Wildlife Rehab: The Young And The Nestless

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With the arrival of every spring, flowers and trees are not the only things in bloom.

This is the season for baby animals to start falling out of trees or arriving at your doorstep, via cat express.

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All too often orphaned wildlife is removed from its natural habitat before having a chance to reunite with its family. This forces them into in a foreign environment with new foods and all kinds of frightening challenges. Other than improper nutritional care, stress is the leading killer of captive wildlife.

Nearly everyone at some point in his or her life encounters injured or orphaned wildlife. The problem is what to do next. Most people don't realize that there are wildlife volunteers out there with special training on how to care for these unfortunate critters. The first thing they will tell you is to keep the animal in a dark, warm and quiet area, away from loud noises and other animals. After a quick interview, they might also suggest safely placing the animal near the area it came from to see if the mother will return.

All too often orphaned wildlife is removed from its natural habitat before having a chance to reunite with its family. This forces them into in a foreign environment with new foods and all kinds of frightening challenges. Other than improper nutritional care, stress is the leading killer of captive wildlife.

Baby wildlife can be so adorable that it's only natural to want to take it in and feed it what we think seems logical. What most of us don't know is that some birds require feeding with a four inch tube so that the formula will reach it's crop, while other species need a specialized diet consisting of minced worms. Also, hamburger is not an appropriate meal for small mammals and cows milk could make an animal extremely sick. Even if the animal seems to be doing well on what it's being fed, it may eventually develop a metabolic bone disorder or deformities from lack of proper nutrition.

The other problem is medically treating even the smallest of wounds. Although you may not see puncture marks on a tiny rabbit, it has less than a 50 percent survival rate if brought in by a cat which carries a venomous bacteria in its saliva.

Antibiotics will need to be administered, and the sooner the better.

If you find injured or orphaned wildlife, contact the Arizona Game and Fish at (602) 942-3000 for the appropriate placement of the animal.

As cute as they might be, and as tame as they might seem, wild animals do not make good pets. At some point they will get the urge to chew, bite or even attack. This might seem like a good time to introduce them back into the wild, but without being taught how to adapt to their own natural habitat, their chances of survival are slim.

Many people, especially children, become easily attached to these vulnerable creatures of the wild, and doing the right thing in the best interest of the animal becomes a big challenge. This is a great time to interact with a wildlife rehabber and teach your children that these animals will be much better off raised with its own kind and then released by an experienced rehabilitator. It is much harder to tell them why the animal has died, or why it has suddenly become mean. Instead of wanting to keep a wild animal as a pet, this might be a right time to check into the local humane society and find the perfect domestic pet needing a good, loving home.

Mitzi Brabb has been a wildlife rescue volunteer since 1994. She specializes in working with small mammals, and has taken in hundreds of injured and orphaned animals over the years, as well as teaching classes about wildlife care. She can be reached at paysonrehabber@yahoo.com.

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