Why do birds fly south
in the winter? What should you do if you find a baby
bird who has fallen out of his nest? Get the answers
to your wildlife questions from our clever, roving correspondent, Rocky the Raccoon! Rocky was brought to our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center as an orphan a couple of years ago. We raised Rocky with other orphaned raccoons and when they were old enough, we released them into the woods just outside of the city. Rocky is helping us teach people how to live humanely with the wildlife around them.
What would you like to ask Rocky?
Click here to ask Rocky your question. Please include your
first name and city.
I love the Humane Society Website, mainly because I don't have a pet,
but I want a guinea pig and a dog, Brautty and Boquet are adorable!
They are going to be on my birthday list FOREVER! Say, I am only 9
years old, but I want to work with animals and I know you have to be
at least 11 to be with an adult. I REALLY want to help out. Do you
know any places I could? I really want to be a vet. Dad says it
will take a while to get through vet school and boy is he right!
This is my first time emailing you and I really enjoy it!
Have a good day!
Thank you so much for writing to me. I can tell that we'd be good friends because I love animals, too! Until you are old enough to begin volunteering with the Wisconsin Humane Society, there are several other things you can do to help wild animals in the meantime.
You can help the Wisconsin Humane Society by fundraising or having a donation drive. Making an effort to care for the environment will go a long-way to help wildlife as well. Be sure to recycle everything than can be recycled. Recycling prevents usable items from needlessly filling up landfills, as well as protects animal habitats. Also, making an effort to purchase items make of recycled materials, such as notebooks and paper-products, will help fund the recycling industry.
Another way to help wildlife is to pick-up garbage, including fishing line (be careful and watch-out for carelessly discarded hooks), plastic rings, and cups or cans you may find laying around. Every year, animals get tangled in fishing line, including ducks, geese, turtles and more. All of these things can be dangerous to wild animals. I recommend to visit the website at http://www.wihumane.org/wildlife/wlexpert.aspx and scroll to the bottom on the page for more information about how to save wildlife.
In addition, at 9 years old, you're the perfect age to join our Gosling Guild. You could also participate in Camp Critter. I hope I've helped you with your question.
Although you may not be able to volunteer yet, there's still a lot you can do to help wildlife! Thanks. I'm off to play in a puddle (I love water!).
Your furry masked-bandit, Rocky
I wanted to know how to become a veterinarian. I really want to become one, but I don't know of any good colleges or what to do when I am done with college.
Thanks for your question. Veterinarians are fantastic! When one of my raccoon friends broke his leg, a veterinarian fixed him up at the Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, and now he is all better!
To become a veterinarian you need to attend undergraduate college for a minimum of three years to get the required courses to apply for vet school. Most people choose to complete the full undergraduate degree (usually four years of regular college). Then you apply to a veterinary school and, if accepted, have a minimum of four years of veterinary school. It is useful to check with the veterinary schools you are interested in applying to for their list of required courses and make sure you take these courses while pursuing an undergraduate degree. Each school's requirements are different, and you can find their requirements on their websites.
Getting into veterinary school can be challenging, so you'll need to study hard and get as much experience working with animals as possible. If you look below at Brandon's question, I gave him some suggestions on how to prepare for veterinary school as well.
Well, thanks again for your question! I'm off in a hurry to look for acorns, berries, and other good stuff to help me fatten-up for winter!
Your furry friend,
Hey Rocky, I did a report about raccoons. I have Two Parakeets and two cats and I'm interested in becoming an Avian Veterinarian. Does Wisconsin Humane Society have anything to get me into a good veterinarian college?
I’m so happy you chose to write a paper about raccoons; we really are quite fascinating animals, if I do say so myself. And I think it is perfectly wonderful that you are interested in working with animals as a career. I am so grateful for the people at the Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center who decided to work with animals. I owe my life to them. The Wisconsin Humane Society does have several wonderful opportunities for you to learn and care about both wild and domestic animals.
