Baby Wildlife Sheltering in Place Too

Sheltering in place feels like a new concept for most of us, but wildlife moms do it every spring!

From the time her babies are born, until they have grown enough fur and put on enough weight to keep themselves warm without her, a squirrel mom, or a skunk mom, or a raccoon mom must stay inside her nest or den doing nothing by caring for her young.

The time that birds spend incubating their eggs is a similar kind of enforced immobility, restricting their movements and the amount of time they can spend away from the nest.

As we have all learned, this is HARD!

Tragedy happens when something disrupts these early days and weeks of intensive care and isolation.

The baby skunk in the video below was warm and safe with mom in his cozy den under a shed, until suddenly the shed was ripped off its foundation! The homeowner had decided to demolish it.

Terrified at the disruption, the mother skunk fled, leaving her tiny babies in the destroyed den. A call to WildCare’s Living with Wildlife Hotline 415-456-7283 offered the distressed homeowner (who felt terrible for disrupting this skunk family) good advice. With instructions from our Hotline operator, they attempted a reunite with mom. Unfortunately she didn’t come back for this striped baby, so he came to WildCare to grow up as an orphan in our care.

 

 

Nest of Baby Finches Cut From a Tree

These tiny newly-hatched baby House Finches also arrived at WildCare due to an avoidable accident. The tree trimmers hired to remove a limb thought they had checked the tree carefully, but they still missed this nest of baby birds.

This is easy to do, as birds’ nests are camouflaged on purpose! With a single swipe of the chainsaw, the branch containing these babies plummeted to the ground.

It is a testament to nest building that they survived their fall, but their home and access to their parents’ care was destroyed forever.

The worst part of their situation is that it didn’t have to happen. The tree work wasn’t an emergency, and there was no safety-related reason for the limb to be destroyed.

WildCare is hoping to prevent avoidable accidents to wildlife like this. Scroll down to learn how you can help!

 

Please Help Prevent Avoidable Harm to Baby Wildlife!

Baby birds like the ones in the video above require incredibly intensive care. They must be kept warm in an incubator because they do not yet have feathers, and they must eat a specialized songbird diet every 30 minutes from dawn to dusk.

Normally at WildCare this time of year, we have as many as 20 volunteers in the Wildlife Hospital each day helping to provide the cleaning, feeding and other care patients like these need from 7am – 9pm. But in the era of COVID-19, we only have one staff member in the Birdroom, and no volunteers able to be onsite at all.

With only a skeleton crew working in the Wildlife Hospital, our team is worried about the impending flood of new patients.

You can help! PLEASE delay non-emergency tree trimming, pruning, yard clearing or construction projects until autumn when baby animals will no longer be at risk!

We realize that sheltering in place means you have a lot of time to think about your garden and to start projects. We ask you to carefully consider the disruption to the habitat of your yard that the project will cause, and to keep in mind the wild families, also currently sheltering in place, need that habitat to survive.

Checking for Nests and Dens

When we bring up this topic, many people respond by saying that they will carefully look for nests and dens, and if they see one, they will hold off until the babies have grown and left the nest.

Yes, this will help, but sadly many nests, especially those of smaller birds like hummingbirds, are nearly impossible to spot.

This photo shows both the technician’s finger and the red arrow pointing to the hummingbird nest in the trimmed branch, but it’s still incredibly hard to see!

It is also very hard to spot baby jackrabbits in the grass, a screech owl nest in the cavity of a tree, or a skunk’s carefully chosen den. Not doing a project that destroys habitat is the best way to protect wildlife babies.

If you still have a yard project that must done, spend a few days beforehand carefully watching your yard for animal activity.

Check your home and outbuildings for potential dens and nests too.

If you see wildlife activity of any variety, call WildCare at 415-456-7283 and our team can help you determine what species is likely involved, and even potentially the duration of the delay needed to allow those babies to grow up.

YOU can make a difference for baby animals this spring! Questions? Call our Living with Wildlife Hotline at 415-456-7283.

Click to donate now to help WildCare be ready for this season’s flood of baby animals! Become a WildCare First Responder with a regular monthly donation, and have an even bigger impact. Even $5 a month can make all the difference!

Baby Opossums Sheltering in Place in Mom’s Marsupium

Virginia Opossums have an extreme version of sheltering in place! The baby opossums are born extremely small and undeveloped. A newborn baby opossum is only about the size of a jelly bean, with only partially-developed front limbs that allow her to climb from the birth canal to the mother opossum’s marsupium, her pouch. Once there, the baby and 12 siblings (opossums have 13 nipples) each latch themselves onto a nipple and settle in for 2 1/2 months of “sheltering in place.”

The mother opossum in the video below was attacked by a dog, and she arrived at the Wildlife Hospital with several severe puncture wounds and a pouch full of neonate babies. WildCare’s veterinarian performed emergency surgery to treat her injuries, and she has remained in care to recover while her little ones grow. Of course dog attacks are another avoidable injury to wildlife… please keep your dogs on leash and under your control to prevent them from chasing and potentially injuring wildlife.

In the video below, our Medical Staff is giving the baby opossums their first medical check-up. This is the first time we’ve seen these little ones, and clearly the mother opossum takes excellent care of them!


Watch the baby opossums in the video climbing on their mother’s head… and we thought homeschooling OUR kids was tough!

 

This entry was posted in Wildlife Patient Stories by Alison Hermance.

3 Responses to “Baby Wildlife Sheltering in Place Too”

  1. Katie

    Thanks for the important advice! Did the rest of the baby skunks get reunited with the mother?

    Reply
    • Alison Hermance

      Apparently there were only two babies. The homeowners say the mother skunk came back for one, but left this one. We don’t know why, as he’s very healthy!
      He’ll grow up in care with other skunk babies until he’s ready to be released.

      Reply
  2. Thomas Diehl

    Was most interested in the opossum story, once I found out they eat ticks. Since I’ve seen them on my wooded lot the last couple years, I haven’t had one tick on me or my family. Coincidence? I think not. Always go with natural predators over chemical insecticides.

    Reply

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