Greetings LIFEers! We were joined this week by Virginia Kennedy from the TWRC: Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a great non-profit organization that helps rehabilitate wildlife and educate the public.
Quick, put this number on your refrigerator or list of emergency phone numbers. 713-468-8972. The next time you come across an injured animal or find an abandoned nest, call the TWRC. They will talk you through the situation and tell you what to do, and usually, what not to do, when encountering wildlife.
Some interesting facts we learned; opossums are awesome! And they are also technically called opossums, not possums, but either is okay. Did you know opossums don't carry rabies and have fewer germs and diseases than your average cat and dog? Did you also know that opossums are great for getting rid of vermin, since they eat mice, snakes, roaches, rats and other creatures you usually don't want in/near your house? They also cause very little damage to property and gardens; they just root around looking for a little snack. Opossums are not attack animals, they only defend themselves by hissing and biting. They also can't jump, so if one gets in your trashcan, turn the trashcan on its side so the opossum can get out. They are the only marsupials in North America and are great creatures to have in your neighborhood. We were lucky enough to meet Frodo, the TWRC's resident training opossum. He was a little agitated at being awake in the daytime in a small cage, and he moved about erratically (hence the blurry photo below) but he was super cute.
A few more tidbits we learned in class:
1) Leave the wildlife outside in its natural habitat. Don't bring turtles, snakes and other creatures into your home to keep in terrariums. It stresses them out and they don't live long.
2) Many baby animals don't need to be rescued. Baby rabbits 4-5 inches long, and baby opossums 7-8 inches long (not including the tail) are old enough to live on their own.
3) If you find a baby bird, put it back in the nest if it is uninjured. Birds have a lousy sense of smell, so don't worry about the parents rejecting it because it smells like a human. If the nest is destroyed, make a new nest out of a basket or planter.
4) For all injured or abandoned animals, don't feed or water them! Put them in a big box or container they can't get out of (with air holes!) in a quiet, dry, warm place. You can put the box on a heating pad set on low. Then bring the animal to the TWRC as quickly as possible.
The TWRC is located near the intersection of I-10 and Sam Houston Toll road. They have give tours, speak to schools, and are always looking for volunteers.
Visit their website at http://www.twrc-houston.org/