The holiday season represents a time of plenty for many families; big dinners, holiday pastries, warm drinks and spending time with loved ones. In the animal kingdom, this season represents quite the opposite.
Some animals migrate to more prosperous climates, while others bundle up and wait for spring. The wildlife who are determined to stay through the cold use various techniques to combat the harsh elements, one of which is torpor. Some of our biggest and smallest patients in our wildlife hospital utilize torpor to survive through the harder times.
Torpor can be related to “sleep mode” on a computer. It is an energy saving state initiated by lowering the metabolism. Many smaller species will enter a state of torpor daily, for example hummingbirds. Hummingbirds naturally have a high metabolism and body temperature, therefore they expend lots of energy during the day. At night while resting, hummingbirds go into torpor to conserve energy.
As with all torpid states, metabolism slows along with a reduction in breathing rate, heart rate, blood flow and body temperature. A body in torpor could even reach ambient temperature, which in the winter time can be near freezing. Despite these extreme changes, the small hummingbird is still able to wake itself in the morning to begin its day.
If prolonged or extended, the state of torpor is called hibernation. This term usually conjures images of large bears sleeping through subzero temperatures in a warm cave. In actuality, hibernation is not as continuous or even necessary for bears as once believed.
Misconceptions relate torpor and hibernation events to a drop in temperature, but even animals in temperate and tropical climates will hibernate. The true cause for animals to go into a torpor or hibernation is the decrease in food availability.
Bears in zoos, and even some of our bear patients here at PAWS, will not hibernate because food is provided year round. To prompt a bear in captivity to hibernate, caretakers must slowly diminish their meals.
Even the length of hibernation can change, as the animal will only halt its bouts of hibernation when there is food to sustain its survival. Bears in Alaska, who are exposed to harsher, longer winters, will hibernate for longer periods of time than bears in Washington, who experience much milder conditions. Instead of expending energy to find the scarce amount of food in the winter seasons, bears wait for food to regrow and return.
While wildlife is experiencing a torpid state, they are extremely vulnerable and unable to respond to their surroundings. If you do find any wildlife who is unresponsive or gives you cause for concern about its well-being, please call our wildlife hospital at 425.412.4040. Our expert staff will be able to advise you on how to provide the best help for the animal.
Ever heard that saying “you can’t teach an old dog a new trick?” Well here at PAWS we’d have to disagree. You’re never too old to learn!
2017 is our 50th anniversary year, and even after all those years of caring for more than 245,000 animals, we are still learning new things. Our expert staff and volunteers strive to keep up on emerging best practices in the fields of wildlife rehabilitation, companion animal welfare and education, and we realize that education within our community is just as important as within the organization.
Education programs at PAWS don’t just focus on kids, we aim to keep our adult community just as informed. These community education events for adults cover a wide variety of topics aimed at keeping you up to date on best practices. Having a little fun is also mandatory!
Cooking with PAWS: Go Vegan held for the first time last March educated participants about animal friendly diets and their connection to animal welfare through a hands-on cooking demonstration with a local chef, including a tasting. If you missed it, you can download the recipes.
Cat Behavior 101 and 201 continue to be our most popular adult events. Well, we all know our feline friends have very high expectations of their people! Participants learn about how to better understand their pampered felines, including how to solve common household challenges such as litter box usage and introductions to new pets and people.
Baby on Board held at Brightwater Environmental Center last April was a fabulous introduction to baby season at PAWS Wildlife Center. Presented by our very own naturalist and wildlife expert, Jen Mannas, participants learned about what it takes to care for orphaned wildlife patients at PAWS, how to provide “baby proof” habitat in your own backyard, and how to know if a baby animal needs help and when to leave them alone.
Looking to the future now, and fast approaching on January 25 (6-7 p.m.), we’re excited for Forever Fido—the perfect event for any dog lovers in the Seattle area. Our canine behavior expert, Caren Malgesini, will provide tips on ensuring your dog is living the happiest, healthiest life possible, and she’ll also answer any canine questions you might have. Held at Seattle’s Dogwood Play Park, your four legged friend is also invited! Register for this event today!
Author Tim Johnson captured it perfectly with “There is no end to learning, but there are many beginnings.” Whether you strive to be the best pet parent to your dog or cat, or to provide that dream backyard habitat for our wildlife, keep learning, as you can never know too much.
'Twas several nights before Christmas, and all throughout PAWS, homeless dogs and cats are finding new homes in time for the holidays, while our overwintering wildlife patients are safe in the care of our dedicated rehabilitators.
There's also an animal out there who's working harder than ever during the holiday season and who—though rarely given a second thought by most adults—is on the minds of many of the kids we're welcoming to our education programs right now.
When fourth grade students in a recent Kids Who Care program were asked to choose a favorite animal and consider how to meet that animal's basic needs, most students chose an animal like an owl, squirrel or cat.
