Strange Days Indeed

Now that baby bird season is finally (officially) behind us, the mayhem at Peace River Wildlife Center should be calming down a bit. But, of course, there is always something to fill the void. This week we have seen a number of unusual admissions.
We got a nestling brown pelican transferred to us from Save Our Seabirds in Sarasota. The fact that is was transferred is not the unusual part. Many of the wildlife rehabilitation facilities work closely together to help each other and, ultimately, the animals in the most effective and efficient manner. Wildlife Center of Venice frequently helps PRWC with renesting baby raptors and providing home care for mammals when we get inundated. The odd thing about this bird is that pelicans generally breed in December and January. This baby was born in August.
We aren’t sure if she is really late or really early, but she definitely is out of synch with the rest of the breeding population. So much so that the resident birds at SOS would have nothing to do with her. The rehabbers there asked if we would give her a try with our residents, since they have had a pretty good success rate of raising foster babies. While none of our foster parents are in nesting mode, they have been relatively accommodating to the youngster. None of the mothers have taken her under their wings (literally or figuratively) but they have not completely rejected the newcomer. The baby is eating on her own, hangs out with the flock and will learn from them what she needs to know to be successfully released when the time comes. Hopefully she will also learn better time management skills than her parents had.
We had another unusual guest from a fairly common source. One of the local wildlife trappers popped into the office claiming, “You’ll never guess what I found in someone’s attic!” I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone, but it’s always a raccoon. Except this time, it was an African grey parrot.
The homeowners had heard something scratching around in their attic and thought they had rats. When the trapper got up there he heard talking. And not just any mild-mannered discourse. He was hit with a verbal barrage of the saltiest sort. Apparently the pirate who lost this bird had quite the potty mouth. Since PRWC rescues and rehabilitates wild species, the parrot was eventually taken to Parrot Outreach Society in Punta Gorda. They will make sure the parrot was not injured during his ordeal and provide a safe and loving environment until he can be rehomed—with his original owner or an adoptive family (preferably one without impressionable young children.)
PRWC is occasionally the go-to place for many displaced pet species. We get snakes, birds, ferrets and tortoises. People find these abandoned or lost exotic pets and do not know where to turn. Since we are all animal lovers, we take in these pets and get them to the appropriate authorities. Dealing with wild species that have similar dietary and housing requirements, PRWC is better suited to handle these species than the local humane societies that have their hands full primarily with dogs and cats. We provide temporary shelter until we can locate an owner or transfer the animal to someone who can help find it a new home.
Before committing to a pet, people should research what will be needed for their new family member. Know what they should eat, what type of housing they require, and the life span. Some parrots live 75 years or more, so plans must be made for the caretaking of the bird after the owner is no longer able to provide for it. It is inhumane to keep a fish in a tiny glass globe. Tortoises are notoriously escape artists. Hamsters are nocturnal. Ferrets have a funky smell. Baby bunnies and chicks grow up (this one always seems to surprise people about a month after Easter.)
With the advent of the internet, research is easier than ever. Do not rely on the high school kid trying to sell you an animal at the pet shop for advice. While some of them are undoubtedly knowledgeable, many are just there to earn enough money to buy a new app for their phone. If you are not willing or able to do the research and afford the expense of taking proper care of any pet, especially an exotic, please consider a pet rock. I think they have an app for that now too.

by- Robin Jenkins, DVM