Overall my experience at critter care has been incredible and a wonderful experience. I spent 2 1/2 months here over the baby season. During my time here I had the privilege of working with 9 raccoons, 12 skunks, a mink and several rabbits and hares. This placement allowed me to learn so much about the care and rehabilitation of many different species. This includes things like how to progress young babies through to adolescents, from bottle fed multiple times a day to fully being weaned onto solid food. I have gained knowledge about the dietary requirements both within and between species along with how to adapt this to fit their different ages. What made my experience here so positive was the other interns. The group of interns who were there while I was, were incredible. I made great friends and they were a great support system for the tough days here. I feel my experience would have been greatly different if I didn’t get on so well with the other interns and had so much fun with them. The most incredible and rewarding part of my time here was the opportunity to raise my raccoons.
This allowed me to gain invaluable experience in hand raising young mammals and the chance to learn so much about myself and what I’m capable of despite the tiredness and stress. This opportunity in particular was incredible as it allowed me to learn the different characters and preferences of each of my babies which was brilliant as behaviour is what interests me the most. Among this includes feeding behaviour’s, play behaviour’s and enrichment preferences. Watching how my babies grew and developed, helping to enhance their natural instincts, is a memory that I’m honoured to have. Along with the amount of time I was able to spend with my raccoons another positive experience was the variety of animals I was able to work with and even if I wasn’t able to work with them observe and ask questions about them. I particularly enjoyed being able to release some of animals I’d raised and seeing how much they’d progressed from when they first arrived, knowing I’d made a difference and given them a good chance of survival in the wild. All these things combined has allowed me to improve current skills and knowledge as well as gaining new ones. I’m particularly grateful for the lesson on injections and the opportunity to hone this skill during my time here, both on my own animals and others.
While I thoroughly enjoyed my time here I did find the long hours, little sleep and amount of work hard sometimes. I think one along would be perfectly fine but all three together made some days very stressful and difficult. Working 18 hour days on 6 hours sleep, caring for not only my babies but doing jobs around the centre was incredible hard during some points of my stay. While I knew all of this before I arrived I wasn’t fully prepared for how difficult it might be. One aspect that I was disappointed in during my placement was the lack of rescue opportunities.
As I was unable to drive and time restraints due to feeds I missed out on many chances at rescues. The one I managed to go on was amazing and allowed me to experience all aspects of rescue and rehab. Another thing I found lacking was positive feedback or acknowledgement from the supervisors. There was little feedback from supervisors about how you are doing whether in regards to your animals or not. This could be difficult when you are working hard and it seemed like it was not known or appreciated. It felt that sometimes unrealistic expectations were made about our work load and what we could achieve in a day, which created more unnecessary stress. It also created more stress when instructions or information weren’t given or not given clearly or enough of. As a result we often had to learn from other interns which increased the risk of us getting something wrong and possibly risking an animal. Despite this I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and am truly grateful for all the experiences and opportunities given to me. I have made some incredible memories here and some amazing friends.