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General

  1. Neither mammal or bird parents will reject their baby solely because it was touched by humans. THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT HUMAN SCENT. I have, personally, returned baby birds, baby bunnies, baby raccoons, and fawns with absolutely no problems.

  2. Many wild animals are susceptible to domestic animal diseases. If you insist on allowing your pets to run free, please protect them and our wildlife by making sure they get their annual vaccinations. This will not only protect you from unnecessary vet bills but will spare our wildlife from the ravages of domestic animal diseases.

  3. Rabies: with the exception of a few bats, B.C. is and has always been rabies free. This disease has been kept at bay both on the Island and throughout the province due in great part to our pet owners getting their pets vaccinated, and keeping these vaccinations up to date.

  4. DO NOT EVER feed or give water to any wild creature, period. Creatures in trouble are often severely dehydrated and cannot process fluids given orally, let alone food. In fact, providing food or water to a critical creature may be the final stress that kills them. Seek help from one of the sources on this website, or a vet. Always err on the side of caution, doing nothing is almost always better than trying to do something, once the creature is in a secure, dark, warm environment.

Rabbit

There are two basic rabbit types on Vancouver Island, the non-indigenous Eastern Cottontail, and Feral Rabbits (pet bunnies set free).

  1. Mother Rabbits DO NOT CARE if a human touches her nest or her babies.

  2. Tiny baby bunnies with their eyes open are fully mature, and on their own.

  3. Cottontails are rarely destructive, they prefer wild/weed vegetation.

  4. Feral Rabbits are ALWAYS destructive, both with their extensive burrows and their enormous appetites for anything that grows.

 

Cottontails

These are the small multi toned brown/grey bunnies with the white cotton tail, they breed almost year round, average 2-7 babies per litter, and are generally non-destructive. The Mama bunny excavates a hole equivalent to a 500 ml measuring cup, lines it with dry plant material and fur plucked from her breast. Often this is in the plantings at the house foundation, but can just as easily be in the middle of the lawn or under a tree or shrub.

Once born, Mama Bunny will only visit the babies once or twice daily, very early dawn or very late at night. She lays across the top of the tiny burrow and the babies nose up and through the fur and plant material to nurse. This will only take a minute or two, so never be surprised if you don't 'see the mother bunny' come to feed her babies, this is natures way of protecting the helpless baby bunnies. They will stay in this safe burrow for 7-10 days at which time they will open their eyes, scatter from the burrow, and start to eat solids.

Although small at this time, often not much bigger than a hen's egg or small orange, it is perfectly normal for them to be on their own, even if they do not show fear of humans. Once their eyes open they are mature enough to no longer need their mothers care or ours. Please, do not kidnap a perfectly healthy and happy cottontail, they do not need rescuing once their eyes are open, unless they are injured.

Unfortunately outdoor roaming cats wreak terrible devastation on these young bunnies. Please, if your cat comes home with a baby bunny, do not let it out of the house again for at least two weeks, that will give the bunnies time to grow up and move on. Remember, any animal that has been in a cats mouth MUST get antibiotics within 5 hours. The bacteria, PASTURELLA, is virulent and will colonize so rapidly that by the time the animal shows symptoms of illness (12-36 hrs) it is too late to treat or save the animal.



Feral Rabbits

These are pet rabbits either intentionally or accidentally set free, and wreck tremendous damage on both the ecosystem and our property. A feral rabbit can be of any size, color and pattern, in fact, anything that does not have the distinctive cottontail coloration is most likely a Feral. Dealing with feral rabbits usually ends up in the death of the adults (once wild, they rarely will tame down enough to make safe pets, the reality of biting, kicking and scratching is too real), and the possible salvage and adoption of the babies.

Unfortunately they are very prolific breeders and can easily produce 10-12 babies every 30 days, pretty much year round. The baby bunnies start to reproduce at 6 mths of age. That cute bunny that takes up residence in your yard will easily produce 60 babies in 6 months, at which time the survivors of her first litter will also begin to reproduce.

Another unfortunate habit of these rabbits is their tendency to burrow, and burrow and burrow. Extensive rabbit colonies of interconnecting tunnels and chambers that will not only undermine any structure they burrow under, they are often close to the surface causing people, children and pets to fall through while innocently walking in their own backyards. This commonly results in injuries from twisted ankles to fractures.

