-Saturday, December 10: Lunch & Learn with Anton Wroblewski on The Real Sasquatch
Scroll down for...
Rehab Recap &
What You Missed
Rehabilitating Cottontail Rabbits
My First Year
Rehabilitation activities have slowed considerably with the coming of autumn giving the rehabilitators time to repair cages, organize supplies, and rest until baby season starts again in early 2017.
Elizabeth C. released 5 cottontails and is helping answer the hotline.
Natalie H. released 5 skunks, 3 coyotes, an opossum, and a squirrel.
Shannon K. is continuing to rehabilitate 7 raccoons and 4 opossums. She released 6 deer and sent a hummingbird, a dove, 5 raccoons, and 3 raccoons to other rehabilitators.
Helen L. currently has eight orphaned squirrels ranging in ages from eye-closed (under 4 weeks of age) to almost-ready-to-release. Additionally, she has been rehabilitating a tiny field mouse who is starting to wean off the formula. Her other duties include answering the ATW hotline 24/7. At this time, ATW is receiving about four to six calls a day.
Karen O. took in 2 juvenile imprinted raccoons.
What You Missed!
September 10: Dr. Laura Hobgood gave an engaging talk on dogs, how humans have affected their domestication, and how they, in turn, have affected us.
September 11: Elisabeth presented to a group of elementary students who are a part of a robotics club. She taught the students and their parents all about opossums and skunks.
October 8: Stephen Brueggerhoff gave a very informative presentation on fruiting native Texas plants. After Stephen's talk, Elizabeth Colbert led an informative roundtable on rehabilitating cottontails. For more information on the roundtable, please read the following article.
Rehabilitating Cottontail Rabbits
At our last Lunch & Learn on October 8, Elizabeth Colbert led a discussion about cottontail rabbit rehabilitation. Cottontails are notoriously difficult to rehabilitate, and Liz has worked hard on developing new rehabilitation techniques that seem to be working. New techniques include feeding the babies by inserting a small tube into their abdomens, adding enzymes and other digestive aides to the feeding fluids, and keeping them on dirt from the backyard rather than newspapers or toweling.
During the roundtable, participants exchanged ideas about cottontail rehabilitation. Liz gave each person handouts covering feeding, weaning, adult care, and general wound care. We have posted the handouts on our website and you can view them by clicking the links below. Please call our hotline at (512) 897-0806 if you have questions for Liz.
Where do I start? I had attended a course on basic wildlife rehabilitation, studied and already rescued an animal here and there, but I was not ready for what was truly in store for me.
Excitement overcame me when I received that first call for a batch of baby opossums. Everything was set up and I was ready. I triaged them on intake, which consisted of warming them up and checking them for any injuries. Next I weighed them and tested them to see how badly dehydrated they were.
Once they were checked over, it was time to ‘potty’ (stimulate them to urinate and defecate) and hydrate them. So, I set out a puppy pad, a warm blanket. and all of the feeding supplies. Everything was organized and went smoothly. Geez, what is all the fuss about baby season being stressful?
Within a couple of days I took in my first fawn. Talk about excited! Once again everything went smoothly. Other rehabilitators had told me my first year would be tough, but at this point I was really confused about what all the fuss was about.
Then, it hit me and hit me fast. At least every other day I was getting calls for abandoned, injured or dying baby animals. I thought I was organized and ready, but that all went out the window. I went from writing every detail down in my handy notebook to jotting down the weights of incoming animals on anything within reach. I filled up FAST. Baby fawns were taking over my home office, and baby opossums were filling up the dining and living rooms. Pee pads were strung from room to room, thousands of exam gloves being used, and dirty towels and blankets were piling up in the laundry room. Dishes, bottles, syringes and every feeding instrument filled up the sink causing us to take out the trash at least twice a day.
On top of the mess, I was feeding the animals every 2-4 hours, caring for my pets, and working nights for my full-time job. I was starting to question what I had gotten myself into. Thankfully, that’s when my husband stepped in. Knowing much saving these little lives meant to me, he saw I was overwhelmed. Things were still difficult, but now that we were working together, it was much more manageable. I also started to get to know the other rehabbers and volunteers of All Things Wild. They were always there, ready for all the thousands of questions and concerns I had. So, with the support of my husband and my new friends, my spirits were lifted.
Along with the constant work and little sleep, wildlife rehabilitation can also be emotionally draining. Seeing animals in pain or babies orphaned is hard for any animal lover. The worst part was losing an animal, but that actually led to one of the best parts of rehabbing: the support I received from the rehab community. They would listen to me cry about an animal that passed or worry about something I thought I had done wrong. They never judged me and always helped me move forward, stronger and ready for the next animal.
Then, it was time to start releasing animals back into the wild. Thinking back to those days still gives me goosebumps. I got to watch these baby animals, now young adults, go out and explore the wild on their own. These are the moments wildlife rehabilitation is all about! I sat back and thought about the close calls and how many babies had been saved, nursed back to health, and now released! It was an amazing feeling.
They say the first year is the toughest, and I certainly agree, but I learned so much and found a wonderful support system. I would do it all again, and I will in a few months when baby season starts up again!