All the most interesting wildlife

There are a few posts I want to make about what I do with my life. As in, what do I do in a day generally, and why am I so busy? On of the highlights is Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary!

RVWS is a small mammals wildlife and turtle rehabilitation center, and I’ve been volunteering there for 3 years now. Ever spring I return to be an animal care attendant where I feed and clean many different orphaned and abandoned little creatures. Right now I go every Wednesday morning and my day generally starts with feeding juvenile raccoons and cleaning their cages. We have quite a few skunks so I’ll move on to the juvenile skunk room and take care of them next. We also have a fox that has a severe mange infection that needs care. She’s doing well but still doesn’t have a lot of fur growing in yet. I go in and feed her and clean up her cage too.
Feeding consists of bottle feeding an amount of formula according to the animal’s weight, providing bowls or different foods, water, and more formula in a bowl. Cleaning consists of removing all the newspaper and replacing with clean paper (which they will most definitely dirty again in about 5 minutes) and giving them a new plushy toy to cuddle, washing the bottom, sides and wire tops of the cages. Taking care of all these juveniles takes around two hours lately but it can take a LOT longer closer to the beginning of the season when the rooms are just filled with cages of babies!

There’s also a juvenile squirrel room that is often full of eastern grey squirrels, red squirrels, and chipmunks. These little guys are fun to feed because they’re always hungry(meaning easy to feed!) and just too cute. I get to take care of them every couple weeks. When I work with the squirrels I feed and clean them up in the same manner I do the raccoons and skunks, but I also give the squirrels a bowl of fruits and vegetables. If there are any baby or juvenile groundhogs indoors then I’ll take care of them after the squirrels.

Halfway through the summer we start to move animals outdoors. First it’s the squirrels and then as the raccoons and groundhogs. They get moved outdoors a few at a time into groups based on where they were originally orphaned. Being outside aclimatizes them to outdoor weather, as well as gives them a chance to meet more of their own species. Mostly importantly it further removes them from human interaction. This is important because it(obviously) isn’t safe for wildlife to want to be close to humans or feel like need us for survival.

We have also taken over the SHELL turtle rescue. Right now we have blandings turtles, painted turtles, and snapping turtles. We even have a full grown male snapper that we think is about 30 years old! He came in with a prolapsed penis and since turtle reproduction is so important to the environment he was taken to the vet to have to replaced, making sure it doesn’t come back out when it shouldn’t. A lot of the turtles come in from members of the public that have taken them off of the side of the road when they’ve been hit and their shells crushed or broken. We repair the shells and keep the turtles until everything is healed enough to return to nature. Some females come in pregnant and lay eggs while in our care. Right now we have some snapper eggs and some painted eggs incubating.

My favorite part about working with RVWS is all the different animals I get to see.
Eastern Gray squirrels (in gray and black)
Red squirrels
Northern Flying squirrels
Chipmunks
Racoons
Skunks
Mink
Muskrat
Eastern Cottontail rabbits
Beavers
Foxes
Groundhogs

Sleepy squirrels

Littlest skunk!

Tiny chipmunk!

Juvie groundhog eating veggies while standing IN the bowl.

Another juvie groundhog eating veggies in one of the outdoor cages.

RVWS isn’t very big so we can’t care for more than a few hundred animals every summer. We rely entirely on public donations, that means NO government funding. There was even a risk of not being able to open this summer because of a lack of funding. Thankfully many donors came through with over $90,000 in just a few weeks! It was unbelievable. I’ve been able to get $1500 donated on behalf of my volunteer hours right from Starbucks over the last two summers. I work there part time and they will match an amount of money to hours volunteered to a chosen registered charity. Literally every penny counts for this small sanctuary!
Check out the website and read up on how you can help or just read but because you’re interested in what’s going on. Thanks for reading once again!

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