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Deer

  1. Do not ever approach or touch a fawn. Aggressively keep others and their pets from harassing it. If you have any concerns not answered below, contact an experienced Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre from this website.

 

Fawns

Fawns can be singles, twins and sometimes triplets. They are born from early spring to early summer and are identified by their tiny size and characteristic white spots. A newborn fawn is often compared to the size of a large house cat with really, really long legs, the Mother Deer, or Doe will often leave her young unattended for very extended periods of time, particularly in the first few days. This is not neglect, a newborn fawn has no scent and is safer motionless and alone rather than trying to keep up with its mother. She will periodically return to feed the fawn, and within a few days the fawn will be strong enough to join its mother on her never-ending quest for forage.

Newborn fawns are toooo adorable, but please do not unintentionally turn this innocent baby into an unnecessary 'orphan'. They will bond very rapidly, often in minutes, to any mammal that comes near. That means that quick peek you decide to take could mean the loss of a natural upbringing for the fawn. They will start to toddle about, trying to follow you, please, you must be cruel to be kind. If a fawn latches on to you, frighten it by clapping your hands, shouting, jumping, lunging, anything that will get it to back off and leave you, and other humans/pets alone. You may need to be what seems to be horrifically aggressive, do it, other wise its life will be permanently compromised. Please dig out your binoculars and watch quietly, from a long distance away.

A fawn in trouble can usually only be identified by an experienced Wildlife Rehabilitator. If it is still partially encased in the amniotic sac, is bleating 'maa, maa, maa' non-stop, obviously injured, or has been in one place longer than 24 hrs it possibly needs help. Do not try to intervene without contacting a Wildlife Rehabilitator first, even a tiny baby fawn can slice you with their razor sharp hooves.



Injured Adult Deer

Unfortunately, not much can be done for an injured adult deer, unless it is down and literally cannot get up. They are very susceptible to stress and any attempt to restrain or capture them is more often fatal.

Fortunately they are also magnificent at dealing with disabilities, including living with only three functioning legs, massive jaw injuries, loss or impairment of an eye etc. More often than not if an injured adult deer has chosen your property for its convalescence it will hang about for 1-3 weeks slowly healing and adapting to the new injury. Providing supportive care such as a water trough and food (contact rehabilitator for specifics) supplements can make the difference between life and death at this critical time. Enjoy the honor that has been bestowed upon you, an animal has sought sanctuary from you, this is a rare trust.

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Raccoon

Common misconceptions about raccoons:

  1. They WILL NOT attack and/or eat your children.

  2. They WILL NOT attack and/or eat your cat (unless the coon is desperate for food and the cat won't share!), 99% of the time raccoons and cats get on just fine and are quite commonly friendly.

  3. They WILL NOT attack and/or eat your dog.

  4. No, we DO NOT have raccoon rabies in B.C. or on Vancouver Island either historically or at the time of this writing (March 2003).

  5. No, you MAY NOT keep a raccoon or any other wild creature as a pet, it is illegal.

  6. Yes, raccoons are clever and will eat chickens, turkeys, ducks and other unsecured farm stock. But so will mink, feral cat, dog, wolf, cougar and bear. Please properly protect your farm stock and do not leave them as 'sitting ducks'.

  7. Yes, they will and do use 'pet doors', windows etc. to gain access to your home and pet food. The solution to this is simple, shut the 'door'.

  8. Yes, they will get at unsecured garbage, but so will mink, feral cat, dog, wolf, cougar and bear. Do yourself a favor, and secure garbage from all these 'trash marauders'.

  9. Yes, they will take up residence in improperly sealed attics and crawlspaces. Initially entering to eat the rodents (they hate rats/mice and love to hunt, kill and eat them), but often this leads to their using the space as nursery or winter dens.

  10. Yes, they can climb downspouts, all forms of siding, stucco, you name it, almost no vertical surface is coon proof, including pure metal lamp standards. Exceptions are sheet metal, or other slick, non-porous, non-grooved or perfectly cylindrical materials.

