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Wildlife Rehabilitation Articles and Papers


When Pets Attack Wildlife - A 3-part Series

Millions of wild animals are chased, captured, and harmed by domestic pets each year. Part 1 of this series describes a variety of wild animal health problems that can be found after such pet attacks, whether directly related to the pet or to conditions that may have occurred before or after the pet encounter. Part 2 offers reminders to identify the full suite of possible conditions, to assess if the wild animal is able to survive and be released, and to consider then a range of possible treatment options—rather than automatically turning to antibiotics as a solution when antibiotics may not be appropriate nor the only option. Part 3 describes some considerations to enhance the effectiveness of conversations with pet owners. (This series was also published in the NWRA Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, Fall 2013.)

Insolubility Issues with Milk Replacer Powders:  An Easy Fix

Wildlife rehabilitators caring for young mammals prepare milk replacement formulas. Most rehabilitators, over the years, have dutifully followed the mixing instructions indicated on product labeling. Instructions generally say to add water, gently stir, and the liquid formula is ready to use. This paper discusses issues related to these products lack of complete solubility, laboratory tests performed to measure insolubility and minor adjustments to formula preparation that easily address these issues. Also published in the NWRA Wildlife Rehabilitation Journal, Spring 2012.

Regulations Impacting Use of Volunteers, Interns and Staff:
Excessive Bureaucracy or Ensuring Quality Animal Care?

Many wildlife rehabilitators holding wildlife rehabilitation licenses or permits, especially those operating high volume rehabilitation facilities, have often enlisted help from others (volunteers, staff, interns). Most of the people helping rehabilitators with tasks involving direct animal care have not undergone rehabilitation licensure themselves. Recently, at least one wildlife agency clarified in their regulations how unlicensed people assisting rehabilitators with direct wildlife care shall be trained and supervised, permitted tasks they can perform and new recordkeeping requirements. This paper describes what prompted these new regulations, approved in Colorado in 2009, on a key aspect of rehabilitation that has generally not been addressed in state regulations. It describes the regulations as well as reactions from rehabilitators. Since rehabilitator practices regarding the training, supervising, and monitoring of unlicensed volunteers, staff and/or interns can have a direct impact on considerations of wildlife ‘possession’ and quality  of animal care, other state wildlife agencies may consider similar regulations.   Also published in the NWRA Wildlife Rehabilitation Journal, Spring 2012.

Factors Causing Gastrointestinal Problems in Juvenile Wild Mammals in Rehabilitation.

Gastrointestinal problems are, unfortunately, quite common in young wild mammals in rehabilitation. This paper describes challenges with identifying problems. It identifies over 75 common causes, including health conditions, husbandry, medical treatments, diet, feeding practices, and more.

Utilizing Squirrel Natural History in Rehabilitation Decisions.

(This article expanded and updated during 2011.) Natural history of wildlife in rehabilitation provides essential information for the care of young and adult animals, medical issues and appropriately handling calls from the public. This is one of a series of papers in a book published in Wildlife Rehabilitation Resources: Squirrels. The book is available for purchase from www.NWRAwildlife.org.

Considerations and Plans for Indoor Cages for Squirrels.

Rehabilitators need a variety of cages to appropriately and safely house squirrels of different species, sizes, ages and health conditions while in rehabilitation. This paper provides a description of many of the essential considerations used with indoor cages for juvenile and recovering adult squirrels. Two cage plans are provided as examples of safe and effective indoor cages for juvenile squirrels, not as outdoor pre–release cages. The plans result in cages that are inexpensive and portable, as well as easy and quick to construct, clean and maintain. The basic construction process and plans also may be used to remodel purchased or donated cages as well as to build similar cages for other species. This is one of a series of papers in a book published in Wildlife Rehabilitation Resources: Squirrels. The book is available for purchase from www.NWRAwildlife.org.

Aspiration in Juvenile Squirrels: Etiologies, Treatments, and Prevention.

Respiratory problems are, unfortunately, rather common in juvenile squirrels in rehabilitation. Such problems often result from feeding practices, whether by a rescuer, volunteer or even rehabilitator. Diagnostic methods as well as conventional, botanical and homeopathic treatments are described. Practical and effective tips to prevent aspiration are included. This is one of a series of papers in a book published in Wildlife Rehabilitation Resources: Squirrels. The book is available for purchase from www.NWRAwildlife.org. 

Twelve Common Causes of Stool Problems in Juvenile Squirrels.

Stool problems are very common in juvenile squirrels in rehabilitation. Familiarity with common causes allows the rehabilitator to prevent or reduce their occurrence, severity and duration, and resolve them quickly and easily, often without requiring medical treatment. This short paper describes twelve frequent causes of such conditions. This is one of a series of papers in a book published in Wildlife Rehabilitation Resources: Squirrels. The book is available for purchase from www.NWRAwildlife.org.

Etiologies and Treatment of Genital Injuries in Juvenile Squirrels in Rehabilitation.

