How to raise an orphaned kitten baby

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Oct 10, 2008

September 2008 at the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue

The Rainbow Wildlife Rescue is a non-profit organization in Stephenville, Texas. My name is Birgit Sommer. I founded the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue and am a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator for the State of Texas as well as a Shelter Walker and volunteer foster parent for the Erath County Humane Society.

I, like many other licensed wildlife rehabilitators, work out of my own home and volunteer my time and just about every spare cent I can gather. No state funding is available for animal caging, veterinary care, medicine or food. That's why most rehabilitators gratefully accept donations towards the care of animals they receive from the public.

Rainbow Wildlife Rescue and Ike's Squirrels

September at the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue was all about Hurricane Ike's orphaned squirrels. Ike had not even left Texas when my phone went crazy. I received over 150 calls and emails from people that had found baby squirrels, often with the dead mother's body still protectively covering them. It was heart-breaking.

Most people were out of power themselves and had no means to provide extra heat for the babies or warm up formula, which was impossible to purchase anyway, because the stores were closed.

With a lot creative thinking, adjustments and brainstorming, we came up with some extreme measures to help all of these caring people and their babies, until a place was found where they could turn the babies over to professional caretakers.

Naturally all the shelters, rescue centers, and rehabilitators across south Texas were overrun with orphaned squirrels. The large organizations and official responsible parties such as the Houston SPCA, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Humane Society of America, just to name a few, got together and ended up shipping the squirrels all over the State of Texas and neighboring States to centers, rescuers, and rehabilitators. 1200 of those babies alone were shipped to the SPCA of Texas located in McKinney near Dallas, TX.

I decided that I can take in 10 - 15 of these infants, possibly more, if I had more outside enclosures. So I reached out to the local as well as the online community for help. As a result a fundraiser was held by TSU Wildlife Society students, led by Dani Meyers (thanks girl, you rock!) as well as an online fundraiser, which resulted in enough funding to complete a 6 x 12 x 6 ft metal framed enclosure and have enough material left to build a new wooden framed habitat for squirrels and other small wildlife.

The Eagle Scouts are working on drawing up a project to build 2 more habitats in addition to the material we have now.

Two newspapers covered the rescue efforts and the arrival of the 15 orphaned infant squirrels we picked up from the McKinney SPCA (video) .

With all of this effort, the outside facilities for the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue will be 80% completed by the end of this year! All there is left a Storage Shed, few more fence panels, concrete for a walkway, railroad ties, and a flight cage. The latter is the last item I need to complete my application for the federal migratory bird rehabilitation permit.

Special Thanks goes to:

  • The TSU Wildlife Society (especially Dr. Jim Mueller and Dani Meyers)
  • Barnes & McCollough for the lumber
  • Don and Jackie Wallace for the squirrel houses and all over support
  • Gerry Cockrell for the most generous donation
  • Northland Cable for the Channel 9 Ad (especially Kelli)
  • Empire Tribune for their newspaper stories (especially Amanda Kimble and Jessica Horton)
  • Abilene Reporter for their newspaper stories (especially Angelia Joiner and daughter, and Jane Pratt)
  • Erath County Humane Society
  • All the other generous friends and strangers that donated via the internet.

Rainbow Wildlife Rescue in the News

Empire Tribune in Stephenville, TX

Orphaned squirrels find refuge in Stephenville
Published: Tuesday, September 23, 2008
When natural disasters strike, a mobilization of relief workers from various agencies such as the Red Cross, National Guard, and FEMA are ready to respond, bringing in food and water, working to restore power, and setting up temporary shelter to assist in returning the disaster zone and the lives of those within it back to normal.
Animal rescuers also play a vital role in rehabilitating disaster touched habitats. One local resident and licensed wildlife rescuer, Birgit Sommer, who operates Rainbow Wildlife Rescue in Stephenville, recently made a trip to the Metroplex to pick up 15 baby squirrels orphaned by Hurricane Ike.
Read the entire article HERE >>>>

Locals build ‘homes’ for orphaned squirrels
Published: Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The gray baby squirrels orphaned by Hurricane Ike now have a cozier place to play - and sleep - while temporarily residing in Erath County. Volunteers spent the better part of Saturday building a mesh enclosure at the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue Center in Stephenville so the little ones will have room to move around until they can be taken back to the coast.
Read the entire article HERE >>>>

Rescuing Animals
Published: Sunday, May 2, 2008
One local woman works to save abandoned and mistreated pets

Birgit Sommer has been a Stephenville resident since 1991. She was born in Germany and just last month, after passing a test correct answering questions covering U.S. government and history, she took an oath before officials and became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

"It just feels great to become a citizen of this country," Bridget said. "I studied hard in order to pass the test and now I can vote in this important election.".

Birgit didn't wait to become a registered voter before taking the responsibility of foster care of homes and abandoned animals in Erath County.

Having a great love for animals, she was attracted to the animal shelter maintained by the Erath County Humane Society, shortly after becoming a resident in Stephenville. During the past few years she has given loving, expert care to hundreds of dogs and cats including entire litters of puppies and kittens.

Read the entire article HERE >>>

Abilene Reporter in Abilene, Texas

Stephenville woman takes in 'squirrely' hurricane victims
Published: Monday, September 22, 2008


STEPHENVILLE -- Appropriately nicknamed "Miss Doolittle" when she was just 5 years old, Birgit Sommer is taking in orphans from Hurricane Ike.

Not the human kind. The small, furry kind.

Infant gray squirrels were found everywhere after Ike moved through the Houston area, blowing down their nests, and residents were desperate to help them.

Sommer, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, said before Ike had even moved out of the Gulf area, her phone began ringing off the wall and the e-mails started piling up. People were contacting her to see if she could help.

Read the entire article HERE >>>

Donations helping baby squirrels left orphaned by Hurricane Ike
Published: Sunday, September 28, 2008


STEPHENVILLE -- Several volunteers were busy Saturday building a mesh wire enclosure at the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue center in Stephenville to provide shelter for additional gray squirrels orphaned by Hurricane Ike.

Birgit Sommer, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, said members of the Tarleton State University Student Wildlife Society collected $62 in donations and are soliciting area businesses for materials needed to build shelters for the squirrels.

She said she has also received a check for $500 from a Buffalo Gap resident, lumber from Barns and McCullough in Stephenville and numerous smaller donations.

Read the entire article HERE >>>



Currently residing at the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue

  • 8 Gray Squirrels: 5 of the 15 were transferred, 2 expired, 8 are still "in custody"
  • 1 Raccoon named Chip - transferred to another rehabilitator with other raccoons his age, so he can be socialized before release.
  • 6 Fox Squirrels: released

Our Pets

Sandy: she has left this world peacefully. R.I.P. my lil princess, you are missed!


Don't cry because it's over, Smile because it happened :)))))))!





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