Name: Nicole Enochs
Class Year: 2016
Hometown: Kimbolton, OH
Internship: Ohio Wildlife Center, Hospital Intern
Location: Columbus, OH
I'm a Junior Zoo and Conservation Major at Otterbein University and I had the great pleasure to spend this past semester working as an Intern at the Ohio Wildlife Center Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Since I'm also a Pre-Veterinary student, these blogs are typically going to focus more on that aspect of any experiences I have. And since this happens to be my first blog, I've decided to take you through a typical day in the life of an Intern at the hospital. To start, your veterinary technician supervisors are great people that are willing to help you understand anything. So know that any question will be answered, and possibly with a visual if possible. And so, I've chosen a day to describe where that willingness to help was put very much in the forefront.
Since this day is during warmer weather, we have many young mammal babies consisting of rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, and opossums. I began by feeding the cottontail rabbits because we were already behind because of the sheer volume of admissions we'd had over the past few days. Because I had previous experience, I was told to teach the newer volunteers how to tube feed rabbits. But one of the volunteers got a little too confident in their abilities to tube and didn't wait for confirmation from me that she had fed the tube correctly before she began depressing the formula. Unfortunately, the volunteer had sent the tube down the trachea and punctured a lung, so when she depressed the milk, it filled the rabbit's chest cavity with formula. This almost immediately ended the rabbit's life. Though very sad, this type of event can happen frequently when working with animals as small and fragile as cottontail rabbit young. To prevent the event from being all bad, we necropsied the rabbit to view the formula in the chest cavity and also what it looks like on the inside when we have placed the tube correctly versus incorrectly. We could feel what the tube should feel like when it is placed correctly in the rabbit's stomach and use that knowledge for future rabbits. Kristi Krumlauf was excellent about allowing us to ask many questions and also feel the rabbit while we tried to figure out its anatomy. I was also able to ask about finding the rabbit's bladder. After I located it on the deceased rabbit, I was much more comfortable finding it on the healthy rabbits and could more accurately judge when their bladders were full. The picture below shows a comparable-sized rabbit to the one described above.
Picture from: http://www.ewildagain.org/
Picture from: http://www.ewildagain.org/
After we completed the necropsy, I finished feeding the rabbits and then moved on to helping with squirrels. Because we have a few older squirrels, we also have to keep their enclosures stocked with food so I did a lot of cleaning and feeding. There was one squirrel that had her bushy tail and was sitting similar to an adult squirrel while eating: in other words, she was making the transition from baby to adult squirrel and it’s really rewarding to see. The pictures below show the difference between what she looks like, a miniature adult squirrel, and a baby squirrel. Notice especially the tail and fur differences.
Picture from: http://www.wildcarebayarea.org/ Picture from: http://swiftfoxsteamco.webs.com/
The final project before I needed to leave was the flight room, the room where song birds go once they have become well and are one step closer to release. For cleaning, the room has sheets on the floor that need removed and switched out for new ones. Feeding is a bit more difficult: because of the difference in species of birds in the flight room, it needs to be stocked with multiple types of seed and different sizes of fruit.
Because of the many different types of animals that come into the Ohio Wildlife Center, no day is ever the same. And there's always positive experiences and negative experiences. For example, in the day I just described to you, we lost a baby rabbit but also got to witness the growth of a squirrel at the hospital. It would be easy to lose sight of the positive, but part of working in any hospital is accepting the bad and clinging to the positive to get you through the day.