It's been a very busy baby season already, and thus a busy wildlife rehab season! Between this passion, my job, and planning my wedding (Yay, I can't wait!) I have been a super busy woman. So unfortunately I have not had the time necessary to update my blog as often as I used to be able to. So from now on my posts will be more combined. For every six intake logs I will be sure to make a new blog post about those animals that came in. So be looking out for new updates soon! With this many animals already coming in, I know it's going to be a busy year!
Wednesday I got in two female adults, both mothers. Both of them were caught in a trap.
Yesterday was quite eventful! I got in another adult opossum that was caught in a live trap, although unlike the others that I have got in so far this year, this female has a pouch full of babies! The little ones are approximately six weeks old and she almost looks full to capacity. Opossums have 13 teats, although it is very common that not all of them work. I would not be surprised to find out that she has just close to 13 babies in there though. I was able to capture this adorable picture below as the mother slept and her pouch relaxed, revealing the back ends of four little ones.
Not only did I get in a mother with babies, I got in two little ones as well (picture below). Unfortunately, their mother was attacked by a dog which killed her as well as three of their siblings. These two were fortunate enough to get a second chance at life thanks to the gentleman that found the adult female. These are two little sisters and weigh in at just 17 grams each. They must be tube feed around the clock every two hours, and I am more than happy to do that for them in hopes that they survive.
So, baby season is definitely upon us! And speaking of babies, guess what else I found out the other week? The female opossum that I got in on the February 5th that was caught in a trap and had a significant amount of swelling and trauma to the top of her muzzle, was pregnant! While moving her to another cage inside to clean out the one she was in, I happened to see a little pink baby moving around at the opening of her pouch that looked to be about two weeks old, very tiny. I check all females when I get them to know whether or not that have little ones in their pouch so I can provide them with the proper amount of nutrients and calories. When I got her in she had an empty pouch which meant that she gave birth to them while in my care. They are now approximately four weeks old and are continuing to grow. I am expecting to get in more babies soon, this is just the beginning.
Although I normally just receive opossums, yesterday afternoon I received a call about a baby cottontail rabbit that was found in the corner of a horse stall. The owner of the property said that she has many cats around the house and did not want the little one to become one of their new toys and wasn't sure if one of the cats may have already got to the baby. So the lady met up with me, bringing the baby cottontail with her. Fortunately it did not have any apparent wounds from a cat or otherwise. Today the little one is hoping around its cage eating all of the weeds that I have placed in there. It is very healthy and will soon be released once it gets a little larger to better defend itself from predators.
Most of the adult opossums I receive are from being caught in a live trap and then have to stay with me for a while as they heal up and receive antibiotics for their wounds. This new male that was brought to me on the first, on the other hand, was caught in something I would have never thought of... a BBQ. The people who own the BBQ aren't sure of how he got in there or how long he had been in there. Myself, as well as a few others, came to the conclusion that the lid may have been open and he could smell the drippings inside so he climbed his way up there but soon got trapped as the lid closed down with him inside.. but who knows what had happened. He was quite a bit dehydrated and weak
when I got him, with a few old scars on the inside of his front right leg, possibly from a previous dog attack. This morning though he is doing much better. After providing him with fluids to rehydrate him and flush out his system from eating the drippings and charcoal as well as giving him plenty of delicious food, he is happily sleeping all curled up in his cage. In a couple days he will be put outside in a prerelease enclosure and then a few days after that he will be released back in to the wild.
The caught in trap elder female that I've had for over a month is finally outside in one of the prerelease enclosures. She was taken off of her antibiotics for a week while still staying inside to make sure that no infection began to develop and to see if she could keep her healed injuries clean of debris. She did great so she got to move outdoors. Although she began to get very sweet with me while inside because I would give her treats when she got her antibiotics (it made it much easier and less stressful on her, you always want to keep the level of stress as low as possible) she became a wild opossum again once she got to go outside. You can see her progress of her injuries and how great they've healed in the before and after pictures below. I am so happy that she gets to be released soon and live out her life as a free opossum. I hope she thinks twice before walking in to a trap again, even if she can smell the food awaiting inside.
