Dateline – May 10, 2014
Many of you will remember from about about a month ago when we delivered an orphaned Bobcat kitten to the wildlife rehabbers at the National Bobcat Rescue and Research Foundation (NBRR) near Terrell, Texas. The story of that kitten and her rescue is told here: Bobcat – Orphaned
The orphaned Bobcat kitten was given the name Josey by her caretakers at the NBRR. She has been under their care for a little over four weeks, and I thought now might be a good time for an update on her condition. With this in mind, we paid the good folks at the National Bobcat Rescue and Rehabilitation Foundation a quick visit this past weekend.
Josey is doing extremely well. She is now almost twice the size she was when we first brought her in to the center. I am told she has a healthy appetite and eats almost her weight in chicken meat everyday.
Things are looking up for this feisty Bobcat kitten, but she still has a long way to go. Josey will need to be at the center for nearly a year before she will be old enough to be released back into the wild. Great efforts are being made to ensure that Josey does not become habituated to people and remains wary and wild enough to be a good candidate for eventual release. We are looking forward to that day, and will check in on Josey periodically to see how she is progressing.
In addition to Josey, there are many other Bobcats being cared for at the NBRR at the present time. Some will be permanent residents due to health issues or because they were kept as pets for an extended period of time before coming to the center. But most will eventually be returned to the wild Texas countryside where they belong.
Bobcats are really incredible creatures. They never fail to impress me with their good nature and intelligence every time I visit the ranch. Now, I don’t want to give anyone the idea that keeping a Bobcat as a pet is a good idea. Making a pet of any wild animal is generally not advisable. But Bobcats are capable of developing a real affinity for their caretakers. These cats have a full spectrum of personalities—they range from introverts to extroverts and everything in between. Some individuals can become remarkably open, loving, and gentle with the people they trust. There is much, much more to these animals than what you might first expect.
Many other animals are cared for at the NBRR through their parent organization The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch. Some of the species of wildlife being rehabbed at this facility include the Red Fox, the Striped Skunk, the Virgina Opossum, the Eastern Cottontail, and the Common Raccoon.
One of the most interesting animals receiving care at the center is Porcia the Porcupine. Porcia’s story is extraordinary and her rehabilitation is a remarkable success for the people at Cross Timbers Wildlife Center.
Porcupines are not native to the Dallas/Fort Worth area (although they do range close in the west). Their natural distribution is confined to roughly the western half of the state. This one was found on a small ranch in the town of Mountain Home several miles southwest of Austin
Porcia is lucky to be alive. She was never even born in the traditional sense. The body of Porcia’s mother was discovered shortly after she had been killed by a predator. The prenatal porcupine infant had been torn from the body during the attack but was otherwise unharmed.
The people who discovered the tragic scene quickly contacted the folks at the Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch to enlist their help. Porcia has come a long way since her traumatic birth. She is now eight months old and nearly full grown. She is a gentle and affectionate animal who enjoys exploring new surroundings.
I was able to photograph Porcia as she was allowed to give her brand new—but still unfinished—outdoor enclosure a brief test run. This mild mannered creature climbed and explored seemingly without a care in the world.
But, any unexpected noise or abrupt movement would remind us all of why Porcupines deserve respect. When startled, Porcia would turn her back and present her quills. It is a truly awesome display that will make quite an impression on you when viewed closeup.
Predators have to be extremely careful while dealing with these formidable defenses. A face full of these quills will leave any attacker in agony. A closer look at the spines under a microscope reveals the reason why. These quills are barbed down their entire length so that they do not come out easily. In fact, they are apt to penetrate even more deeply over time.
But as the death of Porcia’s mother illustrates this defense is not foolproof. Porcupines have an unprotected underside, and many predators have figured this out. These wily hunters know that all they have to do is flip the slow moving porcupine on its back and it is all over.
We always enjoy our visits to the Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch and its sister organization the National Bobcat Rescue and Rehabilitation Foundation. These two organizations do great and important work. They are nonprofits and do not receive any funding from local, state or federal governments. Much of their operating budget comes from donations from bighearted people who care about wildlife. Most animals that come to these clinics do so as a direct result of some kind of human action. If you would like to help, please click the links below to make a tax deductible donation.
- Donate to the Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch
- Donate to the National Bobcat Rescue and Rehabilitation Foundation