  11. Yes, if cornered a raccoon may become aggressive, as will your pet dog or cat for that matter. I must say though, I have never encountered this and I routinely collect wild babies right in front of wild Mama Coons during evictions, and have never been hurt, or attacked.

  12. Yes, it is perfectly normal for a raccoon to be out during the daylight, especially during low tide (for foraging shell fish etc.), and while nursing.

  13. Raccoons have a very clearly defined 'safe zone', within 5-10 feet they will commonly stand up on their hind legs and growl or hiss at approaching humans. This IS NOT a raccoon attacking, this is a scared raccoon trying to get really big and make you afraid - and it usually works, most humans faced with this turn tail and run.

  14. Raccoons will take advantage of any and all food sources. This includes your compost, garbage, pet food, fruit trees etc. If you have unwanted raccoons call the centre for help, but first make sure you have dealt with all the sources of food and water you are unwittingly supplying. Once the food source dries up there is no need to come visit at YOUR house.

 

Raccoons In General

Raccoons usually breed from late winter to early spring, carry their young 60-65 days, giving birth to 1-7 babies, usually in early spring, but as late as early October here on the Island. The kits are blind and deaf for the first 3-4 wks, and do not even start to crawl until they are 4-6 wks, with walking out of the question until 6-8 wks. Throughout all this time they will remain helpless in the nursery den, totally dependant on Mama Coon for nursing.

At 6-12 wks she will move them to the second den and begin, one at a time, teaching them about the world around them. My experience on the Island is that the females nurse as long as four months, and the babies stay with Mama Coon at least 10-12 months, heading out on their own around the time Mama Coon comes into heat and prepares to breed.

Trapping and releasing raccoons, especially in spring or summer is almost always a long lingering death sentance. The kits are extremely slow to mature, and although they act tough and seem 'big enough' they are completely incapable of sourcing food or identifying danger until at least 6-8 months of age. Frankly, in mine and others experience trapping simply becomes a hobby, not a solution. A raccoon friendly area will simply attract other raccoons, leading to more trapping and more relocating. If the source of what attracts them is discovered (pet food, compost, fruit trees) and dealt with the raccoons will simply move onto greener pastures on their own.

Raccoons are omnivorous, which means they will eat just about anything. They do have a preference for rodents (rats/mice), pet food, and those nice koi or gold fish in your pond. Raccoons often cause problems for people unfamiliar with their intelligence, the key with coons is to never try to beat them, I guarantee you will lose, in the long run. There are simple, cost effective means of dealing with problem raccoons, that are permanent and humane (unlike trapping and relocating). Please contact Lorinne at coonladylori@hotmail.com if you are having any difficulty with raccoons.

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Birds

Songbird Babies

Most baby birds (that are uninjured) in Wildlife Rehabilitation Centres never required care. Please seek help, before intervening, if you are unsure if a bird is in trouble. This will prevent you from unknowingly committing a 'birdnappping', and eliminating an otherwise healthy birds chances for a natural upbringing by its parents.

  1. Birds essentially have NO SENSE OF SMELL. They do not care if you touch their babies, in fact would far prefer you pick up and replace a wayward nestling than not.

  2. On Vancouver Island over half of our birds are ground nesters, not tree or bush nesters. It is not only common for a nest to be at or near the ground, this is normal for many species.

  3. Fledgling (mostly or fully feathered birds, as yet unable to fly) birds also spend time on the ground, often several weeks while gaining strength in their wings. Leave them alone, they are fine, if you watch carefully you will most likely see Mama and Papa bird feeding the fledgling/s. Please do not 'birdnap' a perfectly normal bird.

  4. Please keep cats indoors, or restrained via leashes or enclosures when outside. The toll cats exact on the young, flightless birds is horrendous, unnatural (yes I did say unnatural, cats ARE NOT a normal or rightful predator of Island wildlife), and completely unnecessary. If a plague, oil spill, or toxic waste dump was putting our bird populations at risk no one would tolerate this, so why would anyone think it was 'okay' for pets to attack, maim and kill them.

 

Hatchlings

A chick that is just hours or days old, naked, perhaps some fluff. Should be in the nest, being cared for by its parents.

 

Nestling

A chick that is eyes open, lots of downy feathers, unable to fly. Should be in the nest, being cared for by its parents.

