The Orphans are Coming!

Orphan season is upon us, albeit a little sooner than we had expected. This past Saturday, team five received 2013’s first two infant eastern grey squirrels. With constant heat and five feedings per day, these pups were cared for until they could be transferred to one of our licensed rehabilitators.

While the clinic was appreciative of the opportunity to care for these tiny squirrels, the point must be stressed that under most circumstances, young wildlife thrives best when left with their parents in their natural environment. For more information on when and when not to move wildlife, please visit our Wildlife Resources page.

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Winter for Turtles

The aquatic turtles that you see sunning themselves on logs in rivers and lakes during the warmer part of the year are all hibernating under water right now. They have burrowed themselves into the muddy bottoms of their native ponds and can remain there in their watery hideouts for many months. The cold-blooded turtles are taking advantage of the fact that water reaches its greatest possible density at 39 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that a microclimate exists in a body of water’s deepest area below the frost line. Water that is either warmer or colder than 39 degrees rises, leaving the densest water at the bottom. The steady temperature at the bottom ensures that the turtles do not freeze, nor will they get warm enough to require extra oxygen. In the meantime, their body metabolism has slowed to such an extent that their hearts may beat only a few times per hour. How do they breath? They have specialized tissues in their throats and their cloacas that, like the gills of fish, can be used to extract oxygen from water. Turtles are stimulated to come out of hibernation as the water temperature gradually rises in the spring.

To find out more about our native Illinois turtles, please visit the Department of Natural Resources’ website.

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That Cuddly Kitty Is Deadlier Than You Think

Photo by James Morton

“In a report that scaled up local surveys and pilot studies to national dimensions, scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States — both the pet Fluffies that spend part of the day outdoors and the unnamed strays and ferals that never leave it — kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year, most of them native mammals like shrews, chipmunks and voles rather than introduced pests like the Norway rat.

The estimated kill rates are two to four times higher than mortality figures previously bandied about, and position the domestic cat as one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation. More birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats, the report said, than from automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and windmills and other so-called anthropogenic causes.”

Read the full article at The New York Times

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Oh, Deer: Indiana Considers Case of Dani’s Caretakers

Photo by Jennifer Counceller

 Wall Street Journal (Feb. 1)- Dr. Julia Whittington, director of the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic, said even with the best intentions, clear dangers exist to animals and people. For example, people and their pets can be exposed to harmful diseases, while the animals fail to develop the behaviors needed to live in the wild.

“There is a huge amount of information these animals learn. We are a poor, poor substitute,” she said.

Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal