Not the Usual Suspects
This week has been a doozy at Peace River Wildlife Center. And with a normal week being one in which we have patients ranging from bald eagles zapped by electrical lines and gopher tortoises crushed by cars, when we have an unusual week it ranks right up there with pink elephants and unicorns. Not that we have taken in any pink pachyderms or mythical creatures, but we did see our fair share of animals unique to us.
Maybe it is the departure of people returning to their northern residences and leaving exotic pets behind. Maybe it is an increase in availability of these pets without the proper training and advice on what the new pet owners should expect and how to properly care for them. Whatever the reason, PRWC has seen an uptick in abandoned pets that end up at our door. Since we do not treat companion animal species, we normally refer these non-indigenous creatures to Animal Welfare League. They do an amazing job of finding homes for a wide array of homeless pets, from dogs to cats, to guinea pigs and rabbits. Unfortunately, they do not always have the necessary caging and food stuffs for some exotic species, so PRWC helps out with temporary housing of these species when we can.
We got the most adorable African Spurred Tortoise this week. This species is getting to be almost routine for us. We have taken in (and helped find homes for) quite a few of these displaced pets over the past few years. These tortoises will get quite large and eat a great deal of fresh (expensive) greens. They are also escape artists that will burrow under or push out a fence that has not been specifically designed for them. Recently we have taken in two tortoises that weighed 50 and 100 pounds, respectively. This week’s model was a cute little one-pound tyke, but we are not fooled. We know she will be the size of a Volkswagen in no time and she needs a forever home that knows how and can afford to care for her properly. We have set her up with a reptile expert who will find just such a home for her.
Another “patient” at PRWC this week was a bearded dragon. Also a cute little dude. Also in need of a responsible owner who will do the research needed to feed and care for him appropriately. This Australian native found himself alone and abandoned recently in Charlotte County. He was more than happy to hunker down in a small bird cage in PRWC’s hospital, while filling his belly with superworms and chopped veggies. Until his belly was filled. Then he wanted to stretch his wings (metaphorically) and bask in the sunshine (physically), and when we were unable to provide the perfect housing set-up for that, he was less than thrilled with the accommodations. His new owner will be able to provide more appropriate housing and more attentive care, so we all happily said, “G’day, mate” when he found his forever home.
In addition to pet juggling (not literally—please do not call PETA) we have been very busy at PRWC with our usual intake of injured and orphaned native wildlife. It is baby bird season and we are seeing lots of mourning doves, common grackles and northern mockingbirds. (Fun fact—there is no such thing as a mockingjay. That is a fictional construct from a science fiction novel series The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.) We also have an adorable pileated woodpecker nestling whose nest was destroyed when a tree was cut down. Please trim responsibly during the spring nesting season!
Happy Cinco de Mayo to all of PRWC’s dedicated supporters. Your donations of items from our wish list and monetary support make it possible for us to treat over 2,000 animals each year. Throw back a margarita or a Dos Equis on this wonderfully Americanized holiday, just don’t overdo it. We wouldn’t want you to start seeing pink elephants either.
by – Robin Jenkins, DVM