A glimps into the world of wildlife rehabilitation…the world through a rehabber's eyes.

wildlife rehabilitation

Sometimes, Mother Nature’s “Plan B” needs a Plan B….


Well, followers, many of you are fans on our facebook page…you just come here for the more in-depth scoop of the goings on here at the ranch, huh? Well, we have some very exciting events happening right now, and we could not be more pleased, and sad, and thrilled, and humbled all at the same time!

We rehabbers could be described as a buffer between the natural (and in my opinion “real”) world and the ever advancing industrialized consuming machine that is modern human “culture”. We are celebrators and worshipers of nature, and the amazing things it provides and creates. We are the wild ones, the ones that cannot exist without nature, and find the thought of the absence of nature devastating. We speak for and defend the voiceless ones.

We could never imagine being able to counter-balance our top-heavy world-wide carrying capacity, but instead strive to soften the impact, ever so slightly. Every life we touch, every person we impact, every animal we hold in our hands, is one more chance to do something amazing and good. Ultimately, our goal is to educate humanity of the importance of moderation, stewardship, and responsibility. Our goal is to bolster the wild creatures and ensure their footing in our future world.

Ultimately, our deepest desire is to share these stories with the world, and return these creatures to the wild world where they belong, and where they fit most perfectly. Often, we are successful. Often, we see our goals come to fruition. Sometimes…well, sometimes we end up with beings like Cheeze. Sometimes, these guys just get too missguided through misinformed human intervention to remember how to fit back into their perfect wild world. This, my friends, this is one of the bitter sweet moments in our calling. This is where we mourn for individuals like Quincey (his story can be seen as an earlier entry here on our official blog) who must now spend their days in human captivity rather than fulfilling their destiny as one of the wild ones; uninhibited and free.

Just like we as a species have always sought the silver lining in every dreary cloud, we rehabbers have perfected the art of “plan B”. This bitterness does not come without sweet moments when we realized that though this may not have been Mother Nature’s plan, all is not lost. It now becomes our duty to ensure that this wild one’s life is not without meaning or purpose. We take these unique individuals, and we find a world that fits them.

In the process, we are presented with a very unique situation that carries with it the utmost gravity. This creature, this very special, perfectly designed creature now takes on the position of a teacher. He may not know the gravity associated with his newly created position in life, and even those that come to see and marvel at his beauty may not know (at least in their conscious mind) how important this one, singular creature has become.

This one marvel, this one amazing creation represents hundreds and thousands more of his kind (and others) that are battling for survival…fighting, struggling, defending their right to exist. People may come in the hundreds to get just a glimpse of this elusive, magnificent creature…hundreds more may completely ignore him. But it just takes one. One person to be impacted by the mere presence of the creature in front of them…just one person who’s imagination was lit afire, who’s heart awakened and realized what this singular creature stands for…what nature has been screaming, crying, and trying to tell him through the eons.

Humans are not a separate existence from the earth. Without our earth, we do not exist. Each plant, each animal, each microbial existence in the soil beneath our feet is essential to the well-being of our earth. Our home.

Crosstimbers is absolutely honored to have a part to play in impacting that one person. Today, as of this writing, three of our most memorable cats are headed to new homes. New lives, and new responsibilities of the utmost importance. Today, Crosstimbers wishes safe journeys and wonderful new lives to our three ambassador graduates. We want to share and savor this new beginning with each and every one of our fans and followers.

Cheeze, Ollie, and Yoda graduated from Crosstimbers today, and are now on their way to new lives as teachers…All three of these wonderful kitties are headed to the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

All of the staff members here at Crosstimbers are so excited for these guys. They have all been wonderful teachers to us here, and now go on to continue their work impacting hundreds more in their wonderful new home. Good luck, and safe journey Cheeze, Ollie, and Yoda!


Aside

Bridgie: One of our long term residents


Bridgette

Bridgette came to us in 2008. Her family surrendered their “pet” to us at four months of age. Once they discovered that wild animals can act aggressive at a drop of a hat, especially with those who are not trained in animal behavior, they made the decision to bring her to a facility that would understand her, and give her appropriate care and interaction. 

Although Bridgette is a very sweet cat, like all bobs, she can throw a fit like nobody’s business.  She was a funny kitten who had us laughing all the time.  She could eat more food than any adult on the property.  She would literally gorge herself until she was miserable. 

These pictures were taken one night after she had finished dinner.  It was a night that I will never forget.  It was almost like she ate herself drunk!  This was a progression of pictures over about 30 minutes.  She was watching me from a chair while I worked on my computer.  When I got up, she moved to my chair and made herself at home.

         

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  In 2010, Bridgette contracted viral encephalitis; a pathogen transmitted by mosquito bites. This aggressive disease can have lasting effects. In Bridgette’s case, this resulted in some neurological swelling and though the damage to her brain was not severe, she will always have some lasting effects. Most notably, the small circles she walks when she is out of her comfort zone.

 

We try to protect all of our animals from diseases like encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and other insect borne diseases, but they still slip through on us.  Sadly, Animal facilities will not adopt an animal with any outward damage because visitors are constantly notifying staff of the cat’s “health issue’.  Although Bridgette does not have a future with a zoo or other wildlife facility, she does have a permanent home with us.  Most facilities would be required to euthanize her because she cannot be adopted and cannot be released to the wild. Lucky for  Bridgette, she has a great future here at WCCR. 

 

By making her part of our surrogacy program (being a cage-mate to multiple cats), she has a valuable place with us for the rest of her life. Should a suitable home ever come along for her, she would be considered for another location, but it would have to be the right facility with the right handlers as she is a special needs cat. 

 

She is bonded to only a very few of the staff who spend time with her.  She takes a while to get to know, and to understand, but once she trusts you, it is an unbreakable bond as anyone who works with her will attest to.

 

Bridgette is a healthy non-aggressive girl and a wonderful cage-mate for most any new cat. She suffers from Flea allergies, so we have to take extra precautions during flea season. She gets along with almost everyone, which is unusual, so her job here is to help acclimate new cats to their cages, getting them used to living with new cats and making their transition to new zoos who already have another bobcat in their enclosure much more tolerable. 

Bridgette is a dual purpose kitty here at WCCR! She is one of a handful of our cats that are a part of our research program. She is one of three “vocalizers” that we have on-site at the moment. 

A vocalizer is one of the seven personalities that we have identified who have a tendency to “talk” about everything.  Our other vocalizers, all of whom you will meet in the near future, are Zachia and Peter. 

Over the last couple of years, WCCR and NBRR have grown to an incredible size. We now have more cats on the property than ever before, and the numbers keep growing! We have great people working with us, but need sponsors to help us with funding so that we may keep pace with the demand, and continue to grow!

