Quantcast

Baby Squirrels Tangled in Plastic Saved by Wisconsin Veterinarians

Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the Wisconsin Humane Society / Facebook

There have been growing concerns about the impact that the 8 million tons of plastic that enter the world's oceans each year have on marine life.

But that oceanic focus doesn't mean land animals are safe from plastic pollution.


The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the Wisconsin Humane Society published a post on its Facebook page Friday detailing what had happened when a "caring finder" alerted the center to five young squirrels in an unusual predicament, KMSP TV reported.

"The tails of these five juvenile Gray Squirrel siblings had become hopelessly entangled with the long-stemmed grasses and strips of plastic their mother used as nest material, and with each other! A predicament that, without careful and quick intervention, would at the least cost each of these squirrels their very important tail (needed for balance and warmth), and likely their lives," the post said.

The veterinarians first had to anesthetize the squirrels all at once.

"You can imagine how wiggly and unruly (and nippy!) this frightened, distressed ball of squirrelly energy was," the post said.

The vets then worked on untangling the "Gordian Knot" of tails.

"It was impossible to tell whose tail was whose, and we were increasingly concerned because all of them had suffered from varying degrees of tissue damage to their tails caused by circulatory impairment," the post said.

It took 20 minutes for the vets to use scissors to cut away at the grass and plastic and free the squirrels. The squirrels then began to recover from anesthesia.

The vets said they would watch the squirrels for a few days to make sure they did not develop tail necrosis caused by a lack of blood flow, but one day after the procedure, they seemed to be doing well.

"Now, one day later, they are all bright-eyed, and three of the five are 'bushy-tailed,'" the post said.

According to the most recent data provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 34.5 million tons of plastic were produced in the U.S. in 2015. Only 9.1 percent of that was recycled. 5.4 million tons were burned and the vast majority, 26 million tons, went into landfills.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) wrote that it often has to rescue animals from littered items.

"Plastic items become intestinal blockages; baited fishing lines entangle limbs, hindering movement and causing dismemberment; and aluminum cans with leftover soda or beer turn into razor-sharp traps," HSUS wrote in a 2010 blog post.

Across the ocean, the UK Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimated it got an average of 14 calls a day about animals endangered by litter.
Sponsored
by [D.Jiang] / Moment / Getty Images

By Alena Kharlamenko

Tofu is a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets.

Read More Show Less
KarinaKnyspel / iStock / Getty Images

2018 saw a number of studies pointing to the outsized climate impact of meat consumption. Beef has long been singled out as particularly unsustainable: Cows both release the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere because of their digestive processes and require a lot of land area to raise. But for those unwilling to give up the taste and texture of a steak or burger, could lab-grown meat be a climate-friendly alternative? In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the Oxford Martin School set out to answer that question.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Three scissor-tailed flycatcher fledglings in a mesquite tree in Texas. Texas Eagle / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Gary Paul Nabhan

President Trump has declared a national emergency to fund a wall along our nation's southern border. The border wall issue has bitterly divided people across the U.S., becoming a vivid symbol of political deadlock.

Read More Show Less
PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images

By Daniel Ross

Hurricane Florence, which battered the U.S. East Coast last September, left a trail of ruin and destruction estimated to cost between $17 billion and $22 billion. Some of the damage was all too visible—smashed homes and livelihoods. But other damage was less so, like the long-term environmental impacts in North Carolina from hog waste that spilled out over large open-air lagoons saturated in the rains.

Hog waste can contain potentially dangerous pathogens, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. According to the state's Department of Environmental Quality, as of early October nearly 100 such lagoons were damaged, breached or were very close to being so, the effluent from which can seep into waterways and drinking water supplies.

Read More Show Less
This picture taken on May 21, 2018 shows discarded climbing equipment and rubbish scattered around Camp 4 of Mount Everest. Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world's highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind. DOMA SHERPA / AFP / Getty Images

China has closed its Everest base camp to tourists because of a buildup of trash on the world's tallest mountain.

Read More Show Less