If you live somewhere other than the San Francisco Bay Area, you may not be familiar with our "Mediterranean climate." We have rainy winters and dry summers, and it's not unusual for us to receive rain in February or March, and then not see rain again until October or November.
Combine this climate pattern with the extreme drought we've experienced in recent years, and it has been a dry 8-9 months.
What this means for wildlife is that this year's young animals, all born or hatched in the spring and summer months, have never seen rain or experienced the dangers of getting cold and wet. Even adult animals, who must have struggled to find water to drink during our hot summer and fall, suffer in the first rain because their waterproofing is not yet fully in place.
When the massive storm hit our region last weekend, WildCare immediately started admitting freezing cold, sopping wet, shaking, miserable animal patients.
These two Western Gray Squirrels could hardly look more pathetic. Suffering from hypothermia, as well as injuries from falling from their nest, these babies needed immediate care.
Our team started by gently warming them using towels heated in the microwave.
Watch us warming a cold and wet Bushtit (a tiny songbird, also caught in the storm) the same way in the video below:
This incredibly tiny little bird was found hopping around on the ground and unable to fly.
No wonder! His feathers were entirely soaked, especially after he plunged into a large puddle while his rescuers tried to contain him!
Birds of all varieties must keep their feathers properly aligned and positioned to repel water. Most birds also have an oily or waxy substance they preen into their feathers from their uropygial gland, but the real key to staying dry and warm is proper feather alignment.
Once his body temperature had been properly raised using warm, dry towels, our Medical Staff offered the bird some dextrose solution to help him regain his strength.
Watch him receiving the solution in the video below. Do you believe how small that beak is?
Our two sopping wet Western Gray Squirrel patients are clearly feeling much more comfortable after being warmed and dried and receiving subcutaneous fluids and treatment for their wounds.
As of this writing, the young male squirrel still suffers breathing difficulty from the injury to his nose, and the female still demonstrates some neurological problems, but both are eating well. We hope that with a few more weeks of good nutrition and supportive care, these two will make a full recovery and be released back to the wild.
Wild animals realize that their lives depend on staying warm and dry. Remember that any animal you find that is cold and wet needs immediate care.
Always call WildCare's Hotline at 415-456-7283 if you find a wet animal, or a wild animal injured for any reason.