If you would like to help care for Bridgette, please visit our website and make a donation today!  We cannot do this alone. We are seeking individuals to sponsor each of our cats with a monthly donation!  It is imperative for us to move in this direction if we are to continue to provide for special needs cats just like Bridgette, and the many others that currently call our facility home!  ANY amount helps! For us to continue to take these wonderful cats in, we MUST find sponsors and support. Are you our next one? Keep watching for updates on even more Crosstimbers Cats!


Meet Brave Braelyn. This tough girl has been through alot, and still has a long way to go! We need your help to help her!


braelyn

Braelyn

Braelyn is our most recent intake.  She is VERY sick.  She came to us about a week ago from a ranch where they have been “removing all big cats from the property”.  We hate to hear things like this, because Bobcats should never be considered “Big Cats”, at least not down here in Texas.  Out bobcat species “Texensis” doesn’t get much bigger than a standard house cat. (22-26lbs)

For such a young kitten, Braelyn has had a tough life.   It is very clear to us that her mother was either killed or trapped and taken away.  We know that there is another kit out there that the landowners are now trying to trap so that they may be reunited.  As previously mentioned in our preface, bobkittens stay with their mothers until they are at least 10 months old.  When their mothers are trapped and taken away, they must fight to survive.  Braelyn has clearly had more than a few battles.  She came to us with her poor nose nearly missing and several deep lacerations on her little body.  She is only about 16 weeks old.  Who she has been battling with remains to be seen, but who/whatever it was, it was much bigger than she was. She is grossly underweight, so has, obviously, struggled to find food and we pray that we can find her sibling before it is too late. 

Her lacerations had become infected and she was very weak when she first arrived.  But there is good news!  As of two days ago, she had regained enough strength to crawl up into her hammock which hangs from the top of her ICU enclosure!  She had previously been unable to get up off of the floor.  She has been eating well and gaining weight every day. We continue to hope that Santa Paws will help us to find her sibling, but without further funding, we cannot hire someone to go out and assist the landowners in trying to capture it and get them back together.  If you can help, please go to our website or use the link on the side column of this blog, and donate today to help Braelyn get back on her feet and help us to hire one someone to help  put what is left of their family back together. 

Braelyn’s future is still uncertain, but we continue with positive thinking, her undying wild spirit gives us high hopes for her to be released back to the wild sometime mid-summer next year.

However, this special girl will need a lot of expensive intensive care in the weeks and months to come if she is going to make it.

She will be paired up with others of her age once back on her feet.  If her sibling joins us, they will remain together for the rest of their time here at the ranch and be released together back to the wild where they belong and on a property where they will never have to worry about being trapped, hunted or displaced. All our kitties want for christmas is somewhere safe to call home. Will you help them?


Aside

 

 

Happy Holidays Wildlife Friends!

   Now, Don’t fall over in shock, but this is Val.  As most of you know, Dawn started our Facebook page years ago, and thankfully, Kari picked up where she left off and expanded our page to include a blog. As much as I would love to be entrenched in social media, I have neither the time, nor the know-how.  However, I have been overwhelmed by the Christmas Spirit this year and wanted to make a special effort to take the time to give you the updates you have been asking for!  And, because the Christmas spirit has grabbed a hold of me, I am going to take it a step further and give you a gift!  From now until the end of the month, I am going to give you a short bio on ALL of the cats that are currently in care at the center!  And, I would like to ask all of you to add your stories, comments and experiences, if you have any, with each of the cats or at the ranch, as they are discussed.  There is a reason for this. 

 

WCCR & NBRR have grown in leaps and bounds.  Because most of our friends are not local, most have no idea what is going on out here.  We want you to know, and to SHARE with others, the GREAT work we are doing.  We also want to give you updates on the new outreach and policies we have set in place.  First, and most important, NBRR decided, two years ago, to branch out from native wildlife and begin accepting confiscated or unwanted (turned over) imprinted Bobcats.  We quickly became the largest bobcat rescue in the United States.  We are now proud to announce that we have been asked to be the first bobcat rescue to be utilized by the AZA and to be listed in their studbook!   The AZA studbook is where AZA accredited Zoos and Aquariums turn to find breeders to supply their facilities with replacement animals.  This is VERY exciting because, due to our rapidly growing national reputation, they contacted us!  We will now be able to accept, train, and supply imprinted bobcats that might otherwise be euthanized due to lack of space in exotic feline rescues.  Of course, many of these cats come to us with severe behavioral problems.  Our behavior specialists are some of the finest in the country!  Special Kudos to Kari and Deborah for their exceptional work and dedication to these very special cats!

 

     So, where to start?  My goodness! Alphabetically, I presume, would make the most sense.  Since we began this new program, cats have poured in, so you will get to hear stories about bobcats that you have never been introduced to before! And, because we have more cats than we have days left in the month, we will have to double up on most days and give you one in the morning and one in the evening! Yes, We’re THAT busy! Unfortunately, that means a HUGE burden on our dwindling funds!

 

Since we know that you didn’t know, we are hoping that you will share these stories with everyone in hopes that we find enough donations to pull us through another (exceptionally busy!) winter.

 

We hope that if you read a story that you enjoy, or that touches your heart, that you will cross-post it so that we can increase our friend base and hopefully find some corporate and/or private sponsors that we still so desperately need. 

 

It is important to note that our first love continues to be the thousands of native wild animals, including wild bobcats, who come to us for help each year. 

 

The imprinted cats are entrusted to our care and are donated by us to other non-profit educational facilities.  Our work here is critically important to the future understanding of the increasing population of urban bobcats and we continue to operate on a completely volunteer staff.  We cannot do this alone.  Please remember these beautiful animals during this holiday season and throughout the year because the next well adjusted and happy bobcat you see in a zoo throughout the United States may be from The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch.

    God Bless you all and Happiest of holidays from all of us at Crosstimbers!

 

A preface to our introductions.  Bobcats come and bobcats go around here.  Some stay for a few weeks, some stay for years.  Much depends of their ability to be released back to the wild, whether they have medical or behavioral problems, whether those problems are temporary or permanent, and how old they are when they arrive.  Each cat is given an identifying name.  We start alphabetically each year.  When we reach “Z”, we begin again.  Any bobkitten brought to us who has not already been imprinted is slated to be returned to the wild after it has reached one year of age; adults and juveniles who are not imprinted must also be at least one year old before they are released back to the wild. 

 

The reason for this is because in the wild, they will stay with their mother until they’re at least 10 months old and, literally remain kittens, emotionally, until they are at least one year old. In an urban environment, they will stay with their families even longer, sometimes for life!  Should we try to release them prior to one year old, they do not thrive and often end up being returned to us by some unsuspecting stranger who found a starving bobcat on his property.  Though the years, we have leaned to avoid this by making SURE that our cats are emotionally ready to be out on their own. 

 

We strive to ensure success as a “rewilded” animal for every creature that comes through our doors. But most, especially our beloved bobcats, are incredibly intelligent; and we must diligently strive to ensure that we do not damage their wild potential by allowing an overabundance of human interaction in their space.

