Having high levels of cortisol in your blood for long periods of time can lead to chronic stress which has many negative health effects. Surprisingly, having high levels of cortisol is not always bad, especially if you are a North American red squirrel. Scientists are studying the impact of population density on survival found that pregnant red squirrels in a more crowded forest had higher cortisol levels and produced babies that grew faster.
Fox squirrels are a relatively new animal model in finding a cure for Gunther’s disease. Already, findings have led to experimental bone marrow transplants which were successful in a few cases. Additionally, blood transfusions to suppress heme production as well as spleen removal have helped some patients. Realistically, a cure for Gunther’s disease is still many years off. For now, patients can hope that the fox squirrel will soon share its secret for beating the symptoms of Gunther’s disease.