Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Three...three what...there is only one little turtle in this picture. Yeah but look closer...see something strange....YEAH...that's right, this little dude is missing his back right leg. Congenital, maybe but not likely. Probably got it bitten off from a bigger turtle, or perhaps a hawk. Good news, it's a back leg so he can just about function normally with just three. I had him for a few weeks, brought to me by someone who saw him crossing the road. Can you believe that someone in a car saw this cool little dude? Anyway, he was release right before the weather started to get cold so he could acclimate and hunker down for the winter. I observed him to check to make sure he was capable of taking care of himself. You should have seen how clever he was at "righting" himself if flipped on his back. That neck of his would turn that head upside down and he would flip himself back over. I sure hope that I see him again some day....nature is amazing in how they can adjust to a missing appendige. They do so much better than we humans. I can't even function if my finger hurts!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Everyone knows I LOVE ground hogs. I have had the opportunity to raise a few and have loved EVERY minute. Well, my mother always said...what what you ask for. A few months ago I saw one crossing the road about a mile from my house. I was delighted to know that some were living near me. Frequently on my drive to Blue Ridge I see them along the highway, having holes in the embankments among the kudzu - popping their heads out as if to wave to me as I pass by.
Well...last weekend, I started to clean out the dead squash and harvest my Indian corn on the lower of my two garden terraces. We built them on the frond of the house because the bank was too dangerous and steap for a mower. I planted it this year and the garden flourished with sunflowers, blooming bushes, squash, and lettace. While cleaning out the finished crop, I found three large holes under the support beams that hold up the first retaining wall. I am thinking to myself...wow...those are some big chipmunks. Maybe Gophers??? Can't be snakes...could be turtles. Then, this past weekend, I photographed this character.
OK...so I am slightly freaked after reading the fact that they can excavate close to 20 tons of dirt for their tunnels...which now happens to be under the front of my house and perhaps under the foundation. Sure he's getting ready to winter-over. I wonder if he plans on staying around for the spring?
This past weekend, I happened upon this HUGE lady when putting some old wood in the burn barrel. Yes, she startled me, and she was not prepared for me either as she took a defensive posture showing me how scary this dime sized symbol of darkeness can be.
I ran in to get my camera and shot this picture. I pondered what to do with her; keep her in a jar till she died and use her for education (nah - too cruel), leave her alone (nah one of the dogs would step on her), move her to another location (YEA.....take her into the woods to live her life and multiple)! OK...so I felt good about not killing her, and then ran into the house to read about what she meant to me and my life now. SO interesting...from the book of Animal Wise:
Legends of the spider links them to the past and the future, birth and creation. When the spider crawls into our awareness it is asking us to rebuild the web of our life in accordance with the design the Creator gave us. The spider shows us that the past, the present and the future are all interwoven. It awakens our intuitive creative senses and encourages us to design the fabric of our lives from our souls original intention. If you see a spider in its web, or creating a new one, pay attention. It symbolizes where you are in the weaving of your own destiny. A study of the medicine wheel and the four directions is helpful. (BTW, I found her less than 5 feet from my medicine wheel on my property). Because spiders are actually very delicate they embody the energy of gentleness. Spiders are not usually aggressive unless they are defending their lives. Moving forward in all situations with a gentle strength is a skill that often needs to be learned for those with this totem. In man, the bite of a poisonous spider symbolizes a death, rebirth process. Poison enters the nervous system and the body either transmutes it or falls victim to its venom and dies. The spider signifies the tapestry of life. The web we weave is the reality we experience. Choosing the appropriate path is one of the lessons associated with this medicine.
Anyway...this lady has another mission to accomplish other than helping me awaken to my own reality now.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
OK...this is the shirt that I designed and got screened for the Wildlife festival in Blue Ridge the weekend of Sept 19th-20th. Please come see us there: www.braea.org. Also, my good friend Lara will be there with her red tail hawk talking from 1-3 at our booth. The shirts will go do fund wildlife education and outreach in the Blue Ridge area.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
"Dear Diary, today I found a great spot to rest and relax and eat some yummy apples.....what a find. I will keep it to myself. I try really hard to come out when no one is looking but today it did not work. Some person came strolling by with two of those other funny looking four legged things and they stopped and stared. Don't they know how rude that is and how that hurts my feelings".
