Tucson Wildlife Center: Baby season comes weeks earlier than expected

Desert animals have babies weeks earlier than usual

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson Wildlife Center is seeing an influx of baby rodents, rabbits and birds.

“This year we are seeing a lot of babies early,” Dr. Ashley Kramer, a wildlife veterinarian, said. “Last February, we only had about 13 baby desert cottontails. This year, we have gotten about 60. It seems the weather has been right. ... So, there are more resources out there and they are doing really well and reproducing.”

Kramer said new wildlife is popping up all over the city.

A homeowner near Glenn Road and Country Club Road said they noticed more desert cottontail rabbits frequenting his yard.

“I probably see three every day,” Ian Matti said. “They usually come during sunrise and sunset.”

Matti said the rabbits have been nibbling on his clover and making homes in his shrubbery.

“It’s nature, it’s beautiful,” Matti said.

Matti hasn’t seen baby cottontail yet, but says he enjoys watching wildlife at a distance.

“Please never pick up baby wildlife,” Angeline Fahey, an education coordinator at the wildlife center, said.

Just because a baby animal is on its own, doesn’t mean it’s been abandoned.

“A lot of the times, they don’t need to be rescued,” she said.

There are even easy tricks to see if the babies are alone or left for mom to come back to.

“Put a little bit of baking flour around the nest,” Kramer said. “If you see moms footprints coming back and forth, you know mom is still taking care of those babies and you can leave them alone.”

Kramer said installing cameras is a good way to check on wildlife.

“[Pack rats and mice] could potentially be making nests in buildings within walls, even underneath cars,” Kramer said. “It’s best to respect all of the nature and animals we live with. So, if there’s any way you can leave these animals where they are so they can raise their young and then once they are old enough, they should move on. At that point, you can kind of clean up the area and animal-proof your house.”

If rodents and rabbits are sick, injured or orphaned, they can be brought to the wildlife center.

The center took in a record number of animals last year, caring for more than 4,000 animals compared to 3,000 in 2018. Staff expects another record-breaking year.

With so many baby animals to look after, each one needing multiple feedings each day, the center is asking for volunteers.

To help out, visit their website at www.tucsonwildlife.com/volunteer.

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