One student chose a reindeer. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, to be precise.
He may seem like a fictional creature to you, but to some kids, Rudolph is the epitome of an amazing animal who we share the world with. After all, he has the same basic needs as all other animals. He needs food (carrots), water (normal water), shelter (North Pole), family (Mrs. and Mr. Santa Clause), space (horse’s barn), and exercise (running in the air).
So, this holiday season, remember all the creatures, big and small, who we share the world with. And consider how all of these different animals can provide opportunities for kids to connect with them and want to help.
Whether it be the squirrel in your backyard, the dog curled up at your feet, or the reindeer flying through the night sky on Christmas Eve, let's celebrate the ways kids and adults show compassion and help animals.
If you feel inspired to give, consider donating to support our education programs, such as Kids Who Care.
You can find out more information about scheduling a Kids Who Care program in your school here.
Rob and Raquel adopted Nova (previously Hilda) in May of 2016. During the past eight months Nova has made friends with her two feline housemates while settling in to her forever home. They have already gone on many adventures together, and buried a few bones along the way.
What made you decide to adopt from a shelter? We really liked the idea of rescuing rather than going to a breeder. It just seemed like a more responsible action.
What brought you to PAWS? Two reasons. First, Rob used to volunteer there in the cat room, so he knew the approach PAWS takes to making sure the right pet gets the right owner, and the excellent care they receive up until that point. Second, adopting from them creates space for other animals in need to find their new home. It’s a win-win really.
How did you first find out about Nova? We really lucked out, honestly. We were interested in a German Shepherd and had only recently seriously discussed adopting a dog. We had seen some postings of other dogs on the PAWS website and decided to stop by and see if any would be a good match with us.
There were several dogs we had some possible interest in, but we were still on the fence. As we were walking out of the kennel area we saw Nova walk past with someone. We followed them back to her kennel and staked it out until we were able to get some time to play with her. She had just arrived so she didn’t even have her papers up yet. Talk about perfect timing!
Nova and Zoey cuddling
What led to her name change? Haha well, I'd like to call my girlfriend, Raquel, and myself avid gamers. But I would be wrong if I did that—it’s definitely just me. However she likes to watch this one game that I play—Heroes of the Storm. One of my favorite characters within that game is called Nova. The name just fit her well, so we went with it.
What was it that most attracted you to her? We loved her mix of German Shepherd and Siberian Husky. Her gorgeous coat, pointy ears, crazy curly tail, and different colored eyes are absolutely beautiful.
Once we had some play time with her, we also fell in love with her behavior. She wasn’t loud or defensive about food when we were interacting with her. She also wasn’t too high energy, which was important based on our housing.
Nova and Raquel taking a nap
How would you describe her personality? She’s a gentle princess. Doesn’t bark much, plays nicely with her sisters (two tortoiseshell cats). She hates getting her paws wet in the rain and will protest when we take her out to potty in the wet.
How was your adoption experience with PAWS? About as great as one would expect. They were very honest and upfront about anything. So good, in fact, that Rob did a 24 hour video game marathon (did we mention he likes to play video games?) on twitch to raise money for PAWS. We were able to raise $125 which we were thrilled about! Stay tuned as we may be doing this again in March of 2017!
Briefly talk us through your first journey home and how the “settling in” period went. It was a transition at home for sure. Rob was definitely over-protective of the cats when they would interact (which didn’t happen for quite some time after getting her). It took a little bit for things to settle, and a lot of hard work. But now there is definitely a “pack” mentality in the home that all creatures understand.
Rob and Nova on a camping trip
What have you experienced together since Nova came into your life? We love to camp—a lot. In fact, the day after we got her we took her on a Memorial Day camping trip with us (up near Skykomish). She loved it! But the story gets better. Among the many toys we brought with us for her that trip was a bone (we weren’t sure what she liked yet, so we gave her plenty of variety). When we gave the bone to her in the campsite, she promptly buried it.
Fast-forward about two months, and we were up camping at the same campground again. We brought her to the site where she had buried the bone. Not only was it still there; she walked right up to the spot and dug it up. She carried it around proudly for everyone to see before burying it, yet again, in a different site. I’ll have to get back to you next summer to see if she digs it up again!
We also took her out in the recent snow, and she had the time of her life!
In honor of our current patient of the week and the large number of herons that were recently spotted in Edmonds our species spotlight this week focuses on Great Blue Herons.
The Great Blue Herons is the largest heron in North America with a wingspan of 5.5 to 6.5 feet, height around 4 feet and weigh roughly five pounds. They are year-round residents of Washington and can most frequently be seen anywhere there is a wetland.
They are known for their patience; you will often see them standing very still staring into the water for long periods of time. This is how they hunt; they stand very still or move very slowly waiting for prey to swim or fly by. They are carnivorous and mainly eat fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, insects and sometimes even other birds.
