Rescuing nature’s babies

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Spring is a busy time of the year for MelodyEcho Thurlow.

Flowers are blooming, the weather is warming, and mama animals are having their babies.

But when something happens to mama, Thurlow takes over.

“The only native animals I do not care for, are bear and moose — for obvious reasons. They are really big,” said the 20 year veteran wildlife rehabilitator from her Norway home on the Shedd Road.

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She takes in, on average, 700 animals per year. 

Already this year, she has almost three litters of squirrels and heads up on a family of raccoons.

Unfortunately, one of her squirrel litters was very ill when they were brought to her.

They had been given cow’s milk, which caused diarrhea and severe dehydration.  Thurlow had to feed them small amounts of Esbilac mixed with goat’s milk every hour to nurse them back to health.

“People can not give wildlife cow’s milk,” Thurlow stressed.

She said if someone thinks an animal has been away from its mother for too long, only water should be given and she should be called right away.

But even water can be dangerous.

“If they inhale it too fast, they will get it up their nose and into their lungs. Then they develop pneumonia and die.”

Luckily, she was able to save the litter of squirrels.

But, Thurlow warns that not every baby wildlife creature is an orphan.

She said a lot of times, if the animal has fur and its eyes are open, the mother may just be teaching the small one what to do outside the nest.

Also, if the mother animal was moving her babies to another location, they may have been temporarily separated.

She said the best thing to do at first is observe from afar and make sure to remove all pets from the area.

Wait and watch to see if the mother returns.  If she does not by nightfall, something has probably happened and Thurlow should be called.

And if crows start hanging around, gather the young ones immediately. Crows will eat baby animals.

If the animal has no fur and the eyes are still closed, something has happened and Thurlow should be called immediately.

If there is one baby, there will be more.

If the animal disappears, the mother has probably taken it back.  Also, if there is an adult animal nearby watching or chattering, it’s likely it’s the mother keeping an eye out for her offspring.

If someone thinks they should rescue an animal, Thurlow advises that they call her and she will walk them through the steps. Also, always wear gloves to avoid the possibility of rabies, she said.

Once, some people found a litter of baby skunks, but they would not tell Thurlow the names of the people who had handled them.  Because of that, Thurlow had to sacrifice one in the litter to have it tested for rabies.

The test came back negative, so the baby skunk could have been saved if they had just admitted to handling it.

“That baby died in vain. If they had given their names, I could have quarantined the litter and watched for symptoms of rabies.”

Thurlow does not only rehabilitate baby mammals. She also takes in birds, injured adult wildlife, and reptiles.

But she does not get paid for what she does. She runs her rehabilitation center on donations alone, and because of that, the rescued animals must be taken to Thurlow.

Thurlow likes to tell a story of an orphaned bird that was brought in by a family. She said she could tell they didn’t have much, but they wanted to help with the cost of nurturing their rescue.

So one of the little boys went digging through their car for spare change.

“It was the best donation I’ve ever gotten,” said Thurlow as tears shimmered in her eyes. “I still have that 87 cents. There are good people out there.”

  • MelodyEcho Thurlow suggests to print off the informational .pdfs and place them in your phone book so you will always know where they are located.
  • If you find a wild animal that is orphaned or injured, call Thurlow at (207)527-2310.

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