PLEASE… do not care for wildlife on
your own

By Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

62 animals admitted last week

Four Carolina wrens and a peninsula cooter were among the sixty-two animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include an anhinga, a great crested flycatcher, a burrowing owl and a striped mud turtle.

The Carolina wrens were brought to the wildlife hospital by a woman who had been caring for them for two weeks. Wrens are small birds that inhabit gardens, brush piles, and thickets. They are extremely delicate even when healthy. These babies were in critical condition after receiving a nutritionally unbalanced diet for an extended period of time.

Upon admission each baby was weighed, offered electrolytes, received a calcium supplement and settled into an animal intensive care unit for warmth. The woman who cared for the wrens meant well and honestly didn’t know the von Arx Wildlife Hospital existed. She was relieved to find our facility because she could tell the babies weren’t thriving under her care.

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A Carolina wren is offered a worm by hospital staff at the Conservancy. The wren was one of four brought to the hospital.

One of the wren babies was in severe respiratory distress and, due to the poor prognosis for survival, was humanely euthanized. The other three were struggling but seemed to be responding to our treatment protocol which included syringe feeding a well-balanced slurry mixture every 45 minutes.

The following day one of the remaining three wrens showed a serious decline in its activity level and strength. It became apparent the baby would not survive and again we humanely ended its suffering.

The two surviving wrens still have a guarded prognosis but they are slowly gaining strength and are more active and moving about their intensive care unit.

Caring for injured wildlife on your own can cause more problems

We realize the wren’s rescuer had good intentions; but please, if you find a sick, injured or orphaned animal in need of assistance, don’t attempt to care for it yourself.

  • First off, it is illegal.
  • Secondly, wild animals have very specific nutritional and husbandry requirements. Receiving inadequate care can be fatal.
  • Lastly, wild animals have the potential to carry diseases and parasites that can cause pets and humans to become sick.

Spike in turtle admissions

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Von Arx Wildlife Hospital Staff check examine a peninsula cooter that was hit by a car.

The peninsula cooter was admitted after she was hit by a vehicle at the intersection of Bonita Beach Road and Highway 41. The car knocked the turtle on her back and caused internal damage. She is one of several turtles recently admitted after being hit by cars.

Turtles are on the move — many of which are females looking for suitable places to lay their eggs. If you see a turtle crossing the road and can stop safely, please offer assistance.

If you find a turtle that is uninjured, place it out of harm’s way in the direction it was headed. If it is injured, do not attempt to provide medical treatment.

Transport it to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital immediately.

Turtles feel pain and require the same in-depth individualized care as other species of injured wildlife.

Special Thanks

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital team would like to thank the owners and staff at Pinch A Penny on Davis Blvd. for donating the service call and expertise needed to assess our pool pump issues.

We also would need to thank the owners and staff at Pools Plus, Inc. for providing input regarding the water quality deficits we were having with our shorebird pool.

Maintaining the water quality at the pool is necessary for the health of our shorebirds. Everyone’s time and expertise are greatly appreciated.

Recent Releases — XX go home

  • 1 black racer
  • 1 red-bellied woodpecker
  • 2 loggerhead shrikes
  • 1 laughing gull
  • 1 pileated woodpecker
  • 9 opossums
  • 1 eastern cottontail
  • 1 gopher tortoise
  • 3 blue jays
  • 4 northern mockingbirds
  • 1 boat-tailed grackle
  • 4 mourning doves
  • 2 common grackles
  • 1 northern cardinal
  • 1 eastern screech owl
  • 1 northern flicker
  • 10 mottled ducks

Get involved

Please visit our website at and learn about the many opportunities there are to get involved.

Volunteers are vital in our efforts to assist native wildlife.

If you are unable to give of your time as a volunteer, become a memberordonate.

However you choose to become involved, your support will help the Conservancy continue to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

More blogs from the wildlife hospital:

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Protecting Southwest Florida's unique natural environment and quality of and forever.

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