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Dinner Time

Dinner Time

When I received my Oklahoma State Special License to rehabillitate wildlife, I never dreamed that a call would come in so soon for animals in need. Two days after the license arrived in the mail, I was asked if I’d like to take on the care of four orphanned baby squirrels. Another rehab specialist, who has a Federal license, had received the babies, but she had already taken on the responsibility for another three squirrels, six birds with damaged wings, seven new-born kittens ,umbilical cords still attached, that someone had left on her doorstep in the middle of the night, a goose with a broken leg, and a Great Horned Owl which had tangled with a car. She also had four more baby squirrels from the same source as the ones she had asked me about. Not wanting to overwhelm me on this first venture in wildlife rehab. in Oklahoma, she only asked me to take on four of the new orphans. Seeking to lighten her load a bit, I volunteered to take on all eight baby squirrels which she had just received. They were about five weeks old when she got them, and already had their eyes open. Needing to be fed four times per day, at intervals of four hours, I figured I could manage the care of those eight. In the days when my husband and I owned a large state-licensed aviary in Florida, we sometimes found ourselves having to feed parent-abandoned baby birds on an hourly basis, twenty-four hours a day. At my age, such intensive care requires more energy and stamina than is possible. The four-hour feeding schedule, during daylight hours, seemed entirely possible. And, so it is. The babies, one of which is shown in the accompanying photograph taken by my husband, are growing like weeds. They quickly outgrew their nursery box and are now ensconsed in two large cages with lots of room to climb around. Freshly cut branches provide them lots of play room. Those frisky little critters are slowly weaning themselves from the milk-replacement formula and taking delight in examining the taste of pecan nuts, lots of veggies and fruits, Cheerios cereal, parrot food (which contains a wide variety of seeds and pelleted feed), and fresh water. After feeding each baby, it is necessary to wash their faces clean of milk residue and massage their nether ends to insure that what went into their bodies comes out. The hardest thing for me to now contemplate is how and where to release them safely back into the wild. It will be at least a several weeks before that happens, as they will have to be totally self-sufficient, but it has been a total pleasure to have had the opportunity. You’ve probably noticed in the picture that the words on my sweatshirt are backwards. My husband took the picture while looking in the mirror so as not to startle the little squirrel. The baby was standing on a folded towel placed on a countertop. I try not to handle them excessively so they don’t get too used to being in human hands, and so that I don’t get too attached to them. Wildlife rehab work is strictly on a volunteer basis, and all supplies are provided by the rehab person, including cages, bedding, food, syringes, bottles and nipples, etc. It requires an investment of time and resources and a willingness to stay the course. For me it is a very rewarding use of time, love, and care.

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15 thoughts on “Dinner Time

    • Thank you so much for looking at the post, and for your warm and welcome comments. Their paws are truly remarkable! Have had to resort to wearing gardening gloves to keep my arms and hands from being scratched to pieces by those sharp little claws. Hope you’ll enjoy keeping up with their progress.

  1. I didn’t realize you did wildlife rehabilitation. I have had my license 3 years now, but I’ve rehabbed animals for about 15 years. We have raised just one squirrel, lots of birds, and Daisy deer! We are lucky as we live next to the woods (and a river just a mile away) that we can do a “soft” release, by allowing critters and birds to venture off on their own. Our little squirrel stayed around for a few weeks venturing a little further into the woods each day. I am sure he’s long gone by now, but what a joy he was to raise!

  2. I’m a WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR AS WELL! PLEASE GIVE UP THE NOTION THAT BABY BIRDS AND ANIMALS ARE ABANDONED.
    If a person comes with a baby animal, ask the people the lay it back where it was found. Wild animals leave their offsprings alone for periods the whole Days, otherwise their smell attracts predators.

    Honestly , I don’t like your pic, probably a kidapped baby.that will ever learn from humans survival skills.

    • Sorry for your negative outlook. These baby squirrels came from a rehabilitator in another part of the state, near whose farm the mother squirrels were run over by a car. She observed the situation first-hand. So – they weren’t just picked up by a do-gooder. I do wonder about them learning survival skills, though. But will give them a better chance than they’d have had if left alone at their age.

      • Soon the extremely disturbing time starts when the public pick up baby birds and animals , thinking they are orphaned and leaving the poor mother and baby separeted. Conservationists call it some of the most worst cases of animal abuse in the country.
        Most ornithologists want to leave it all to the Nature! I agree. I read that one of your commenters had taken care of a Deer, poor Deer will probably live her Life in captivity.

      • I have seen so many tragedies with handraised animals. Every professional know that animals in rehab homes mostly are common species with a skyhigh mortality rate when they are reintroduced into the wild.

        Re wild animals, so stated Dr Hunter, IUCN Reintroduction Specialist, that almost all species are doomed to fail in the wild, the only exception was the Californian Condor.

      • The handraised animals lose their natural

        caution re humans and raise up to be

        unsuccesful wild animals that hardly manages in the wild.

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