I have just finished a five month internship at Critter Care, from September 2017 to the end of January 2018, and had the pleasure of looking after 23 incredible animals of my own – eight squirrels, three raccoons, seven opossums, three skunks, a rabbit and a mink. Speaking from this experience, I can say that there is no better feeling than watching your babies grow stronger, or helping an injured animal gain the strength that it needs to be eventually released. I also had the pleasure of syringe feeding seven of my squirrels, and bottle-feeding a late season baby raccoon – opportunities that I thought, as an autumn/winter intern, I would never get (which just goes to show that animals always know when to surprise you!).
Working at Critter Care, you will learn to cope with a lack of sleep (though this won’t apply as much in the colder months), living closely with multiple other people 24/7, and keeping tight hold of an animal even when it is biting you/scratching you/trying to rip your face off – all of which are pretty important if you want to work in wildlife rehab at any point in the future! You will also get the chance to do a number of different things, gaining skills such as hand-rearing animals, learning about their individual diets, administering injections and oral medications, and also going on releases and rescues.
I won’t lie to you; like any animal-related job, most of the work done won’t actually directly involve an animal – you’ll be doing a lot of cooking chicken, scrubbing various enclosures/rooms, and you’ll probably never, ever want to eat a strawberry or a grape again. But every second you spend in the exam room with an animal that needs help, or every time you look at your babies, makes every hard moment worth it. All of this is helped by the amazing supervisors and staff. Though sometimes the communication between supervisors and interns isn’t great, it was an absolute honour to work alongside such experienced, passionate people, that take an immense amount of care when looking after even the smallest or “least interesting” animals – which, if you know anything about the world’s response to any aspect of conservation, you know that people like that are incredibly hard to find. So thank you to Ang, Breanne, Brooklynn (and Dawn) for every single moment of dedication that they put into teaching us!
So all in all, though the five months I spent at Critter Care were no doubt the most tiring and challenging of my life, they were also the best. I’ve met some amazing people, saved some amazing animals, and even though any hope of a hand modelling career have gone right out of the window (mostly thanks to baby squirrels and big, angry raccoons) I can honestly say that I am a better person for having been at Critter Care.