baby season in full swing, Wildlife Images’ Clinic is FULL! We recently admitted our 300th patient! Many of these wild animals are babies who were orphaned. We have rodent babies, baby skunks, baby raccoons, and baby birds – so… many… baby birds! Some of the bird species have to be fed every 15 minutes. It’s a lot of work and keeps our staff very busy. We do get some help from a couple of hard workers! Several species will accept babies who are not their own. A few will even accept babies who aren’t the same species! This is a life saver, literally! Not only do these Mega Moms provide food and comfort for the babies but they also teach them things that we cannot.
With so many babies around our staff is also very careful to avoid imprinting. When adult or even adolescent patients come in they are already scared and skittish around humans but babies don’t know that we aren’t their parents. Can you imagine how confusing that is? Our staff works quickly whenever handling the babies, there is no cuddling and we avoid talking whenever possible. We also wear camouflage masks when working with some species to ensure theydo not associate humans with food.
When appropriate we pair babies up with foster moms and dads. Sometimes this means a resident Animal Ambassador will step into the role. Petri, the barn owl, has fostered dozens and dozens of other baby owls. Onyx, the raven, is preparing to teach other baby ravens his ways before the patients are released into the wild.
We have rat moms who will raise multiple species including mice, voles, moles, and gophers. One mom is raising 4 babies from one family, 7 from another family and her own babies! Can you imagine more than a dozen kids yelling “mom” constantly?
Other times, babies get adopted by wild families. A good example of this is with geese. A mother goose will often accept additional goslings as long as they are about the same age as her own. We have plenty of little Canada geese looking for a new mom!