Ducklings, Squirrels and Turtles, Oh My!
Spring is in the air, and everywhere wildlife is feeling it! Animals of all species are finding mates, building nests and having babies right now, and WildCare’s Wildlife Hospital is starting our busiest time of year.
It’s an amazing thing to see wild baby animals in the Wildlife Hospital, but of course their presence at WildCare means something bad happened to remove them from their mothers’ care. WildCare asks everyone to keep in mind that our yards, neighborhoods and open spaces are nurseries for wildlife, and there are many things we can do to keep nature’s newest arrivals safe and healthy!
Don’t Trim Trees in Spring
Is there a tree or bush in your yard that needs some pruning? Planning to trim it this weekend? WildCare asks you to please stop and consider the time of year– it’s spring and animals of all species may be using your tree as a nursery even as you read this! Learn more about wildlife and tree trimming on our website here…
Every spring, baby animals arrive at WildCare that have been orphaned or injured because their nests were damaged or removed. These three baby squirrels (our first orphaned squirrels of the year!) were found in a field with no nesting trees nearby. We suspect their nest was cut down somewhere else and the babies were dumped in the location they were found.
If that is what happened, it’s especially disheartening because these babies were very healthy when they arrived at WildCare, so we know Mom had been taking good care of them. They could likely have been reunited, keeping this wild family intact. We were unable to locate their nest or their mother, despite two reconnaissance missions to the site of the rescue, so these three will grow up in Foster Care at WildCare. Watch in the video below (taken as a Livestream on WildCare’s Facebook page… are you friends with WildCare on Facebook?) as Director of Animal Care Melanie Piazza performs an intake exam on these babies.
Our first priority at WildCare is always to try to reunite baby animals with their mothers. Human scent on babies will not deter Mom from retrieving her young if they are warm and healthy, but there are many variables to consider when deciding if reuniting is possible. If you find baby animals, please keep them warm, do NOT offer any food or water and call our Hotline 415-456-SAVE (7283) immediately for advice and guidance to determine if attempting a reunite is possible in your individual situation. If a reunite attempt fails we will, of course, take the young into Foster Care at WildCare.
Make Way for Ducklings
These seven fluffy babies were rescued from a Novato resident’s pool. Despite rescuers’ efforts, they were unable to be reunited with their mother.
It’s easy for wildlife to become trapped in backyard pools– most pools are built with walls above the water line that make it easy to get into the water (the mother duck must have led her babies to the water source) but impossible for non-flighted little ones to get back out. If you don’t want wildlife visitors to your pool, keeping it covered is the best solution. Alternatively, you can provide easy-out ramps for trapped wildlife. A product called a FrogLog is a good option, click to learn more about FrogLogs.
Plastic or wooden ramps (braced so they don’t float away) are an easy-to-construct alternative. Be sure to place several ramps or FrogLogs on opposite sides of the pool, as a desperate duckling won’t know to swim around the pool to get out on the other side.
Mother ducks everywhere will be leading their broods to water, so keep an eye out for family groups navigating dangerous situations like street crossings! Give wildlife a “brake” and lots of space in situations like these. If it’s safe for you to do so, helping keep cars, bicycles and pedestrians back from the duck family can save many tiny lives.
Mallard moms are attentive to their babies, but if a duckling gets separated from his family group, he needs help! If you find a solo duckling, do what you can to contain him and then please call WildCare’s Living with Wildlife Hotline at 415-456-SAVE (7283). That little one will likely need immediate care, so he’ll probably need to come to WildCare. Just make sure you DON’T open the box once you have the duckling contained as ducklings can jump surprisingly high and will end up loose in your car!
In the video below, the ducklings are getting fresh food and water in WildCare’s Wildlife Hospital. Ducklings imprint very easily, so it’s very important to keep their interaction with humans to a minimum, and to always raise them in groups. These little ones only see humans when their food is being changed, or when they are receiving medical treatment.
Western Pond Turtle Crossing
After reading this article, you know that you should keep an eye out for families of ducks crossing roads to reach water. But did you know you should also be watching out for Western Pond Turtles?
Western Pond Turtles do not spend all their time in the water. It is a natural springtime (as early as March, as late as July) behavior for males to travel great distances to mate, and for females to travel a distance from water to lay their eggs.
WildCare admits several turtles every year with cracked or broken shells from having been hit by cars, and these are serious injuries for the turtles.
Watch for turtles crossing, especially at low spots in the road — often a dip in the road indicates there is a water source nearby. If you see a turtle crossing (and it’s safe for you to do so) it’s okay to pick her up and move her across the street in the direction she was already heading.
If the turtle is injured, please bring her to WildCare!
The young turtle in the video below was actually found in the San Francisco Bay! Western Pond Turtles are fresh water animals, although they can tolerate brackish water too. This turtle probably got swept down a waterway into the Bay during recent heavy rains and flooding. He made a full recovery from his salt-water dousing, however, and he has been transferred to the San Francisco Zoo’s Western Pond Turtle Conservation Program. This program is designed to help these turtles (currently considered a “species of special concern” in California) by giving young turtles a safe place to grow to a large enough size to increase their likelihood of survival in the wild. Once a young turtle reaches the appropriate size, he is released back to the county from which he originally came.