Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Three's a charm

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

Hog in the garden

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?

Beware the black widow spider!

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

Possum Posse shirts available NOW

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

Birds and the bees

This one is purly for pleasure. These are my sun flowers I grew at my house in the mountains. I could not believe how big they were this weekend. Time to harvest them for the birds for winter.

Deer Diary...

"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"

Good citizen to the rescue

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

Ester Williams hangs on

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

Lucky 13

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

Looking for My Soul Mate...he's has feathers and goes beep beep....

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

This is why they call them.....wild

Here is Balou...the centers Bobcat. She was kept by some good meaning public. Now she has to live her life in a cage (sad really). Here we are hamming it up for the visitors.....nothing like a 20lb cat on your head chuffing and purring and then doing the stinky face (formally called Flehmen). The flehmen response (from German flehmen, meaning to curl the upper lip), is a particular type of curling of the upper lip which in essence facilitates the transfer of pheromones and other scents into the vomeronasal organ, also called the Jacobson's Organ.In the flehmen response, animals draw back their lips in a manner that makes them appear to be "grimacing". The action, which is adopted when examining scents left by other animals either of the same species or of prey, helps expose the vomeronasal organ and draws scent molecules back toward it. This behavior allows animals to detect scents, for example from urine, of other members of their species or clues to the presence of prey. I wonder if I smell good or bad to her?

How cute is this?

Baby fox, in a drain for days. Rescued mothers day.....what a gift

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Well...anyone that knows me knows how CRAZY I am about groundhogs. When I got the call on Saturday about three that were trapped...I jumped at the change to get them. I just regret that I had to hand them over to the center. They are truely a delight to work with. If some day in the future I could create a release site on my property for these dudes I would. Tell me they are not the cutest little things you ever saw!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Not for the weak in stomach

OK...you are going to have to bear with me here...but there is a lesson in all of this and it's about what we wildlife rehabbers have to endure. This is going to be a story about how we have to handle situations with people not just animals.

The other day I got a call from the center director asking me if I could take some possums. I told him to tell the guy to call me.

Many of us do what we do for the love of animals. Many of us prefer to be with animals over people. For me, after working in the corporate jungle all day long, coming home to wildlife gives me the opportunity to "get away" from the "tit for tat" and back stabbing of my own species.

I love nothing better than to sign off my PC (if I am working virtually) or to come home and listen for the silence, attending just to my animals. No TV, no radio, no talking.

Babies especially make me smile. Their little grunts, spitting, squeaking, and noises that have no definition remind me about how precious life is.

BUT....................my little evening utopia gets all out of sorts when the phone rings and on the other line is a caller "freaking out". In this instances, it was a very confused man, about to bury a animal hit by a car ; (because his wife was screaming at him to dispose of it), only to realize it has babies underneath that he thinks are still alive.

OK....I have to breath deep, and take some serious patience pills and well.....a stiff drink before they arrive (just kidding of course). The caller proceeds to tell me that it's a dead mother with a filled pouch. The center told him to take the babies out and bring the babies to me. The proposition of this man touching these animals were out of the question. It is not unusual to have many brave wildlife lovers remove babies from a mother pouch and bring them to us in all stages. I asked him if they were pink or had hair. He said they were furry (thank goodness). The conversation progressed and the man got more and more hysterical as I gave him direction to my home. He could not bear to pull them out of her, so like most people, I ask them to put the dead mother in the box covered in a towel and to come right to me. He did...but................... it was 39 frigging degrees and he insisted on bringing in back of his open bed truck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I told him before he left the house to have the box in the cab with him in the truck with the heat going.

He was too afraid that this dead mother (who was dead now for 24 hours) and her babies would ATTACK HIS NECK! (No joke here). Now I have heard it all. He arrived and all of them were STONE COLD. I maintained my composure although I wanted to attack him neck now - or more likely his throat!
I don't know why he flipped the mother over so all the babies were exposed for the 20 minute car ride in freezing air flow but I was literally sick when I saw them with sadness. They were all white like little ghosts. None of them had good vitals, and I could not find any movement. Most of what I saw was the lifeless bodies looking like little frozen statues. This was not about playing possum...these little ones were minutes for being gone.

I finally said to him...they are so cold...I don't know if any of them are alive, I knew I had seconds to decide, are they dead or should I try to revive them. Now he's freaking out...pacing, saying,......oh my...oh my.....oh my.....until I finally said....PLEASE BE QUIET while I assess their potential to survive.

Now...usually, the first thing I do is get them to fill out surrender paperwork and send them on their way, but I had seconds to act and to try to resuscitate the few that were hidden under the mother. I told him he would have to be quiet for 10 minutes and just hang out with me for a few minutes, while I pulled them off the mother.