Great Blue Herons are solitary except during the breeding season when they typically nest in rookeries with other herons. One of these rookeries you can see in the spring and summer at the Marymoor Park.
This week, as we reflect on what we are thankful for, the first thing that immediately springs to mind is our wonderful volunteers.
To say that we’re grateful for our volunteers here at PAWS is an understatement – they are our lifeblood and we would not be able to fulfil our mission without them! We appreciate how selfless they are in giving up their free time to provide care and comfort for wild and companion animals who have found themselves in vulnerable circumstances and in need of our help.
Our volunteers embody true compassion, and we see the evidence of this every single day as more than 50 individuals work diligently alongside staff filling a variety of shifts helping cats, dogs and wildlife.
All of our volunteers make a commitment to be here each week, and it is so inspiring to see the way that they give their precious time and abilities to the animals. Besides coming in for their regular shifts, whenever we put out alerts for extra help they’re always answered in abundance.
Whether it’s an offsite adoption event, a community event to help the homeless, putting together adoption packets, being extra help for a transfer of animals coming in, or during a holiday, they always heed the call to help.
“Thank you volunteers! Every day I am inspired by your dedication and tenacity. You come to volunteer with a smile on your face and a ‘can do’ attitude. I love when you learn something new or get to help your favorite animal. Your enthusiasm and glee brightens my day!” – Emily Meredith, Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager
Our volunteers are never shy to dive in and deal with all of the aspects of providing the best care for our companion animals and wildlife patients alike. Whether that means disinfecting cages, doing dishes or laundry, or tube-feeding a sick Gull, each one of our volunteer makes a direct contribution to the health, healing and well-being of the animals in our care, every day.
One of the amazing things that our volunteers experience is getting to know the other volunteers on their shifts – sometimes from completely different walks of life that may never have intersected except for this common passion that brought them together at PAWS!
The dedication, sweat, and hard work that each of our volunteers brings is truly amazing. Their passion inspires us and we are proud to work with, and know, all of these amazing people. From all of the staff at PAWS, we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.
Tis the season of giving, and we’re eternally grateful for all of the donations we receive throughout the year. We truly couldn’t do what we do without help from people like you.
Whether it’s their dollars, time or supplies people gift us, every little bit helps. If you’re wondering how you can help us directly care for our animals, we have a wish list of items we use day to day that help us comfort and care for our wild patients as well as our companion animals.
There are some specific items that could help our wildlife hospital staff enrich, feed, medicate and house our patients.
Artificial plants are something we often use in our enclosures, especially in our aviaries. It’s important to make these spaces feel like the outdoors even though the patient may be indoors. In order to make that happen, we use a mix of real and artificial plants. In our Hummingbird aviary, we even place syringes of food inside the artificial flowers to simulate feeding from a real flower. Fake plants also make great perches and cover for birds.
Garden hose reels are another important item we need at the center. As you can imagine, with all of the aquatic species we treat and the daily cleanings these patients require, we have a lot of hoses. The garden hose reels help us keep the hoses organized and off of the ground so that they last longer.
Quick-read digital thermometers are another much-used and much-needed item, and something we use daily. Whether they’ve just been admitted or are in surgery, it’s important to monitor a patients’ temperatures as it aides us in properly treating them.
We create specific diets for specific patients to help aid them in recovery and regain their strength. Items we need include Skippy Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, Nature Made Folic Acid 400 mcg tablets, corn meal, wheat bran, oat bran, thistle seed and dried egg whites. We’re also in need of fresh produce for our over wintering raccoons and other species, including apples, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, pears, zucchini, beets, spinach, cauliflower, squash, melons, pumpkin and peppers.
Please drop off your donations during PAWS’ regular business hours which you can find here. We know our wildlife patients are grateful for your support, and we value you for helping us do what we do best- care for our wildlife patients in need.
October 26 was a special day for our wildlife staff as two healthy, sub-adult Bald Eagles were released back into the wild together after several weeks of rehabilitation and care at PAWS.
This is the first time since 2009 that we’ve released more than one eagle at a time in the same location. It’s also been a record-breaking year for Bald Eagle patients, with 16 admitted to our wildlife hospital.
Both of these eagles came to PAWS too young to survive on their own, and barely old enough to fly. One was brought to us by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in August. He was found on Mission Beach unable to fly, covered with feather lice, and unable to move at all upon capture.
It seemed that this eagle was still very young and may have ended up on the ground after his initial flight out of the nest, but with no parents in sight he would not have made it on his own.
During his first couple of weeks in care, he spent a lot of time on the ground in his enclosure acting like a baby eagle. But before long he was up on high perches trying to fly. In mid-September, he was moved into our large flight pen with an adult eagle who was awaiting release, and faired very well in the pen while he gained strength.
