As this strange summer whizzes by, our residents at the centre are growing up and becoming beautiful teenagers. Some have been released back into the wild to live their lives as they were meant to do. Be free.
But then others are out there running into trouble. Recently, one such case arrived at the centre after a lengthy attempt to live trap him. His name is Everett. He is a beautiful little red fox. Everett was caught in Everett. He was seen by several caring people who knew he needed help. The call was made to us. He has a severe case of mange.
One of our volunteers, Jen McBride, who lives in the area, grabbed a live trap and set it up in hopes of capturing this sick fox. But he had other ideas and kept away from the trap even with the smell of tasty food inside. Foxes are very smart animals. But as mange goes on, their eyes get crusty, and soon they cannot see. They then depend on their keen sense of smell to find food. They can no longer hunt successfully, and then usually they will unknowingly go into a live trap out of desperation for food.
It took Jen 6 weeks to catch this fox. The help of the community was much appreciated and needed, since at the time, Jen was also volunteering four nights a week at Procyon. Getting permission to set the live trap in someone’s backyard was the icing on the cake as the fox took to drinking from their pool. After the trap had been set in three other places unsuccessfully, this last location was worth a shot. Setting live traps means a lot of regular monitoring since other animals can be trapped instead. An opossum and as Jen put it, a very fat raccoon entered their way into the trap and were caught, and needed to be released quickly. Rebating of the trap for the little fox to hopefully to come along then had to be done.
Jen searched for the den in a large area of fields and empty lots in this new subdivision without any luck. She would get upwards to 100 plus calls from people saying they had seen the fox, those calls often coming on the nights she was at Procyon. Patience and perseverance paid off in the end. As I mentioned, foxes are smart animals. It’s tough to fool them. Everett apparently was living off roadkill at that point and could no longer hunt on his own. So, the temptation of that wonderful smell finally paid off and he was successfully captured. This was a great accomplishment by the Town of Everett and Jen.
Mange is 100% treatable. This case will take time though because he is in such bad shape. The vet treated him right away. He had a swollen leg that was thought to have been an injury. But it turned out to be an infection from the mange. He was put on medication for the infection, treated for the mange and given ointment for his eyes. The medication for mange is given at least three times, once every two weeks. It can take 4 to 6 weeks for the animal to get better, keeping in mind that any wounds must heal and hair must grow back before release. Upon release, they are treated topically to protect them for their first month back in the wild.
This beautiful fox was in terrible shape, he was scared, he was hungry, he was uncomfortable. But he sure did not lose that appetite. He loves his scrambled eggs and mice etc. He cooperated when it was time to have his eye ointment put in. He took his medication. In fact in 24 hours after the first dose of eye ointment, he started to open his eyes. In less than one week he was feisty enough to be wanting out of his crate and tried eating his way out one night. He then graduated to an outdoor enclosure.
One week after he arrived, Everett is feeling much better, bringing smiles to all at Procyon. His caregivers are thrilled with his improvements to date. Some of his meds are given in his food now with no problem at all as he still has a healthy appetite. We got a wee peek at him when I was there. But he is now acting like a fox again. Which means he does not want anything to do with us. He has a great outdoor enclosure. He hangs out in his favourite shelter, he has a few, and peeks out before he comes out to eat. He could see us standing off in a corner outside the enclosure but in the outside enclosure; there are two in order to make sure that if an animal gets out they are still contained. He stood there looking at us with those beautiful open eyes. I was overwhelmed to see him looking so good in just a week. He doesn’t look like the same fox I saw a week ago. Eyes open, ears cleared up. There is much more healing to go yet, however, the healing has started, and he is clearly feeling so much better.
This is Sarcoptic mange, caused by a tiny mite. Although humans can get it, all you will get is itchy, the mites won’t survive on you for more than three or four days. So wearing gloves and a mask is important for us while handling an animal with mange. Dogs can get mange as well from an area where a wild animal has been recently; keeping dogs on leash while out and about can keep them safe in many ways where wildlife is concerned, and keep the wildlife safe as well. Mange can only be caught from contact with another infected animal. This is prevalent in dens where the whole family can be infected if one contracts it from contact with another infected animal since in the den they are touching each other, mothers feeding little ones, etc… The life cycle of mange is three weeks, however, once the eggs hatch, if the animal isn’t treated, the infection starts all over again, therefore getting worse and worse as time goes on. The animal loses fur, can develop sores, eyes crust over and close shut and they can’t hunt for food. If not helped they can die a very slow horrible death. And it is so easy to treat. So, don’t let them suffer, call us. It’s not rabies, and they deserve a chance to live.
The medication we give them is an injectable one, the animal needs to be weighed so the correct dose is given. DO NOT MEDICATE YOURSELF by leaving medication out in the open. You can under medicate, or worse, over medicate. The wrong animal may get it, even yours or someone else’s pets may get it. It is a toxic medication if given wrongly. This is a job for wildlife rehabilitation centres. The animal will be weighed right away and examined and given the proper dose of medication and anything else it needs to recover calmly and safely under the watchful eyes of the rehabber. Your job is to make that call to our rehab centre and then we will start the process in motion. Yes, it takes time, and yes, the animal will get worse, however, it is curable.
This beautiful sick little red fox unknowingly brought the community of Everett together in their efforts to find and trap him. This one little life brought many lives together in these difficult times and has given people a purpose and meaning in their own lives while saving another.
These days, we hear so many upsetting things in the news, and it seems to be all we hear. To hear a great story such as Everett’s, well, it warms the heart. It shows there is still human compassion amongst us and it shows people still care about our wildlife in need.
As fall approaches, the animals in our care will be returned to the wild, one day at a time, one group at a time, all vaccinated to keep them healthy, keeping siblings together. We thank all of you out there who took the time and effort to save these little lives and call us. Yes, we had to turn some of you down. We hope and pray you found a place for them to go as per our instructions. But please know it was not an easy decision to say no. Every life means a great deal to us all. We appreciate more than you know the wonderful donations of things on our wish list and for the cash donations, you have given us. Every little bit helps. Especially now with COVID-19. It keeps us going. So, a great big THANK YOU from all of us, animals included, at Procyon.
As for little Everett, we will keep updating you on his progress. I will try to get more photos. But knowing he is improving every day is the best news we can give. A life is a life, no matter what it is, big or small.
Just remember: “HELP IS IN YOUR HANDS”
Procyon Volunteer / Photographer
Procyon Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Centre