Welcome to the fascinating world of
Wildlife Rehabilitation !
This world has
been described as a science that is constantly growing and
developing.It is creative
and definitely complex. Within the last 20-30 years it has
molded itself into a field that is structured .
Main Entry: wild·life
Usage: often attributive
Date: 1879: living things and especially mammals, birds, and fishes that are neither human
In a simple explanation it
means : temporarily caring for sick,
with the objective of healing and
releasing them back to the wild, fully recovered with intact survival skills .
We are beginning to
understand that the health of our wildlife is an excellent indication of the
health of the environment on which we depend.
all encompassing view of wildlife rehabilitation unearths
the profile of the rehabilitator.Being
a wildlife rehabilitator means much more than holding a permitted license .Wildlife rehabilitation becomes a way of life. Whether you rehabilitate full or part
time , most
have adopted a strong conviction to
CODE OF ETHICS
The work requires dedication
and perseverance. For some
of us it is a rite of passage .
love what we do .
How many hats does a wildlife rehabilitator wear?
Because wildlife rehabilitation is a living science,
it is one that will continue to grow.
The successful rehabilitator makes every
to remain fresh-open to new ideas
changing protocols. Just when you think you know all the how to do's and
someone will come up with an innovative and better approach !
In order to offer the animals we care for the best possible
chance of survival in the wild, we reference
areas including natural history,
specie behavior, captive / natural diet,
caging ,husbandry, disease, zoo noses,
capture /restrain techniques to name a few.
Also, the conscientious wildlife rehabilitator is
always dealing with the public and supporting
agencies therefore he/she polishes
communication and diplomacy skills.
There are many times when our patience will be put to the test in dealing with difficult situations.
often work with injured or sick animals, we face sad ,grim
realities and make difficult decisions.
its overwhelming rewards, wildlife
rehabilitation has a dark side. But
more often than not, the rewards are rich and bountiful !
To support our wildlife and promote public education many of
us learn how to fundraise,
train and recruit volunteers ,write grants,
lecture, and research. Being "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound " sums it up quite nicely. Rehabilitators in most states hold proper state and federal permits to authorize
temporary care. Most wildlife
rehabilitators are required to keep
detailed records on all
rehabilitated animals. These
logs are submitted annually to both state and federal agencies.
Squirrel Sanctuary works closely with the supporting agencies.
squirrels we admit are thoroughly
studied on a case by case-
individual basis to assess and diagnose correctly. Because
home based,this flexibility allows us to spend
more time with each case. Veterinary consultation ,critical/hospital care,wound
therapy, and pre release conditioning often
are involved. Our cooperating veterinarians
play a very important role in our program.
Without them we could not do what we do and we
respect and appreciate their help more than they realize.
rehabilitation is time consuming,
whether you rehabilitate part or full time .
spent on caring for wildlife is time not spent with yourself, family or friends.
There are two strong breeding seasons in the Metro New York
area. One begins
late winter, the second -summer, sometimes extending into early fall.
is @ 44 days resulting in what is referred to as "baby squirrel season".Like many mammals ,squirrels are seasonal breeders
genetically timed to breed and reproduce
coinciding with the buds and flowering
of indigenous trees. Weather and food supply are factors
that affect their
breeding behavior. Not all female gray squirrels
will breed twice a
year or even every year. Physical changes associated with reproduction require a
tremendous amount of energy. Female
squirrels may not go into estrus
unless the environmental factors are favorable.
According to the records ,the past
two winters in the Northeast have been the mildest and we
have been seeing more newborn squirrels arriving earlier
than in previous years. The feeding schedule for neonatal
infant squirrels sometimes can run around the
and healthy juvenile gray squirrels eat heartily during
In winter, adult gray squirrels are hit by cars when they seek out shelter
food which becomes scarce. We take in many of these
rehabilitation can last through a whole winter ,
case depending .
In the wild ,eastern gray squirrels will
nurse off mother
@ 10 weeks and remain close for
some weeks later. Depending on release criteria, many juveniles in rehab care are released at
@13-18 weeks of age.
Young squirrels tell us by their behaviors;some may need
more time to mature, while others grow up
more quickly.The time immediately
after release is a critical time for them. We release knowing they possess
strong independent survival skills.Because we are home based
we are allowed to
flexible in our approach . Other wildlife species
songbirds and cottontail rabbits, do not spend as
a time with the natural mother.
So, if long hours,
keeping detailed records , answering phone calls, cleaning cages, preparing food, administering medicine, and general multi-tasking hasn't
overwhelmed you, here is yet one more thing to consider : wildlife rehabilitation
volunteer work ! Meaning: The position is unsalaried . If you are nonprofit, public
donations helps to somewhat offset expenses, but money for wildlife
The expense for rehabilitation can become costly because wildlife do not carry
HMO's are not an option.
In New York State wildlife are considered wards of the state.
Being volunteers ,most if not all rehabbers pick up the tab for their wildlife
and pay out
of pocket expenses to support the care of their animals.
purchasing educational materials, joining
organizations , attending conferences and training
sessions will add up.
At the beginning of each season Squirrel Sanctuary will order and purchase
necessary supplies and allocate them to our cooperating rehabbers,
based on need .Our juvenile squirrels receive
recommended commercial milk replacement formula that cannot
be purchased in any pet store
and must be special ordered.
recommended formula is one based on the results of
studies done of analysis of natural mother
squirrel milk. These ratios of nutritional
components closely match mother squirrel.Coupled with our
first hand experiences and professional recommendations-our squirrels
receive the very best replacement formula that is not homemade nor concocted
from the internet.
rehabber's perspective-If you have people bringing wild animals to you,
liability is a consideration.Your homeowners policy
may not cover rehabilitation activities.
If you have volunteers, friends, or
staff assisting you, be sure both you and
they are covered.We provide proper
caging which meet national standards and are designed
specifically for tree squirrel rehabilitation.
As the young squirrels grow,their
physical and psychological needs
change and accordingly their climbing and
balancing skills need to be constantly challenged and assessed.
Some of us have incubators for the
most critical and young. Special fluids, exactly like those used in human medicine are used to hydrate the
dehydrated ,and are special ordered through our cooperating vets along with antibiotics,
anti-inflammatory, anti convulsive drugs, nutritional supplementation,
done correctly wildlife rehabilitation can become expensive and
should weigh out all the considerations before taking the
plunge ! Sometimes
stubborn case does not respond to allopathic treatment we may consult with
our cooperating specialists and implement a protocol utilizing homeopathic,
herbal, or chiropractic .Keeping an open mind can only be
beneficial to both the patient and the rehabilitator.
The forum of public education and spreading the word is the rehabilitator's continuing
Renaissance-introducing both young and
young" minds to remain fresh and open to biological and ecological concepts.
Through this medium ,we are able to offer a chance to adopt and cultivate a
nurturing ,responsible attitude of stewardship to some of the
small mammals that inhabit our planet.Within a fast paced society overflowing with incredible technology and ability,
a germinating seed called
Like an ever
faithful perennial ,with proper nurturing and handling we expect to blossom,
flower and grow !
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