A Christmas Surprise: Arrival of Squirrels Marks Last Wildlife Admission to Nelson Sanctuary | Recent news


After a record year of 882 wild patient admissions, the Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary is caring for Eastern Gray Squirrels during the Christmas holiday season for the first time in the history of the Shipman organization.

The two young squirrels arrived at RWS in early December after their nest was cut down by an electricity company. Their discoverer brought the young babies to RWS ‘team of licensed wildlife rehabilitators, who believed they had already released their last of their patients by 2021.

“It is extremely unusual to receive baby animals so late in the year,” said Brie Hashem, director of the center, in a press release. “With the warmer seasons due to climate change, it appears many animals continue to have babies much later in the fall here in Central Virginia. Detoxification cures see longer and longer “baby seasons” each year. “

Typically, the sanctuary begins to accommodate orphaned wild animals in late February and continues through September. In 2021, the first baby squirrels arrived in early February and continued to be admitted through the winter. Due to this longer baby season, RWS has admitted more than 50 more patients than any year since the association was founded in 2004.

“These Christmas surprises need to be bottle-fed five times a day, until late in the evening, to mimic how their mother would feed them in the wild,” the statement said.

From there, babies will be transferred to solid food in the RWS nursery and acclimatized outside in one of the sanctuary’s specially designed mammal enclosures.

“These two babies will likely be ready for release at the end of March once they reach maturity,” Hashem said. “Until then, we look forward to providing them with the best possible care during what is usually a calm winter for our rehabilitation team.”

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