On behalf of the wild things and myself, we wish you all a very happy holiday season and a great 2011! Your support has kept us going and has saved 100s of wild animals!
Happy Holidays from the Wild Things!These are the three little Southern Flying Squirrel sisters who are overwintering at Wild Things. They were born late in the season and faced a very cold early winter this year, so are staying until spring when they will be big enough to make it on their own. They are such little social naughty monsters and spend a lot of time flying around the wild things animal room getting ready to fly through the woods!
On behalf of the wild things and myself, we wish you all a very happy holiday season and a great 2011! Your support has kept us going and has saved 100s of wild animals!
Ringo at 3 months in her hammock
Ringo the Raccoon was brought to Wild Things at about 4 weeks old. She was found all alone and joined a group of 4 other "singleton" orphans. She and her adopted brothers (including Zeppelin- see below) did really well and were released at about 4 months old. Ringo was such a funny little girl. She has really forward facing, slightly bent forward ears and LOVED playing with toys and with her brothers. he especially loved chasing balls around her enclosure. Oh, and she loved her hammock!
Ringo playing with a toy ball
Flash forward 3 months...
...at sundown I was out int he woods putting out food for the various young animals who have been released, and sitting right next to a food bowl was Ringo. I hadn't seen her for months. I was clear that something was wrong. She didn't seem to be using her rear legs that well.
I took off my coat and gathered her up, to many growls and snarls of protest, and carried her back to the exam room. Ringo had a rabies vaccination before I let her go, so although it is always important to be careful handling an animal from the wild, it was good to know that she was protected from rabies and that I was not at risk from any possible exposure. She was in such great raccoon winter shape, i.e., very chubby, that it was hard to palpate the bony details, but in an initial exam it was clear that she had several fractures to the rear legs and the joints were swollen. She also had some evidence of open wounds that had healed. I started her on pain killers and anti-inflammatory NSAID medication.
I also spent some time giving her grapes and toys and before long she was back to being her super sweet little self. No growling any more.
Within a few days swelling had started to go down and she started kind of using her right rear leg. Wild Things' AWESOME Rabies Vector Species vet, Brian Collins, was able to get Ringo in for Xrays a few days later, and this is what we found (I put together about 5 different Xrays to show the whole area, hope it isn't too confusing!):
Dog Xray of almost perfect rear legs
Wow! Poor little Ringo!
To the right I've included a picture of a near perfect dog rear legs (though there is a displaced kneecap on the dog's left leg) for comparison.
One of the most amazing things is that the bones had been healing for what appears to be 4-6 weeks. So this little amazing girl was getting along in the woods for weeks with multiple rear leg fractures. What a superstar! I feel like such a wimp in comparison! Below is a close up of the distal part of the legs.
Her prognosis? Hard to tell. She is getting along better everyday. I will keep her on anti-inflammatories while the bone callouses continue to heal. I am also doing gentle physical therapy with her to keep whatever range of motion we can salvage in her damaged joints. Her busted knee is already unwilling to straighten, but we'll see what happens! She also has some broken teeth.
These kinds of injuries are consistent with being hit by a car.
Ringo! 8-10 weeks
Let's all send Ringo great healing vibes!! Also, while we're on the subject of raccoons, I wanted to offer a little food for thought...
...When people hear "raccoon" they immediately thing RABIES!!! However, it is estimated that 4% or less actually have rabies in the wild. Thousands of non-rabid raccoons are put down every year because people run so scared of rabies. Well, I just got a message today from a colleague who has been rehabilitating wildlife for about 30 years, many of those with as many as 40 raccoons a year, and this week was the first time she was exposed to rabies.... from one of her COWS!! She is getting all of her shots tomorrow.
Patrick the mouse, ~2 weeks old
Patrick was just a tiny 1 1/2 week old baby White Footed Mouse when he was found and came to Wild Things in April 2009. Where was he found? I managed to get away for a week to the Boston area before "the spring rush" of crazy animal baby time. When I arrived home, I head a squeaking when I opened my trunk, and there was the little guy under my suitcase. It is a complete mystery how he got there!
Below are pictures of him where I found him in the trunk, next to a walnut, and about a week later, perhaps 2-3 weeks old, wrapped in a little towel that I hold him in when giving him formula.
