Our mild winter seems to have sped up our baby season. We accepted our first young patients all this week including bunnies, squirrels, and opossums! I am sure the raccoons, groundhogs and skunks are not too far behind.
Spring is a season of new life and growth. Many of us will venture out of doors, much like the animals coming out of hibernation. The longer days will inspire us to head to our yards and gardens to do some spring cleaning. This is where most of our young patients come from.
The neglected piles of leaves (in my yard, some are from October) will be raked, twigs and branches will be collected, and the tall tufts of grass and mums planted in the fall will finally be trimmed back. Some may even feel inspired to trim limbs of trees and prune back dead growth. Be aware that these little areas of neglect have become perfect microhabitats for wildlife.
Those piles that we can’t stand to look at any longer may offer a furry surprise. I have found several nests of bunnies under my azaleas over the years. The leaves that get caught under the bush provide perfect insulation for the litters. Mother rabbit just adds a bit off fur, and voila, NEST! Those leafy nests wound between the branches of tall trees are homes for families of squirrels. Each nest could have an average of five squirrels taking shelter, and this time of year could house many more with babies on the way. Opossums just love those discarded piles of twigs and brush. These slow moving harmless animals need an easy escape from predators, and hiding under a confusing pile of sticks is perfect for them.
Soon we will be receiving groundhogs skunks and raccoons. These type of animals are usually orphaned due to human interactions as well. Most people would prefer not to have a groundhog or skunk living under their deck, but before you know it, mama is trapped and relocated with babies left behind. Too often we raise young patients for these types of interactions.
Please know that wildlife has appreciated our lack of presence in the out of doors this winter. They have taken shelter and are now bearing young. When spring cleaning, be aware that you may find some babies out there. The best thing to do is leave the babies where you found them. The mothers will relocate their young if they feel they are in an unsafe environment. Our presence will make them uneasy and they will move their young on their own.
So if you find what you think may be an orphaned animal as you are battling with Spring Fever, please visit our link Young Animals. We have helpful information on what to do if you are ever in this type of situation. There is no substitute for a wild mother, but we are here to help if the animal is truly injured or orphaned. Please do everything that you can to ensure the young animal is reunited with its mother. For any general questions or concerns regarding wildlife feel free to call us at (856) 983-3329. Just know that we are Springing Ahead this season as baby season has sprung!