I had the best of intentions on updating this website frequently with posts about my rehabilitation efforts. Unfortunately, life has gotten too busy and crazy, and I’ve completely neglected the website as a result! But it’s for good reason, I promise – raccoon baby season is in full swing! I have 30 raccoons to take care of on a daily basis. This means 30 raccoons to feed (some still bottle feeding), 30 raccoons to do health-checks on, many dishes to wash, food to prepare, and multiple cages to clean each day!
Here are a couple of photos of what I’ve been doing lately:
It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog. Don’t worry, though – it’s not because anything bad has happened, it’s just because it’s been an incredibly busy season! It’s totally worth it, though!
Here’s a video of the release we did today. Twenty raccoons were released back into the wild – our largest single release yet!
After weeks of putting out feelers for a friend for Foxy Loxy, a rehabber in North Georgia got in a red fox! She held onto him for a week, in order to make sure he was stable, and then he was passed along to me, where I quarantined him for ANOTHER week (standard protocol is to quarantine rabies vector species for 14 days).
Finally, at last, his quarantine period was over and was allowed to befriend Foxy Loxy!
Since I’m about to be already inundated with raccoons, I don’t have the habitat space or the time to rehab these beautiful red foxes. I WISH I could – I really would love to learn how to rehab them till release age, but I just can’t take on too many different animals at once. Instead, Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort has graciously offered to take the pair, so we’ll be going there this weekend to drop them off. At AWARE, they will learn the skills they need in order to be released back into the wild! Although I’m a bit bummed that my time with them is coming to an end, I’m really lucky to have been able to rehab them for as long as I did.
A couple of weeks ago, Foxy Loxy was featured on CuteOverload! As a result, some people came to my website and my e-traffic shot up. Not only did it provide an opportunity for people to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation, but it also resulted in a couple of donations! Apparently California is where a lot of nice people live, because Gordon S., Jennifer P, and Bonnie D. from California sent me some monetary donations! I also got a donation from Wendy W. in Kentucky! Thank you so much, y’all! This southern girl really appreciates it.
Bonnie D. went a step further – in addition to the monetary donation, she also sent me a giant box of goodies from my wishlist! In her note, she mentioned that she found my wishlist and had a couple of things laying around unused that she thought I would like. And I do! Not only do I appreciate the extra towels, sheets, soft dog carrier and dog food, but so do my animals. Check out what Foxy Loxy thought of the Little Champions dog food:
I just got in two baby bunnies, who will hopefully be transferred to another wildlife rehabilitator in the next couple of days. In the meantime, they’re enjoying the softness of the purple towel that Bonnie sent our way!
Clearly, I need to have my animals featured on Cute Overload more often.
Each April, I’m doing last minute preparations for the beginning of raccoon baby season, making sure everything on my To Do List is done:
Do I have enough formula? Check.
Are all the towels/blankets washed? Check.
Have all the cages been prepped? Check.
Do I have the basic medications? Check.
Do I have enough syringes? Check.
Have the vaccines been ordered? Check.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been jumping each time my phone rings, thinking “Is this going to be the first baby call of the season?” Up until this past week, the calls were always for different animals. But, I’m pleased to announce that raccoon baby season has officially begun! I picked up my first three patients, eyes-and-ears-closed, three-day-old baby raccoons on Wednesday! The mother raccoon was living in someone’s attic with her babies, and the homeowners didn’t realize there were babies up there until after momma raccoon had been evicted. The homeowner wanted to feed the babies to their dog (so sad and disgusting!), but thankfully, the homeowner’s teenage son wanted to find someone to take care of the raccoons. He got in touch with me and I met up with him on Wednesday afternoon! The babies are doing great – they were a bit dehydrated, but nothing too serious.
Foxy Loxy, the abandoned fox kit, is doing great! She has defied the odds and has turned into a healthy, happy young fox! While she’s still too young to be released, she’s become more independent over the past two weeks. She is now housed in an outdoor cage, so she can experience more of the wilderness. She has leaves to romp in, dirt to dig in, and sunshine that pours into her cage during the day.
