Alexis Davidson, Class of 2023
Back in August, a juvenile female eastern gray squirrel presented to the Wildlife Medical Clinic after being picked up by a dog. It was suspected that she had fallen from her nest and that her canine companion found her opportunistically. During the initial intake, we noted bloody nasal discharge and fleas, with all other examination finding being normal. We knew she had been only recently injured as she had an appropriate body condition, no dehydration, and was bright and alert during the exam. Her treatments began with us clearing her nasal passages, administering supportive fluids, treating her for fleas, and beginning a course of anti-inflammatory medication to address the injuries she sustained from both the suspected fall and her mostly well-meaning canine finder. Our plan was to provide for her basic needs, including food, water, and shelter, continue her medication, and perform another exam in a few days to ensure we accounted for any developing (but not yet apparent) concerns.
This past week our beloved ambassador, Delphine, was humanely euthanized due to her declining health. Our Wildlife Medical Clinic community is deeply saddened with the loss and we appreciate all of the kind words and support during this difficult time. Delphine was beloved by her caretakers, volunteers, community members, and social media followers. Delphine lived a wonderful life at WMC, where she enjoyed delicious food, comfy beds, lots of interactive enrichment, and endless love and attention from her caretakers over her three and a half years with us. Although Delphine’s life has come to an end, her legacy and impact on wildlife education will carry on.
Del was brought into WMC in 2017 after being found orphaned and subsequently hand-reared by a well-meaning member of the public. Due to her habituation to humans, she was deemed non-releasable. Luckily, Delphine’s friendly demeanor made her a perfect candidate to join the ambassador animals at WMC, representing our only mammal in the collection during her tenure. The name Delphine was inspired after the scientific name for opossum, Didelphis virginiana. Delphine, or “Del” served as an ambassador for her species, the only native North American marsupial. Although well intentioned, Del was an example of why orphaned wildlife should only be cared for by licensed wildlife rehabilitators, where they have the best chance of being released back into the wild. Continue reading
While we tend to stay home and avoid the cold, wildlife have developed their own ways to spend the winter. Many birds migrate, traveling to warmer areas with plentiful food and shelter. Some wildlife may find a safe place to enter a sleep like state that helps them conserve energy during a time when food is scarce. This process can be torpor, true hibernation, or brumation, with each process characterized by differing levels of activity and lowered metabolism. Mammals, reptiles, and even birds can change their metabolism and activity as a strategy against the cold. In other cases, animals must eat what’s available in the given season. For example, even though lush prairies aren’t available in the winter, deer can still munch on twigs and grasses. Now that you’re familiar with these three ways animals cope with the cold, unscramble the names of animals that utilize each strategy! Continue reading