by Lena Gregersen Porter, UK
The story starts on 8th June 2008 …
I was, as usual, at the wildlife hospital in Cheshire, UK, where I have worked for nearly 8 years. We take in all sorts of wild animals, injured, orphaned and cruelty cases.
When I got in at around 10, this little sausage had been brought in by a lady who had heard this little squeaking noise in her garden. She found the little thing on the path and, not sure what it was, she left it for a bit before ringing the centre for advice.
At the start we were not sure if she was a stoat or a weasel but, as she only had a little stump for a tail, it was decided that she was a weasel.
As I had hand-reared many other mammals, such as squirrels, hedgehogs and ferrets, I took on the challenge of trying to keep this little thing alive and I also decided that she needed a name, so I called her Weezie.
The first thing was to get her warm and then rehydrated. She was put in an incubator with at heat mat and some soft fleece to nestle into.
Once she was warm, we fed her critical care, which is a powder mixed with water. The formula needs to be given when it’s at body temperature. Not too hot and not too cold.
For the first day she was fed every hour with this formula to make sure she was rehydrated. It was also important to sure that she pooped and piddled regularly as she needed help to do that for the first couple of weeks. To do that, I had to use a damp cotton wool bud, tickling her bits to encourage her like her mother would have.
I took her home and continued through out the night feeding her a few drops every hour using a syringe or pipette.
Once she was rehydrated, we started feeding her Esbilac, a puppy milk replacer, or Cimicat, a kitten milk replacer (use whichever you can get). It is mixed 1 part powder to 1 part lukewarm water.
You’ve really got to have patience to take on this job as you’ve got to be so careful not to get any liquid into their noses and lungs since that can give them pneumonia or, worse, kill them.
She was having a few drops every hour, which I gradually increased as she got bigger. I also had to rub her belly and back to get rid of any wind. Her stomach did at one point get swollen and full of air. When this happens, or if they get diarrhoea, they need to go back on critical care for a day or so.
At around 2 weeks old I started giving her bits of cat food, but still she still had her milk.
She was weaned off the milk by about 4 weeks old.
Her eyes opened at 26 days old.
This was the way that I hand-reared her. Other people might have different ways of doing it, but my little Weezie survived and now lives to tell the tale!
She lives in a large Chinchilla cage with a play area outside and a vivarium full of outdoor things in it (bark, soil, twigs, stones, etc). She’s got hamster tunnels, ferret crinkle tunnels, igloos and she sleeps in a Roman helmet (from a fish tank) ☺
Weasels are very very fast and they’ve got a very nasty bite, so shouldn’t be handled by just anybody.
Weezie is very good with me but doesn’t tolerate anybody else going near her. When I am playing with her she makes the trilling noise and licks my fingers. She will, at odd times, try to drag me away with her teeth but she has never broken the skin … yet! LOL.
All photos © Lena Gregersen Porter
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