The second eagle was transferred to us in late August from a veterinary center in Clinton, WA. He was brought to the vet clinic by animal control after being witnessed sitting on a beach for several days, unable to fly.
Upon his arrival at PAWS, he was found to have some minor feather damage and carpal (wrist) wounds. These carpal wounds would need to start healing before he could be released back to the wild, as they could inhibit his flight. They got worse before they got better, and he went through several bouts of veterinary exams, suturing and intensive care before he was ready to go.
While in care, he wore specialized bumpers on his wounds to protect them from getting bumped in the enclosure. There was risk that the wounds would reopen and we would have to start the whole process over again, delaying his release. These bumpers were so important to his recovery that he wore them until a few minutes before his release.
PAWS staff were on hand to watch them both fly free once more, released along the Skagit River where salmon are plentiful this time of year.
As the days become shorter and the nights become colder, many wildlife species in our area are preparing for winter. For some, that means getting out of town and migrating south, some are getting ready to hibernate, and others are just preparing for the cold and rainy weather ahead.
One of these species is the Raccoon. Although Raccoons do not hibernate, they are less active during extremely cold periods. This time of year they are out and about preparing for the winter, taking advantage of food resources currently available before they become less plentiful.
Raccoon patients in their enclosure at PAWS wildlife hospital
Young of the year are still with mom learning valuable survival skills that will help get them through this winter and others to come.
For those Raccoons who live in a more natural environment, that means learning to forage, evade predators and find suitable dens for sleep during the day.
For urban Raccoons, this may mean learning how to safely navigate our streets and exploit resources that we leave behind.
A Raccoon in their natural environment, where foraging and evading predators is key
Because Raccoons are opportunistic omnivores they can, and will, eat pretty much anything. In urban environments their natural food sources are scarce or not available at all, so they have learned to live off of our trash, pet food, scraps and vegetable gardens.
A Raccoon patient at PAWS enjoys a watermelon
They may even seek shelter under porches, in crawl spaces, or in attics. This can cause negative interactions with us and our pets. If you find signs of Raccoons raiding your garden or living under your porch and would like them to move on, there are a few things you can do:
NEVER intentionally feed raccoons. They are very capable of finding their own food and do not need handouts. In fact, this is a good rule to follow for all wildlife. If raccoons are getting into your garbage, secure trash can lids with rope, chain, bungee cords or weights, or purchase cans that have clamps or other mechanisms to hold lids down.
Do not feed your pets outdoors and be sure to shut pet doors that lead into your home at night. Raccoons have been known to enter people’s homes through dog doors in search of food. If you have to feed domestic animals outside, be sure to pick up all food and water bowls (including leftovers) each night. Also secure any compost containers.
If you enjoy dining al fresco, be sure to clean up BBQ areas.
If you have a Raccoon living in your attic, chimney or under the house you can prevent them accessing these areas by altering the structure slightly. Using metal or plastic spikes and aluminum flashing will prevent them from crawling up the sides of your house.
To prevent Raccoons from getting into your garden try using bright lights, especially those activated by motion, or by creating noise disturbances when the raccoons are present. Building a perimeter fence may also deter them.
The main thing to remember is the Raccoon is just trying to do what it can to survive on the limited resources it can find. They do not want to cause any harm, and avoid conflict when they can.
Most visitors to PAWS are looking to adopt a new family member or are lending a helping hand to a wildlife patient in need. But there’s another group that frequents the PAWS campus as well. They might be small, but they sure are mighty. Kids!
Since the start of the year, 720 kids have participated in education programs at PAWS to learn more about companion animals and their local wildlife. What do they do while they are here? Take a glimpse into the world of kids at PAWS…
Each program tours our shelter to visit the cats and dogs waiting to find their forever home, or stops over at our wildlife hospital lobby to take a peek at our current patients through live hidden cameras.
Above: Kids enjoying a tour of our companion animal shelter
Through games, activities, and imaginative play, kids learn about the responsibilities of having a pet, and how to be kind and gentle towards each and every one.
They even help the dogs and cats at PAWS be adopted! By creating mini advertisements highlighting an animal’s best features, they draw the eyes of potential adopters to their kennel.
Above: Learning how to be gentle with cats (L). and a mini advertisement for an adorable adoptable (R)
Hands-on experience with wildlife biofacts gives kids a chance to explore wild animals up close and learn about what makes these creatures so awesome.
As backyards go, ours is the perfect place for an adventure! Kids learn about what wild animals need in their habitat in order to survive, and how they can help.
Above: Examining biofacts (L) and exploring PAWS' backyard (R)
They even get to pretend to be wildlife rehabilitators, and when provided with the right vet tools, major surgery has been known to take place...
Above: Injured animal stuffies, post-surgery
Have a child in mind who would think “this is the best day ever!”? Visit the kids section of our website to learn more about the programs offered, and take a look at these upcoming programs: