Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Wild baby rescue week 5 (June 30th)

This week was all about enrichment! The foxes went through with their “meat in a bag” enrichment; in addition they got some live fish in their pond to chase after. While we know that they are eating the fish, we don’t know if they are catching them alive, if they’re jumping out of the water, or if they are only picking them up after they've died. Regardless, it is good that they are recognizing the fish as food.

While foxes may not frequently be presented with the opportunity to consume them, they do occasionally come across one that washed up on shore.  I’ve already begun preparations for some new enrichment for next week.  One of their new enrichments, which I’m sure they will enjoy in this hot July weather, is pieces of meat frozen into a block of ice. The blocks will be placed in their pond, and will provide some long-term mental stimulation and entertainment as they gnaw on the ice to get to the meat. Their other enrichment will be some chopped up fish and fish entrails in a paper bag, hung from their pen in the same fashion that their meat bags were hung.

The skunks’ enrichment included a large bowl filled with some substrate and earthworms (which we dug up on the property). Their instincts led them to root around in the substrate, smelling the worms. In the end, they were rewarded with a tasty treat, as well as some skills that they will need in order to find food after they are released.  In addition to their enrichment, we cleaned out their outside cage, added new bedding, a tube for them to play in, some large branches, and a sand-filled “litter box”, which we are hoping they will begin to use.

The raccoons also got some enrichment in the form of large, heavy bowls filled with cool water. As the raccoons are still young and getting formula twice a day (and a big bowl of yogurt in the afternoon), they do not normally have access to large vessels of water. They immediately went over to the bowls to investigate, and after quickly realizing that it is water, began to splash, jump around, and wash themselves. They enjoyed getting to clean themselves as well as cooling off and having fun. This just goes to show that enrichment doesn’t have to be anything too complicated!

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