Immediately, my basement turned into a trauma unit, as I started a warm water bath in the sink, had the space heater blowing warm air, juggled them between the flannel bags and a heating pad, all the time rubbing them between my hands and trading off between the 8 that looked the least dead not the most alive. . I proceeded to breathing into their little faces, alternated moving them in a rolling motion between my palms to get circulation back into their lifeless bodies and sitting them on a heating, back in the bath, etc.

Finally, after 15 minutes of working on them, this guys starting to tear up realizing he probably killed the lot of them. I was able to sent him on his way and told him to let himself out. I was not trying to make him feel bad, but my priority were the animals at that point.

For the next two hours, I was able to revive 6 of them. After they started to respond and get come color back from their ghostly whiteness, I started to warm them from the inside with warm fluids through a feeding tube (possums don't suckle, they swallow the nipple so I put the tube into right below their rubs and put 2 cc into each of them), until I was able to finally upgrade their fluids to pedialyte.

It was a long night. I did not expect any of them to be alive in the morning.

Out of the lot, 6 made it and are doing great. We have a little bit of pneumonia, but nothing too bad so far. Here is the crazy part, 4 of the 6 are the meanest little buggers I have ever had in rehab. I wonder if this is what happens in cryogenics (spelling?)...freeze someone and thaw them out, second time around they are meaner than a snake?

All around 5 weeks old, feisty and cute as can be. Big ears, little bodies and black fur. Apparently they all have a strong will to live - good thing because they needed it!

As far as the guy...well I owe him a call back on the status of the animals. I know he's probably feeling pretty bad by now, but maybe I will let him stew for another few days (ops...did I really say that!).

All is good here in possumville!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cedar Wax -what?

Ok...I don't do birds. I mean, I am not licenced to do them...plus I don' t have time. But when one of my neighbors calls me and asks me to help...well I can't resist. Besides I have been officially dubbed as the wildlife consultant for my city...so I have to respond. They said: "we have this georgous little bird that flew right into Jacks hand". Come to find out, it's a first year Cedar Waxwing, most likely intoxicated because it gourged itself on too many fermented berries during migration. Now, that's not to say that getting over toxic levels is not any better than head injury from a window impact. It's just very different to deal with. He's still a little wobbly, like drink a whole bottle of wine on his own...but more than a nasty hangover for the weekend, this is alcohol intoxication at it's best.

This little dude has been eating from the Nicholas fresh fruit bar now, and is being hand fed because he just can't seem to concentrate on what's on the cage floor...plus like any good patient, isn't it easier to be spoon fed when in intensive care? ON the menu today, blue berries, black berries, apples, raisins, cherries, apple and grape juice, and of course mealworms. I am hoping in the next few days he's going to be willing and able to fly...since there are still some of his kind hanging around, I would like for him to have some peeps to fly away with this spring.

About Cedar Waxwings: One of the most frugivorous birds in North America, also because of it's nomadic habits to its late breeding season, many believe it can be traced to its dependence upon fruit. The name "waxwing" comes from the waxy red appendages found in variable numbers on the tips of the secondaries of some birds. The exact function of these tips is not known, but they may serve a signaling function in mate selection. Cedar Waxwings with orange instead of yellow tail tips began appearing in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada beginning in the 1960s. The orange color is the result of a red pigment picked up from the berries of an introduced species of honeysuckle. If a waxwing eats the berries while it is growing a tail feather, the tip of the feather will be orange. Breeds in open woodland, old fields with shrubs and small trees, riparian areas, farms, and suburban gardens. Breeds from British Columbia across Canada, southward to northern California, northern Arkansas, and northern Georgia. listen to songs of this species

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Eye spy with my irish eye

The top of the morning to you.....and to this little adorable bun. Isn't this the cutest little thing. Yes wildlife is coming in now that spring has sprung. I find myself constantly looking on the ground to spot some good nutritious food for the baby bunnies (dandelion, clover, wild carrots). It's like a sickness, when I am walking the dogs, my eye goes directly to the items on the ground and I look at them for their nutritional value. You know it's time to take a vacation! I did see somewhere on TV this weekend that if you are ever in trouble, and looking for something to eat in the wild, cat tail root is edible.

Happy St Patties Everyone....

