of my flyers.

I have 2 new litters of pups - both from my white tip tail flyers! Too early to be sure what I have yet - just pink aliens. When I start to wean these babies, I will be trying 4skwerlz squirrel blocks - I think it will be an excellent first food for them. I have been feeding them to all my flyers for quite a while and they are doing great on them.

Judy C.
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Re: Sweet Potato Question

Postby Ardilla » Sun Mar 15, 2009 1:16 am

When I saw that earlier today I also decided to cut way back on sweet potato. Luckily Penny likes green veggies.
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Re: Sweet Potato Question

Postby lucy10177 » Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:03 am

judy,
is that the henry's healthy blocks that you are feeding?????? i'm so confused :roll: as i thought that sweet potatoes were very healthy for flyers.....guess not now huh. i checked out the website for these blocks and thought it was very interesting.
why not the nut and berry???? to much nuts????? rocky is a pecan freak and expects a piece every morning. guess i may need to cut him back as he gets the whole pecans too for his teeth along with hickory nuts and brazil nuts. i don't give him acorns because of the smell i have read about. he still has a little crape myrtle in the freezer from last year and goes crazy over that when i give it to him. i just worry to much i guess as he is almost a year old now and is a momma's baby and i would just be sick if something happened to him because of my ignorance.
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Re: Sweet Potato Question

Postby Ardilla » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:08 am

4Skwerlz just made this post on TBS to clarify what the problem is.

It's not that sweet potatoes are bad for squirrels. They're just as healthy for squirrels as they are for humans; we're just feeding too much of them.

This isn't about extrapolating between species; but about comparative body sizes. We always have to keep in mind how small a squirrel is compared with a human.

--1 tablespoon of sweet potato (15 g) is 1/30th of the body weight of 1-pound squirrel.

--1/30th of your body weight in sweet potatoes (assuming you weigh 140 lbs), would be 4 1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes.

So for a squirrel to eat 1 tbs per day would be like you eating 4 1/2 lbs per day!

On the other hand, if you ate one sweet potato per week (which is probably more reasonable), that would be around 4 pounds of sweet potatoes per month, or 1/35th of your body weight per month. If a squirrel eats 1/35th of his body weight in sweet potatoes per month, that would equal 13 g of sweet potatoes, or just under 1 tablespoon. See?

So actually, a squirrel's "tolerance" for sweet potatoes is probably similar to that of a human's.
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Re: Sweet Potato Question

Postby Judy C. » Sun Mar 15, 2009 11:02 am

lucy10177 wrote:judy,
is that the henry's healthy blocks that you are feeding?????? i'm so confused :roll: as i thought that sweet potatoes were very healthy for flyers.....guess not now huh. i checked out the website for these blocks and thought it was very interesting.
why not the nut and berry???? to much nuts????? rocky is a pecan freak and expects a piece every morning. guess i may need to cut him back as he gets the whole pecans too for his teeth along with hickory nuts and brazil nuts. i don't give him acorns because of the smell i have read about. he still has a little crape myrtle in the freezer from last year and goes crazy over that when i give it to him. i just worry to much i guess as he is almost a year old now and is a momma's baby and i would just be sick if something happened to him because of my ignorance.
paula


Yes, it is Henry's Healthy Blocks. You can order them from 4skwerlz or you can make them yourself - the recipe is under 'nutrition' on TSB. I make my own because I have so darned many squirrels to feed! :roll:

The Nut 'n Berry is basically a wild bird food, and is sprayed with vitamins intended for birds. Since we have no idea what vitamins are on them, and since they are not formulated for mammals, I have just stoped feeding it. I do still give in-shell nuts, and they still get pieces of pecans, etc, as treats. Also, the Henry's Healthy Blocks are basically nuts ground up very small, plus the vitamins, whey protein isolate, etc. The veggies are also still fed daily.

Go ahead and try the acorns - the flyers love them. The smell isn't THAT bad, and if it is too strong for you, only feed them the day before you are going to clean the cage. :D

Judy C.
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Re: Sweet Potato Question

Postby toiveajattelu » Sun Mar 15, 2009 12:02 pm

Oy...every time I think I've got Best-Friend's diet right, I discover I'm doing something wrong. Up until now she's gotten sweet potato AND carrots regularly...
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Re: Sweet Potato Question

Postby Ardilla » Sun Mar 15, 2009 12:17 pm

Judy C. wrote:The Nut 'n Berry is basically a wild bird food, and is sprayed with vitamins intended for birds. Since we have no idea what vitamins are on them, and since they are not formulated for mammals, I have just stoped feeding it. I do still give in-shell nuts, and they still get pieces of pecans, etc, as treats. Also, the Henry's Healthy Blocks are basically nuts ground up very small, plus the vitamins, whey protein isolate, etc. The veggies are also still fed daily.

Go ahead and try the acorns - the flyers love them. The smell isn't THAT bad, and if it is too strong for you, only feed them the day before you are going to clean the cage. :D

Judy C.


Thanks for the info on the Nut N Berry...I'll give the rest of my supply to the birds.

Do you think it's OK to still give Penny a small amount of Chuckanut pumpkin seeds?

http://chuckanutproducts.com/cn_pro_01.html
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Re: Sweet Potato Question

Postby Judy C. » Sun Mar 15, 2009 2:01 pm

Mine all get pumpkin seeds as a treat, but I roast them myself from pumpkins I pick up really cheap or free after Halloween. So I really don't know about the store-bought stuff.

Judy
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Re: Sweet Potato Question

Postby Joan » Sun Mar 15, 2009 5:33 pm

lucy10177 wrote:... i'm so confused :roll: as i thought that sweet potatoes were very healthy for flyers.....guess not now huh.


Sweet potatos ARE healthy, but like any food ... in moderation. The problem with most commerical food is the supplemental vitamins and minerals. No one knows what the daily requirements for flyers are. If you are feeding natural foods AND supplementing with vitamins and minerals contained in vitamin additatives, Nut 'nBerry, Henry's Blocks or any commerial bird seed and nuts, you don't know how much is too much. If you are using anything that contains added vitamins/minerals, then I would not supplement with drops in food or water.
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Re: Sweet Potato Question

Postby Joan » Sun Mar 15, 2009 5:51 pm

Judy C. wrote:... Dr. Calvert (nutritionist).


Phyllis Calvert ?
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