WildLife-Line: A View from the Outside By: Darlene Garrison
As a new Volunteer with The Wildlife Line I keep learning new things about the animals we bring in. I started last summer when we had 14 little fawns. They were so cute drinking from baby bottles arranged in a holder on the fence so they would not get accustomed to being hand fed. See these babies are not staying with us, they are going to grow up and be released back out into the forest where they belong. We are just here to help out for a while.
Which brings me to this year. We just got our first raccoon of the season in and boy is he cute. I could not wait to see his tail because I wondered if it was just as fat and fuzzy as the adults are. Well I heard him coming long before I saw him. A screaming baby crying out like I have not heard, well, come to think of it, I believe I have heard this cry in the dark before but it scared the daylights out of me. All that noise coming from this little tiny raccoon. Oh my goodness. But once our handler, Deb, picked him up and started to scratch him, the little guy purred louder than any cat I have ever heard. Who knew that a raccoon could purr? I mean I thought cats were the only animals that purred. He was immediately content while she held him and prepared to feed him. Then he laid out and enjoyed his formula. I just wanted to reach out and pet him (hardest part of this job, not reaching out and loving on the wild animals), and feeding him looks like such fun. But then think of all that noise, at all those hours of the night, do I really want to be loving on a raccoon at 2am then feeding him. I know he’ll go back to sleep but will I? That’s the exhausting part of being an animal rehabilitator. I am a part time volunteer so I come in, help out and go home. But just think about Debbie who is here 24 – 7 caring for these little fellows. That’s not easy.
The next day I heard we got a 2nd raccoon. Apparently a litter mate of the first one. Raccoons can have 1 – 7 offspring called kits. So chances are if you find one wandering in your area you should keep a look out as there will probably be another. If you do find one be sure to use a towel, wear gloves or gently lift it with a shovel. Never use bear hands as there could be a risk of rabies. This one came to her infested with ticks so it needed a good clean-up. And of course dehydrated, so a feeding. But Deb posted a video on Wildlife-Line’s FB page that must make part of this so worthwhile. The video shows the new kit reconnecting with her brother and it is nothing but pure love and happiness. You want to hear a raccoon purr? Check it out, they are loving on one another and so happy to see each other. It takes 7 – 16 weeks for a kit to be weaned from their mother, now Debbie at Wildlife-Line, that’s a lot of sleepless nights and it is only just the beginning of the season. You really need to love what you do to be in this business and thank goodness we have people willing to do it.