Save the baby animals

All I wanted was to grill my steaks for dinner.

But, when I opened the grill and saw a mouse nest with four squirming, crying, hairless rodents, I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen.

As my father started heating coals for the charcoal grill, he established the rules. I had 24 hours to rescue the babies and their mother (who was frantically running across the bottom of the grill) before the babies would get thrown into the woods and the mother trapped. The babies were not allowed in the house.

So, I did what anyone would do in my situation: turned to social media. After tweeting, posting and texting about the babies I got clear directions about what they needed. So I scooped the babies and their nest up with a spoon, put them in a little plastic tank with a heating pad and then drove to Kmart to get formula and an eyedropper to feed them.

That was the easy part. The hard part was figuring out how to reunite them with their mother.
Baby animals are a pretty common to find in the springtime and often end up in places where they seemingly don’t belong, apparently abandoned by their mothers.

But according to Jen Langheld, a volunteer at Urban Wildlife Rehab in Springfield, they are rarely actually abandoned.

“Always give mom a chance to return,” she said. “You don’t want to be a kidnapper.”

If you find a baby animal in your road, Langheld recommends putting it in a box near the place it you found it and providing a couple of blankets to keep it warm before you take it inside or bring it to a rescue center. If the animal is dehydrated or more than 24 hours has elapsed, then she suggests bringing it to Urban Wildlife.

But not until you call Dee Howe, the founder of the operation.

Howe converted the basement of her Victorian style Springfield home into an animal shelter, after she learned that the state had no programs to help animals that were wounded on the side of the road. Something, she thought, just wasn’t right.

“This is 2012. We are supposed to have flying cars by now, and we don’t have a place for wounded animals?” she said.

When I visited, the shelter had a beaver, a possum, a porcupine, squirrels and over 20 baby raccoons.
It was extremely loud during feeding time as five volunteers bottle fed the babies who, I have to say it, were even more adorable than puppies.

The volunteers seemed to think so too as they coddled their babies, coaxing them to drink, talking to them in baby voices and petting them.

But despite their love for the coon babies, they unanimously agreed that the raccoon babies would be better off with their raccoon mothers.

“Animals make the best mothers,” said Howe. “People bring me animals thinking they are better off with me. They’re not. They’re better off with mom.”

As for my babies, they are fine. They are living with mom in some new home that is not located in my grill.

After a couple of messy feeding sessions, I put the cage back in the grill with a trail of cheese leading to it. The next morning, when I went to feed them, they were gone.

The mom had come during the night and carried each of her babies to a new home.

See. Animals do make the best mothers.


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