Yes, here is a deer that took a break one hot July afternoon to eat some apples from a neighbors tree right here in Berkeley Lake. She proceeded to go across the street and lay down in an abandoned house's green lot to take her afternoon nap. It's not unusual to see wildlife out during the day when the weather is hot. They are doing what they need to do to survive (get some form of food, hydration). Unfortunately she's also not so street smart and that is the demise for quite a few deer that dwell among us in suburbia. This one took of as soon as she had her fill. Funny thing was I walked by her with Dudley (my Great Pyr) and she did not even move...so she still knows how to "strike the pose"
I got a cooter in my car. WHAT I say to the caller? She says again, a giant cooter that was hit, I picked her up, she's in my car, are you the turtle vet? Hold on I say....you have a injured turtle? Yes...someone told me to bring it to you. Can I come now? Yes I say. Not knowing what the hell I was getting, this is what showed up....a slider! Look at this magnificant baby (well this is most likely a mid to elder, based on his size). He had a few scuff on the bottom, and was way ready to be released back to the wild. Since he was picked up on a very busy highway, I released him back to the creek which adjoins the lake near where I live. Happy again to be away from the concrete jungle
This is little Ester. Found in a swimming pool filter having held on for most of the night, she was found just in time and brought to me. SHe's recovering but not without some strange issues. Her biggest issue is related to the mysterous patches she's got on her tail, as well as the fact that she's not gaining weight. It's possible that she's got Metabolic Bone Disease as well...as she looks slightly deformed, but us able to walk and respond like a normal little Possie. I will give her a few more weeks of good food, rest and relaxation and then evaluate her for her ability to sustain herself in the wild. Cute little thing wet or dry (she prefers the dry side).
Did you know that opossums are excellent swimmers? They use those amazing tails like rudders too and those back legs are like little motors. Do they prefer to swim...hard to say. Rarely do any of us see them do it. I had an instance where my neighbor released one of my rehabbed possies on her aunts acres of land with a pond. That possum headed right to the water and swam across the pond and came out on a branch/downed tree. They said they all stood there without breating until she reached the other side only to sun herself on the log. So...we all know now, like to or not, in the event of an escape route, they will certainly take to the water if they have to.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Did you know......that baby opossums are called joey's?
And did you know that a mother can have up to 25 or more babies but only 13 will survive since she's only got 13 little facets at the watering hole? That's right. I guess that's natures way of keeping things in balance. Here is a pouch of exactly 13 babies that came in with their dead mother (car incident) a few nights ago. These are not extremely young babies (about 5 weeks), but they are still VERY small and need to be fed via a tube. Baby opossums don't suckle like other animals, the swallow the nipple and the mother decides when and how much milk to pump into their little bellies. Rehabbing very small possums can be VERY challenging. Simulating this feeding is one thing, but so is simulating the pouch and the balance of Oxygen and Carbon Minoxide and moisture. You see their environment is so damp and specialized, as is their breathing requirements, there is a point in time when babies which are too small don't have a good likelyhood to rehab without suffering at the hand of a well meaning rehabber. Meaning, the chance of aspiration and pneumonia with constant 2 hour feeding intervals is probable. When someone that does not know what they are doing tries, the outcome is ususally not good. This is why in most all cases I URGE the public to contact a licenced and skilled rehabber to handle these little Jack's and Jills.
These guys are going to the wildlife center....as I am traveling and have to find a baby sitter. We will see how they do the first few days...and if they are taking well to tube feeding without getting pneumonia...then we will keep things moving forward.