 

Fledgling

A baby bird that looks almost (or is) fully feathered. At this age it is commonly out of the nest, as yet, unable to fly, often on the ground hopping around. It is still being cared for by its parents, and is just starting to self feed.

DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT TO FEED OR GIVE WATER TO A YOUNG OR INJURED BIRD, THIS WILL MOST LIKELY CAUSE ITS DEATH.

Always seek help, it is illegal to keep a wild bird, even though you may be saving its life, only a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator can legally keep and care for orphaned or injured songbirds.

 

Adult Birds

A fully grown, long tail feathered bird that is acting strangely may be ill or injured. Usual causes for an adult bird to be in distress are impact injury, parasite infestation, emaciation, and cat attack.



Impact Injury

This is normally a result of being hit by a car or flying into a glass window. Generally the bird appears groggy, and often appears unfrightened and is unable to stand or fly.

If you witnessed the impact, or it is obvious from the location you found the bird that this is the problem get a cardboard box, just large enough to hold the bird, and punch it full of ventilation holes (this prevents over heating). Carefully place the bird inside and close it, securely, to prevent the bird from escaping once it 'wakes up'. Put the box in a very quiet, dark place (cool area in summer, warm area in winter) and leave the bird completely alone for an hour. In the meantime contact a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and explain the situation as fully as possible. Often after an hour the bird is fully recovered and can simply be set free, if after three hours it has not fully recovered it must be taken to a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre as it will require long term care, medication and other treatments.

Birds run into windows as they do not 'see' the glass. This can be prevented in several ways.

If you have blinds do not completely retract them, instead use the rod to simply 'tilt' the slats.

Do not open curtains or blinds on windows that are directly opposite or in line of sight of each other, the birds see this as a clear corridor and will continuously be running into them.

Place decals, wind chimes and other affixed or hanging objects in front of large picture windows, this breaks up the glass and makes it visible to the birds.

Don't clean your windows! The 'dirt' lets the birds 'see' the glass.

 

Parasite Infestation

This means the bird has picked up some sort of parasite (worms, flukes, other nasty creepy crawlies that get onto or into the bird) that has either impaired or made it impossible to feed and care for itself. These birds are usually grounded, often bedraggled, with ruffled or damaged feathers, and often will not try to escape or show fear when approached.

Get a cardboard box just big enough for the bird, and punch it full of ventilation holes (to prevent overheating). Place the bird inside and either contact a Vet Clinic or a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. This bird will most likely require medication, rest and feeding until it can regain its strength.

 

Emaciation

This bird will also appear much like a bird with parasites, and may well have parasites. An emaciated bird is one that is literally starving.

When you actually pick up the bird to place in the cardboard box you will feel that its breastbone is extremely prominent - there will be a large ridge poking out from the centre of its chest from just below the throat to just above the belly. On either side of the breastbone there will be very little, if any 'meat', the muscles will have wasted away. This bird will need immediate specialized treatment if it is to survive, get it to a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre as soon as possible. DO NOT TRY TO TREAT OR FEED THIS BIRD, it requires very specialized care, without professional treatment it will die.

 

Cat Attack

Once a bird has been in a cats mouth it will most likely contract PASTURELLA, and without antibiotic treatment die. Even if the bird appears to be unharmed, within 12-36 hours, if there was ANY blood/saliva contact the bird will die. Please do not 'let go' these apparently uninjured birds that your cat has brought in, please get them the medical treatment they need from a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

CONSIDER PUTTING A 'BIB' ON YOUR OUTDOOR ROAMING CAT. Bells do nothing to protect birds and other wildlife from the predation of cats. Purchase (at The Backyard Wild Bird and Nature Store, in Nanaimo, (25...) or make a bib for your cats collar. These are made from the same material as most 'mouse pads', a slightly tapered rectangle or triangle that hangs (the narrow part) from the cats collar to just below the cats knees. The wider part at the bottom should be 3-5 inches across, depending on the cats size. When the cat crouches down preparing to spring the 'bib' lays out in front, when the cats front paws shoot forward to pounce they encounter the 'bib', tripping the cat and allowing the wildlife both warning and time to escape.