A program that I think you would really enjoy is the Wildlife Center’s summer volunteer Orphaned Bird Care (OBC) Program. To be an “OBC” you need to be a dependable and responsible human who can easily read and write and take written and verbal directions. You also need to be at least 13 years old or 12 if you have an adult human guardian with you. OBC volunteers help out in the Nursery feeding baby birds, sometimes as often as every half hour! OBC volunteers also assist us by washing dishes, doing laundry and cleaning-up in the Nursery. Anyone who plans on working with animals had better get used to cleaning up after us! If you are interested, the best time to apply for this position is in March or April.
Once you reach college age, another opportunity that would get you on the right path to working with birds would be an internship. The WHS Wildlife Center hires several interns for the summer busy season. Interns get intense hands-on experience handling most of the animals that come into the Center and work directly with the Wildlife Rehabilitators and OBCs. This provides great experience and an introduction to wildlife rehabilitation. In fact, three members of the current WHS Wildlife staff were at one point WHS wildlife interns!
Veterinary schools are very choosy about who they accept. They typically only select students who have shown an interest in working with animals by volunteering and who have very good grades, so you’ll have to work hard in school!
Thank you so much for your interest in working with animals, Brandon. We animals really need people like you! Take good care of your pets, study hard, volunteer and we hope to see you volunteering at WHS in a few years!
Oops! Just before I started typing this, I ate some delicious mulberries from a tree down the street from my den and now I have purple footprints all over the keyboard…I hope I don’t get in trouble!
This morning my dad and I (I am an all white Persian cat) were looking out our back yard window and we saw a pretty big bird. Bigger than any crow that I have ever seen. It was white and brown with some darker markings and it had a longer tail and a sharp looking beak. I thought it was a hawk and so did my dad. He said that now I can't go outside with him because he said it might be dangerous with a hawk in the area. Do you think that my dad and I should be worried about this bird? Do you think it's a hawk?
~Sammy Seidl, Manitowoc
Thanks for the great question. It definitely sounds like you did see a hawk in your backyard. It was likely either a Red-tailed Hawk or a Cooper’s Hawk, both of which are fairly common in our area.
The Red-tailed Hawk primarily eats mice, squirrels, rabbits, snakes and some birds. The Cooper’s Hawk mostly eats smaller birds and small mammals like mice and chipmunks. A Persian like you is much too big for a hawk. Even the largest hawks in Wisconsin generally weigh less than 3 or 4 pounds, and they don’t really like tackling anything bigger than they are. An adult rabbit would be the biggest mammal a Red-tailed Hawk could handle, and an adult rabbit only weighs about 2 ½ to 3 pounds. So your dad shouldn’t be too concerned about a hawk getting too close. Wild birds are usually as afraid of humans and cats as you are of them. But it is always a good idea to use a little caution around wildlife. Your dad is smart to stay outside with you; it’s very scary and dangerous for a cat to be outside alone. There are speeding cars, big dogs, things you can’t really see like diseases and parasites and many other hazards out there, not to mention getting lost! Also, it may come as a surprise to you, but the WHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center gets in lots of mammals and birds that have been injured by curious outdoor cats and dogs, and it is important to be concerned about their safety, too. I think it would be a good idea for your dad to have you on a leash and harness when you guys are outside, and he should continue to keep you close when you are outdoors. That way, you can have fun and still be safe!
Here are the answers to recent questions you've submitted.
“How do owls turn their head in a full circle?”
To answer your question about how owls move their heads, first I have to tell you a little bit about owl eyes. We owls have eyes that work a little differently from mammals like you (I’m assuming you’re a human). Owls are mostly nocturnal, meaning that we like to be active at night and sleep during the day. Because of this, we need to have very good vision in low light conditions, and luckily, we do. Our eyes have all sorts of adaptations that allow us to have very powerful, accurate, light-sensitive vision. One of these adaptations is the size of our eyes. Owl eyes are so large that they actually take up more space in our skull than our brain, and depending on the species, up to 5% of our total body weight! Because our fancy eyes are so large, they are held in place in the skull by special bones. Because of this feature, we are actually unable to move our eyes in their sockets. But we still need to be able to see up, down and side to side. To do this, we turn our head in the direction we would like to see, even upside down if we want to. Some people think that we can turn our head all the way around. This is not true, but we can turn our head further than most other animals. We are able to turn our heads 270 degrees in one direction – that is about three-quarters of the way around. Our necks are extremely flexible, with 14 individual bones (vertebrae). Humans only have 7 vertebrae in their neck and can only turn their head about 90 degrees. Try it, how far can you turn your head? Since we owls can turn our head to both sides, we are able to see everything we need to see around us without ever moving our eyes in their sockets.
