Habitat Destruction Results In Orphaned Squirrels

provided by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife

On Feb. 7, three infant Southern flying squirrels were admitted to CROW after the tree containing their nest was cut down. All three of them were displaced as a result. The babies are on a strict feeding schedule to ensure that they will put on weight and maintain their health, in the hopes they can be released back into the wild.

Southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) range in size from 8-10 inches in length. While they are not capable of true flight, they use the skin between their ankles and wrists (patagium) as a parachute to glide in the air between trees and can stay in the air for more than 150 feet. They are found throughout the eastern US, from Maine to Florida and west from Minnesota to Texas. Their preferred habitats are deciduous and coniferous forests and woodlands. They tend to have a varied diet including seeds, nuts, fungi, fruit, and insects.

Habitat destruction is a critical issue relating to the loss of biodiversity all around the world. In Florida, habitat loss is frequently the result of deforestation, as well as coastline degradation along the shorelines along with mangrove destruction. This can cause a myriad of species to become displaced or killed, including seabirds and birds of prey, mammals, and reptiles. Many mammals, such as Southern flying squirrels, Eastern grey squirrels, fox squirrels, skunks, and foxes make their nests in hollowed cavities of trees, under logs or other sheltered areas like dead trees. Due to the expansion of the human population, real estate, and other infrastructure, the habitats of many wildlife species are becoming increasingly fragmented. Habitat fragmentation can lead animals into areas of development and heavy traffic which can pose a significant threat to their individual and generational survival.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there is an estimated increase in Florida’s population of 18 million new individuals by the year 2060. This could mean up to 1.6 million acres of woodlands and wetlands habitat becoming isolated or degraded. To combat this, strategies must be employed as soon as possible which includes acquiring and protecting large parcels of land for conservation, promoting compatible and responsible agricultural activities, and environmentally conscious large-scale planning and design.

There are many other ways to help combat this issue, with public education being extremely important in making aware the harm that humans cause when they choose to infringe on Florida’s natural ecology. For generations, these animals have been living on the earth in territories and habitats now being destroyed. Learning about local protected areas and laws can help to ensure that animals, especially those protected under state laws, are not being displaced or killed due to increased infrastructure. In addition, property owners can attempt to mitigate the problem by planting trees and building owl boxes and nesting boxes, then placing them 10-15 feet high on a tree for animals to use during baby season. This can help increase the population of native species of birds and mammals found in Florida.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (2/4-2/11):
There were 23 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including a brown pelican, a burrowing owl, a Cooper’s hawk, 7 eastern cottontails, 4 eastern grey squirrels, an eastern screech owl, a Florida box turtle, a great blue heron, a great egret, a mourning dove, 6 northern raccoons, a red-shouldered hawk, 3 southern flying squirrels, and a white pelican. Recent Releases include a double-crested cormorant, an eastern screech owl, a fish crow, a great egret, and a gopher tortoise.
Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases!

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance. Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year!

Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to www.crowclinic.org. If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

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