 

     Our work has led us to discover, so far, seven different personality types in bobcats.  Each is as distinguishable as day and night.  Some personality types are more easily imprinted than others.  It is with those that we must be the most careful.  Others want nothing more than to be wild from the day they arrive to the day we watch them run across an open pasture to live their wild lives. There is nothing more gratifying than to release a cat back to the wild, yet, many can never go back.  Why? 

 

To answer this question, we must revisit the issue of the level of intelligence that these incredible cats posses.  These cats could easily survive in the wild, yet, they are so smart, that one they have become imprinted, they recognize where food comes from.  Many of them seek affection.  When an imprinted cat is released, it will seek out humans and approach them.  This ends up badly in 99% of these cases.  They are often shot or trapped and euthanized because they are “acting strangely”.  A few of them make it to us.  Generally, they are the ones who have collars on and have escaped from a home.  The percentage rate of an imprinted cat, as best we can figure, is only about 5%, and that is ONLY if the cat is release onto a private protected property where there are no hunters or humans to ruin their chances. Therefore, with the imprinted cats, we work closely with them to be very sure that they will be happy in a facility where they can be a liaison for their wild brothers and sisters.  As we introduce you to our current cats in care, we want you to clearly understand that our main goal is to return them to the wild, and that when that is not possible, the next best thing is to ensure a happy life with handlers who will give each cat what it needs to live a long and happy life with people who love, respect and care about these beautiful animals.  We are always happy to answer questions from anyone, so please, if you have any, let us know.  We always want the best for our charges, and when the obvious best is not attainable, then we seek the best available.  We hope you will enjoy reading about our work and support us in any way you can!

 

 

 

Angel~Face (and XYZ)

 

Each year, we struggle with naming certain alphabet letters – and this year is NO different.  We will start out our alphabetical stories with “Angel-Face” who was named after she arrived with her two brothers and one sister.  Angel-Face was EASY to name.  As often happens, she became highly stressed when she first arrived, quit eating, and became very sick.  She lost a lot of weight, so we had to pull her away from her family to get her back on her feet.  While she was separated, we named her Angel-face because she was SO curious about everything we did.  She would hide in her cat box, peek over the edge and would get the sweetest look on her face when we confused her by doing our “Human things”.  We ultimately cave her a cat box full of blankies that she could hide in while sneaking a peek at our antics.  She remained separated for about three weeks while she gained weight and her strength back.  Her brothers and sister were dubbed “X, Y & Z”.  They are STILL named X, Y & Z!  They are strong and sassy!  They talk and play constantly, but the MINUTE they see a human, they all run for cover into the nearest crate or box.   We are hoping for your help!  Will you all PLEASE help us name these other kitties?  Please post your ideas below. Human baby names have all already been used, so we want to ask you to make up unique names, for example, last year’s X, Y & Z were named Xylan, Yoda, & Zachia.  So be creative!  We need your help!

   Angel-face and her siblings are expected to be released into the wild in late summer next year.  They are as wild as they come!  They are all four living together again and are getting ready to be moved outside to the wild barn.  Out kittens stay inside until they reach about 5 months of age.  Until then, we must keep a VERY close eye on them because they can become very sick VERY fast. The stress of capture, of living without their mothers, of being in unnatural conditions, and of eating unfamiliar diets can cause a multitude of problems. The little ones are always a challenge, so we keep a very close eye on them

    These little ones arrived when they were only 5 weeks old.  I am afraid that we do not have many pictures of them as we wanted them to stay wild and therefore did not/do not approach them very often.  I took this picture the other day while hiding behind the couch.  You can see that they are all very bonded and will, likely, stay together long after they are released.

                       

 Their mother was trapped and relocated before anyone realized that she had babies.  At about 4 weeks of age, and barely walking, the little ones started peeking out of their den, one at a time, looking for their mommy.  They were hungry and frightened.  They were caught and brought to us over a period of several days.  All are finally doing really well.  There really isn’t much more to say about these guys except that they are all doing as expected and staying on track to be released, growing like weeds and staying wild!  This is our only large litter, so will be the only time you will get an update on multiple cats at one time. Don’t forget to help us name X,Y & Z!


Ulyses Thanks You!


Thank you to all of our wonderful supporters who contributed to our critical needs baby! Your support was overwhelming, and wonderful!!! We have almost reached our funding goal for this little one! Of course, our goal will only cover part of his medical care, so any and all help is graciously welcome! Thank you to all of our amazing, wonderful, incredible readers and supporters for everything you do to help us return these wild babies back to their world! Ulyses may get to taste freedom yet, and it is all thanks to our unbelievably amazing supporters! You guys are the BEST supporters any non-profit could ever ask for! THANK YOU! You, and you alone make what we do here at WCCR possible!


Our urgent care case: Ulyses


The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch has received a very special guest that urgently needs your help. His name is Ulyses, and he is only ten weeks old. He has been separated from his mother and siblings, and the poor little guy has suffered some serious trauma in his short life.

Ulyses is a bobcat, and he already has a special place in the hearts of all of the staff members here at WCCR. You see, at this tender age, he has had a little altercation with a dog…that resulted in a compound fracture of his leg, and massive infection. This poor little wild one is terrified and alone, and he can’t even yet have a buddy to comfort him. For now, until his condition improves a bit, his stuffed animal is his closest companion.

The thought of this poor little guy terrified and hurting tugs at my heartstrings every time. Especially when all we can do is sit back, and support him on his journey 😦

Little Ulyses upon intake

Here at Crosstimbers, we do 90% of our medical treatment on site.

There are many reasons for this that I may go into in some future blog, but for right now, my main focus is to help this little one return to the wild. But in order to do that, I am going to have to solicit some help! To rehab a single (healthy) bobcat from kitten to release, costs more than $2,000 and over 12 months in feeding and maintenance alone. Any medical treatment or other operational care all comes at additional expense.

For Ulyses, the cost will probably be more than double that figure.

Our bestest heart bandages ❤

His tiny leg will be set in his heart emblazoned cast for at least the next six weeks, and he will need some heavy-duty antibiotics (as well as other medications) to battle the massive infection.

Supportive care will also include a special immune system supporting diet and eventually, physical therapy.

Little Ulyses had to be sedated for this procedure, so once his cast was secured, he was placed in isolation to recover from anaesthesia.

His ongoing care, rehabilitation, and physical therapy are going to be major hurdles for WCCR this year. The economy has put a squeeze on us all, and we are definitely feeling it. We are trying to raise $500 towards his ongoing care, and every cent helps.

If every person who read this blog donated just ten dollars, that total sum would mean a massive step towards going back to the wild for this amazing cat! Every bit helps! If you want to be a wildlife hero, click on that donate button on the right hand column! I know we can do this. Lets get Ulyses back to the wild, together!


