Monday, May 31, 2010

Motherless Children

Two orphaned baby raccoons receiving the best of care
from an expert RN who is also a skilled wildlife rehabilitator.

It happens every spring ― too many baby animals lose their mothers and wildlife rehabilitators find themselves inundated. My friend is helping raise kits from a large litter of orphaned raccoons (Procyon lotor). Fortunately, the orphaned baby squirrels she has been raising are just about ready to be released into the wild, which will allow her to focus on these kits, and they sure are a handful! But, she is definitely up to the challenge.

Yesterday, I helped feed these little ones, so desperate for their mother whom they lost two days ago when she was killed by a car. Maybe because I should have been a nurse, I was able to shelve my emotions and focus on the task at hand ― ensuring that they got the formula they need (every few hours) to survive. Click on the photos for close up views.

Happily, the kits are thriving and even slept soundly through the night, a testament to my friend's skills and her loving dedication to their welfare. Soon, they'll be ready for solid food.

These babies miss their mother terribly. Normally, they would not be weaned until around 70 days. By 20 weeks they would be foraging with her at night and continuing to stay with her in the den where they were born. They would remain with her through their first winter and become independent next spring. And, once mature, mothers and their young often den nearby. So, in addition to losing their mother and family unit, these kits have lost their teacher, guide and protector.

But the good news is that they are safe now and receiving the best care possible. There are good nurses and then there are great nurses like my friend. And, as I approach the one year anniversary of the death of my Rachmaninoff, helping these babies was both a privilege and a powerful consolation. I've been thinking of a song by Eric Clapton ever since.

"Motherless children have a hard time when their mother is dead, lord."
~Eric Clapton, "Motherless Children"
from 461 Ocean Boulevard, July 1974

1 comment:

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