Videos! Howler Monkeys, Baby Sloths and Birdies, Oh My!

19 06 2010

Here are some old videos I just discovered from Paradise Gardens.

So this one is Maisie, a rescued howler Monkey we had, greeting Temba, a baby sloth that was brought here. Sorry about the music! But aren’t the adorable? The have both been released. Maisie is now living on her own at Alouatta Lodge, a lodge and a rescue for howler monkeys and tamarins. She is free to wander around but comes back periodically for food or during thunder storms. She has mated with one of the wild howlers (there are several troops that pass through the area regularly) and has a baby! I met her and her baby when I spent the day at Alouatta and also saw the other rescues and a troop of wild howlers. I also got to see the wild male who was courting her, he kept his distance but followed her from above.

Here is another video, Muffin, who still lives here at Paradise Gardens! The narrator here is definitely right, he loves human attention. He always wants to be on someones shoulder and has learned to imitate whistles and also sometimes imitates the sounds of the geckos we have around here. If he gets close to a dollar bill or a note pad he will do his best to shred it.

I hope you enjoy, I will be looking for and posting more videos!


Sloth Passes Away

2 06 2010

We are all very sad to announce the Vicegrip our 2 toed sloth passed away on Saturday after a 5 week struggle to recover from a vicious dog attack. I miss her very much, taking care of her was the best part of my day.

Vicegrip in the garden choosing her breakfast

She will be missed by everyone here at the rescue.

Here are some sloth facts…

Sloths are divided into two groups: 2-toed, and 3-toed. Interestingly both groups in fact have 3 toes on each foot, but the 2-toed only has 2 claws on its front feet. Both types of sloth tend to live in the same area. They feed almost entirely on leaves, which contain few calories, so they move slowly to conserve their energy. These interesting animals are under threat from poachers, and risk attack by dogs or other animals.

New Arrivals! Three Baby Possums!

23 05 2010

Yesterday someone called from Boquete. “We have three baby possums for you, the mother was killed by a dog.” Three hours later a local couple arrived with a box of three tiny possums. Apparently when they are born possums are no bigger than a honey bee. These ones were much bigger than a bee, or any insect I’ve seen around here. I would say they were about the size of the tarantulas I saw between Boquete and Bocas del Toro. So about the size of my hand.

Orphaned Opossums

The three baby possums in their faux pouch

There were two girls (you can tell because they have pouches, at this stage their genitals all appear about the same) and one boy. Opossum liters range from one to 13 and we don’t know if these were the only three in the liter or if there were others. Since their mother had been mauled and carried off by a dog it is possible that there were other babies that were still in her pouch and carried off with her. Of the three we got they had only minor injuries from the dog attack. One had an eye popped out, probably from being squeezed too hard either in the jaws of the dog or underfoot (either stepped on by the dog or by the mother possum, it has been known that baby possums die from their mothers accidently treading on them). Another one needed a small stitch in her back left side, probably scratched by the dog, and the third, a boy was doing just fine. They were all very cold. We discovered that the normal body temperature for opossums was around the body temperature of human and that babies need help to maintain that temperature. Normally opossums grow until they can walk in their mothers pouches, like a kangaroo. This keeps them warm in the wild but in the case of orphan opossums raised by humans we have to resort to other methods. We wrapped them in a fleece blanket and put an electric heating pad under their box. An hour later they were warm and moving around a little, although mostly to try and borough deeper into the folds of the fleece. The veterinarian we had called came and stitched up the girl with the back wound (she only needed one stitch!). The girl with the popped out eye had to have her eye snipped off so that she could heal. Luckily she didn’t even seem to feel it.

Baby possums diet

Baby opossum gets her syringe of formula

Now they need very close attention and are fed every 2-3 hours. Once they can stand and walk on their own they will be able to start taking solid food, like mashed up egg and fruit. The boy is already trying to walk around, so he’ll be getting some mashed fruit soon! We hope once they are strong enough they can even start playing with Arjento, our baby coati.
Many people have said “Why are you rescuing an opossum? They are such pests!” They get into garbage, hiss loudly (even as babies) and are considered ugly. But the truth is opossums are pretty awesome animals. They have “semi-prehensile” tails (like monkeys and kinkajous they use their tails for climbing and holding things) and they are the largest marsupials in the western hemisphere. They are immune to the venom of pit vipers and they are eight times less likely than stray dogs to have rabies.They are omnivorous and solitary, and they are considered the “trashmen” of the natural world. They will eat almost anything… fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, bugs and dead animals. In North America they are known for eating roadkill. They are important for cleaning up the carrion in their natural environments as well. In truth though, even if they were not extremely cool, we would take them in. Paradise Gardens is a wildlife rescue, we don’t just rescue the “cute” or “beautiful,” “rare” or “expensive” animals. We do our best to rescue all animals that are in need.
These baby opossum orphans are an illustration of why humans need to be responsible for their dogs. Dogs off their leashes loosed on the native wildlife can wreak havoc. These baby ‘possums are not the only dog-induced orphans we have here, and we also have several adult animals that survived dog attacks and came here to recover, if they can. Feral dogs are a threat not only to humans but they also threaten wildlife.