One of the most rewarding aspects of our job as rehabbers is providing enrichment for our patients and our permanent residents.
Environmental or behavioral enrichment is achieved by adding to a captive animal’s environment or by modifying that environment to stimulate behaviors resembling those of a healthy wild animal. Enrichment is intended to encourage behaviors that are appropriate for the species, and that satisfy an animal’s physical and psychological needs.
Here are some of the things we do to enrich the lives of our animals. Sulcata tortoises are allowed out of their enclosures to forage on grasses, and some days we “bury” the bases of heads of romaine lettuce so they appear to be growing out of the ground. The big tortoises love to eat romaine this way.
Birds and squirrels are treated to their enclosures decorated with fresh browse (foliage) each day. They especially love browse that has edible berries or acorns attached. Squirrels are also given pans of dirt to dig & hide nuts in.
The raccoons are kept busy exploring the contents of “treat tubes” – paper towel cardboard rolls stuffed with treats like nuts and superworms.
The raccoons and opossums both enjoy finding hay nests that we make for them (complete with raw eggs) and placed in their enclosures.
The vultures love to rip things up so we give them both stuffed and rubber squeaky toys for this job. Our resident parrots also love rubber squeaky toys.
On “hay day” many of the birds & mammals are given a pile of timothy hay so they can practice their nest building skills.
When time allows we may also make food trees for the animals – food items are impaled on branches so the animal can forage more naturally. Even are little mice are given wheels to run in- hide houses, nesting materials and fresh treats daily.
How can you help provide enrichment for our animals? Donate some of the items we use for this important endeavor.
Here are some things we need:
– Bags of Timothy hay
– Acorns (from trees not sprayed with chemicals)
– Clean stuffed toys
– Rubber squeaky toys
– Bunny chew sticks
– Baby toys (like plastic keys, etc)
– 4-6 pumpkins (whole) for raccoons to tear up
– Cat/dog toys
– Unsalted peanuts in the shell
Thanks to all!