He grew well! As you can see below. The bottom pictures are of him at about 5 weeks old. See the walnut for scale!
A newborn 'pinky'
I really enjoyed rehabilitating mice. Some, like the one to the left are too small to keep alive. Well, maybe more talented rehabbers can do it. I seem to be able to keep them going for a few days, but ultimately they pass on.
However, I've had to stop accepting mice, or at least the kinds of mice that want to live in houses. Why? Well, a young volunteer managed to let a few go when
she was changing their cage last year, and now Wild Things has a serious mouse problem! (below picture shows a pile of nuts they found and stashed in a drawer in the wildlife rehab room!) I've been trying to catch and release them, but my old house seems a pretty easy place for them to find their way back into!
I believe in non-prejudiced wildlife rehab and that every animal deserves a chance, however I had to make this compromise at the request of the other people who share the house. My housemates already put up with a lot, so I guess it was a reasonable request. However, I am so happy to help other people rehab mice! This year I had quite a few mice finders successfully raise and release mice that they found. They brought them here for checkups and I was so happy that other people were willing to look after these cute little guys!
Zeppelin at about 6 weeks
Wild Things FINALLY got its license to rehabilitate Rabies Vector Species (in NY: raccoons, skunks & bats) just in the nick of time for this year's baby season. Wild Things is the only facility in about a two hour radius that has an RVS license. However, as many people don't seem to realise, Wild Things only has one employee (who is not paid): me!
I do the very best I possibly can to accomodate all the calls that I receive for these animals, but I also have to consider the animal's well-being as well. It's no good for anyone if I have 40 raccoons. For the first few months they have to be fed several times a day, they cry a lot of the time and make a big mess! And it doesn't help that raccoons seem to be the only thing that I am allergic to! My eyes and face swell up, dry up and itch like crazy!
But boy are those little raccoons adorable! And get into so much mischief, like little Zeppelin here, who was it by a car at 4 weeks old and miraculously survived. He loves his yogurt as you can see!
So it's been a busy several months getting these little cuties back on their feet and into the woods. Most came in as abandoned orphans, but some had injuries as well. In total Wild Things had about 20 raccoons, 10 skunks and a handful of bats. None appeared to have rabies, though many were emaciated and loaded with maggots. Little Wobbles (right) was starved and had maggots coming out of her eyes. After she was all cleaned up she developed palsy like symptoms. It was unclear why, possibly a few dead maggots were still in her head and getting infected. A month of antibiotics put her right: one of WTS' big successes this summer!
Little skunk. NB: I should be wearing gloves!
But more on all the little coonies soon. And the skunks and bats!
In the meantime, take a look at: http://www.musicofnature.org/home/the_sound_of_contentment/
One of my great volunteers' husbands made this recording.
Did you know that raccoons purr?
They do, so take a listen!
3 week old fawn
Here's just a quickie between all the various feedings to let everyone know that all at Wild Things is going great and is super busy!
The squirrels are all released, but not before eating a few keys off my computer one excuse for not posting sooner!), and the ducklings (the little duck mentioned previously ended up back here with 3 others) have been transferred to places with more extensive facilities, but Wild Things is full of babies: fawns, skunks, raccoons, groundhogs, bunnies, etc.!
Here's a cute picture to see you through until my nest, hopefully longer post. This is one of the little White tailed deer fawns growing up at Wild Things. Instead of being shy, this little girl was found repeatedly trying to enter the Ithaca YMCA. It's likely that people were trying to raise her and then put her back outside, as fawns are usually not this social! She is doing really well and has few buddies, but it's tough trying to de-socialize deer. Hopefully after a few months in the Wild Woods she will become more shy with people; an overly social adult deer who weighs 150+lbs is not a good thing.
OK, off to feed a bunch of hungry crying babies!
The little gosling
Wild Things is in full swing with spring patients and it's been a busy month! Here are a few of the stories that have been going on at WTS...
A couple of weeks ago this little gosling arrived. An Ithaca couple had been watching a pair of Canada Geese sitting on their nest. The babies hatched and within hours a crow had plaucked up one of the little goslings and planned to carry it away for a tasty treat. but oops! The crow dropped this little guy in the couple's yard as it flew away.
