|What is a Rehabber ?|
||A wildlife rehabilitator, or rehabber is in the practice of providing high quality emergency medical care, medicine, safe housing and physical rehabilitation for injured or orphaned wildlife in a caring and compassionate manner. Individuals must receive specialized training and permits in order to be a rehabber. I have been doing this for about twenty four years.
I personally only have a North Carolina state permit but many rehabbers have a federal permit as well. Different permits determine what kinds of animals you can legally rehab. In all states, it is illegal for you to have or keep a wild animal without a permit. To be quite honest...just because one has a permit that is no guarentee that they are a knowledgeable rehabber. However...it is true in most cases.
Another important role of the rehabber is to educate the public. I get many calls about wildlife at risk. Or at least the caller thinks the animal is at risk. But after talking to them we discover that the animal doesn't need there help at all. They just assumed the animal needed help. That's why my section on Rescue or Kidnapping is so important. Never take an animal unless you are sure it really needs your help.
Bare in mind that rehabbers gain their knowledge from a wide range of resources. I personally have specialized training, individual veterinary teaching, research, and personal hands on trial and error. While I can and will rehab many species of animal ranging from minor turtle repair to song birds, most of us have a primary animal or two that we prefer or specialize. In my case that would be the eastern cottontail and grey squirrels.
Rehabbers effectively network and form partnerships with each other as well as other organizations to improve the quality of care of the animals. If they lack the knowledge or skills needed, they depend on the others to assist or teach them in a particular case. Some species of animal rehab easier is they are not alone and have other sibblings during their stay with humans. In this case, we call on other rehabbers as well to shift animals around to form groups of species. More or less trading animals to reduce the stress of being raised by a human. Increasing their chances of survival after they are released.
In the spring is when we get the most animals. Most babies are born then. I have had as many as thirty five babies at once. It is exhausting work. Tiny infant neonates or"pinkies" as I call them, have to be fed every hour around the clock for weeks. Rehabbers work totally volunteer and in my case, out of my own home with no help. Most rehabbers are the same. The formulas we use are expensive and we pay for them ourselves. I have to special order it to get the best price. It's not available just anywhere, and the pet supply stored tend to overcharge. The syringes, heating pads, medicines, injectable saline, and many other supplies all must be paid for out of pocket. I designed and built all of my own cages, but I had to buy the materials myself. The hardware cloth alone cost about thirty four dollars per cage ( for a small cage). Occasionally someone will make a donation when they drop off an animal, but that is rare.
My point is simply this...it is exhausting, expensive work with little rewards. But every time I release another little squirrel or bunny back into the wild, it makes it all worth while. Its what keeps every rehabber going. We cry when we lose an animal. Some seasons you seem to get all injured animals. You lose so many you begin to wonder if you can keep doing this. Then you'll get a nest of healthy orphaned babies. Raise and release them and you're hooked all over again. Personally, I feel it is my responsibility to help. In most cases, it is humans that cased the animal to be at risk. Our dogs, or cats attack them , we cut the tree down that housed the nest of babies, lawn mowers running over a nest of baby bunnies, etc. My part is to be a rehabber. I encourage you to continue being the kind of person that gets involved and rescue the critters that need our help.