 

Raptors

These are owls, hawks, falcons and eagles, also known as Birds of Prey. Most of the information above regarding adult songbirds is appropriate for Raptors, the only difference is Raptors can be dangerous to handle with their beaks and talons. When handling Raptors use several layers of thick blankets or towels, and often the addition of welding gloves or other heavy leather gloves is a very good idea. A suitable cardboard box is often not handy when dealing with these larger birds. Ideally a large plastic dog kennel (NOT METAL this will damage feathers) is the best container, but a large 'Rubbermaid plastic tote' or clean garbage can is a great substitute, just be sure that it is well ventilated (CRITICALLY IMPORTANT if you intend to use the lid that comes with the container) by using a pillowcase or sheet over the top and secure it with bungee cords, tape, or rope. Contact and transport as soon as possible to a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

Eagles are known to 'swim' in oceans and rivers, this is usually during salmon season and they have 'caught' a salmon that is too large to fly off with. They 'row' to shore with their wings.

 

Ducks, Geese and other Water Fowl

This basically includes anything with webbed feet. The young of these birds will imprint almost immediately on anything that moves, including you!

 

Ducklings (baby ducks)

These downy yellow/brown/black balls of fluff commonly get lost as they will follow anything that moves. Duckling Mum's WILL NOT accept anothers babies, and in fact will KILL anothers babies. DO NOT attempt to reunite these babies unless you are completely certain you know who Mum is. Ducklings are extremely fragile - stress, improper feeding, lack of heat will kill them in a matter of hours. Do not handle them beyond placing in a small ventillated cardboard box with non ravelling bedding to snuggle into to keep warm. Contact a Vet or Wildlife Rehabilitator with the utmost urgency if you want the baby to survive.  

Goslings (baby geese)

These downy yellow/brown/grey/black balls of fluff commonly get lost as they will follow anything that moves. Often you will find a Mama Goose in the vicinity (fortunately they cannot count), and it is easy to pop the baby in with any family of geese where the babies have the same coloration and size as your "lost" baby.

If you are certain there are no 'like' families around after 30 minutes of searching, then as quickly as possible get the baby to a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. They are very fragile, and when alone they lose body heat rapidly. Time kills these little guys, do not delay, seek help immediately.

 

Injured Adult Water Birds

Ducks, Geese and Swans are often injured by unleashed pets, wild predators, and humans either shooting or hitting (sticks, rocks, cars) them. As with Raptors, be very careful if you choose to tackle a large goose or swan, they have very powerful wings and have been known to break a human leg with their wings. Unless the bird is literally unable to escape, capture is often impossible. A goose with a broken leg will still fly away as soon as you get too close. A duck or swan unable to fly will often stay near or in the water, again making capture difficult or impossible. They are best contained in the same manner as the Raptors, cardboard boxes, Rubbermaid totes, large dog crates or kennels (plastic ONLY, anything metal or wire will damage feathers) and lastly a clean garbage can. Contact and transport to a Vet Clinic or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Keep in mind that flightless birds ARE NOT always injured. Geese (and all other birds) must periodically 'moult' their feathers and grow new ones. For unmated yearling Geese this can be as early as June, for females that had a clutch to rear this could be as late as August. One parent will be capable of flight throughout the raising of the babies. Often the large Canada Geese decide to do their 'moult' in the oddest of places, parking lots or other expanses of concrete in particular. If possible, shoo it to the seclusion of grasses/bushes, if it is a hazzard or in danger it may need to be moved to the nearest lake/marsh area.

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Marine Mammals

On Vancouver Island the closest Marine/Aquatic Mammal Rehabilitation Centre is on Saltspring Island - the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre. Their telephone number is (25.... If for some reason you are unable to reach a marine mammal specialist, call the nearest Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (listed under links), we have all assisted the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre at one time or another. Outside of Vancouver Island, closest contact for marine mammals may be the Vancouver Aquarium 604-258-SEAL (7325)or see the links pg.