Theo’s New Digs <3


As you may or may not know, Theo, our little starlet, has always had a difficult time living outside. Well, to be honest, Theo has always had a hard time! He has had so many close calls and near misses in his short life thus far, that it should come as no surprise that our little guy with such a delicate constitution would have a hard time adjusting to life outdoors.

At a certain age, it just isn’t very feasible to keep a bobcat inside. For our wildlife center, we keep our baby bobs indoors till a certain age. Just as a mother bobcat would keep her kits in their den, we keep them inside the nursery. Bobkits are quite sensitive, and need close supervision to monitor health and well-being. After they pass that certain delicate age, and they begin to grow more adventurous and rambunctious, they begin their slow transition to outdoor living, usually in preparation to becoming wild again.

Theo really is no exception, other than he would never survive release. Alas, our attempts to transition him to outdoor living were exceedingly stressful to his delicate constitution, so, he was moved back indoors for his health and safety. The one problem with this scenario is that Theo is now an energetic young bobcat, and Crosstimber’s indoor enclosures are not really suitable for longterm residency…mostly, it is our nursery, and our ICU area for our invalid residents. Neither one suits Theo any longer.

So, our director came up with the idea to create an indoor/outdoor enclosure for Theo. This would give ranch staff the ability to keep a close eye on Theo, and also provide him with the space he needs. One of our awesome staff members designed and built a wonderful enclosure for Theo.

Of course, he had a little help

And of course, in true Crosstimbers Wildlife fashion, the entire thing was built out of reclaimed lumber.

It was specially selected and designed for Theo’s comfort, and has a great view overlooking the turtle garden!

Once it was complete, it was painted a lovely shade of green, and Theo was out exploring it in no time!

That is the face of one happy bobcat!

The best part is, that great window in his enclosure serves as a causeway for him to come and go into the temperature controlled building! Soon it will have a more permanent door 🙂


Willow’s Mini Adventures X-(


Do you remember little Willow? That super cute baby opossum picture from the previous post? Well, she has two roomies now, and her little enclosure was getting quite cramped. So last night I moved the three little opies to a new, bigger, airier enclosure. Complete with fresh blankies, bedding, and snazzy new water bottle so they would quit tipping the bowl! What I didn’t account for was tenacious little Willow, and the three relatively large doors at the front of the cage!

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Now, little Willow has always been quite tenacious…for an opossum…and there certainly has been no exception lately…while my two newbies cower in the corner piled on top of one another (safety in numbers and all that jazz), Willow is strollin every inch of her new digs…and noting every weakness in it’s  defenses! From 7 this morning till now 10pm, it has been a non-stop game of hide-and-seek with her! Three times she got away, and on that third trip back to the nursery, I secured those doors down with bread ties…or so I thought. I walked through to get myself a snack, looked down at my opie nursery, and realized I was an opie short again!

Sure enough, Willow had slipped away…for the fourth time. I paid it no mind…she quickly makes her whereabouts known…opossums are not renowned for their stealth mode, you know. However, hours passed, and still no sign of my little rogue.

Opossums being predominately nocturnal, I always wait till late in the evening to feed them. Fresh food makes happy tummies! :)…and keeping a schedule is a good way to get in some behavioral conditioning! Like clockwork, I went to feed my wee wards. As I reached down to grab their bowl, the third little set of beady eyes I had been searching for all day peered up at me from the corner of the room as if to say “well, it’s about time you brought me my dinner! Where have you BEEN?!”.

I snatched her up, and tossed her back in with her friends, and THIS time, I DID secure those doors! *sigh* one up-ed by an opossum…at least one of us is giggling about the whole thing *roll eyes*

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Bobcat meets house cat <3


Hey guys, check out this way cool video of a bobcat meeting with a house cat through the sliding glass door ❤ Not the reaction most people have in their minds when they think of house pets and predators, but very typical behavior of this beautiful feline 🙂

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7406326n


There’s a bobcat on my patio/in my yard! How do I get rid of it?!


Okay guys, fair warning, this is gonna be a long one!

I get asked this question on a regular basis. My response is always the same. I ask the concerned party why they want this animal removed from it’s home. They cite numerous fears for their reasoning. “Won’t it attack my pets? Won’t it attack my children/grand children?” The answer is no. No, a bobcat is not a blood thirsty monster waiting to pounce on the first human it sees. No, it does not want to work hard enough to try to catch your dog/cat.

Of course, common sense in good measures is always reasonable when dealing with any wildlife. Cats and dogs should always be supervised outside. Just remember, the house you chose to live in because of it’s beautiful trees, manicured grass, and great lot size (not to mention the great pond with a walking path just around the corner) are all the same reasons that the bobcat chose it to be her home too.

Here’s a little food for thought. Chances are, her and her family were there first (and have been for generations! They thank you for that beautiful hardwood deck with the open bottom, the great storage shed with a concrete floor that makes it feel soo much cooler in these hot Texas summers, that wonderful privacy fence lined with dense, low growing shrubs that offers so much security and seclusion, and the absolutely inviting koi pond with the bench swing that you love so much! They thank you for providing them with protection, security, habitat for them and their prey, and a steady water source!).

Just remember, wildlife is attracted to the same things we are. Privacy, safety, food, water, and shelter. The only way to prevent wildlife from living in “your space” is to move into a concrete bunker…and even then, I’m sure the geckos and spiders will be more than happy to hang out at your place! It is impossible and impractical to remove all wildlife from “your territory”. Instead, what I personally strive to do is encourage wildlife that are beneficial for my goals while simultaneously discouraging wildlife that does the opposite.

Here’s a fun example. How much money do you spend on watering and fertilizing your beautiful lawn and landscaping every month? A lot, huh? Have you considered inviting creatures that already specialize in landscaping? Providing native bees and butterflies with nectar plants (and food plants for caterpillars!) along side your carefully selected asthetic plants will attract these guys to your yard and keep your landscaping looking beautiful year after year. These guys will pollinate your flowers and help you cultivate your garden! Providing plants like white cabbage and passion vine will just keep them coming back as the butterflies look for food plants to lay their eggs on and nectar plants to keep their energy up!

I have an irregular awkward little spot in my yard that is hard to do anything with….it’s hard to mow due to it’s odd shape, it’s quite far away from the sprinkler system, and from the house making it hard to water, so instead of trying to make it look lush and green like the rest of my lawn, I plowed it up, and turned it into a low water butterfly/veggie garden. I surrounded my nectar plants with food plants for my caterpillars, and sprinkled them amongst my veggies and fruits. It is never touched by pesticides or fertilizers (or any other harsh chemicals) and It works beautifully!

Want another example? How many of you out there pay for pest control services? Incorporating self sustaining habits into your lifestyle could help you live more comfortably with the wildlife around you! I live on 3/4 of an acre, in a heavily wooded neighborhood (in my yard alone, there are over 100 trees). I also keep chickens, compost green materials from my kitchen, and keep cords of firewood outside for winter. This can attract some unwanted wildlife in the form of rats, mice, snakes, and roaches. My solution? provide habitat for my local opossums! I love opies! And I would love to tell you why!