However, one of the things I cannot provide for her is a friend. She needs to be socialized. And interacting with people (or my cats!) is not healthy for her. I’ve been sending e-mails and calling other rehabbers to see if anyone else has a fox nearby, but (un?)fortunately, nobody else has an abandoned fox kit. Or even a coyote pup (they can be housed together). I keep on getting leads – a vet’s office told me they had a phone call about a baby fox, but nothing ever came to fruition, and apparently there’s a (human) mom whose daughter found a baby fox in metro-Atlanta, but the daughter isn’t willing to give it to a rehabber yet (let’s just all stop and think about how incredibly selfish that is, yes?). Until I either get a fox friend for her or I can give her to another rehabber who has a fox, she’s stuck with me doing the best that I can.
This is the greeting I got when I visited the cage the other day:
And this is what happened once I stepped inside the cage. Warning: May cause death by cuteness and/or vertigo!
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had some fairly big storms hit us here in Georgia. Thankfully, Tails From The Hart was spared from the destruction, but many people and places weren’t as lucky. Our hearts go out to everyone who’s been affected by the April storms and tornadoes.
As a precaution, I brought several of the animals inside during the worst of the storms. I was afraid that a tree might fall on one of the cages and crush it (with the animals inside) or worse, so we battened down the proverbial hatches just in case. While the animals need to learn how to live in the elements, I feel as though forcing them to be confined in a cage during a tornado watch/warning isn’t fair, either. So inside they came! Foxy Loxy was not too happy about being kept in her crate in our office, so I let her out to run around (supervised, of course!) to get some of her energy out. The following videos were shot during her romp inside:
The next morning, after the storms had passed, Foxy Loxy was put back in her outdoor cage. Hopefully we won’t have an encore performance of the weather we’ve had recently. I don’t think the South can take much more of a beating than we already have!
The fox kit that I got a week and a half ago is doing great! She’s gained a lot of weight and become extremely active. I was originally worried about her back legs because it seemed as though she didn’t know how to move her hips very well, but she’s overcome that and walks normally! She still has to be quarantined for a bit longer before she can have a friend, so in the meantime, I’ve been letting her play in the house so she can get some exercise and attention. Here’s a short, two-minute video of her trying to “attack” my shoe. The noises she makes are the same noises when I feed her and she gets possessive over her food!
On Friday, I got a call about an abandoned red fox kit. When I picked her up, I was about 80% sure that she wasn’t going to make it – she was severely dehydrated and emaciated, to the point where you could feel every bone in her body. Animals that show anything above 15% dehydration are most likely going to die.
But, I had to try. I couldn’t give up on her, especially when she fought so hard to live after she lost her parents. Over the course of the next 48 hours, I’ve pumped 100 ccs of lactated ringers solution into her body, tube-fed her some raccoon milk (high protein, high fat) and kept her as warm and comfortable as possible. On Friday and Saturday, she was very limp and lethargic. But I kept giving her subq fluids and forced her to eat 5 ccs of milk every couple of hours (not a lot, because I didn’t want to overload her system). This morning, I woke up at 6 a.m. to the sounds of the little fox crying. I went in the kitchen expecting to see her in pain or dying. To my delight, she was sitting up, fully alert, and crying because she was lonely. It was the best reason to wake up – an animal whom you thought had no chance is physically feeling better!
We’re not out of the woods yet – she’s still dehydrated and emaciated. Now she’s lapping up milk on her own (about 40 ccs at each feeding!) and has gained about 50 grams, so there’s hope. She has some issues with her back legs, but I’m not sure if that’s due to her body shutting down from dehydration/emaciation, a neurological disorder, or because she’s a baby and young animals aren’t very coordinated. Time will tell.
I’ve been concentrating so much on keeping her alive that I haven’t even thought about her long-term plans – I either need to give her to a rehabber who already has a fox, or I need to steal someone else’s fox kit so she can have a friend. Thankfully, I’ve still got a little while before I have to do that – I have to make sure she’s stable and healthy before then.
Here are some pictures and videos of her (you’re welcome, Patti!).
Video of me trying to get her to drink milk on her first night here:
As you can see, it wasn’t very successful – hence the tube feeding.
Jackson Pearce, author of As You Wish and Sisters Red, is a good friend of mine. This year, she’s taken part in Project for Awesome and featured Tails From The Hart, my wildlife rehab organization!
Not only does this bring awareness to wildlife rehabilitators and what we do, but hopefully some people will donate to TFTH, too. It’s awesome to read all the comments from people on her YouTube video. Even cooler? John Green, another author, who started the Project For Awesome event four years ago with his brother, featured Jackson’s video in HIS YouTube video! (It’s the right top rectangle – click on it and it directs you to our video.) How cool is that?!