 

Harbour seals and pups

Contrary to popular belief it is not common for a very young seal pup to be left alone here on Vancouver Island. Generally the mother seal will remain with the pup until the pup is strong enough to accompany her in the water. A young Harbour Seal Pup alone SHOULD ALWAYS be considered an abnormal situation, please observe carefully, from a distance, preferably with binoculars. Unless there is obvious injury, or other reason for concern continue this observation for at least an hour - on the off chance Mama is out feeding, or was scared off for some reason she will certainly not return if there is human/animal activity around her pup. If at any time you feel there is reason to be concerned contact a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre that knows seal pups, preferably a Marine Mammal Facility. DO NOT CLOSELY APPROACH THE PUP, without first seeking specific instructions, their bite can be very severe.

 

Potential Reasons for Concern

  • A healthy seal is very plump, and roly poly, with the appearance of a 'stuffed sausage' - no neck or waist should be visable, simply a gentle curve from nose to tail. A narrowing between the head and body or a narrow, thin, concave or 'sunken' look to the stomach is almost certainly an emergency situation. As is the sight of 'rolls' of skin on the chest/belly - like it's wearing a sweater six sizes too large - this indicates how much weight it has already lost, a lot! Seek help immediately, by phone contact a Marine Mammal or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

  • A normal pup will be silvery/grey with darker spots (but do range from silver to almost black and everything in between!). A pup with fur that is partially or fully white/off white is (at least to some degree) premature. This is highly probable cause for concern. Seek help as soon as possible, contact a Marine Mammal or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre by phone for further information.

  • A very young pup (up to 7-10 days) will have its umbilical cord still attached. A pup alone at this age is considered highly probable cause for concern. Seek help as soon as possible, contact a Marine Mammal or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre by phone for further information.

  • A healthy seal will not display nasal discharge, bleeding/open wounds or irregular breathing. This is a probable, but not definite, cause for concern. Follow up with a Marine Mammal or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for further information.

DO NOT CHASE, FORCE OR TAKE ANY SEA MAMMAL OFF THE BEACH, INTO THE OCEAN. If it wanted to be in the water it would have gone there itself. Every year we deal with pups that were literally 'drowned' by wellmeaning people.

 

Sea Lions

Carefully read the potential reasons for concern listed above for Harbour Seals. If any of these four criteria give you ANY reason to be concerned, follow the instructions for contacting a Marine Mammal or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

 

Sea Otters

True Sea Otters are very rare these days along the B.C. coast, with current populations estimated at anywhere from 900 to 3,000. They are most commonly found off the Brooks Peninsula on Vancouver Islands west coast, and the Goose Islands off the central B.C. coast. Adult Sea Otters have light colored heads (white to tawny), with a dark brown body, slightly lighter underneath. They weigh from 30-45 kg's (70-100 lbs), have a long thick body, and a short tail -only about one third of their entire body length of approximately 1.5 m (4+ feet). They have flipper-like, paddle shaped feet, and are rarely seen on land (unless injured or if the female needs to rest after mating). A Sea Otter will groom and eat while on its back floating along, in large groups called 'rafts'. They give birth to just one pup at a time, while at sea! Most likely, the otters you see frolicking close to shore are River Otters, off for a swim in the ocean. For a description of River Otters look under Aquatic Mammals.

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Otters

These are animals that breathe air but spend a good part or most of their time in the water. Beaver, River Otter (often seen in the ocean), Muskrat etc.

 

River Otters

The comical River Otter has long whiskers, a big nose, and a long, slender body. They average 10-14kg (35lbs), are brown on top, and grayish or brown underneath. The long heavy tail is thickest at the base, flat on the bottom, and narrows to a stubby point. The fully furred tail is 1/2 to 2/3 of the entire 1-1.5 m (3-4 foot) body length of the River Otter. They have short, little legs with five webbed toes on each foot. The females have 3-4 babies (on land!) each spring, live in small single family groups.

 

Otter Orphans

Occasionally otter babies lose their Mum, they are not commonly about on their own, if being harassed by cats or other pets it is a good sign that they are in trouble. Contact a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for further instructions. DO NOT TRY TO TOUCH baby or adult Otters, they have a very fierce bite, and won't hesitate to use this defense mechanism!

 

Otter Problems with Humans

Unfortunately Otters belong to the mustelid family, that is the same group as skunks. Add to that their pungent diet of fish and shellfish and you can see why they do not make desirable residents under, in or around your home. If you are currently dealing with troublesome otters contact this site for help evicting them. If they have not moved in, follow these instructions.

