Raccoon Kits Suffer From Parasites

February 22, 2023

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital is located and part of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Located at 1495 Smith Preserve Way in Naples, FL. The wildlife hospital is open from 8am to 8pm every day. Please call 239.262.2273 for wildlife assistance.

Two raccoons and a gray catbird were among the thirty-eight animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a purple martin, a sharp-shinned hawk, a black racer and an evening bat.

Raccoon Kits

Two young raccoons were sighted at Lake Park Elementary; with the children still in school, hospital staff waited until after school programs finished before trying to capture the raccoons. Luckily, Eric Foht, Natural Areas Manager at the Naples Botanical Garden and a Lake Park parent heard about the raccoon situation and met hospital staff at the school to offer a hand in the rescue.  

The raccoon kits were in a tree and kept going higher as staff approached. Eric climbed a ladder hoping to scare the kits from above, so they would scamper down the tree. Even though things didn’t go as planned, the rescue was successful. The kits jumped from the tree where von Arx Hospital staff were ready with nets. Staff captured both kits as they tried to run away.

Raccoon orphans suffer from parasites

The kits received physical exams at the wildlife hospital. They were thin, defensive when handled, had external parasites and showed no signs of injury. Staff administered an anti-inflammatory in case the kits had any pain from the fall, offered them a diet and settled them in a large recovery space in the hospital. 

The following morning the kits were alert and responsive and had eaten the diet staff offered the previous evening. Staff administered medication to kill the external parasites and set up a treatment plan that involved minimal handling to reduce stress on the kits. Diagnostic tests revealed the kits required an antibiotic and an oral anti-parasitic. 

Reunited with Sibling

Five days later, a raccoon kit was seen on the grounds of the Conservancy. Staff easily captured the kit who was similar in size and age as the two kits captured at Lake Park; staff believed the kit was their sibling.

After three days in quarantine, the third kit was reunited with her siblings.

She immediately joined her siblings who were hiding inside the “den” in their recovery enclosure. The three raccoons will remain at the Conservancy until they are old enough to fend for themselves in the wild.

Breeding Season

It is breeding season for many species of wildlife in Southwest Florida; many species must raise their young in areas heavily populated with people.

We have received calls about fawns on golf courses, raccoons in office building stairwells and rabbits fenced in yards that have dogs. Keep in mind most of these species of wildlife are active at night when people and their pets are indoors. A place that a raccoon thought was quiet and safe at night may be bustling with human activity the following morning. Call staff at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital if you have a concern about an animal; staff will assess the situation and offer guidance.

Gray Catbird Hit by Car

A man arrived at the wildlife hospital late one afternoon.

He had saved a bird on County Barn Road and the man didn’t have a box in the car, so he had been holding the bird in his hand. The bird stayed quiet for most of the drive to the Conservancy but after a few minutes, the bird became alert, struggled out of his hand and started flying around his car.

Hospital staff grabbed a net and peeked in the vehicle. The gray catbird was perched on the passenger door. The staff member jumped in the car, quickly closed the door before the catbird could fly out and netted the catbird inside the car.

Staff performed a cursory exam, saw no life threatening injuries and placed the catbird on oxygen in an animal intensive care unit. A physical exam performed later that evening showed the catbird had abrasions on its right foot and left leg and swelling along the tail where several tail feathers were missing. Staff cleaned the wounds, administered arnica tincture to address pain and swelling and returned the catbird to the ICU to rest overnight.

The following morning the catbird was bright, alert, responsive and flighty. Staff moved the catbird to a larger recovery space in the bird room. The catbird showed significant improvement during every check-up. On its third day at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital, the catbird was strong enough to move to an outdoor flight recovery enclosure. 

Vehicle strikes are a frequent cause of injury for animals admitted to the wildlife hospital. Therefore, it is common for members of the public to encounter an injured animal in the middle, or alongside, a road. Animals are often stunned when hit by a car and will gain their bearings after resting for just a few minutes. If an animal gets loose inside a car, it can be incredibly difficult to extract if it has gotten up under a seat or dashboard. Keep a towel and a box in your car to ensure you are prepared if you find an animal that needs assistance.

Rescue techniques are similar no matter what species you are dealing with – wear eye protection (sunglasses, reading glasses) to protect your eyes if it is a bird with a long neck and sharp beak. Using a towel to cover the animal’s head and body will make it easier to handle because darkness calms most animals. Place the animal in a securely closed, yet ventilated container for transport to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital. Call the wildlife hospital for guidance if you have questions.

Recent Releases

An evening bat, a royal tern, a laughing gull, a cedar waxwing, an eastern cottontail, a red-shouldered hawk, a broad-winged hawk, a white ibis, a mourning dove and a white pelican were released this past week.

Thanks to Wildlife Hospital Volunteer, Bruce Robertson for the use of his boat for the white pelican release. The release team traveled south of Marco Island and followed a flock of white pelicans flying overhead, heading toward Morgan Bay; they encountered a larger flock of white pelicans resting on a sandbar. “Our” pelican walked from the transport carrier and swam for a good distance before taking flight to join the flock on the sandbar. Visit the Conservancy’s Facebook page to see a video of the release.     

Opportunities to Help

There are many ways to get involved and support the Conservancy. Become a member, donate and visit our website at www.conservancy.org. Learn about the Conservancy’s work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, Florida 34102. Call 239-262-2273 or see conservancy.org