Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Squirrelly Progress

Before returning to the water, we can mention two additions to Jean’s animal rehab work. I know this is supposed to be a paddling blog, but my need to be surrounded by water, and Jean’s need to be surrounded by critters are so intertwined, it’s sometimes hard to tell where one leaves off and the other commences. If you’re like me, and like to get the bad news out of the way first, we had a couple boys bring us an adolescent Mississippi Kite. The kite is a small bird of prey with a 3-foot wingspan, that normally feeds mainly on insects, but also small reptiles and mammals. This time of year they concentrate on grasshoppers, cicadas, and crop damaging insects, making them important to farmers. Unfortunately, many farmers are anxious to get the upper hand on insects, and resort to spraying.

Credit: wikipedia images
The bird was in a yard near the street. When the bird was brought to us, it was suspected that both legs were broken. Indeed, the bird had no use of its legs or tail. The first guess was that perhaps it was hit by a car or truck. When we took it to the Tri-State Animal Clinic, in Cleo Springs, the vet said that the legs were not broken, but that it had been exposed to a neurological agent, most likely insect spray from bugs it had eaten. The vet gave it a shot of niacin to stimulate the central nervous system. We had the kite for three days. Initially it appeared to be making good progress, eating and taking fluids, and even beginning to acquire minimal leg use again. However, once the poisons are in the system, they are hard to overcome, and on the third day, it passed away.

Anyone interested in learning more about the effects of widespread spraying on bird populations may wish to read "The Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson.

So, to the good news. The owl we had passed away and hurt Jean so badly that she said she was never going to do rehab again. A half-hour later, a couple brought her a one-week old squirrel. Upon seeing the defenseless, tiny thing, Jean was instantly back on board. The man had found it on his lawn beneath a tree while mowing. It had been quite windy, so it’s likely it was blown out of the nest. It was only 3-inches long from nose to tail, with its eyes still closed. As an infant, it has had to be fed every three hours around the clock. That is a hard schedule for anyone, especially at the age of 70, so we’ve been rather bleary-eyed. The good news is that it has now doubled in size, and we are going to an every four-hour feeding schedule during the night, with feedings every three hours during the day. Woo-hoo! That is certainly progress.
Being fed with KMR, Kitten Milk Replacer.  This is also what is
used for kittens, as the name says.  Some people feel giving a kitten
dairy milk is all they need.  Kittens don't have the enzymes needed
to digest cow milk, and can suffer malnutrition and even die.  Goat
milk, if it can be found, is fine, or KMR can be found at most vet and
pet suppliers.

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