He was in really bad shape when he arrived. In fact, I thought he was dead as he was stone cold. But after several hours on being sandwiched between heating pads and being tube fed fluids and some food, he revived! (see pictures below)
But what do you do with a little gosling that needs parents?? You find it some! Frst of all, I had to make sure the little one didn't see me as within the first few days water fowl "imprint" on whoever they see and decide that is their species. So I always fed him in disguise and made sure he had plenty of mirrors around his cage. He spent many hours sitting in front of the mirrors chirping away!
Then I had to find him some parents. I was told there were some geese with babies at the Sapsucker Woods Lab of Ornithology. So when he was strong enough, off we went. After several hours of chasing geese families, wading through water and crawling around on my stomach, he went swimming off with a new family and was last seen sitting under his adopted parents' wings getting warm.
A little Mallard Duckling also arrived at Wild Things this past week. It was rescued after a good Samaritan watched it swimming around for a while all on its own with no parents in sight. The little duckling was just as fluffy as the gosling, but about a third of the size. I wanted to find a buddy for this little one so I started calling around. A rehab friend of mine also has a little mallard. Hers was born with bent feet and has little corrective foot wear which should correct the problem soon. So the little Wild Things duckling went to stay with them until they are both ready for release. It makes such a big difference for baby animals to have a buddy of the same species!
Private Ryan, a bit straggly!
And there's been lots of other new patients as well. Squirrels, groundhogs, bunnies, bats and opossums.
The opossums are a strange case as they are about 4-5 months old, meaning that they were born in January/February...and in this part of the world that just doesn't really happen!
To the left is "Private Ryan". He and his 3 brothers arrived and were in a terrible state. They were so starved that their digestive systems had more-or-less shut down. Sadly, 3 of them passed on, but this little guy hung in there and is doing great! He is a little behind developmentally and is a bit bald in places, but he is playing and enjoying his new big sister's company!
I've actually received lots of single squirrels and have tried to match them up with others of the same size, so everyone has a snuggle partner. Everyone seems quite happy with their buddy. I love catching all the funny baby wildlife sleeping positions, as seen below!
This Little Brown Bat flew into someone's parked car's windscreen. His rescuer kept him warm until he found WTS. He appears to have bruised a wing, but he is getting plenty of rest and has been attempting short flights, so his recovery looks like it's on a good track!
Wild Things has also had lots of cool birds coming to visit this year. See below! Purple finches, Gold finches, Rosebreasted Grosbeaks, Chipping Sparrows, Cowbirds, Redwing Blackbirds (these last two are unusual as Wild Things is deep in the woods and these species are found more in fields and marshes)! There has also been a family of 3 crows that visit all the time, below is a picture of a crow helping herself to an Easter egg! The picture of the Snapping turtle was taken at Sapsucker Woods. I moved it out of the road!
Wild Things also said goodbye to dear little Runty this past month. As reported in the last blog, he had his incisor teeth pulled out due to a bad jaw and tooth infection. The infection spread to his inner ear, and probably throughout his sinuses. But he was running around having fun until the very end, and that is some relief to know he didn't suffer too much. He was a dear little Rascal who was great at making nests and loved playing and saying hello. Go well dear Runty!
Maxie in his nest
The baby animals have started arriving at Wild Things! But before I start mentioning a bunch of new characters, I wanted to give a few updates on patients in this post.
As previously mentioned, Maxie made a very fine nest for himself in a watering can hanging on my house! I don't think this is his main nest, but he certainly uses it from time to time and it looks very cozy inside! He regularly comes by for snacks, as seen in the pictures below. He has become quite wild and just usually takes a nut and runs for it!
Runty, seen here with his one snaggletooth hanging out, has had some dental work in the past two weeks. After his teeth and nasal sinuses started getting infected, he had all his incisors taken out. Ouch! Many thanks to Dr. Spindel of Animal Ark Veterinary Hospital in Baldwinsville, NY for performing this surgery.
The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to return healed animals to the wild. However, sometimes, despite our best efforts, animals end up unreleasable, like Runty. Though some advocate for euthanizing all unreleasable animals, I believe in many cases they can be used as educational animals and can be given a good life with the proper housing, companionship (of their same species) and enrichment. This is my goal for Runt. His teeth were so screwy, and the vet found that both upper and lower jaws were a bit screwy as well, so it was for the best to have this operation performed. He still has his molars and in time he should learn to use them to eat nuts. For now he is happily slurping down delicious squirrel-shakes made out of nuts, veggies, applesauce, and other goodies! He is fighting some infection post-surgery, but is doing very well and is much more active than pre-surgery. Below are some pictures of him playing with a new toy: a pink octopus.
me & Peter say goodbye
Peter finally was able to be released to the Wild Woods! He overwintered here while his injuries healed and was super strong and ready to go. Everyone will miss him :)
And what else has been going on as winter turns to spring?
