Virginia Opossum To Be Released

By Erin Mortimer, VM17

A week ago a young male intact Virginia Opossum (DIVI) presented to the Wildlife Medical Clinic for being attacked by a dog. This patient presented very bright, alert, responsive and very feisty! In order to safely and thoroughly perform a physical exam the Opossum was anesthetized. Upon physical exam a puncture wound was found on the right chest. The wound was flushed and during flushing it was noted the wound was deeper than what the naked eye could see. It was determined that a drain needed to be placed in order to decrease the risk of infection and abscess formation. A drain was placed and the patient was started on an antibiotics and pain medication. Bloodwork was obtained but unremarkable. Radiographs were obtained two days later and it was noted that the Opossum also had 3 broken ribs and bruised lungs (good thing we started those pain meds!).

Despite these injuries the patient remained feisty when awake and eating well! The drain was removed a few days later and appears to be healing well. The medications can be placed into the food and the patient can be minimally handled to reduce stress. Later next week, once the medications are finished, the drain site and bloodwork is rechecked this patient will be off to a wildlife rehabber to regrow the fur on his chest over the winter and then released back into the wild early this spring!

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Young Snapper Fixed Up

Erin Newman, VM18

A juvenile snapping turtle was found in a yard and brought into the Wildlife Medical Clinic in August. He had a cut on his neck right where it joined his shell and scrapes all over the top of his shell, along with a couple of shell fractures. The neck wound was very dirty, with maggots living in it, but volunteers thoroughly cleaned it out and sutured it up. Whenever a turtle has a shell fracture, it is at risk for damage to its coelomic membrane, which separates the shell from the body cavity. Radiographs were taken to determine whether the membrane was punctured, but luckily the snapper did not have any injury to his lungs or coelomic membrane.

Snapping turtles prefer to spend their days under water in areas of vegetation, with their nose poking up just above the water surface, as if it were a snorkel. Although they can grow very large and are dangerous when cornered, they would prefer to swim away from trouble. A snapper has a long, flexible neck that can reach all the way to its hind limbs, so the safest way to handle them is just above the tail. Our patient was probably 3-4 years old, only about the size of a hand, and not very threatening. Snapping turtles do not eat very often, and enjoy fish, worms, and greens.

The turtle had a surgery to repair his shell and was placed on antibiotics. After monitoring the wounds for over a month, it was decided that they would heal nicely on their own without further care. The snapper was very excited to be released into a pond at a forest preserve and went into the water without a backward glance!

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A Barred Owl’s Bird’s-Eye View

Alissa Mones, VM17

As a student who has volunteered in the Wildlife Medical Clinic as both a team member and a team leader, I have seen several cases pass through our clinic. One particular patient stands out in my mind, because it was my first case as a team leader. A fledgling barred owl presented to the WMC in early April with an avulsion (traumatic detachment) of both the top and lower eyelid of his left eye. Upon further examination with the University of Illinois ophthalmology service, an abscess was also present in the affected eye. We had discussed removal of the eye, since owls are still releasable if they only have one functional eye. As it turns out, owls rely mainly on their keen sense of hearing to hunt at night instead of vision. We decided to try to save the effected eye rather than remove it in order to give the owl the absolute best prognosis for release. The next day, the ophthalmologists performed surgery to attach the eyelids. Our team immediately started aggressive treatment with topical anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops 4x daily. The owl also received systemic anti-inflammatories and antibiotics, as well as fluid therapy. Another challenge to this patient’s treatment plan was the need to feed him twice daily while reducing our interactions to prevent imprinting. Young birds are considered imprinted when they become comfortable around humans, and willingly approach us for food. This is an undesirable trait for wildlife, because we never want to encourage interaction between humans and animals in the wild, for the safety of all. To avoid imprinting, our team used feeding puppets to feed the patient as well as to administer medications. Two weeks later, we had another consult with ophthalmology – this time they said the abscess had cleared up, and that the patient appeared to have vision in that eye! Our team was excited to see how our diligence and persistence in caring for this animal became a success. The patient was released in June of last summer, making all of our hard work worthwhile.

Check out these videos of the patient during feeding and tracking the camera before release:

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WMC Wish List

One of the ways you can aid the Wildlife Medical Clinic is to donate some of the items used everyday for the treatment and care of the patients. The clinic is run solely by donations and fundraisers, so help from the community is crucial. For a list of items on our wish list, click here. Donations can be dropped off at the Small Animal Clinic during normal business hours. The patients and the students greatly appreciate your contribution.


