This is an Eastern Screech Owl that recently came in with a bacterial infection. As is often the case with wildlife, he was also malnourished and dehydrated due to the infection making him weak and unable to hunt. He has been responding well to antibiotics however, and should be ready to be released soon. Eastern Screech Owls are interesting in part due to their color. As you can see in this photo, one variety is a tawny brownish-red, however they can also be a mottled grey and white color. Both genders can be both colors, and although they are very distinct, both colors are excellent at camouflaging against tree bark.
It’s almost Spring again, and just like last year we’re starting our wildlife rehabilitation class! It begins Monday, April 6th, and runs once a week for 10 straight Mondays, ending Monday June 8th. The class costs 300 dollars total, lasts from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, and will be taught by our veterinary team led by Dr. Mertz. During this course you will be taught the basics of wildlife rehabilitation, including both information and hands-on techniques. To get more information, to sign up for the course, or to get on the wait-list if we fill up, you can call us at (781) 682-4878. We are open from 10 AM to 4 PM 7 days a week.
Today I would like to say a huge thank you to the students of Frederick C. Murphy Elementary and Weymouth High School. Both schools held fundraisers that raised a ton of money for us at NEWC, and we are incredibly grateful! It’s because of awesome people like you that we are able to keep treating injured and orphaned wild animals I wanted to include this photo of intern Emma Weitzhandler feeding a baby squirrel in our Quiet Baby ward, to show one example of the work that you’re helping us do. At the end of a harsh winter and the beginning of baby season, your gift is going to be amazingly helpful. Thank you so much for your generosity!
Here at NEWC, we can always tell that Spring is on its way when we get our first baby squirrels, and this year’s baby squirrel day is today! These little guys came in this afternoon, a little dehydrated but otherwise doing fine. We warmed them up, gave them fluid and food, and now they’re settled in for the night. Squirrels have two main baby seasons, one in the spring and one in the fall. This is still a bit early, and it’s still quite cold, but soon there will be a whole bunch of young squirrels running around outside.
We would like to say a huge thank you to Rusty Hammond of Hammond Landscape Inc, who helped us clear out our parking lot after some of these terrible storms. Without the help of amazing people like him we wouldn’t be able to get to work to treat our patients He’s a fantastic guy with an amazing business, which we highly recommend. Thanks again Rusty!
This is a photo of Dr. Mertz administering medication to a Sulcata tortoise in Odd Pet Vet. This little guy tested positive for parasites on his fecal exam, so he is currently receiving Fenbendazole, which is an excellent anti-parasitic. It’s often difficult to make turtles take their medicine, so in order to make sure that he gets better Dr. Mertz has been tubing it down the esophagus, as you can see here. The issue is completely treatable, and he should be feeling much better soon.
This is a Canada Goose that was admitted to NEWC suffering from hypothermia and malnutrition, like many of the other animals with us at the moment. Fortunately this guy’s condition wasn’t awful, so with some time to rest, plenty of food, and constant warmth, he was ready for release. We found him a nice spot with open water and some other geese already in the area
Photo Credit Courtney Sepeck
Storm Update – The Merganser shown in this video made it back to the wild. He was joined by a Bufflehead Duck. Thanks for helping them! A lot of the sea birds did not fare as well – they were so emaciated. Our hospital is still full with owls, hawks, geese, swans and some of nature’s “fur kids” (a squirrel, a bat and a meadow vole). Come on by and see us, we bake chocolate chip cookies everyday. Please also check out the front page of today’s Boston Globe. Bella English wrote an article about wildlife in need of help this winter. The Center’s patients debut on the front page. The pictures are phenomenal. John Tlamuck is an amazing photographer. If you missed it, you can also see it online at the Boston Globe’s homepage.
Hi everyone, thank you again so so much for all the donations, supplies, and volunteer hours. You are all absolutely amazing smile emoticon I have another blizzard story for you today; this poor little guy was actually found stuck inside of a snow drift. He is very malnourished, suffers from a wing injury, hypothermia, and also a respiratory issue. Fortunately, we were able to stabilize him when he came in, and his condition is no longer critical. We used a combination of a splint for his wing, heat, fluids, and specially formulated emergency care diet for the malnutrition and hypothermia, and finally oxygen therapy for the respiratory issues. Oxygen therapy is the process that you can see in this photo, where the patient is put inside of a glass box and oxygen is pumped in to make an environment with a higher O2 percentage than normal, making it easier to breath. He’s still in rough shape, but he’s doing better, and we’re going to continue doing everything we can for him.
This is a Gray Catbird that was recently attacked by a cat. Catbirds get their name from their call, which has a wailing quality similar to a cat’s yowl. They can be found across almost the entirety of the United States, as well as through parts of South America. Their diet consists of mostly insects and berries. Cat bites are particularly problematic for birds due to the bacteria Pasteurella which is found in cat saliva. It is often lethal within just a few days of the injury. Fortunately, this guy got to us in time, and after being on a strong antibiotic for a week now we’re confident that he should be able to finish his course of medication and be released back to the wild soon. Here you can see him in the middle of receiving his morning treatment.
This is a Russian Tortoise that is one of a group of pet tortoises that were brought in for expert care from our veterinary team. They are suffering from a fairly severe parasitic infection, and are currently on de-worming medication, which has been helping them recover. In the meantime though, they are too lethargic to eat well on their own, so they are being assist fed specially formulated diets for malnourished herbivores, as you can see pictured here.
