Wildlife Refuge near San Antonio, TX
Curly Q Ranch Refuge
December 4, 2011:
So much depends upon the sweetness of rain. A little has fallen but not nearly enough as the earth turns into winter in this northern hemisphere. Last week, I received a red fox who couldn't move his back legs. Nature took over, taking his life. With his death, I realized that it was time to plant all my precious wildlife children who didn't make it, ones I had been keeping in my freezers until the right time. With the fox, I planted many baby opossums, squirrels, and raccoons who I failed to keep alive. The hole was 3' deep, 2' wide, and 3' long. I watered them with my tears even though I realized that so many more had survived and returned to the wild, even the adult raccoon hit by a car with possibly a broken jaw and lost eye. Miraculously, he survived [even though he had a nasal condition!] Every day, I continue to chop apples, gather dry dog, cat, and rabbit food to leave at the spots where I released the animals and will continue to do, day after day until late spring when food supplies will return, that is, if we have rain. If not, I will continue to feed. Every day, you can find me putting out food around the ranch in loving care of the wild.
8 p.m. Such a wide, blue sky. No sign of rain, that elixir that quenches our parched souls. I filled the hummingbird and oriole feeders on the west porch, and voila! They appeared, the hummers in their dive-bomb fashion, the oriole in his golden shimmer. On my daily feeding rounds of the nocturnals [raccoons and opossums] this evening, I saw my lame baby dead opossum being eaten by the other babies. As I tried to grab him, the horde of 13 pulled him into their lair. Protein. I knew that opossums can eat their own, but I never thought that I would witness such nature. Survival of the fittest. Nature in all its reality. The little lame one I was going to keep for educational purposes, knowing that he would be instant prey upon release. Yesterday at feeding time, he was fine. Today, gone. Such is the cycle of life. Sunrise, sunset, and around again.
The little fox squirrel has opened both eyes now, sucking with such vigor 10 cc of formula every four hours.
The refuge is home to opossums, squirrels, and raccoons this spring. 8 healthy squirrels were released successfully on May 1. 7 opossums came but, ever so sadly, only one remains. Rehabbing opossums is very difficult: they must be tube fed since they don't suck. Once they're weaned, usually they simply eat and grow until they are 7-10 inches long from the point of their nose to their rump. But not all goes smoothly at times. Only one will be released when it grows a couple more inches. Based on the way it scoffed up the scrambled eggs this afternoon, release won't be long.
6 raccoons have arrived over the last few weeks, and 5 remain. They were the hardest to take the bottle, but at present, the surviving 5 are eating happily. They have a rather flat mouth with a flat tongue that curls up around the baby bottle's nipple. Watching the bubbles flow through the formula as they suck is the rehabber's dream: they are growing with each suck. The baby raccoon on the banner picture is one of mine, successfully released last year.
Curly Q Ranch Refuge is a 59-acre wildlife refuge, home to many rescued, rehabilitated, and realized wildlife. Linda is a Texas Parks and Wildlife licensed rehabber, almost living in a constant state of around-the-clock nursing. The raccoon on the home page is one of her babies.
Of the many things I have learned that it is very expensive to rehab wildlife, in addition to the vast number of hours invested. Raccoons, for example, are raised on KMR, Kitten Milk Replacement, which sells for $12.98 for 6 ounces of powder. One-half cup of powder is mixed with one cup of warm water, and raccoons eat a lot!
I am reimbursed for some expenses by Lone Star Wildlife Rescue, my associate non-profit 501.c.3. If you ever want to be sure that 100% of money goes directly to the animals, donate to LSWR!
All of the proceeds from the cabin rentals go back into the care of the animals and the maintenance of the ranch for guests to share. Above all, guests must respect nature, avoid excessive noise, be very aware of their surroundings, and leave the ranch refuge as pristine as they found it.