Most people see a Virgina opossum, and they describe them as pointy nosed, beady eyed,naked tailed, over-grown rats. I have to say, I can’t really disagree…they aren’t the most beautiful creatures out there, but I LOVE seeing them in my yard! (and if you give them a chance, those beady eyes may just grow on ya a little!). Isn’t Willow just darling?

Remember those creepy crawlies I mentioned a minute ago? Rats, mice, snakes, and roaches? Can you guess what some of an opie’s favorite foods are? You got it. SO, by providing plenty of sheltered spots and a bowl of water on my back porch for my ugly little friends, I cut down on large numbers of the afore-mentioned! Best of all, I didn’t pay hundreds of dollars for some guy in a haz-mat suit to spray all kinds of harsh chemicals all over the yard and house where kids and animals play! WIN!

BONUS: you people that fear snakes, pay attention! the only snake venom that affects opossums is coral snake venom! Opossums are IMMUNE to snake venom! Translation: Opossums can eat almost every snake found in Texas.

I may or may not have mentioned it on this blog before, but as well as being a behavioral specialist for The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch, I work as an Animal Services Officer for a major city in North Texas. I am certified by the state of Texas to carry the title of Officer. The benefit of wearing two hats is the ability to tell you what happens on both sides of the story! That, and I often get to give the wildlife that ends up at our shelter a fresh start. I don’t like seeing healthy adult wildlife come into the shelter. There is no reason for it. At best, it is frivolously exposing these animals un-necessary stress, and every disease known to animal kind. There is one upside for me though! I get to release lots of healthy adult opossums (after a period of quarantine and conditioning! Don’t try this without proper training…survival rates for animals of any species that are nothing more than relocated are abysmal, and cause a multitude of other problems in the habitat if not done properly) at my house to chow down on the excess of rats and snakes that love living in my wooded area!

Okay, okay, some of you are thinking “I don’t want that ugly disease carrying animal in my yard!”…admit it, you’re thinking it! Well, let me put a wide spread opossum myth to rest for you. Contrary to seemingly popular belief, opossums are not carriers for rabies! Let me say that again. Opossums are NOT carriers for rabies! Now, some of you may be thinking “what does she know? she’s just a dirty, tree hugging, dog catching hippy! Any nocturnal animal active during the day must be sick, probably with rabies!”

Well, I do raise chickens, I compost, I recycle, and I do love animals, but by no means am I uneducated in my profession! Remember the pesky state of Texas? they keep harping on me to know stuff for some reason! Don’t believe me? Our very good friends at the DFW Wildlife Coalition agree! http://www.dfwwildlife.org/opossum.html Arm yourself with education! ❤

Let me temper my previous statement by saying that there have been known cases of rabies in opossums, but they are exceedingly rare. I want to make sure you absorb all of what I am saying, so I will repeat. Cases of rabies in opossums are so exceedingly rare that they cannot be considered carriers for the virus. Known cases of rabies in opossums are under bizarre circumstances in which the virus has been introduced directly into the brain tissue necessary for the virus to replicate. The reason? Well, we aren’t quite sure, but our best guess is that the opossum’s primitive makeup (it’s nervous system [ the channels the virus would take to enter the brain ] is not as developed and connected as modern mammals) and oddly low body temperature actually offers it some manor of protection from the virus. Actually, for this same reason, opossums are not really carriers of any diseases…they even enjoy immunity from dog and cat ailments like distemper! Not a bad trade off for such a short lifespan!

Key points! Pay your opies in shelter and water, and they will do your clean-up for you! Their services are effective for long term use, and incorporate all natural ingredients, free of charge!

What if the wildlife you are dealing with isn’t a prey animal but a predator? Well, I have examples for that scenario too! First, ask yourself why you want that animal removed. For me, it was a fox. She was absolutely gorgeous! Stunningly beautiful coat, very large individual. She had taken up residence under my shed. Over the course of several months, she thinned down my flock of 15 chickens down to four! I couldn’t let my girls free range and forage anymore due to this very persistent predator. The most frustrating part was that she was killing three or four chickens at a time, just to kill them. She was not eating them, just playing with them. The final straw was when she swiped my tiny frizzled bantie named Karma, and then took some chickens from my neighbors…young kids that I had given some chickens to. She had to go.

Why did I wait four months to do something about this animal? It was spring time, and I feared that she had kits under my shed that would perish without their mother. Fair is fair, and I had invited her into my yard by providing her with the perfect den, and easy access to food and water for her kits. But, now it was time for her to go! I could not have her ruining my young neghbor’s experience of raising backyard chickens!

What did I do? Well, I trapped my fox, and did something I am all too familiar with…I strapped on some elbow pads, and crawled under that shed! It was not a pleasant experience, but I found that my darling fox was not providing for kits. So, I sealed off the bottom of my shed using 3/4inch hardware cloth, a staple gun, and some landscaping bricks to make it look pretty, sprung the trap, and watched that beautiful animal bound away. I have not seen her since, and have not lost any chickens since then.

We humans seem to have this rather deep rooted fear of anything predator. Most of the predators we deal with here in Texas are going to be no bigger than a bobcat or a fox. At the largest, they are around twenty pounds…that’s about the size of a cocker spaniel if you need a size reference. The chances of an animal that small being tenacious enough to take on a kid or a dog are extremely minimal. Bobcats (and foxes) are not terribly brave, especially not the ones we deal with here in urban settings. They would not waste the energy on something so large. Bunnies and squirrels (and the occasional chicken! grumble grumble!) are more their speed.

So just sit back, relax, and enjoy your urban wildlife! If it isn’t being a nuisance, get it to work to your advantage (or just enjoy the eye candy!), if it IS, talk to us! We can help you find practical ways to resolve the problem! Not every wild animal needs to be “fixed” by a rehabber!


Plant sale continues!


Thanks to everyone who has participated in our charity plant sale and helped to raise desperately needed funding to support all of the wonderful animals in our care! Each and every one of the animals that come into our facility have been granted a second chance by wonderful people like you who support our cause. Without you, none of these animals would even have the dream of becoming wild and free again one day. Many of them are in critical condition, and in need of a lot of very expensive treatment. Every penny counts!

We still have a huge selection of fruits, veggies, herbs, and flowers to choose from! Come on out, support our native wildlife, and beautify your garden! Don’t need any plants for your garden, but want a way to help out? Of course, donations are always graciously accepted and more appreciated than you know! We are also in need of great volunteers that can help clean up and organize our special events, and make sure our animals are provided with the best quality care while they are with us. Ask us about volunteer opportunities!


charity plant sale!


Charity plant sale benefiting Texas wildlife! 11605 County Road 2312, Terrell Tx Saturday and Sunday! April 21st – 22nd, and April 28th – 29th, 10am to dusk. Plants, herbs, tomatos, custom raised beds, green houses, and more! Come check out our wildlife!


