By Lynne Phillips
Local wildlife expert Marybeth Taylor, founder and executive director of God's Little Critters was the guest speaker at a recent program held at the New London Public Library.God's Little Critters is a non-profit rehabilitation and rescue center located near Willard.Her presentation centered around injured and rescued wildlife.Taylor began her program by asking how many of the people there have picked up a bird feather. "It is against the law to keep any feather, she said. "Even if I get the feathers out of my own cage I am allowed 20 feathers a year. So I have to record at the end of each year how many feathers I had."Bringing a bat out of its travel carton, she said, "I find more adults are afraid of bats than kids." She cautioned, "Never pick up one of these if you find it lying in your yard." Explaining she said, "They have tiny, tiny teeth and they can bite and you might not even know it. You also may find a bat flying around in your house and if you start screaming the bat will go berserk. They (bats) 'echo locate' by sound so if you start hollering and jumping up and down the bat will go loopety loop. If you do find a bat in your house just be quiet. If it is a room where it can be shut off you should do that. Once that is done, she noted, "You will probably find it hanging upside down on a curtain and all you will have to do is take a thick pair of gloves and pick him up and put him in a bag and take him outdoors. Don't put him on the ground because bats can't take off from the ground put it up higher on a tree branch or something. If you find a bat on the ground it could mean he got cold and couldn't fly to get back to his colony. It doesn't necessarily mean they are sick." She added, "In southern Ohio there is white nose bat syndrome. If you see a bat with a white nose call me immediately so I can contain it in a box. The white nose is fungus that is killing a lot of bats.Another thing that is killing thousands and thousands of bats is out west where there are big, huge wind turbine farms. The bats can't seem to go around those big propellers on the turbines like they should and they are found dead on the ground. They look perfectly normal until they are opened up and their insides have exploded."Children were asked if they had ever picked up an animal or baby bird in their yards. Many hands were raised. "What do you do with them," she asked? One youngster said she and her dad put a baby bunny back in its nest. "How many believe that if you touch a wild animal its mother won't come back?" She asked, "If I touch you will your mother come back? Most answered yes. "It is the same with wild animals," she stressed. "Mothers aren't going to leave their babies. I don't advise you to touch them," she stated, "because all animals can bite. Never pick up a wild animal without gloves on. You shouldn't pick up one at all," she cautioned. "You should call your mom or dad."Pointing to different styles of gloves, she said, different gloves are used for various animals and birds. Special gloves that go up her elbows help to protect both her hands and arms. Demonstrating, she pulled on long gloves and said those were what she would use to pick up a hawk or perhaps a baby raccoon. Even a baby animal can bite she reminded children. She said, "Picking up an animal, they don't know I am trying to help them. They are afraid and will try to bite to get away."One pair of gloves are kevlar lined, she shared. This is the same material that the vests police officers wear are made of. "This is so the animal's teeth won't go through the material and hand hurt my arms."Another pair of gloves are the ones used to pick up eagles. "I have used these a lot the past couple of years, she related. They (eagles) seem to have a migration route right across US 250 and we have rescued three or four that have flown into semi truck trailers. If they see something dead on the road they will come to feed. They are like vultures, so big that they can't take off quickly.She said picking up something like a baby bunny also requires wearing gloves. "If it would have blood on it, it could pass on an infection."Any animal or bird that has been bitten by a cat requires special handling, she commented. "We got a baby blue jay in with one tiny cat bite and in 48 hours he was gone. Cat bites can be carry infections."Bringing out an owl, she told children, "The birds at the center are never trained. You will never see birds on perches outside. We won't do a program outside in the open. It is way too dangerous. One time I saw someone do an outside program where she had bird sitting on a glove and a bigger bird came down and took right off of her glove."I probably over protect my birds," she said. "They live outside in cages but as close to their natural habitat as possible."Chiclet is nocturnal, he is awake at night," she said. "He looks like a mad husband, she said with a smile, "mad because I woke him up."He was found in Norwalk sitting on the railroad tracks as a youngster. A man went to get him but a train was coming. The man went back to look for him after the train had passed and found him. He had ducked way down under the train wheels but one scalped his head and it did damage his eyes. His eyes still don't focus correctly." She said, the little owl was taken to an optometrist. "We found he had severe eye damage and we couldn't let him go. In order to keep him we had to get an order from our veterinarian explaining why we were keeping him, then had to send in paperwork to both the state and federal governments as well as pictures of where we would be keeping him."Most of the cages used to house animals have to be built to state and federal guidelines, according to Taylor. Some of them cost about $3,500 to build. It takes a lot of money to run the center, she commented. "I think we will fine this year but next year could be rough."One of the larger expenses is the mice that are fed to the birds. "We get them frozen," she said, "and right now it costs about $1,200 to $1,500 per month." She added with a smile, "Please don't send me mice you catch, you may thing you are helping but that isn't the case." The mice fed to raptors are specially bred for them.Taylor also brought a peregrine falcon for kids to view.God's Little Critters is a registered non-profit and is partially funded by area United Funds in New London, Norwalk and Willard. "We really appreciate them," said Taylor. "I think people may be under the impression we get paid to do this. That is not the case. We do not receive funding from the county, state or federal government."Taylor encouraged anyone with an interest in God's Little Critters can contact her and come out for a personal tour. "Just make sure you call before coming," she said. "Leave a message and your call will be returned."Taylor can be reached by calling 419-935-1782.Donations can be made to God's Little Critters 1609 Peru Center Road South, Willard, Ohio 44890.