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Flying Squirrel not a bat

Bats in trouble

This week I got a call from my old pet sitter telling me that she heard I was picking up a little bat from her neighbor. I found out later it was a flying squirrel; (how someone could think that a squirrel is a bat I don't know...but hell...I have heard of people thinking that lizards are snakes and possums are cats).
Anyway, I have only triaged a few baby bats in my life. Interesting little characters. Picture above. I am not licenced to do RVS (Rabies Vector Species) although I have had all my shots so I can work with them (racoons, skunks, foxes, bats,etc) at the wildlife center.
More recently I had a wild visitor show up one night at my cabin in the mountains the night before my Medicine Wheel ceremony (Winter Solstice). Of course Native American peoples believe, as do I, that when an animal shows up in your life, it's an indication of something important. Boy was this one right! Some people refer to creatures that appear like this as "power animals", or "animal totems", or just simply "guides". In this case, and considering the circumstances on how the little dude introduced himself to me; (obviously his echolocation* talents were on the blink because he flew into a window INSIDE my house right at my face). But was that really the message for me...hitting my head against the window, etc. READ ON..................Yes even brave me was startled at first, and worried about how the heck I was going to get him out of the house safely (for everyones sake).

I did find out for me that the interaction with my little bat meant more than I could have imagined. Bats holds the power of adaptability. Everything about them, senses, feeding, flight, mating and size is suited to their particular environment. They say when bat appears in your life its message may be to examine your surroundings to discern what bounty is being offered to you, and then alter your patterns so you can receive it. Humm....interesting. Bounty, offerings, ok....I am thinking now.
Then it goes on to say....an out of balance bat will get scrambled and confused and will fly into things. AH ha...there we go. That was my little dude. It asks then, am I crashing into barriers as you try to get what you need and want in life? OMG....YES! Then it says: if so, bat may be trying to tell you to take a moment to get your bearings and determine the relative importance of what you are seeking. OK..I get it. New path, changes with my journey. I am listening and taking note. Then the next part is really cool: When bat flies into your life transformation of the ego self is about to occur. The old familiar patterns and ideas that have been your truth are about to change. That which once worked for you may no longer. The process of transformation represents a death and a rebirth. Bat offers you the wisdom necessary to make the appropriate changes for the birthing of your new identity. Because the bat is a sociable animal it can indicate a need for more sociability or increased opportunity with greater numbers of people. It has great auditory perception and can navigate through the dark easily. Their built in sonar enables them to know what lies beneath the surface. Those with this medicine have uncanny abilities to discern hidden messages both from people and the environment.When bat appears it is asking you to surrender yourself to the process of change. Opportunities unknown to the conscious mind are about to manifest.
Yeah ha.....is that little bad boy right!

About Bats: There are different species of bats, which have widely divergent characteristics. Some are small and others are large. With one or two exceptions, the large bats live on fruits and find their way visually. The small bats feed mostly on insects, catching them on the wing by a process known as echolocation. Studies on bats found that when they are placed in a refrigerator, they will go into an instant state of hibernation and come out unharmed when they are warmed, which is unique for a warm blooded mammal. This indicates that the life force of the bat is strong and is able to regenerate and replenish it when needed

*Echolocation is a process by which an animal produces sounds and listens for the echoes reflected from surfaces and objects in the environment. It is used in bats to navigate.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The signs of spring

Often, we celebrate the beginning of spring when we see the first crocus popping their little purple heads out of the crusty frozen ground. Even in February in the south, there are flowers bloomin; (the forsythia, wild quince, a variety of native shrubs, and the daffodils coloring the landscape with dabbles of yellows waving at us like the are some locals watching the train as it passes with new visitors comin into Dodge . But how could it be, the mark of spring comes from the falling of a bunch of old leaves from 20 feet up in a tree, and seconds later, flailing little pink bodies fall hard onto the mulch with a thump. YES...baby squirrel season is here.....and they are literally falling out of the trees, not because they are ready, but because of the wild weather...winds that cause nests to lose their hold, or an overly busy mama fluffing up the leaf sheets, or even upheaval from a mob of crows looking for an afternoon snack.
God help us...it's going to be a LONG year.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kiss a squirrel today!

Valentines Day - ahhhh, time to spread around all that love and such. What better reason do you need to say "thank you" to all those dedicated souls that take care of all the animals in need. So spread some love around today, tell someone that you love them, show them that you care, and if you happen to know a rescuer, tell them today that you appreciate them, give them a hug, and say, it's just "because."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"The Reminder": The Lesson of Passage

One of the things I have learned with wildlife rehab is about grieving, second guessing and following your instincts as well as your protocal. There are just times when you have gone by the book, and the animal in your care naturally passes OR you have to help with that process because of the lacking of QoL and overall suffering experienced. This is the part I am most challenged, but many respects, there are huge lessons here for me, and I suspect for most of us.

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.

I realize that grieving comes in different forms. I found myself unable to sleep last night, going over and over in my head and in my dreams what I could have done differently. I wonder if it was just her time, and the dog that caught her did so because she was slowing down anyway.

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.

I realize now that we humans make it a big deal because we don't know where we go from here...sure if we are religious, or believe in the pearly gates and a place called Heaven, we hope we have been "good enuf" to get a free pass there, for the fear of the "other" fire and brimstone.