Received two more caught in trap opossums. The male to the left has very minor damage and will be released within a few days. The female to the right on the other hand will be staying with me for over a month. She has significant damage to her muzzle and jaw with multiple broken teeth. In comparison to the image below you can see how swollen both of their muzzles are from trying to escape the traps they are in.
I do not like live traps. As I have stated before in my previous blog post.. although live traps will not kill the animal that is in them, they can cause significant damage to the animal while trying to escape. This happens very often to opossums. While trying to escape they end up injuring their jaws and muzzles, sometimes to the point of their jaw bone being exposed. If you would like an opossum to relocate to a different area other than your backyard, please think twice before using live traps. Check out the Top 10 Reason Not to Trap and Relocate.
This is the newest male that has come to spend some time with me today. Also, the very first of its kind for me in the terms of why he was brought in. Some guys may cringe over this story, fair warning... Like opossums normally do, this male was climbing over a fence while following his nose to something that smelled like dinner. Unfortunately, his testicles got caught up in the fence while he was climbing down which caused the lining of the skin to tear and bleed. Claw marks were found on the fence from him trying to get free. The people who found him said they had to take apart the fence to free him. As you can see in this picture, he is not the happiest of critters right now. I have immediately started him on antibiotics to help prevent any infection from taking on. Unfortunately, there is no telling how bruised he is inside from trying to get himself free or if he got caught up on any splinters or nails. He will be taking a ride to see the vet just to make sure everything is going to be alright.
The first four opossums I have received this year have all been caught in traps and brought to the local animal control. Three females and one male. I've already released one of the females but the second female I received will be staying with me for a while because of the injuries she has. You can read about her below. The three in the pictures above though luckily did not sustain any significant injuries. Some swollen and scraped up muzzles, but nothing a little ointment and a few days to relax indoors with me wouldn't fix. In the picture to the right is the male that I received yesterday. A big male too, to say the least. Before I checked his underside I would of thought he was a female with a bunch of babies in the pouch. Haha, but yes, he is that heavy.
This is the older female opossum that will be staying with me for a while.. She was caught in a trap and because of that she has significant damage to her face from trying to escape. Animal control told me she was so feisty that they had to snare her to get her out of the trap she was in. Once I got her though, I didn't see any of that anger. I believe, like other wildlife, she can sense how calm I am in this situation which in turn makes her much more calm. Although live traps will not kill the animal that is in them, they can cause significant damage to the animal while trying to escape. Opossums are able to get their mouth through the bars and try to bite and chew their way out. This often damages their teeth, gums, jaw and muzzle. This female opossum is missing a good chunk of skin and muscle to the side of her mouth. She has also broken off teeth, rubbed the top of her muzzle raw, scraped up her left eye, and has damaged her gums almost to the bone of her jaw. She only wanted freedom, but now has to stay with me for a while so she can heal without developing any infection as well as being given a liquid diet that will be easy to eat with all of the wounds throughout her mouth. You can also see that her left ear is torn, this is an older injury though, so luckily it is not causing her any pain or issues. She is currently on antibiotics to help with her wounds. I'm wishing she has a speedy recovery. In the lower right picture you can see her leaning forward to sniff out my phone, she is very curious. Hopefully once she is released though she will not be curious about anymore traps.
The numbers are in! Since when I officially started doing in-home wildlife care with Critter Creek Wildlife Station in March 2012 to the end of December 2012, I have cared for 72 opossums. May this year be just a eventful! And since I have a full year ahead of me this time, I am looking forward to a even bigger number for the end of 2013. I absolutely love this work I do! :)
Sadly, the male I have been taking care of had to be humanely euthanized today. I spent the majority of the day with him and was not happy to see him go. Within the past two days he has gone downhill fast. He lost all strength in his legs and was unable to hold himself up, he began to have seizures, had very heavy breathing, and what was most unusual to me is that he developed a very high fever. Unlike other opossums, he was very hot to the touch. Here in this picture you can see that his leg is wrapped which is because he kept biting at his foot. Myself and others assumed it was because he had nerve damage to where his toenails were worn down and it caused him pain. But why the pain developed so much later on, I am unsure. He was suffering and just needed to be given peace. I am at a loss for words with him and so confused about what caused all of his symptoms. You're free to chase your dreams out in opossum heaven now, farewell darling.