Elodontoma -Exotic Animal
Tree Squirrel

July 2005
Dr Gerhard Steenkamp

A 2 year-old male tree squirrel is presented with dyspnea.  There is no history of trauma, and no pyrexia on presentation.  The animal is still eating and improves when put in an oxygen chamber.  A lateral and dorso-ventral radiograph of the thorax reveals no abnormalities.

a) List 3 differential diagnoses for dyspnoea in squirrels
b) What is the normal rectal temperature for squirrels?
c) What other tests would be indicated for this patient?
d) How could the accompanying radiograph help to explain the symptoms?


a) Pneumonia, bronchitis, rhinitis

b) 38.5-39˚

c) Lateral and dorso-ventral radiographs of the head.(Foto)

d) In the accompanying radiographs a white circumscribed radiodense mass is visible at the apex of the L?R? incisor tooth.  This mass is obstructing the L?R? nasal passages. 

Squirrels are obligate nasal breathers and with such a mass occluding the nasal passage/s they find it difficult to breathe and ultimately may cause death.  These masses have been described as elodontomas.  Elodontomas consists of various amounts of dentin and enamel ankylosed to the surrounding maxillary bone.  These masses are often associated with squirrels that present with maxillary incisor malocclusion, but the cause has not been determined.  We speculate that trauma to the jawbones and or the teeth may play a role in the development and the role of diet in captivity should be investigated.  Current therapy consists of extracting the offending tooth, however mortality rates are high when haemorhage extends into the nasal cavity.


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