I love "possums"!!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
OK...look at this picture. Cute as can be...and so afraid (THANK GOD). Baby coyotes can be crazy wild, but this little one is so shell shocked, he's stayed still long enough for his picture to be taken. About 3-4 weeks old, we are not sure what really happened to his mother. The caller told me she called so many places, no one would take him. He's safe and sound and being rehabilitated. He will do fine...releasing him is another story. Frequently, like foxes, coyotes find themselves on the other side of most urban dwellers who come upon them visiting the trash cans or backyard gardens. Too often when the housecat goes missing, the coyote get's blamed. I tell people...if you are afraid that the cat will get eaten...keep it in! Wildlife was here first....they are only doing what they were born to do, survive. If you choose to set up a buffet for them and part of the main course includes your cat, it's your fault if it goes missing. OK...off my soap box. They are SOOOOOOO misunderstood and sadly trapped and killed because of fear. When you see a story on the news about a trapped coyote or fox RARELY does that animal live. It's not legal to re-release them (because of them being considered a nuance species and the fact that they are considered a RVS). Oh BTW, relocating ANY animal to another habitat is not doing the animal any favor. Nature has something called a carrying capacity. The last statistics I read said that any relocated animal has less than a 20% chance of survival in another habitat. Trapping does not solve anything..it just gives the present animals space to fill in the void with a larger amont of pups next year. That's how nature works. Any trapper that tells you he's going to trap and release a coyote, fox, or any other RVS is lying to you. It's illegal for them to do that. By laws of most states, they have to euthanize them. I don't mean they are going to get humanely put to sleep with sedation and then a lethal injection either. NO...if you really want to know how they do it, contact me. I will spare the rest of you. This is the harsh reality to trapping and the challenges our poor wild animals face every day as their habitat quickly disappears and they have no choice but to move into more people filled areas. The other day one of my neighbors asked me "what are we going to do about the deer problem in the neighborhood". I asked here...what problem. She replied...well they are eating the neighbors roses. I almost blew a fuse!!!!!
Anyway...I can only hope this little fellow grows and finds a way to stay clear of the city. Although country living is no better because people in the woods shoot whatever they want and rarely get caught. It's a sad world we live in some times.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
All is good here in possumville!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Happy St Patties Everyone....
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I don't understand the reasoning, especially when hours, and days and months have gone in to one animal in hopes of release back to the wild only to one day find it dead in the bottom of it's enclosure.
This morning, I sit and reflect on the loss of my recent adult possum, who for some unknown reason died in her sleep yesterday morning. I walked through all the steps in her care in my head and on paper. There was no logical reason. Of course I could have done a necropsy to understand more, but with some, it's one of those things that you have to have time for, and the head about to do it.
People say to me...it's just a possum...why would you waste that much time, energy and emotion helping "that animal" when there are a million more out there.
My answer, "because you won't do it. That's why I do it. Because it has a place in the circle of life, and deserves a chance. Because...it's the right thing to do....and of course, because I LOVE Opposums and all wild creatures."
I have seen too many animals pass in this life time. But I have to remember something a friend of mine told me when I had to make the heartbreaking decision to help my one dogs Meme move on to a happier place. To animals, this transition, this moving to the next best place, is no big deal.
A healthy fear of death would be the fear of dying unprepared, as this is a fear we can do something about right? We are encouraged to prepare for a peaceful and successful death and are also inspired to make the most of our very precious human life instead of wasting it right? On the other hand, if we base our life on a realistic awareness of our mortality, we shall regard our spiritual development as far more important than the attainments of this world, and we shall view our time in this world principally as an opportunity to cultivate positive minds such as patience, love, compassion, and wisdom - right?
So my experience today, and with every other death, has taught me about how to LIVE my life. With every passing of every little furry one, I understand better...how to be today, and not so much worry about tomorrow.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Don't you love the flintstones...they has a pet Taradactal - remember? Here is one of my favorite Birds of Prey...the Vulture. Yes they are a protected bird by Federal Laws, they fall under the Bird of Prey Migratory Bird act. They are the perfect example of a bird form that still looks like it never evolved from thousands of years ago until today. Yes even with that crazy looking exterior which looks scary to some, they are a protected bird. You can't do anything harmful to these "day time street sweepers". But then why would you? Well some people in my "hood" don't like them. Yes another opportunity for me to "educate" someone on where they fit in the food chain and why they are so necessary for road "clean up"; keeping disease down, and well worth having as part of our "circle of animals" that keep this eco system balanced. Besides, they are a super cool looking bird, and funny to boot. Here is one eating a squirrel for breakfast. By the way...it was already dead!
Did you know:
- That vultures are found on every continent except in Antarctia.
