Sunday, September 26, 2010

Squirrel rescue

The saying, "You learn something new every day" was certainly true today. We rescued an orphaned, newborn, baby squirrel. His nest had blown out of a tree and his mother didn't come back for him so we warmed him up and took him to the UI Wildlife Medical Clinic (WMC). The clinic said they will place him in an incubator, nurse him and then get him to a wildlife rehabilitation center. This is what I learned: If you find a baby squirrel fallen out of the tree or displaced because of tree cutting, put it in a box at the base of a tree where the mother has been seen and wait for the mother to come. (Mother squirrels keep at least two nests throughout the year. She will move the babies to the other nest). Keep people and animals away! If the baby is cold, put a hot water bottle or jar full of warm water in the box with it. If it is near night time, keep the baby inside until morning and then place the baby in the box with a hot water bottle or jar of warm water, if necessary, at the base of the tree again. You can leave the squirrel inthe box for up to 48 hours. If the mother does not return before the 48 hours, then you have an orphan. I must say that the operation at the UI is pretty impressive.
Their mission is threefold: to provide care and treatment to sick, injured, or orphaned wild animals to the point where they can be returned to the wild; to provide hands-on training to veterinary students; and through our public education program, to teach the members of our community about the environment in which they live and the wildlife they share it with. The Wildlife Medical Clinic accepts ill, injured, or orphaned wildlife (except for skunks and bats) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Upon presentation, the animals are triaged and then assigned to a team of 8-10 volunteers (generally veterinary students) who are responsible for treating the patient. The primary goal in treating wild animals is to help animals recover to a state in which they can be released into the wild. Wild animals must be 100% before being released into the wild in order for them to hunt or forage for food, as well as stay out of danger. Unfortunately, many of the animals we receive are so debilitated (in order for them to be caught in the first place), that they will never be released. A rabbit with a lame leg will quickly fall prey to another animal, and an owl that can't fly will slowly starve to death. If an animal is not able to be returned to the wild, the WMC elects to humanely euthanize the animal.. Occasionally permanent homes are found for the patients where they will be cared for and protected. The Wildlife Medical Clinic is a non-profit organization that depends solely on fund-raising, donations, and grants for its operating budget. If you would like to support the WMC's mission of conservation, public education, and veterinary teaching make a donation to the WMC. Donations can now be made online!
You might be asking, so what does rescuing a squirrel have to do with breast cancer? It reminded me of how fragile life can be. I've been contemplating how the destructive qualities of disease and death seem to come so easily. An automobile accident, a bout with cancer, or a thousand other everyday occurrences remind us of the delicate balance of life. We are constantly on the razor's edge: a single slip and we are severed from what we know in this world. So, live your life to the fullest. Stop giving excuses for not doing certain things that you really want to do. Also, if you feel like you’re wasting your time doing something, then make a change. If you think there’s something you really want to try, go for it. And if there’s someone that you really miss, give him/her a call. Don’t just sit there doing nothing and waste your life. Life is too short.

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