WREN classes starting again!


Okay, I can admit it, our experimental expedited WREN class did not go over as we had planned! So, after some re-planning, we are again preparing to hold new full length WREN classes! Interested in becoming a permitted rehabber? Curious about wild animal care? Or do you just want some really good knowledge? Well, come join us for a brand new session of WREN classes hosted by The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch!

We have not offered classes for a while, and the demand has not slowed. Space is extremely limited, and we already have quite a few students on our roster, so if you are interested, please contact us immediately! Classes will be held from February 11 to March 31st, 10am-4pm. Tuition cost will be $350 per student.

You can contact us at kari@crosstimberswildlife.org OR getwild@crosstimberswildlife.org

Register for WREN here! http://crosstimberswildlife.org/wren_class_registration Remember, registration is on a first come, first served basis, and space is limited! Once this class has been filled, no further registrations will be accepted!


Theo’s really big day!!!


Today, we made bobcat history! For the first time ever, we did an educational presentation, with a live bobcat! Two to be precise. Including our dear Theo. He did WONDERFUL! We are all so proud of him!

NBRR has put together a fantastic presentation on rural vs. urban bobcats, and we are working on integrating an element that anchors the presentation in reality by having a live education bobcat. The Master Naturalists Group asked us to present.

Theo was very good through the whole presentation, and was a real show stopper afterwards. He really helped bring the North American Bobcat to the forefront of people’s minds. The information that Valeri presented is stuff that has never been studied before. Just like the Murphy, Tx meeting. We had some wonderful questions.

Theo kept the energy flowing through tactile and visual experiences that reinforced the information in the presentation. Our little education hopeful is well on his way to becoming a fantastic presentation animal.

Theo may be on his way to changing how we as a society handles and associated with our native wildlife. What an amazing little guy! We hope that he and our other educational hopefuls will continue to be an ambasador for his species, and help to change people’s perceptions.


Baby season: The conclusion?


Apparently not! After a long bout of silence, we are again getting calls on baby bobs! Two from Plano, and a confiscation from Houston. His name is Peter, he is 4 months, and severely imprinted. At this age, the chances of reversing the imprint is not very good. Crosstimbers sees lots of bobcats every year. Many of them come in imprinted. This means they are accustom to, and even enjoy human interactions. If you have been following this blog, you know how dangerous that is for a predator which the public perceives as dangerous or aggressive.

It is all about public perceptions, and has precious little to do with the actual animal. Every year, a few imprinted bobcats end up at Crosstimbers. often, they are young; young enough to still have a chance at becoming wild again. Bobcats are wild animals, and they are wired to stay that way.  However, they are also social.  A wild animal hard wired to be a wild animal in a captive environment is not a good combination. The most dangerous animals we work with are the ones raised by people.

That is not to say that Peter is dangerous per se, but he has been played with in a very rough manner. He is accustomed to scratching and biting in play like a house cat…the difference is, Peter is going to be around 20+ pounds. That means we are going to have to do some major work with him. At Crosstimbers, we allow the cat to tell us when it is ready to be wild again. Some day, Peter may surprise us, and show us that he is ready. We shall see 🙂


Familial structures and other research projects


The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch is in a unique position to conduct research on a species that very little is known about. Yes, you can find out all kinds of information about bobcats. Just take a look on the internet. Use any browser you fancy. There will be plenty of web pages on the bobcat, but they will all basically be the same one or two page information sheet on “felis rufus” or “lynx rufus”.

The difference is, WCCR sees 60-70 bobcats annually. Many of them come in very young, often their eyes are not even opened. They also come in as litters, singles, and older cubs as well as adults. It gives us a wonderful perspective and insight into their personalities, habits, and social structures.  The best way to learn more about a species is to observe large numbers of individuals of the species. WCCR is using our unique position as an opportunity to do exactly that.

One of the things we are supremely interested in is the social structure of bobcats. So far, we have found that rural bobcats act extremely different from urban bobcats. Not only this, but that these cats express far different behavior than one might expect. For example, Pixie and Quincey. Both of these cats are hopefuls for an education program. Pixie, a young female kit and Quincey a nearly two year old male entering into sexual maturity.

I caught Pix and Quinc in one of their regular grooming sessions. Pixie and Quincey spend their time cuddling and playing. Quincey mothers and loves on Pixie as if he was her daddy. He grooms her, removes fleas, and makes sure she is squeaky clean.

You can’t tell from this series of pictures, but Pixie is currently about half Quincey’s size. One might expect a young male coming into sexual maturity to be unkind or even aggressive to a young kit like Pixie, but years of observing and recording activities just like this one has shown the staff here at WCCR that this just isn’t the case. There is still so much that we do not know about these amazing and elusive animals. Who would have guessed that an adult male would be so nurturing with a cub that isn’t even his? The bobcat is not an aggressive animal, and certainly not one to be vilified or feared.

Durring this photo session, Pixie actually laid her head down, and closed her eyes. You can see the bond these two share just from these pictures. These guys are so emotional, and form such strong bonds with one another, and with us. It is pretty incredible that an animal considered fairly solitary by most common knowledge is so emotionally connected to other members of its species.

These cats fill a wonderful nitch in our urban and rural ecosystems, controlling populations of pest animals like rats, mice, and snakes. Yes, they will go after a cute bunny or a squirrel or quail, but rarely will they ever go after anything larger than that. When they do go after larger prey, it is out of desperation. Usually caused by being relocated, and therefore starvation due to lack of familiarity with the area. Bobcats stay within their home range their entire lives, and so relocating them causes them to struggle until they can become familiar with their new surroundings. Of course, there are other factors that would come into play in these and other scenarios.

The point is, there is little protection for an animal that we know incredibly little about. When is it time to take action? When humanity creates a rarity out of such a wide-spread animal that we do not know if we can bring it back from the brink? How are we to learn more about this animal if we don’t protect them?


The Murphy Conference


The City of Murpy is having a conference to discuss the death of a bobcat, shot in the head while confined in a live trap. In a few days, the director of WCCR and myself will be on our way to speak on the subject.

We will see how it goes. The City of Murphy has expressed that they now realize that the situation could have been handled far differently. I completely agree. I hope that as an organization, we may be able to take this opportunity to not only educate the public on the true nature of bobcats, but also to educate city officials on wildlife in general, and more appropriate channels in which to handle said wildlife. Wish us luck on this endeavor. More on the subject later.


Theo’s grand adventures


The Theo saga continues with tonight’s terrifying fiasco. A day or two ago, little Theo the klutz managed to cut his leg on something. Who knows what. No big deal, his paw was a bit swollen, but pretty normal, and it looked as if  it had healed up just fine. Tonight, we let him out for his regular play sessions, part of his socialization as a possible education animal. He ran and goofed off and played like kittens do while we had a bit of a staff meeting.