- Research shows that the bare skin on their head may play an important role in thermoregulation (a term you hear more often when referring to reptiles)
- A group of vultures is occasionally called a venue, and when circling in the air a group of vultures is called a kettle (take that to your next cocktail party!)
- Several species including the culture has a good sense of smell, unusual for most other raptors and are able to smell the dead they focus upon from great heights (see this big girl knew what she was doing!)
- Vultures seldom attack healthy animals, but may kill the wounded or sick - another reason they are important to our ecosystem. Did you know that vultures have been seen in famous paintings around battlefields throught history.
- They gorge themselves when prey is abundant, till their crop bulges, and sit, sleepy or half torpid, to digest their food (what a life). They also don't bring food in their mouth or talons to babies, they disgorge it from the crop to feed their young
- They can eat things which most animals might die from. For example, the Botulinum toxin, that which causes botulism does not effect them. Actually they can eat rotten flesh containing anthrax and cholera baterias. And the vulture is not only a winged cleaning agent, they are smart. When food is presented that is too thick for its beak to open, it waits for a larger scavenger to eat first.
- Still this is not to say that many of our environmental substances and pollution have not made it's impact on our wildlife. They are still exposed to toxins which can kill them from the land, air and water. FOr example, because of all the poisons and toxins used in processing and manufacturing plants in India and South Asia, some species are almost extinct. Here is a interesting fact on how the circle of life works....because of the decline in vultures in these regions, both areas have been challenged with hygiene problems. In India as carcasses of dead animals now tend to rot, or be eaten by rats and wild dogs rather than be tidied up by vultures. Rabies among these other scavengers is a major health threat. India has one of the world's highest incidences of rabies.
Take the time to learn more about these wonderful animals, and celebrate their presence - appreciate their service to us and the environment. Do your part...keep the earth clean for everyone. Learn from the vultures.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Meet Ms Piggy: A baby groundhog I had in rehab in 2008. Cutest little thing I have EVERY seen or worked with. She was found rolling on the highway and picked up before she got hit by a kind woman. The woman took her to Petsmart, and they called me! So lucky for me!
OK...so this is a story from last year...but I could not resist considering the fact the Monday, Feb 2nd is......ta da...Ground Hog Day! That's right...it's that time of year when Punxsutawney Phil (yes that is right you Atlantians, General Lee is a FAKE), comes out to forecast the upcoming weather like the tradition has held for 120 years. Yes, Phil WAS the first and ONLY real hogs in the US! All others are FAKES. So take that! I just wonder if Phil (who I think is really Philameana) comes out of Gobbler's Knob at 7:45 am to profess his love of his shadow. The celebration of Groundhog Day began with Pennsylvania's earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states, "For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May..."
Facts about the hogs:
The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds. Punxsutawney Phil weighs about 20 pounds and is 22 inches long.
- Groundhogs are covered with coarse grayish hairs (fur) tipped with brown or sometimes dull red. They have short ears, a short tail, short legs, and are surprisingly quick.
- The hog's jaws are exceptionally strong....well he needs it to chew all his greens. YES folks that is right, the groundhog's is a vegan! His diet consists of lots of greens, fruits, and vegetables and very little water. Most of their liquids come from dewy leaves.
- A groundhog can whistle when it is alarmed. Groundhogs also whistle in the spring when they begin courting. Yes the girls do whistle at the boys too!
- Insects do not bother groundhogs and germs pretty much leave them alone. They are resistant to the plagues that periodically wipe out large numbers of wild animals. One reason for this is their cleanliness.
Groundhogs are one of the few animals that really hibernate. Hibernation is not just a deep sleep. It is actually a deep coma, where the body temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing, the heart barely beats, the blood scarcely flows, and breathing nearly stops.
- Young Groundhogs are usually born in mid-April or May, and by July they are able to go out on their own. The size of the litter is 4 to 9. A baby groundhog is called a kit or a cub.
- A groundhog's life span is normally 6 to 8 years. Phil receives a drink of a magical punch every summer during the annual Groundhog Picnic, which gives him 7 more year
Groundhog are one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES to rehab. Well...how can you resist those CUTE little faces and those fat bodies!