Many wild things have been using the Wild Things brush-piles built by volunteers in the Wild Woods (left), and all the squirrels came out in the early spring, despite the snow...
The turkeys have been visiting. And now that the snow has melted, they have been displaying and gobbling to all the little turkey hens. They are so handsome!
And, of course, LilMo, is back and is nursing her 2010 babies!
Who's this coming through the Wild Things woods?
A Red Fox! I have never seen a red fox at Wild Things as red fox really spend more time in fields, or forests along fields, whereas Wild Things is in the woods. I've seen Grey Fox, but not red. (Btw, you can see one of the big brush piles I made for wildlife habitat in the background- the thing that looks like a tepee).
I was even more surprised when she got closer and appeared to have a strangely deformed back leg. She looked in good health, so this was either from an old injury (e.g., may have been hit by a car and it healed contracted like this), or a birth deformity. I think that it was probably the latter. This kind of deformity has been observed in domestic farm animals if their mothers are exposed to toxins when they are pregnant. But she was getting along just fine, and stopped for a few moments by my door.
Baby Red Fox
Speaking of Red Fox, a rehab friend near me just got this baby in a few days ago. Apparently he wags his tail when he is suckling on the bottle!
Runty's teeth before trim
I did it! I very successfully trimmed Runty's teeth no problem at all with a little help from Valium! A friend had given me some Valium/diazepam in case I ever needed to sedate an animal. Well, I decided to try it! I calculated the appropriate dose, erring on the low side. Runty lapped it up from a syringe. And 20 minutes later, he was "resting" in his food dish while sleepily trying to have breakfast. 5 minutes later the teeth were trimmed and he was all set, running around a short while later ready to eat all his yummy nuts in shells--almonds, pecans, acorns--once more! :)
As you can see, he has one upper tooth that grows BEHIND the other one. The one behind does wear down a bit on the bottom ones, and the bottom teeth do not have to be trimmed as much as the upper one. Below is a picture of his teeth AFTER being trimmed.
I catch him looking outside through the windows quite often and part of me so wants to release him and just hope that he does OK. The other part of me just knows that a few weeks of fun freedom might condemn him to a death of gradual starvation once his teeth started growing abnormally again. I'm looking for a home for him and hope that he can find a place where he has buddies to play with and places to run, climb, bury nuts and build nests!
This is how I find Peter most mornings. Somehow he finds a hole in his double layer bedding, crawls inside and uses it as a cozy sleeping bag!
Peter is doing really well. He is walking as if he didn't have a massively funkily-healed back leg, eating as if he still had all his canine teeth, and his tummy bed-sores are all healed as well (thank you Joshua for helping shave his belly!). Plus, after getting a bit chubby, he is down to 4.6kg from 5.5kg, so he's lost about 2lbs and is running around quite fast with his svelte new form! Below is a picture of him helping me prepare breakfast for all the Wild Things patients.
Donation from HSUS 'Coats for Cubs'
And look what else arrived at Wild Thing: a box full of donated fur pieces thanks to the Humane Society of the United State's Coats for Cubs program! Fur hats from 5th Avenue furriers, fur collars, stoles, and even a chain of Pine Martins linked together to be worn around the shoulders. These will be such a comfort to all the little babies soon to come to WTS this spring and summer. A big thank you to all who donate to this program!
I found where Max the squirrel has made his home... in this watering can hanging from the side of my house (I stuck it up there for the winter)! I'm so proud of his innovation and he has stuffed it full of all the toilet paper I gave him (see posts below), and other cozy things that he has come across. I was wondering how he always appeared so soon after I open the back doors...I thought he might be living in the drainpipe, but no, the watering can! :)
He still comes by for breakfast as well (see picture below).
In other news, Runty is doing well. Tomorrow I am going to try to cut his teeth after trying a new sedative. Stay tuned....