On squirrel duty again because I felt bad for Destiny (one of my roommates and fellow intern), who had been stuck on squirrels for the past two days. From now on we’re paper-rock-scissoring for who gets the squirrels. For once, however, I finished the Group A squirrels (the smallest ones that need to be fed every two hours) before the morning meeting at 10:00.
When I walked into R1 this morning to check everyone out I noticed an empty opossum cage. And a big hole in the side. They chewed through the mesh, as they like to do once they get older. I found one just slipping out of the hole, another had fallen into a cardboard box below the shelf where his cage was and the third triumphantly standing on top of an incubator a few cages down. They moved into a carrier and several were due for release.
The best part of being in R1 today was the piglet! He arrived a few days ago, being taken straight out of one of our resident sows. He is all black and snorts and squeals but doesn’t really like to eat, mostly because he doesn’t know how. Finally today he started to get the hang of the bottle and eats, well, like a pig. He even started to wander around a little since he was being fed on the floor. He wandered right up to an opossum cage where one feisty little opossum was pressed up against the bars watching the whole feeding process and when the piglet went to sniff the opossum snapped and sent the piglet squealing back for ‘mom’ a.k.a. Carly who had the bottle.
I was kept company by one of the resident vultures while cleaning cages outside today. He is very friendly and likes to burrow his beak in your hand (probably looking for food) and have his head and chin scratched. He was a bit too friendly though, as he kept trying to drink all of the water I was using to clean, including the bleach water. After I shooed him off a few times, he finally got insulted and pouted by the door to the clinic until I was done.
Songbirds and R4 today. R4 is smaller and quieter than the other recovery rooms and filled with some pretty random animals, including a tortoise, seagull, ducks, ducklings, juvenile squirrels, and a gerbil.
Ducks and squirrels were rather uneventful, but the seagull was a character. He has a droopy wing that needs to get cleaned off everyday so I had to pull him out of the cage and dip part of him in warm water. Well, adult seagulls bite! I taped his mouth shut but in the process he scraped up a few of my fingers.
Squirrels again and I am still no faster. We had to euthanize one little squirrel who had a severe breathing problem and was basically slowly suffocating to death.
Six new baby opossums were dropped off, and they were tiny babies so we have to tube feed them. Luckily they are much more cooperative than squirrels. And also a lot cuter at this age.
I got to feed the piglet for the first time, now that he has gotten the hang of bottle-feeding. In fact, he is limited to 20cc per feeding every 2 hours so he lets us know when he’s hungry (which is pretty often) by squealing at the top of his lungs. You wouldn’t think a few day old pig would be so loud, but he is. He even spooks some of the squirrels into not wanting to eat.
One of the big rabbits that hang outside our trailers was taken into the clinic to get his teeth trimmed. Rabbits’ and squirrels’ (and rodents in general) teeth are continuously growing so sometimes they grow too long if they are getting worn down quickly enough by their diet. The vet tech anesthetized him and dremmeled them down. One of the few uses for power tools in our job.
Fawns and birds today! A lot of the fawns are getting too big to be eating formula, but many are still begging so we have to get all the little ones into one of the sheds to feed them so they don’t have to compete with the others. The big ones bump noses, kick, and are generally big bullies with the tiny ones. The cute axis deer followed me everywhere as usual.
The two great horned owls were part of my rounds today as well. Upstairs in the clinic we have a large flight room for the raptors with two small rooms off the sides for each. One of the owls is suffering from some sort of head trauma because one eye is huge and dilated compared to the other. It’s surprising how intimidating their huge yellow eyes are. The other owl came in recently with a broken wing. He had to be force-fed, not something that is very easy to do when you are wearing big thick leather gloves, in case he gets his talons on you. Luckily the head trauma owl would take the food (chick pieces) out of the tweezers if you dangle it near his mouth.
This evening, I saw my first armadillo since I got here. Live one, that is. They are the most popular road-kill, it seems. This one wandered up by the back of our house so I went around the side to get a good look at him. I thought I would scare him away but I walked up within a few feet of him and he just looked at me and turned away to keep looking for food.
This morning Destiny and I went to get our first shot for our rabies vaccine series. Not too bad, just a little sore. Luckily there are only three shots for the pre-exposure. If you get bitten, however, there is a series of five shots.
This was my first closing shift and I must say it is much more relaxed than the opening shift. For one thing, closers don’t have to do as much cleaning since the openers are responsible for all the cage-cleaning. However, there are more animal drop-offs in the evenings because volunteers from some vet clinics we work with bring animals that people have brought into the vet that day. I checked in 3 baby cottontails with small puncture wounds (probably cat-caught), one adult cottontail with multiple severe puncture wounds who was euthanized, a juvenile squirrel who didn’t have anything wrong with him so was completely freaked out that he was in a cage, an adult white wing dove who also had nothing wrong with him except being hungry, and a 5 year old African Spur Thigh tortoise which was surrendered by it’s owner who no longer had the space for him.
Three large opossums were released! These guys mostly came in as juveniles/adults with injuries but they were all healed up and ready to go.