As we were talking, I noticed a few fresh drops of blood on one of the boxes Theo had been playing in. I stopped everyone, and we searched for the bleeding animal. As we looked around the room, I noticed little bloody footprints leading to Theo staring at us, wondering why we are all staring at him.

I grabbed him up, the blood running down his tiny leg very apparent. We rushed him to the kitchen to wash it off and find out where the bleeding was coming from. At this point, we are very worried. That is a LOT of blood for such a little guy. Val took Theo, and I pressed my thumb onto his bleeding leg, while a volunteer rushed to the medical supply room to grab some gauze and a blanket to wrap the now pissed off and screaming Theo in.

Somehow, during his play time, Theo apparently reopened his cut, opening his vein in the process. This is a very dangerous situation for our little bobcat. If we can’t stop the flow, he will bleed out and die. We stop the bleeding just long enough to see exactly where it is all coming from before it starts bleeding again. Quickly, pressure is reapplied; the gauze is now soaked and red. So is my hand. We HAVE to find a way to make it stop! Val takes over applying pressure so I can go find some styptic powder.

His gums are pale, and he is acting faint. We have to hurry.

Lucky for us, Val knows exactly where it is. I follow her yelled instructions across the ranch house, and rush back to our little bobcat. We peel back the gauze just long enough to put a generous amount of powder on the wound, then recover with fresh gauze, and apply pressure again. We peel back the gauze just enough to apply a second layer of powder, then cover and apply pressure again. Not wanting to take any chances, we basically concrete his leg with styptic powder, wrap it in gauze, and then in a quick, temporary vet wrap.

We spent the next hour or so taking turns holding him, and holding his little leg above his heart, basically by having him lay on his back, and sticking his little feet in the air. We doctor him up with a little nutrical to support his now anemic system, and have instant glucose on standby just in case his blood sugar drops too low from the sudden loss of blood. He was very bored with that game after about 30 minutes. He starts squirming and fighting. The pressure on his leg hurts! so we dose him with a little bit of pain-killer (which has the added benefit of calming him down), and ten minutes later, little Theo is good and calm, and most importantly, not hurting.

After sitting with him, carefully watching him, and making sure he isn’t bleeding through his bandage, and giving his body plenty of time to close up that wound enough to do a really good job of wrapping it, we give him a fresh, much more visually appealing wrap in royal blue!

If cats have nine lives, bobcats must have 30. Theo has had so many near misses in his short life. We were lucky to catch this one when we did. For what ever reason, bobcats like Theo who come to WCCR in such critical condition ALWAYS need extra supervision, and a lot of extra support to stay in good health. Lucky for him, he has a team of well trained, observant staff watching over him.


volunteering anyone?


It has been an absolutely crazy baby season! There is so much going on at the ranch right now that we don’t even know what to do with ourselves! We have multiple openings for volunteers and interns out at the ranch!

The bobcats need you to help take care of them! We have a great intern and volunteer program, and plenty of spots in both programs to fill. It is hard work, and far more fun to do in groups! Come on out and get good and dirty with the staff at crosstimbers ranch! Diet preparation, enclosure cleaning and maintenance are all part of the job. Interested in working with wildlife and saving the lives of thousands of animals? Drop me a line, and lets set up a meeting!

We need carpenters, cage builders, vet techs, people who are just plain interested in animals and the environment, contractors, the works!  If you are interested in helping animals, the environment, or just enjoy working with your hands, we always have something right up your alley!

Help the community, and protect the environment. Become a Crosstimbers Wildlife volunteer or intern today!

kari@crosstimberswildlife.org


Hello Hoover


Hoover is our oldest resident. Hoover and his brother Kirby set the wheels for WCCR in motion. This year, Hoover is nine years old. His brother Kirby was placed in an AZA accredited facility www.aza.org along with another bobcat from Crosstimbers.

Many cats come here. The ones not suitable for release often move on to other facilities where they can become ambassadors for their amazing species.

When Hoover was little, he and his brother Kirby suffered from toxoplasmosis http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/. Their bout with this parasite left lingering affects. In Kirby, his vision was affected. In Hoover, his balance. Both of these senses are essential for a wild bobcat to thrive. Kirby is well suited to his current environment. Hoover remains here with us. Our gentle old man. Hoover sees himself as a six-week old kitten. He thinks he is still tiny, and that if he jumps into your arms, you should be there to catch him. he loves new scents, and new people, and basically ignores his keepers.

For Crosstimbers, Hoover reminds us why we open our doors to these under protected, misunderstood animals. He is gentle, quiet, and well-loved by all who know him. He is also our most photogenic cat, and loves his room-mate, Lenny!

Bobcats can live more than 30 years in captivity. here is wishing Hoover many more long, happy, healthy years!


Bobcat shot in the head wrong place, wrong time continued


http://www.wfaa.com/home/Police-Chief-Comments-on-Shooting-of-Caged-Bobcat-128049003.html

Okay, I feel the need to correct some mis-information in this reporter’s story. First and foremost, urban bobcats are NOT smaller than rural bobcats. Valeri did NOT say that, and it is not accurate. What our director did say was that the subspecies Texensis that we see here in our state tends to be smaller than the northern subspecies.

Urban bobcats by nature are more acustom to humans than their rural counterparts, and in general are not as frightened of people, and therefore do not go on the defensive as readily. You can actually usually approach one and get fairly close to it before it will simply get up and walk away. They can exist in extremely close proximity to humans, even going so far as to den in a suburban back yard. They may be there for years before you ever even see them. They will very rarely go after family pets, and usually, if a bobcat is doing so, it is because someone is trapping predators in the area, prompting new, and greater numbers of predators to move in on the open territory, making their main prey (rats, small birds, snakes) more scarce. Basically, it boils down to mis-management by us humans of urban wildlife habitats.

The entire point of Valeri talking with WFAA was to clarify the difference between the role animal control plays, versus the role that we as wildlife rehabilitators play. Animal control in general is not equipped to handle wildlife, especially predators like bobcats. That is where the wildlife rehabilitators step in. We work with animal controls across the state to help them humanely and safely handle and relocate these animals.

The issue with what we do as wildlife rehabilitators is that the line of work we choose is not funded. We do this out of our own pockets, and only in numbers that we can personally afford. This does not mean that we are not knowledgable, and in fact many of us have careers in the animal field outside of the work we do as rehabbers. Unfortunately, I do not think the reporter quiet got the point of our director agreeing to talk to them, but I feel I must step in, and clarify the message that NBRR and WCCR was trying to convey in this interview.

Bobcats do not regress to aggression lightly, and I dare say a caged animal is handleable. This cat was scared and trapped. Not a comfortable place for a predator in any capacity. Animal control and the police department did not handle the situation as well as they could have, and apparently did not do their research, or they would have found groups more than willing to help. It was a sad feeling to know that the life of this animal was needlessly ended due to fear and ignorance, not just because it was a sad event.


the “Why Impulse ‘Pets’ are a Bad Idea” Soap Box – a.k.a. update on Theo!