I hope this answers your question Shannon! Thanks for asking!
Why do dogs fight with cats? What did your home look like before you were captured? Do you like going to football or baseball games? I do.
I don’t know much about dogs and cats, but my buddy Einstein does; after all, he IS a dog! I’m going to ask him to answer this question for you. Watch for his answer in Ask Einstein.
As for football and baseball games, I’ve never been to either one. I’m not a big fan of crowds. Instead of sports, I enjoy activities like bird watching, sleeping in my cozy hollow log, taking long walks with my caregivers and splashing in my bath-pan.
When I was a little owlet, I remember my nest being nice and warm, high in a tree, but then there was a large storm and I got blown out of my nest onto the ground. Someone found me, but instead of putting me back in my nest where I belonged, they took me home, thinking they would keep me as a pet. After a few years of living in a cage in their home, wildlife wardens learned that I was being kept illegally, so they took me to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Since the people who kept me illegally didn’t return me to my nest right away or bring me into a wildlife rehabilitation center like the Wisconsin Humane Society when I was young, I never learned how to hunt and survive in the wild like the Eastern Screech Owl I am! Luckily, the Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center has wildlife rehabilitators that know how to properly and legally care for me. I really enjoy my time here now.
Thanks for writing to me, Libby!
I like pot roast, do you? Also, I like to play with cats and dogs, do you???
Write back soon!
I've never had pot roast. But if it's made with mice and moths, I bet I'd like it!
My diet consists of mice, small birds and insects. We owls have to eat meat because our digestive systems are not able to process plants to get the nutrients we need to survive. But, there are lots of animals, like rabbits, sheep, deer, elephants, kangaroos and many more, that don't eat meat at all! Some people choose not to eat meat, too. Click on this link to learn more about eating a "vegetarian" diet.
I'm so glad that you like to play with cats and dogs; I hear that it is lots of fun! Cats and dogs are too big for me to play with because I'm a little Eastern Screech Owl. I am only 8 inches tall and weigh under a half pound. But, I hear that dogs and cats make great playmates for people. We have lots of dogs, cats, bunnies, hamsters and gerbils available for adoption here at the Wisconsin Humane Society. We also have volunteer opportunities for people to help us walk dogs and socialize cats and bunnies. In fact, you may want to consider becoming a volunteer where I live; the Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation hospital. You might even be able to feed birds like me.
Thank you so much for writing to me!
How are you Tuffy? I LOVE owls.
I'm doing OK right now, how are you doing? I am going through my yearly molt, which will take about two months. In that time, I shed all my old, worn feathers a few at a time and grow new ones. All birds go through molting, sort of like how dogs shed. Molting can be a little itchy when the new feathers first come in, so I make sure to preen regularly with my beak. Preening is sort of like using my beak as a comb to get my feathers all straightened out and properly groomed and arranged. My new feathers come in fresh and shiny.
That's so nice that you love owls. I think they're pretty cool, too, probably because I AM one!
Does Tuffy like the bunny Fufu and pork chop sandwiches?
Thanks for writing to me! Do you mean the bunny Fufu in the song? I love songs about animals, but the Fufu in the song is a little naughty, don’t you think? Or were you referring to the bunny named Fufu that we featured on our web site last week? I’ve never met either Fufu. But they sound like bunnies that I would like, if I ever met them, but seriously Michele, I don’t pay much attention to bunnies.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a pork chop sandwich. Are they good? I usually prefer to eat mice and insects. I think I’ll let you eat the sandwiches and I’ll stick with eating my mice and insects plain, with no bread or mustard!
Do you ever get lost in the Humane Society? Would you like to meet me? Do you eat other birds? Do you like Doritos?
