By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital
A southern flying squirrel was among the 56 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.
The southern flying squirrel was admitted from Bonita springs after being found on a concrete sidewalk near a condominium. The person who found the flying squirrel moved it to some nearby bushes; when he checked back and saw the squirrel hadn’t moved all day, he brought the squirrel to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for care.
The juvenile squirrel was underweight and inactive and had an increased respiratory effort when first admitted. Staff suspected it had fallen from some nearby trees and hit the concrete below. Pain medication was administered and the squirrel was placed on oxygen in an animal intensive care unit. When staff checked a short time later, the squirrel was resting calmly and his respiration rate was normal indicating the pain medication was working.
The squirrel rebounded well with supportive care and quickly began exhibiting normal behavior. The squirrel has moved from a small recovery space to a large area equipped with two nest boxes; the space is large enough for him to climb and forage. A release will be possible once the squirrel is at a normal weight and showing he is able to fend for himself in the wild.
Southern flying squirrels are nocturnal, therefore, most people will never encounter one in the wild Sometimes their high-pitched “cheeps” can be heard at night as they call out to members of their group. Flying squirrels inhabit wooded areas and eat a variety of food items including seeds, nuts, insects and fruit. Flying squirrels will use artificial nest boxes and during winter months, when the temperature drops, they will nest together in groups.
Thankfully, the man who saw the flying squirrel checked back to make sure everything was ok; when he realized the squirrel was in need of help, he contained the squirrel and got the animal to the wildlife hospital. So many people call the hospital and are afraid or unwilling to assist animals that are obviously suffering and need help. Please, if you see an injured, sick or orphaned animal, offer assistance. If you are unsure of how to help, call the wildlife hospital for guidance. An indescribable joy comes from helping a living creature that is suffering.
A black-and-white warbler, a gopher tortoise, a red knot, a common gallinule, two red-shouldered hawks, two eastern cottontails, a Florida red-bellied turtle, a marsh rabbit and a Virginia opossum were released this past week.
Opportunities to Help
Please visit the Conservancy website at www.conservancy.org to understand issues affecting rural lands in Eastern Collier County and support our efforts to ensure our wildlife have a great place to call home. Get involved, become a member and help us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.