A new series of informative lectures, called Wonders Of Wildlife, began this week at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, starting with a presentation focused on two of the islands' most notorious nocturnal critters.
Kyle Miller and Dot Lee welcomed a group of about a dozen visitors to the Healing Winds Visitor Education Center on Monday, sharing their expertise about armadillos and raccoons, talking about their behaviors, fun and informative facts as well as recent cases of both animals being treated at CROW.
"This is a great time of year to take in orphans — we're seeing a lot of birds and raccoons and rabbits... plus a few armadillos," said Miller, who in 2005 published the popular children's book, "Dillo: A Baby Armadillo's Adventure on Sanibel Island."
According to Miller, armadillos have an average life span of 12 to 15 years in captivity. While armadillos in Florida typically weigh 12 to 24 pounds, some species can grow up to 120 pounds.
"Armadillo comes from the Spanish, meaning 'little armored one,'" she stated. "The Aztec people called them 'azotochtli,' which is Nahuati for 'turtle-rabbit.'"
Recently, a young armadillo was brought into CROW after being found with fishing line wrapped around one of its legs. Following treatment, the mammal was rehabilitated at the animal wildlife hospital before being released back into the wild.
"The quality of care that they give animals here is amazing," added Miller.
Lee, also a volunteer at CROW, spoke about raccoons, which may be seen during daylight hours here on the islands. In most cases, the animal is nocturnal. However, they have adapted their behavior to coincide with the local tides, for foraging purposes.
The omnivorous mammal can be found to grow approximately two feet long, weighing upwards of 20 pounds at maturity. While raccoons in captivity have been known to live up to 20 years, their average life expectancy in the wild is about 3 years.
According to Lee, the name "raccoon" comes from the Algonquian Indians, meaning "Those that scratch with hands."
"They are little devils," she said, "because they will get into anything. They will get into your garbage cans because they can figure out how to get the lids off, and don't be surprised if you find one sitting in your car, because they can figure out how to open doors.
In addition, Lee noted that raccoons have excellent night vision and a sense of smell.
A recent case involving Rosie, the name given to a raccoon found in the garage of a home off McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers, detailed how the creature may have injured its hand, which required stitches from CROW's veterinary staff.
"Most of the times we get raccoons here is because they've gotten into something they shouldn't have," said Lee, who emphasized the raccoons inquisitive nature.
Like the armadillo case mentioned by Miller, Rosie was eventually rehabilitated and released near the spot where she had been found.
The remaining Wonders Of Wildlife presentations are as follows:
• Thursday, June 23 and 30 at 11 a.m. – Student/Staff Presentation on topics of interest or patients of note in CROW’s wildlife hospital.
• Friday, June 24 and July 1 at 11 a.m. – Why Animals Come To CROW, presented by Claudia Burns. Did you ever wonder why animals end up at CROW? Claudia Burns will give an overview of reasons for patient admission.
• Saturday, June 25 at 10 a.m., CROW will feature the "Wonders Of Wildlife Eco-Tour." Join our naturalist led tour by canoe or kayak while paddling through a mangrove forest where natural beauty abounds.
• Monday, June 27 at 10 a.m. – Raccoons & Armadillos, presented by Dot Lee and Kyle Miller. From injury to release, learn about these special patients at CROW.
• Tuesday, June 28 at 11 a.m. – Sea Turtles, presented by Bev Ball. Learn about sea turtle patients found in the coastal waters between Sarasota and Miami and how they were injured.
• Wednesday, June 29 at 11 a.m. – Found An Animal?, presented by Lynn Ridlehoover, Judy Montclare and Bev Ball. Many times a rescuer is the only chance a patient may have for survival. Experience interactive demonstrations and see materials used for wildlife rescue.
All of the presentations will be given at CROW’s Healing Winds Visitor Education Center, located at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road. Admission is free for CROW members and for children age 12 and under. All others are asked to consider a $5 donation. JEFF LYSIAK