Protect yourself from these adorable but smelly home invaders by ensuring your foundations are solid. If on a dirt crawl space, this becomes an excavation project. Staple hardware cloth (welded wire mesh no larger than 2cm squares) one foot from the bottom edge of your home, leaving at least three feet free. Now you must either dig a two foot deep trench at the very base of your home, or remove all the plantings from your homes edge, out two feet, and remove the first three inches of soil in this two foot margin. If you decide to trench, drop the mesh in so it hangs straight off the house, now backfill and tamp the earth well. If you prefer to re-landscape, take the mesh and where the house meets the ground fold it at a right angle creating the letter 'L', this will extend out over the two foot margin. Replace the earth and do some replanting.

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Beavers

Beavers are common but often remain unnoticed on Vancouver Island as they prefer to go about their business in the darker hours between dusk and dawn. The adults are surprisingly large: from 13-25 kg (40-60 lbs), their brown fur covered bodies are 60-75 cm (2+feet), with the characteristic paddle tail another 20-35cm (9-10in.), over one metre (1+yards) in length total.

In their third year they chose their lifelong mate. Both parents will help care for the tiny 500gm (1lb) kits (1-4) born in spring. These kits will stay two years in the family lodge, with the yearlings acting as babysitters for their newborn siblings. In the late winter or early spring of their third year these kits will leave the family to seek a mate and territory of their own. This is the time when they are most vulnerable, and most commonly require help.

 

Sick or Injured Beavers

Beavers are very territorial and will attack and injure a strange Beaver that wanders into their territory. These bites are often serious enough that (without treatment) they can be fatal. In their search for new territory they often use roads, this leads to them being hit by cars, also often fatal without prompt, appropriate treatment. Beavers that are injured may become aggressive, and can severely injure an unwary human who may try to help. Please contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator for assistance before attempting to help. Remember these creatures spend their lives chopping down trees with their teeth, they will most likely destroy any container (kennel) containing them in very short order!

 

Beaver Orphans

It is uncommon for beaver kits to become orphaned and this is usually the result of humans trying to deal with a 'beaver problem'. If a small (cat or football sized) beaver is found alone and is uninjured please observe from a discreet distance (via binoculars), and contact a Wildlife Rehabber for further instructions. If it is obviously injured, unmoving or otherwise seriously distressed this is likely an emergency and you ought to seek help by phone immediately. As with any wild creature, do not feed or give water, it is likely severely dehydrated and will require specialized treatment to correct the fluid imbalance. Water or food by mouth for any creature troubled in this way will almost certainly cause death.

 

Beaver Problems

Unfortunately Beavers propensity for dams and redirecting the flow of water can lead to conflicts with humans, property owners and roads being washed out. Beavers are unaware that we do not appreciate their special talents, so they tend to continue these 'destructive' behaviours, not to spite us, but because this is what they do. With a bit of effort you can thwart problem Beavers (with a little annual upkeep) permanently. Trapping, relocating, killing or otherwise 'eliminating' them will only work temporarily. If you have beaver friendly habitat your problems will only start again next spring with the new influx of two year olds seeking territory.

There are proven and cost effective measures that will deal with problems that arise from Beavers. Beaver Pipes installed in their dams will control problem flooding. 'Enclosures', Beaver Bafflers or Beaver Deceivers are all methods that deal with issues of road flooding. Preventing the harvesting of trees can be handled in many ways, from painting trunks with latex paint laden with sand to good old wire. Please seek help from a knowledgeable Wildlife Rehabilitator or check into this site: http://beaversww.org/solutions.html

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Squirrels

There are many species of squirrel or chipmunk type creatures. The basics will apply to any injured, orphaned at risk or problem 'squirrel'. The two most common that you will see are the indigenous Red Squirrel, also know as a Pine Squirrel or Chickaree, and the non-indigenous Eastern Grey squirrel.

