Friday, July 20, 2007

More baby animals!

I've completed my first of six weeks at the rehab center, and have started getting experience in areas besides the mammal nursery. On Tuesday, I got to play with baby raccoons, which are far more interactive than squirrels and bunnies, but also carry more diseases and smell much worse. But, they actually drink out of baby bottles and cling upside-down to your arm while they're eating (if they're nice babies- the evil ones just huddle in the back of their cage and growl at you), which makes up for the small chance that one might give you rabies. I also got to watch the vet wrestle an opossum out of a live trap- someone had trapped the poor critter for eating his garden vegetables. I'm not sure why he decided to bring the possum to us, since she was perfectly healthy. I think he misunderstood what the "rehabilitation" part of wildlife rehabilitation means... Did he want us to teach the possum to give up its life of crime and become a productive member of society? Hmm.

Anyway, today I got my first taste of life in the avian nursery. It's pretty much the exact opposite of the mammal nursery. Baby bunnies are the epitome of adorable, and baby birds are anything but. Bunnies eat twice a day at most, and it's like pulling teeth to get the formula in them. Baby birds eat every half hour, and DEMAND to be fed the second you reach their cage. Having a different species of bird in each cage adds a lot of variety to the job. I got to feed fish to a baby green heron, throw crickets into the gaping beak of a crow, and feed formula to a lovely little trio of baby bluebirds. The most interesting birds were by far the baby woodpeckers. I didn't give them enough credit for knowing what their beaks were for, until I entered their cage with a syringe. They started out like all the other birds, gaping their beaks wide open, until I got the syringe close enough- PECKPECKPECK! PECKPECKPECK! Ouch! An impressive weapon for such a young critter. Then, as I was feeding the babies in the cage next door, I got licked by a probing woodpecker tongue! If you ever need a fun fact to know and tell, a woodpecker tongue actually attaches up near its eye, wraps behind its head, and comes out of its mouth, which is how it can be long enough to dig for insects in rotting wood, or try to weasel more formula out of the syringe when its already moved on to the next cage. The tongue also acts as a support for its eyes and brain to keep them safe during pecking. What crazy little birds.

Anyway, Harry Potter comes out in two hours...!!

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