Autumn has started to arrive at Wild Things, but that doesn't mean that the animals stop coming in! Though, thankfully not nearly as many, so I can start to catch up on a serious sleep deficit! This is a picture of a little Red Sqiuirrel, about 4 weeks old. He was found on a construction site, his nest probably destroyed by the construction activity.
I told the lady who brought him in to look out for his brothers and sisters, but so far no more have come in. He had scratched all over the pads of his feet, probably from the rough ground of the construction. After a few days adjusting he was all too happy to take advantage of a warm bed and formula at Wild Things. The best part is that another nearby rehabilitator had a little red just a week or so younger. So, the two boys are now together and are happy to be snugglepartners!
Wild Things also received a couple of little Eastern cottontail babies. Their pictures are below. They are very cute and were already about 2 1/2 weeks old, so out of the woods in terms of digestion issues, and have already gained about 50% of their weight in the last week. In total, 3 bunnies were found; a cat was "playing" with them. One appeared to have a serious injury to its back legs, possibly a spinal break. But on examination, there was no injury, it had been born with a congenital deformity of the rear limbs. It is amazing that it had lived so long- probably because up until the time it was found it was able to depend on its mum's milk. But it couldn't move. So, sadly, it had to be euthanized. I think it's siblings are a bit traumatized, they are very shy, but they are gaining weight and will hopefully be released in a few weeks. I want them to put on plenty of weight so they will be able to keep warm in this colder weather!
There is some other sad news from Wild Things. Little Bunchowski passed away last week. Can you see the "B" above his grave in the picture? (I usually don't bury animls here, but I'd had him for so long it was too hard for me to leave him in the woods for some animal to eat). For all those who have been following his story, he came to WTS at about 3-4 days old. As you all know by now, it is almost impossible to keep these tiny ones alive as they don't receive the important nutrients in their mother's milk. I tried new formula and infant anti-gas formula, and this got him through the first 3-4 weeks with no bloat or diarrhea. This was amazing! Well, then he broke his arm, a sign of metabolic bone disease (MBD). It healed well and I gave him extra calcium. He got bigger and bigger, but still never seemed right. At 300g, much bigger than the size I usually release bunnies, he was still here as he didn't seem quite right. At two months old he still wanted to eat formula more than anything else, and he didn't hop much. He got diarrhea at 2 months old. It went away, but then came back the next week and he was gone.
As you all know, I've been trying to X-ray some of the very young bunnies that have come to Wild Things to learn more about their health. So, I brought Bunchowski for a post-mortem X-ray. Well, take a look below. His long bones look thin but OK, but I have NEVER seen anything like his spine- neither had any of the vets. The way it is wavy is a sure sign of MBD, and poor little guy, I hope he didn't suffer too much.
All of this has been a BIG learning experience, which I had shared with lots of other rehabbers. I may even do a presentation on it at the wildlife conference this month. All of this indicates that there is something in the mother's milk that helps the digestive system to develop. Without this mystery factorX, the digestive system is not able to develop correctly and does not seem to be able to digest well or absorb the essential nutrrients. This winter I want to come up with a plan to help all those itsy-bitsy bunnies that come in next year. Perhaps they need uv light to help calcium absorption, or perhaps the pH of the formula needs to be tweaked. It's a real mystery- so stay tuned!
But I don't want to end on a sad note...so here are a few more pictures. Here are two of my 10 or so recently released squirrels, a little grey onthe left and a red on the right. All looks harmonious, right? Well, actually the little red was totally bullying the grey! I have now put out two food dishes!
Also, below is Soixante-neuf, or Lil'Girl as I've been calling her. She is released, but like Lil'Mo, she likes to come visit to play and even offers her nose for a kiss! She was VERY happy with this little piece of corn on the cob! I have to break it to her that they are not selling it anymore up here as it's out of season!
And check out the great insulation area that Ingrid and I made around her snapping turtle cage (wearing a mask because of the fiberglass int he insulation- we were mid-construction!). She will be hibernating her 6 year old almost-manhole-cover size snapper, but needed something to help keep the water from freezing. We'll get a top on it as well. As you all know, Ingrid is a great friend of WTS and my reptile/amphibian/fish expert. She has helped me all summer: Thank you Ingrid!