~Samantha, Age 7
Thank you for writing me, you had a lot of great questions! As far as I can remember, I’ve never gotten lost at the Humane Society. I like to spend most of my time in my log. The hole or “cavity” that I live in is small, so it would be very difficult to get lost in there.
You are more than welcome to bring your family and meet me at an event, like Hope’s Lights each December. Better yet, a birthday party that focuses on wild animals here at the Wisconsin Humane Society is a great place to learn about me and lots of other wild animals.
As far as food is concerned, Screech Owls like myself sometimes eat birds in the wild, as well as insects and rodents. Human food like Doritos are yucky for wild animals, I prefer mice any day of the week!
Hi. Are there Screech Owls in Wisconsin in general, besides you? If so, where are they located?
~Mary from Milwaukee
That is a good question. Yes, there are Screech Owls in Wisconsin. Nearly all of us live in the southern part of the state. It’s just too doggone cold up north!
We like to live in older forests outside the city. Older trees have holes in them that we can use for nesting and roosting out of the cold. These hollow parts of a tree also give us great protection from bigger, hungrier owls. Yes, other larger owls like Barred Owls and Great Horned Owls will eat us smaller owls!
Sometimes we also sleep in other bird’s nests after they have left and occasionally, we will live right in the city. The wildlife rehabilitators here at WHS have taken care of adult and baby Screech owls that have come in from all over Milwaukee County. Who knows? You may have a Screech Owl living in your own neighborhood!
How do you
type with your talons?
~from Tim, Whitefish Bay
I don’t. I use my beak!
Were you ever a wild owl? Are you ever allowed outside?
What kinds of food do you eat? Is your cage big
or small? Please write back soon.
Your owl lov’n friend,
Thank you for writing! I was born as a wild owl
but was kidnapped at a very young age and do not
remember my time in the wild very well.
Mike, my buddy on the Wildlife Staff, sometimes
takes me outside in the late afternoon or early
evening to “catch some rays.” Sometimes
all of the activity going on outside makes me nervous,
so I really prefer to stay in my nice habitat indoors
at the WHS Wildlife Center where I can be safe and
warm. Speaking of which, I am proud to say that
the habitat I live in is fairly big, but my house
is small, and that’s the way I like it! The
house I live in is a hollow log with a little hole
that I can squeeze in and out of when I want to
fly around my cage. In the wild, screech owls like
me build their nests in small holes in trees just
like mine. The fancy name for our homes
is a “cavity nest." When we leave our
homes and go hunting at night, our favorite meal
is mice, but we also like to eat large insects and
even small reptiles and amphibians if we can find
them. At the Wisconsin Humane Society, they feed
me a mouse every day! Yumm! Do you like to eat mice?
The staff here orders my mice from a special store
and they arrive all nicely packaged and frozen.
The volunteers thaw out the mouse and put vitamins
and minerals on them before I eat ‘em. I have
to eat mice to get all of the nutrients I need to
stay healthy; I can’t eat salads or pizza
like you do! Thanks for writing!
"How old are
you? How long have you been on the website? How
long have you been at the Humane Society? Do you
like kids? Why are you with the Humane Society?
Thank you for writing
to me! I am eleven years old, how old are you? I
have been living at the Wisconsin Humane Society
for the past three years and have been featured
on the website ever since I got here. Before I lived
here, I was living in someone's home, but they weren't
taking very good care of me. You see, it's against
the law to own wild animals like me and we certainly don't
make good pets. I was rescued from this situation
and eventually found my way to the Wisconsin Humane
Society where I am today. Because I was in captivity
since I was a very young owlet, I did not learn
how to be a truly wild owl. I don't know how to
hunt for my own food and get along with other Screech
Owls. That means that I can't be released into
the wild. But I like it here at the Humane Society's
Wildlife Center. I have a nice habitat all my own
and my own hollow tree. Nice staff and volunteers
take good care of me.
Do I like kids? Of
course! I think kids are great. from a distance.
Sometimes kids try to get too close to me or touch
me and I don't like that at all. However, I think
kids like you that care about wild animals are really
cool! Thank you so much for writing to me!