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WMC Student Volunteers Rescue Hawk Found on Campus

URBANA — There’s a hawk on the University of Illinois campus, but he’s not there to play hockey. It’s actually a young red-tailed hawk. A University of Illinois officer found it on Tuesday night. Police say it was on the road by the power station on Oak Street. And investigators say it didn’t fly away when they got closer. Workers at the university’s wildlife clinic say that kind of behavior is usually a good clue something’s wrong.

“If they see people, they’ll want to fly away and not want to be around them, but since this guy was feeling so down and out, he was letting people come close to him because he didn’t have the energy to fly away and protect himself like a normal hawk would,” said Kelly Rockwell, who is the Wildlife Medical Clinic co-manager.

Workers say the bird was dehydrated and hadn’t been eating much either. They put an IV in one of his legs so he can get fluids. They say he’s in stable condition and say he should get better. Police say this is the first time they can remember seeing a hawk stranded on campus.

For the full story and news coverage, Click Here


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Wine for Wildlife Fundraiser 5/30, 12-4PM

Join us at SunSinger Wine and Spirits for a special event next weekend!

Sun Singer will partner with Duckhorn Wine Company to host a Ducktails wine tasting fundraiser for the Wildlife Medical Clinic at Illinois, which accepts ill, injured or orphaned native wild animals, with the exception of skunks and bats, twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week.

Animal lovers and wine lovers alike can spend the afternoon sampling wines for a great cause! The event will feature a silent auction with art prints, special Duckhorn wines and a Sun Singer gift basket. The Wildlife Medical Clinic will showcase their resident birds.

Join us for an afternoon with Paula Widmaier of Duckhorn Wine Company. Paula, the company’s Midwest District Sales Manager, will be on site pouring samples of several wines from the Duckhorn portfolio, including the new Duckhorn Chardonnay, and answering any questions you may have.

Sun Singer will be donating 10% from the sales of the wines sampled!

See you there! For more information, see the Facebook Event

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Nokomis: Remembering a Local Legend

by Zach Kline, VM2015

Last Saturday the Wildlife Medical Clinic held a ceremonial “release” for the ashes of the Resident birds who had passed away in recent years. I was upset when obligations regarding my clinical rotation prevented me from returning in time for the ceremony, so I wanted to make sure I paid my respects to one of those birds who made a big impact in my life while I was working for the WMC.

An incredible animal who was truly one in a million, Nokomis’s tame personality and inability to interact normally with other Great-Horned owls made him the perfect ambassador for his species and wild birds as a whole. Gentle, calm, and curious, Nokomis handily endured educational talks in front of large groups of people for almost thirteen years with the WMC. Over that time he (along with the other resident birds) touched the lives of thousands of adults and children in Central Illinois and was certainly considered the face of the Wildlife Medical Clinic.

I spent hundreds of hours working alone during late nights, holidays, breaks, and summers during my time as WMC manager. Occasionally those days could get rather lonely or frustrating, and Nokomis’s presence was always enough to cheer me up! As evidenced by the following photos, the two of us were bent on walking the path to stardom by means of various photo shoots, newscasts, and Public Relations talks. Though he was still a wild animal who was probably just tolerating my presence, every opportunity I got to have him on glove was beyond cool. I will certainly miss our time together.

During long days between patient treatments, I would have the “big boys” out to wander about the treatment room. Nokomis and Odin spent many collective hours exploring every nook and cranny the clinic had to offer.

Here, Nokomis is seen atop his very favorite perch.

I always likened Nokomis’s behavior to that of a very curious cat. Seen in front of him is a bin full of owl pellets that the clinic would sell to elementary schools. The tupperware on top was placed to dissuade that doofy owl from his habit of eating and/or knocking the pellets off of the refrigerator.


An intimidating visage, but a genuinely benign bird. Typically, Great-Horned Owl behavior is characterized by extreme threat displays and unbridled aggression. As a human, I feel fortunate that the only angry part of THIS owl is his face.

Photo shoot for the Veterinary Medicine Website. Nokomis spent 90% of this shoot being distracted by things going on behind him, so I’m surprised we got ANY of him facing the camera.

Nokomis was greatly admired by veterinary students throughout the school, as news of his passing clearly affected WMC members and non-members alike. While still upsetting to think about, I hope that these photos convey the respect I feel for this animal for all that his presence has done for the WMC and Wildlife Conservation in General.

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