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! 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'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. 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 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 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,

or The Opossum Society of the United States, 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