Monday, March 18, 2013

Menagerie' Math

I'm not very good at math.
This equation is nothing I am proud of, but what does it mean?
It means that living and dying are a part of life.


Photo Credit:

My trek back into wildlife rehab began this year on March 8th, after 14 years away.

The "A" part of the equation, A8:
I got in a cottontail baby that had been rescued from a family cat.  He died that night.
Over the last two weeks, I got in two separate nests of baby bunnies whose mother had been killed.  Tiny things.  Over course of the next two weeks, they died off--one by one.  No obvious cause.
"Completely normal" say all the other rabbit rehabbers.
A drag, nonetheless.
Last weekend, I got in a fairly large, probably weaned, baby bunny.  A cat was involved.  He died by morning.
Eight rabbits in.  All have died.
My only consolation is that their little bodies won't go to waste.
They were given to one of our rehabbers, Ed, who cares for raptors.  
The circle of life, with a stopover at my house.

The "B" part of the equation, B4:
Squirrels, gloriously robust squirrels.
First, I got one tiny guy who had lost his siblings in a tree cutting incident.
He was quickly becoming a pet to us all, which is not the objective.
When I took the rabbit bodies to Ed, I talked his wife out of 3 of the baby squirrels she was rehabbing.
Three boys and one girl.  None will be pets, as it should be.

The "C" part of the equation, C1:
One cute baby opossum.  
A huge learning curve for me, as they aren't fed with a nipple.  A tube is threaded into their stomach, via their mouth.
I made a mistake and he aspirated formula.
He died from milk pneumonia.
I felt terrible.  
Ed and his wife Kay told me they killed their first opossum, too.
Made me feel a wee bit better. 
 Not much, though.

The "D" part of the equation, D1:
Last night, someone called to say they were bringing me a baby opossum.
Turned out it was a day old (umbilical still attached) raccoon.
The whole family brought it to the house, carried in by the little girl.
"Will it be okay?"
The answer to little girls is always, "Yes, yes it will".  
It's not in my job description to teach sweet, brown eye'd eight year olds about the circle of life.

The really great news is, Ed's wife, Kay is a bang-up raccoon rehabber.
Even after 30 years of doing it, she just cooed when I handed the tiny thing over to her this morning.
So "D" isn't technically a subtraction in the sense that he died.  He just moved to a place where he had a fighting chance.

I told Ed this morning, "No more rabbits!  They just turn my freezer into a little rabbit morgue.  It freaks the kids out."  
He just laughed, "Yea, right.  Good luck with that."


  1. I give you so much credit for being a rehabber, especially when the babies die. That is something I couldn't deal with. Hopefully you will have more success in the future as we need more people like you who are willing to take in wildlife and try to nurse them back to health.

    1. Linda, I guess if I do the very best I can and they die anyway, it gives me some comfort that they died in a place that's warm and quiet. Otherwise they'd starve or freeze or be eaten.

  2. High mortality of wild babies happens no matter what. That's probably why they have so many babies. At least you tried and learned which is more than most people will do.

  3. Leenie, That's absolutely right. Momma rabbits can get pregnant every 28 days. Their mortality rate is very high in the wild as well.

  4. You are completely amazing! I, too, would hate the fact that little ones died, but at least you tried and that is more than most of us could ever do.


    1. Linda, sometimes I wonder if I've become hard to life's sadness or just practical. I just don't let myself get all down when the babies die. I really am glad that their little bodies don't go to waste.