 

Eastern Grey Squirrels

These are the large, 40-50cm (18-23 in.) grizzled gray or solid black squirrels that were introduced several years ago in Victoria. Unfortunately they are slowly working their way up island, with sightings as far north as Qualicum. This larger, more aggressive, fast maturing squirrel breeds twice annually - late winter and late spring - producing 2-3 babies in each litter and needs at minimum, 3 to5 times the forage area (avg. 5 hectares-often up to 20 hectares!) of a Red Squirrel. Please do not to encourage the spread of the Eastern Grey by trapping and relocating/releasing these large grey or black squirrels ANYWHERE on Vancouver Island.

 

Red Squirrel (Pine Squirrel, Chickaree)

These cheeky little fellows prefer forested areas, having a home range of 1-1.5 hectares. They are active all day and year round busily foraging for seeds (especially fir and pine cones), berries, eggs, fungi etc. Their short fur tends to be reddish brown on their backs and white or greyish white on their undersides. An adult is only 25-35 cm (10-12 in.) from nose tip to tail tip, their tails being 1/2-1/3 of their total size.

The females have one or two litters (3-7 babies) annually, usually early spring to late summer, nesting in hollow/downed trees, even building lofty leaf nests. The babies are born furless, weighing 13-17 gms (.5 oz)., and for the first two weeks they are basically naked, deaf and blind. By the third week they have grown (some) fur, are cutting teeth, and begin to hear. Eyes open around 4 weeks, weaning begins at 6 weeks, ending at 9 weeks, with full adult size reached by 8-9 months.

 

Baby Squirrels

After high winds furred, baby squirrels are found on the ground, blown from their nests. Assuming there are no obvious injuries it is best to leave the little fellow for Mum to collect. If the area is unsafe (pets) improvise a nest (berry basket, etc.) and attach it to the tree. Gently and carefully (beware - squirrel bites are VERY painful) pick up the baby squirrel with a cloth of soft, non raveling material (polar fleece), wrap it loosely and place in the substitute nest. Monitor the baby from a distance, and allow at least several hours for Mum to collect it. Do check periodically to ensure the baby is not overly hot or cold.

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Squirrel Mums DO NOT CARE if their babies are touched by humans or have human 'scent' on them. This will never, in any way, deter her from reclaiming HEALTHY babies
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Now is the time to contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator for more specific instructions. If the baby squirrel is furless, cold or injured it will need help immediately if it is to survive. Warm it in your cupped hands, and call for help without delay. Do NOT feed, give water/'formula' or use artificial means to warm the baby, done incorrectly your good intentions will cause death.

 

Injured Squirrels

Injuries to squirrels are usually due to falls (high winds), cars and pets, especially cats. Any small cage, or ventilated container will do for emergency containment of an injured squirrel while transporting to a Wildlife Rehabilitator, just remember, their teeth are for gnawing.

Cats - Any squirrel that is suspected of being in contact with a cat MUST receive appropriate antibiotic treatment. Cat saliva contains a deadly bacteria called pasturella that if left untreated will kill an otherwise healthy squirrel in 24 hours.

Trauma - Head injuries are indicated by an inappropriate lack of fear, or stunned appearance. Medication for reducing brain swelling will often be required to save this animal. Obvious fractures, tears, punctures, swelling or bruising will also require immediate professional help, contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator, or Vet immediately.

 

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Rehab Costs

Approximate Cost to Rehabilitate Healthy Wildlife Orphans in the year 2002
Species Formula Solids Nursery Utilities Housing Utilities Total
Squirrel $9.02 (8wks) $11.76 (4wks) $7.14 (6wks) $2.28 (6wks) $30.02 (12wks)
Cottontail $4.28 (2wks) $3.49 (2wks) $4.76 (2wks) $1.76 (2wks) $14.30 (3wks)
Raccoon $189.17 (8wks) $320.82 (10mths) $14.14 (6wks) $24.28 (10mths) $584.41 (10mths)
Robin n/a $17.42 (9wks) $3.57 (3wks) $2.28 (6wks) $23.27 (9wks)
Opossum $8.44 (10wks) $7.00 (4wks) $9.52 (8wks) $2.28 (4wks) $27.24 (14wks)
Duckling n/a $5.50 (12wks) $3.57 (3wks) $3.42 (9wks) $12.49 (12wks)
This does not include the costs of transportation, vaccines, antibiotics or other medications. Reprinted with permission from WildlifeRehabber.com 2002

 

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