Squirrel rehabilitators often care for juvenile squirrels that arrive with genital injuries or develop these injuries during rehabilitation. Genital injuries may be minor, or severe and possibly life-threatening. Falls or similar trauma may cause injuries to the urogenital system. However, more common squirrel genital injuries are self-inflicted or a result of damage by a cagemate. This paper describes such injuries, as well as causes and possible treatments. Photographs and a glossary add clarity to the paper. The paper was first published in the Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, 2009, published by NWRA. It also was included in the book Wildlife Rehabilitation Resources: Squirrels. The book is available for purchase from www.NWRAwildlife.org.

Wildlife Rehabilitators Do More than People Realize

Discussions about the benefits provided by wildlife rehabilitators often focus only on the animals receiving care and being released back to the wild. Rehabilitation of individual wild animals is a major objective and certainly valuable, especially for animal receiving care. However, rehabilitators provide a wider variety of services than most people may realize. This paper describes some of those services.

Wildlife Rehabilitators Contribute to Public Health

In addition to helping wild animals regain their health, wildlife rehabilitators activities can positively impact human health. This paper describes several ways that rehabilitators support public health, such as provide a facility to take care of wildlife, communicate information to the public about wildlife, reduce transmission of wildlife diseases, and inform wildlife and health agencies about wildlife health problems.

Reuniting Young Wild Mammals with their Mothers: Successful reunions benefit wildlife and caregivers (pdf)

People often contact wildlife rehabilitators to arrange to deliver a young wild mammal that they have rescued. Some of these young mammals, however, did not need rescue in the first place – and need to be returned to their mother. This article describes how rehabilitators can determine if the animal needs rescue and facilitate such reunions. These reunions benefit of the both the wild mammals that are allowed to stay with their family and the rehabilitator doesn’t want animals that don’t need rehabilitation.

Bordetella in Squirrels (pdf)

Since 2000, wildlife rehabilitators have been reporting an increase of cases of Bordetella in squirrels presented for rehabilitation – and others developing the infection after exposure at rehabilitation facilities. This short article describes Bordetella, symptoms in squirrels, and some effective treatments. It is helpful for both rehabilitators and veterinarians.

Rabbits Die of Cat Bites, So Why the Fuss?

It is all too common for small birds and mammals that have been injured by cats to be presented to rehabilitators. Many of these injured animals die as a result of the cat bites, either because the severe punctures or lacerations, or the infection transmitted by the bacteria from the cat’s mouth. This case shows the importance of a rehabilitator paying close attention and acting on what might have seemed like an all too familiar case of a rabbit dying of a cat bite, but was really a zoonotic disease. The article closes with reminders for rehabilitators, such as collecting the rescuer’s contact information, using safe handling protocols, and not assuming that an obvious problem described by the rescuer is the primary consideration.

Tips for Taking Photographs of Wildlife In Rehabilitation

Rehabilitators often take photographs of wildlife in rehabilitation. While some of the photographs turn out well and are useful, many are not. Here are some tips from fellow rehabilitators to help you achieve better and more useable photographs – and prevent difficulties for wildlife.

Strategies to Reduce Wildlife Needing Rehabilitation

Wildlife rehabilitation is more than helping wildlife that has been injured, orphaned, or displaced in order to return them to the wild. Wildlife rehabilitators work diligently to prevent wildlife from being injured, orphaned, or displaced. The following identifies a few strategies to help reduce the numbers of wild animals coming into rehabilitation.  It is a starter list meant to stimulate our discussion about how to prevent problems and keep wild creatures in the wild.

A Survey of Conditions Seen in Wildlife Admitted for Wildlife Rehabilitation

This study examined the results of about 150,000 wildlife cases to determine the most frequently seen conditions in wildlife rehabilitation. This paper was presented at the 2000 NWRA conference in Milwaukee, WI and published in the Conference Proceedings.

Utilizing Squirrel Natural History In Rehabilitation Decisions

The natural history of a wildlife species provides critical information for wildlife rehabilitators providing care for young and adult animals. This information is used to make many rehabilitation decisions, such as whether rescue is needed or release is possible, medical treatment, cage design, diet, and release habitat.  This paper compares how natural history information is used with different species of squirrels, including tree and ground squirrels. It was first published in Wildlife Rehabilitation, Volume 19, 2001.

Modifying A Feeding Nipple - reducing the risk of aspiration in young squirrels

Young squirrels in captivity may get formula in their lungs due to being fed with a utensil or nipple that does not match the mother squirrel's nipple size. Such aspiration problems can be fatal for the squirrel. This article describes modifying a feeding nipple to make it easier to control the flow of formula. Additional tips on preventing and treating aspiration problems are available in the Squirrel Rehabilitation Handbook.

When the Public Calls the Veterinary Clinic for Help with Wildlife

When the public finds a wild animal that they think needs help – whether it is abandoned, injured, or somehow in distress – many contact a veterinary clinic.  However, most veterinary are not as knowledgeable or prepared to handle wildlife calls as they are the domestic species that they work with on a day to day basis. This article offers some tips on preparing for calls about wild animals or when they are admitted to the clinic. This article is available for reprint by contacting wlrehabproject@me.com for written permission. It was first published in the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association in April, 2002.



Articles and Papers

This section of the website contains a collection of articles, papers and conference proceedings.

The squirrel natural history paper shows how that information is necessary in making rehab decisions.





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