I read somewhere that; "right now we cannot do anything about dying, so there is no point fearing death itself". Humm...interesting thought!
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?

Well I realized today, this is why animals find this passing no big deal. It's because they have lived ALL of their lives authentically, just as they were supposed to. They don't have to worry about when it's their time or are fearful about passing away with regret, or a mind empowered by the virtuous karma they created.

They are pure in the sense of themselves, just as it should be!!!

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.

Thank you Ms. P for that reminder in life and in your death.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Honor a Vulture today!

What's cookin Wilma? Bronasaurus soup Fred your favorite!

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

Happy Groundhog Day - Feb 2, 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!

Only the most sophisticated possies wear a sock

When is it ok to wear a sock???

Poor girl, and she's so humbled by her colorless, thoughtless outfit. If only one of those knitters would consider making her a "real sock". Here is winters first injured adult "O". Dog caught, with bite wounds on both sides, she was progressing fine until one of her bits got infected and needed a few stitches (no not the knit one and pearl two....) the real kind. In order to keep her from worrying it, the vet put her in a body sock. She's been so cooperative and such a good girl. We clean out the wound and pull her sweater back down over the injury for protection. She's getting a special dinner tonight, gizzards and heart. She deserves it on a silver platter considering what she's gone through. I suspect I will have her here until the end of February. She needs a little fattening up...but then again, who could wear a sock like this and look good? She told me to wait until the spring colors have come out. She'll show up all the girls in the hood with her new hip-hop outfit...it will be mostly black and gray, but hey, all her friends think her style is "sick"!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Babies Babies everywhere

OK, how can you resist these wonderful little furry ones!

What in the world is going on?

Hi everyone....
welcome to my
wildlife blog.
You will see some interesting things here...and I encourage you to share ideas and ask questions. My focus in this blog is to offer the outside world an opportunity to see what I am up to related to my wildlife rehab. It's about "Who showed up", who might be in treatment, and who is ready to be release back to the wild...and the circumstances of each of them.

Today, starts the beginning of my wildlife adventures for 2009. Right now, I have one adult "O" in rehab, who was dog caught. We did not hold much hope for her to make it thru the night...but she's surprised us all. She's an amazing trooper, and with some antibiotics, some rest, good food and a little steroid treatments, she's on the road to recover and hopefully release some time in February. For those of you who don't like "Possums" (ie Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), let me tell you a few reasons on why you need to change your mind;
As a quiet and solitary nocturnal animal (yes they are not a mammal but related to Kangaroos because they are a marsupial), they are about the size of a domestic cat, relatively harmless, fastidious, and prefers to avoid humans. Best of all, they are one of our most economical welcomed environmental ecobalancers. I call them the "twilight janitors", as they keep our neighborhoods clean of rotting debrise, natural waste like road kill (which too often they becoming themselves because they are so slow moving).
Overall, they are considered omnivors and eat a wide range of plants and animals such as fruits, insects, and other small animals. In rehab we need to be careful not to feed them too many sweets (fruits) and not to offer too much protein (domestic animal foods) because they easily develope something called MDB (Metabolic Bone Disease).
Did you know that the "possum" can eat a poisonous snake and not perish? Did you also know they have a great immune system. Frequently you might see them eating along side of their outdoor cats; (note to all of you out there...DON'T create a fall sense of security for wildlife by feeding them -it's not fair to them in the long run...you are not doing them justice overall or feeding them most likely the foods they need to sustain a healthy life style).
They also are NOT a Rabies Vector, so there is no need to fear them. They are definsive not aggressive, and most of the time pass under our porches, and live among us without us even knowing. Their name comes from an Algonquian word 'wapathemwa' meaning "white animal".
Also familiar to most is the term "playing possum", which is used to describe an attempt to pretend to be dead or injured with intent to deceive others for protection. It should not be taken as an indication of docility, for under serious threat, a opossum can respond with hissing, screeching, and showing its 52 spiked sharp teeth. Opossums, like most marsupials, have unusually short life spans for their size and metabolic rate.
The Virginia Opossum (which is what we have here in Georgia) has a maximal life span in the wild sadly of only about two years. To learn more about these WONDERFUL little dudes, you can reference organizations like the National Opossum Society, http://www.opossum.org/

or The Opossum Society of the United States, http://www.opossumsocietyus.org/ or learn from a rehabber or wildlife educator on these little dudes in person.
If you find an injured opossum or perhapes a baby that has fallen off his mother, please don't try to take care of them without guidance or help. Not only could you harm or kill it, it's against the law. Contact your local natural resources department in your state, or google search for a wildlife rehabber near you. If you are in Georgia, contact the DNR for a rehabber hear you or call the AWARE center and they will help you determine what you need to do next. 678-418-1111