Pickles’ Precarious Predicament
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Peace River Wildlife Center. From the underpaid staff, to the underappreciated volunteers, to the recently-under-a-truck-tire patients; we all have something to be truly grateful for this year. PRWC is coming up on its 34th year and we are stronger than ever. We rehabilitate approximately 2,000 orphaned and injured birds, mammals and reptiles every year and host approximately 75,000 visitors annually who come to view our non-releasable birds that are on educational display in natural habitats at our facility seven days a week from 11a.m. to 4p.m. including holidays.
One of the things I, personally, am most grateful for is our ever-expanding rescue crew. We have a great group of folks who travel the county and beyond to find and bring injured animals to us when we get calls from concerned citizens. Unfortunately, few of them are yet qualified to take on the risks involved in rescuing raccoons. So when our overworked Charlotte County Animal Control officers are not available, that challenge often lands in my lap. With decidedly mixed results.
Last Sunday a call came in from Port Charlotte that a raccoon had a jar stuck on her head. The alert neighbors pointed out the overgrown lot where the raccoon had been last seen and indeed there she was, hunkered down in her den at the base of a tree with a glass quart-sized jar on her head. After hacking through the underbrush to get close to the den, I still couldn’t reach the raccoon, even using my “Nifty Nabber” (which is one of my favourite tools of the trade.) This den, comprised of fallen branches and palm fronds, was absolutely Hobbit-worthy. Much bigger than it looked from the outside, the den was roomy enough for a cowering raccoon to stay well out of my reach no matter how I contorted myself through the brambles.
Eventually I placed a live trap at the opening of the den and within a few hours she was confined within it. The next morning she was transported to PRWC and anesthetized so we could work on removing the glass jar. I removed her from the trap and began to assess what we would need to maneuver the jar off of her head. I was afraid we may have to break the glass and risk cutting the young adult female raccoon. I merely touched the jar and it slipped off of her head like Cinderella’s glass slipper gliding onto the correct sister’s foot. I was astonished, and since I hadn’t yet taken any pictures, I slipped it back on for a photo op. Of course when I went to remove it again, it emulated one of the wicked step-sisters and wouldn’t come off as easily. That is when I realized that attempting to pull the jar straight out toward the raccoon’s nose was not working, but tilting it down toward her chest and rolling her head out was what had worked in the first place. “Pickles” the raccoon was free, despite my best attempts to outwit myself, I had gotten some great pictures of her, and she was released as soon as she woke up.
PRWC will be open our normal hours on Thanksgiving and also on Christmas day for people looking to get out of the house for a little while. Or for those moms who need a little less “help” in the kitchen—send the kids off with dad and the grandparents so you can cook in peace. Or, if you “cook” like I do, pop those TV dinners in the oven with no witnesses. Just don’t forget to scrape it onto the fancy serving bowls before everyone gets back.
You don’t have to wait for Black Friday or Small Business Saturday to start your holiday shopping either. Our gift shop is bursting at the seams with one of a kind t-shirts, jewelry, ornaments, holiday cards, books, toys and lots of other unique merchandise. Stop in to wish Luna, our leucistic (albino) screech owl, and all our residents a happy holiday and give our wonderful staff a big hug for volunteering to be with their fur and feathers family instead of their own today.
by–Robin Jenkins, DVM