This Common Murre is a coastal seabird that was blown inland by the recent storm. He was dehydrated, malnourished, and generally lethargic. Common Murres spend most of their lives at sea, returning to the coast for breeding season each year. They are found on both the northeast and northwest coasts of North America. They are diving birds, able to swim effectively through the water and catch prey such as fish, shrimp, and squid. Fortunately this guy came to us before his condition became too critical, and with a solid regimen of warmth, nutritional support, and enrichment he is well on his way to being fit for release already.
Winter is always a tough time of year for local wildlife, and we are proud to have a dedicated, fully qualified veterinary staff able to give them expert medical attention every day. We are also glad to offer that same expert care to anyone who schedules an appointment with us for their pets, or uses our boarding service
This is a Big Brown Bat, native to North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. They are generally about 5 inches long, nocturnal, and eat a diet of flying insects. They hunt using a technique called echolocation, where they make noises that actually bounce off objects in front of them, and can then be used by the bats upon being reflected to make an image of their surroundings. Big Brown Bats also hibernate during the winter, which this guy had a problem with. He was found active in someone’s home, probably after beginning hibernation somewhere indoors and then being disturbed by all the activity. He’s healthy, and is just going to be staying with us until it warms up enough for him to be flying around outside again.
This is a Common Eider, a duck that lives off the coast of the upper half of North America. They feed on a variety of aquatic invertebrates, such as sea urchins and mollusks. The females are less colorful than the males, with a general brown coloration and black banding. This guy came in weak and lethargic, but is already responding well to treatment, and should hopefully be releasable soon.
Many of you probably remember the story that we shared recently about a Red Tailed Hawk that died from Rodenticide poisoning. It is unfortunately a common issue for us at New England Wildlife Center, with some hawks surviving and some not. Whether we can successfully treat the poison or not is impacted by numerous factors, including how quickly the animal comes to us after exposure and how much poison was ingested. Today I wanted to share some happy news, which is that we are currently successfully treating two poisoned Red Tailed Hawks at NEWC, one of which you can see here receiving subcutaneous fluids. Both hawks are stable, eating well, and are on track to make full recoveries.
This is a Teddy Bear hamster that came in for a check-up recently to Odd Pet Vet. The ancestors of today’s pet hamsters originated in Asia, mostly in areas around Syria, Russia, and Mongolia. They love to hoard food, keeping it generally both in underground storage chambers and in their own large cheek pouches. A full cheek pouch can as much as triple a hamster’s head in size!
New England Wildlife Center’s staff has just returned from attending the North American Veterinary Conference. Pictured on the left is Jean Fournier, veterinary technician, reconnecting with NEWC former intern Michelle. The Center values continuing education, which is critical to our ability to serve people and animals better! Some highlights included talks on reptile pain control, avian fracture management, pot-bellied pig surgical techniques, and the science behind the renal portal system in reptiles.
Do you need a place to keep your exotic pet for a few days or weeks? New England Wildlife Center offers a low-cost boarding service with dedicated veterinary oversight and daily care provided by veterinary technicians. Come visit us at 500 Columbian Street in South Weymouth MA, or call 781-682-4878 for more information.
This is a photo of a painted turtle that came to us awhile back with a cracked shell. Below you can see an X-ray of his shell from the side, and if you look at the middle of the top you can see an almost healed fracture. The wound was cleaned when he arrived, and zip-ties were used to pull the pieces together, analogous to how a human leg fracture would get a cast. Unfortunately this guy’s back legs are paralyzed from the injury, so he will likely never be able to be released. We did however managed to find a good home for him, so he’ll be able to live out the rest of his life in a safe environment.
This is a House Finch that was admitted a few days ago. The distinctive red coloration around the head and chest indicates that he is a male, in contrast to the more subdued grays and browns found on the females. They were originally located exclusively in the western United States, but have spread to the East and even down into Mexico. They are very well adapted to urban environments, often making use of human buildings for their homes. This guy is suffering from a case of conjunctivitis, or an infection of the eye. We are treating him with a course of antibiotics, and he should hopefully be ready for release within a few weeks.
Yesterday afternoon this adult Red Tailed Hawk was admitted to the Center. Upon arrival she was very weak, and was bleeding from the nose, mouth, and eyes. There were no immediate signs of physical trauma in the initial exam, which prompted our vet team to take a blood sample. The sample was very viscous and brightly colored, as you can see in the photos above. Generally it will take about two minutes for a sample to clot inside a collection vial, but in this case it took over an hour.
The packed cell volume, a test used to determine what percentage of blood is composed of red blood cells, was extremely low. This can be seen in the photo in the upper left hand corner, the dark portion at the bottom of the glass tube is the red blood cells and the remaining material is blood plasma. In a healthy bird these ratios would be must closer.
When examined together these symptoms indicate that the blood is not clotting properly, and has become too diluted to carry out normal body functions. Based on the evidence from the laboratory tests and a physical exam the most likely diagnosis is Rodenticide toxicosis.
Unfortunately, this has become a common problem in many birds of prey. Exposure happens when the bird eats a prey animal that has come into contact with a trap that contains poison. The prey animal is often left incapacitated, making them an easy meal for the hawk or owl. The poison works by inhibiting the normal clotting factors in the blood, which leads to catastrophic blood loss and a weakening of capillary beds. Secondary effects can include reduced oxygen supply, liver damage, and increased bruising. Often times the dose of poison is high enough that it will be lethal to both animals.
This hawk is currently receiving an intensive treatment of fluids and vitamin K. Vitamin K is an important cofactor in blood coagulation, and by giving an elevated dose the idea is to counteract the action of the poison. The fluids will aid in the production of new blood cells.
This is an unfortunate and avoidable problem that we encounter quite frequently. Using safe alternatives to poison traps eliminate the risks to birds of prey, humans, and other wildlife.