Saturday Jul 30, 2022

Episode 12: What to do When You Find Wildlife with Eliza Burbank

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to PET | TAO.FM and the PET | TAO Holistic Pet Products podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Marc Smith, 20 year practicing veterinarian and co-creator of PET | TAO Holistic Pet Products. Today I'm joined by Eliza Burbank. We are going to talk about what to do when you find wildlife.

Eliza Burbank:

 Hi everyone.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Eliza is an important person to me. She is a mentee. She's also a veterinary student.

Eliza Burbank:

 Almost.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Well, close enough. I'm going to call you that, so that's what matters.

Eliza Burbank:

 Okay.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Okay. Then Eliza's credentials, and then that's going to carry us into what this podcast's about, but Eliza has been an assistant animal care manager at City Wildlife in Washington D.C. Can you tell us what you did there Eliza, please?

Eliza Burbank:

 Sure. City Wildlife was a wildlife rehabilitation center. They took in injured and orphaned animals in D.C., and would help them.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Rehabilitate them.

Eliza Burbank:

 Rehabilitate them back to health and then release them back into the wild if they could be released.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Okay.

Eliza Burbank:

 I assisted with that. I would help the vet staff treat wounds, feed animals.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 All those different type things. That gets to the point of this podcast and what the point is is that we want to identify what people need to do in case they come across, in their regular walks of life, injured wildlife, an injured animal, or some other animal that may need care.

Because lots of people call me every day and they say, "Hey, I got ... There's a deer in the backyard that's sick, or there's a squirrel that's been run over and it can't use its back legs."

Actually, as a veterinarian I don't know what the exact licensure is, I don't know, but I don't think I'm supposed to take care of those animals.

We need to tell people what they need to do in case they come into contact with animals in those situations. Eliza, what would you tell our listeners to do in case they came into contact with an animal, a wild animal, wildlife, what would you tell them?

Eliza Burbank:

 Well the first thing people need to figure out how to do is learn how to identify an animal that is actually injured, learn how to identify an animal that's actually orphaned. A lot of people think they found orphaned animals and the animals are actually perfectly healthy and they end up, for all intents and purposes, kidnapping animals and bringing them to wildlife rehabilitation clinics.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Deer, that's a big one.

Eliza Burbank:

 When they were healthy and actually would have lived a much better life if they'd been left alone.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 How do we do that?

Eliza Burbank:

 Well, so telling an orphaned animal is a little bit easier. If it's a baby squirrel that you find, they should not be alone or without the mom, so if you find a baby squirrel on the ground and it seems as though it might have been on the ground for a while, which you can tell if it has ants on it, or any kind of bugs on it, the mom should be taking care of that.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Mommy should be taking care of it.

Eliza Burbank:

 Then you know that that is an orphaned animal. However, you don't necessarily want to just take it if you find a baby squirrel on the ground. Sometimes the mom is able to come back for it. If there's no injuries anywhere on it, you can put it into a box, if you're worried about cats or something like that, but leave the top of the box open so that the mom can see, and put it up next to the tree that you think the mom came from.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Okay, that's cool.

Eliza Burbank:

 If you actually know where the nest is, it's okay too to bring the squirrel back up to the nest if you can reach it.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Okay.

Eliza Burbank:

 A lot of people think that mothers are driven off by the smell of humans, but that's not true.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Right.

Eliza Burbank:

 That's true for baby birds too. If you find a baby bird on the ground and you know where the nest is, put the baby bird back in the nest. Birds actually have almost no sense of smell, so they won't be able to tell that you've touched it and they'll be happy to have their baby back.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Right, okay. Then what about deer? I mean, in Tennessee we see deer. Deer have twins, most of them do, right? It's pretty common for one little baby to get off, away from mommy, and then a hiker or something says, "Oh, the baby's lost, pick up the baby, take it to the vet or do something." I think with deer it's just best to leave them alone, unless they have an overt obvious injury.

Eliza Burbank:

 Right.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 A bone sticking out, or they got blood pouring out of them. Wouldn't you agree?

Eliza Burbank:

 That's true. One thing that people usually don't know about deer is that baby deer actually don't stay with their mom while the mom goes off to feed. They will lie down in the grass, they try to camouflage themselves, they stay as still as possible, while the mom wanders around feeding.

It would actually be bad for the mom if the baby was wandering around with her, because animals attack babies if they see them. It's better for the baby to be as small and un-visible as possible.

They stay away from the mom and basically lie down for a significant proportion of the day and then the mom will come back and feed them.

Unless the baby deer is making distressed calls frequently, or has been in the same spot for multiple days, it's probably okay.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 That's kind of covered squirrels and deer, what's some other animals that we see? I mean, the ones I can think of are maybe hawks, or owls, that get shot.

Eliza Burbank:

 Right.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Or they get hit by a car, or that type of thing.

Eliza Burbank:

 Right. You have to be very careful with animals like that because their claws are very strong. Most people are afraid of the beak and they don't even realize that the claws of those birds are what you have to be afraid of.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 They'll eat you alive.

Eliza Burbank:

 You can get pierced straight through your hand in you're not careful.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Whole hand, gone.

Eliza Burbank:

 I would recommend calling a government organization, animal control, or a wildlife rehabilitation center. Walden's Puddle is one in middle Tennessee and they usually can walk you through what you need to do in the moment for the specific case, or sometimes they'll come out and pick up the animal for you.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Yeah.

Eliza Burbank:

 Because those are very dangerous animals and even if they're injured they can still harm.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Very dangerous, they'll hurt you.

Eliza Burbank:

 Right.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 They'll hurt you bad. Welders gloves, I have used welders gloves... I've handled some of those animals.

Eliza Burbank:

 Me too.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 In my 20 years, okay.

Eliza Burbank:

 Yep. We had an osprey one time that I had to hold and it was terrifying.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Yeah.

Eliza Burbank:

 You had to wear goggles over your eyes because they'll go for your eyes.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 They'll eat you alive, won't they? That gives you a little bit different perspective on people that handle the wildlife, doesn't it?

Eliza Burbank:

 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marc Smith, DVM:

 Sometimes when you get in there amongst them your perspective changes, right?

Eliza Burbank:

 It's a dangerous game.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 It is a dangerous game. The normal old urbanized person, they're going to come into contact with birds and squirrels. The take home message for those people just to reiterate is what?

Eliza Burbank:

 Well, don't try to raise them at home, always contact a wildlife rehabilitation organization, verify that they actually need to be taken care of first. If you think they're an orphan.

Marc Smith, DVM:

 It's really important.

Eliza Burbank:

 Make sure, because they do much better with mom than they do at home.

Don't try to handle a dangerous animal on your own, always get help with that, it's not worth the risk.

Actually, if it's a rabies vector animal like a raccoon or a coyote, if you try to handle them and you're bitten, they by law will have to be euthanized so that they can be tested for rabies.

It's better for the animal and for you if you get somebody else involved if it's a dangerous animal.

Marc Smith, DVM:

That's a real problem. Yeah, yeah. All right. Well, Eliza, awesome you did a fantastic job.

Eliza Burbank:

 Thank you.

Marc Smith, DVM:

It was great information that a lot of people can use. Ladies and gentlemen, if you liked our podcast and the topic today, then give us a rating on iTunes.

If you want to know more about the best ways to take care of your pet and empower yourself to make the best decisions for your pet's health, then go to www.pettao.com and look at our blog.

We have tons of great information that you can assimilate and learn and use to the best benefit of your best friend.

Thank you and we will see you next time.

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