Little Theo has long passed the intensive hourly care he needed when he arrived, and has shown tremendous improvement from that sad little kitten on the verge of death that found sanctuary and strength in Crosstimbers, but for some reason, when we get these little critical babies in, they always seem to remain more compromised and more fragile than their counterparts who show up on our door step in good health. We have to fight to keep these little ones sound and healthy, and Theo has been no exception.

Though he has a tremendous appetite, Theo is quite small for his age, and slight of build in comparison to the younger kittens that are almost as big as he is. He runs and plays just like all the others, but he needs just a little more intense supervision and monitoring than they.

From the night he arrived at Crosstimbers, the fight for his life has been a constant battle. From the hour to hour care he needed to overcome severe dehydration, emaciation, and pneumonia, to th hypoglycemia scare when he was weaning, to calcium problems expressed in the odd over growth of his baby teeth, and then the severe tooth infection he experienced while learning about the consumption of whole raw foods (im talking his face so swollen that our vet and our keepers feared that the swelling might close off his wind pipe and prevent him from breathing without a strong regime of meds to keep the swelling down), it seems that at each new milestone we reach, Theo has yet another hiccup to overcome. We are there for him every step of the way. Experienced vet techs, animal husbandry specialists, and our staff vet all keep a close watch over this little guy.

As he grows and we continue to track his health trends, we are always concerned that this will be a constant throughout Theo’s life, and without the support of his very own medical team in his wild world, the question becomes whether his health allows him to be a candidate for release. Intensive treatment after treatment only further imprints him on humans.

Who knows? One day, Theo may tell us that he is ready to be wild. He is young yet. We will continue to monitor his health, and he may yet have a chance to be wild again. Then again, he may follow Quincey’s path, and tell us that he will never be ready to face the wild world like he was always meant to. The saddest part in Theo’s story is that this all could have been prevented with a little fore-thought from those who found him.

Bobcats are extremely sensitive creatures, and can be very hard to raise. Especially random babies found abandoned by their mothers. The amount of lasting damage done to Theo’s little body by his stay in the hands of his discoverers is unknown. All we can do is use our experience with this animal to support and guide him through this journey we call life.

For now, Theo remains happy, health, and playful. He enjoys life, and is lucky to have found himself under the watchful eyes of WCCR.


Dillo in a well


 

So as Jade and I were walking some property, prospecting a new location for the ranch, we came across an old, dry, uncovered well. 

The kind of people we are, we had to stop and check it out. As we began to look down it, we noticed claw marks on the moss on the walls.

To our amazement, there was a nine banded armadillo curled up in the bottom. We located a very long branch (the well is more than ten feet deep), and touched him with it to see if he was still alive. The poor startled creature jumped up and grunted.

 

 “Oh my goodness, what are we going to do?!” we both thought about it, and grabbed the catch pole I carry in my car, and a couple of leashes, hoping to lower it down and tighten it around his middle and haul him up. To our amazement, it worked. we were able to pull the poor armadillo most of the way out of the well, but when I reached up to tighten the pole just a little more, the armadillo’s slippery armor slid through the loop on the end of the pole and he fell nearly ten feet back to the bottom of the well. It was a horrible, sinking feeling…who else is going to bother to pull an armadillo out of an old well in the middle of nowhere?

By this time, it was getting dark, and we were unable to continue trying. The next day, we intended to come back with a latter and an animal crate. Well, unfortunately, none of our buddies with trucks were available, and the latter wouldn’t fit in our tiny cars. So, we had to go with plan B…bring the dillo food and water until we can get him out of the well. We grabbed some shallow light weight dishes, mealworms, and a bottle of water. Once at the well, we dropped the dish of mealworms down, and the second dish down empty. We filled it with water, and left him again.

Well, as you know, we all have “real” jobs outside of our volunteer work with WCCR….soooo, Jade and I were not able to return to save him today. Lucky for us, our director could! She took the ranch truck and a little help, and my text message directions….I thought she would never find it from my directions, but she did! Here is our fearless director, Valeri, climbing out of the well, bringing our little armadillo to freedom!

Thank goodness for armadillos tough tails! This may look harsh, but this was the safest way for both armadillo, and rescuer in this situation, and trust me, the armadillo isn’t even phased by it. Armadillos have strong, powerful tails, and strong, powerful bodies. They often “jump” by popping up into a ball to fend off predators. By carrying him by his strong tail, it minimizes the chance that he will use this instinctual defense potentially ending up in injury for rescuer and armadillo on the way back out of the well (by the way, unless you are trained in handling armadillos, I do NOT recommend this).

And this is why, my friends, we always cover up old wells. What if this armadillo had been a small child? This well is not visible from any public locations, and the nearest neighbors are acres away. This well is obviously large enough for a grown individual to get in to. That is a ten foot latter that Valeri is using to climb out of the well.

For now, the armadillo was brought to safety at the ranch, and the well will be covered to protect any other critters from meeting their demise alone in a dark hole in the ground. Go wildlife warriors! lol


New Caging


Its time again for my regularly scheduled beg for money. We are well past the time of being comfortable with the future of the ranch. The property we found that would work for us would take less than $50,000 to give us a fresh new start. Unfortuately, it appears that I cannot find a way to get that property to finance, and no one has offered to purchase it in cash and donate it or owner finance it to us ha ha.

I also haven’t had any luck finding another suitable property for a price affordable for our 501(c)3. We have discussed a solution that may work for us, but it will cost us about $10,000 minimally. We don’t even come close to having that kind of money available. If anyone out there can help us out, please contact me. In order to stay afloat, we will need a serious injection of cash at this point. As with every 501(c)3, we can provide some serious tax write offs, but in these times when people care less about the natural world, and more about their own families, it is really tough to find people who are willing and able to help wildlife organizations like our own.

Even Wild Care (that has been serving the metroplex for 27 years) announced recently that they will be closing their doors. More and more wildlife organizations are struggling or closing their doors.

As more and more of these big organizations close their doors, the stress on the remaining orgainzations increases. This is only the beginning of the problem. The work that we do goes largely unpaid. Wildlife trappers are the only other option, and they charge a ton of money for what they do. Generally, they may charge $1500 to trap, and then turn around and pawn the animal off on a center like ours, without so much as sharing a dollar. They get the better end of the deal. They drop the animal off on us, and we incure the expense of keeping it. Infact, some trappers wish that we would close our doors. If people do not have a place to bring the animals themselves (free of charge), they end up having to pay the trappers to take them.

But. What happens when there aren’t any centers for the animals to go to? Are the trappers going to keep and rehabilitate these animals? Doubtful. Rehab is not cheap……

Even if by some incredible chance, we find that donor willing to buy the property in cash and owner finance it or donate it to us, or lease it to us for a dollar a month, we still need caging. It will run us around $5,000-$10,000. It looks bleek for us. We were supposed to already be settled by this point.