Friday, 26 July 2013

Summer Opening

Don't forget, we are now open to the general public everyday until the end of the school summer holidays! So that is every day until Monday the 2nd of September! 

Why not come along and see us, the wildcat kittens are growing and doing strong, the stoat and polecat kits are now out and about, the deer fawns are growing fast and coming over for feed, the squirrel kittens are now active in the copse plus much more!

I alluded to a new addition to the team earlier this week... well, I bet none of you guessed it, but we now have a terrapin in our hedgerow pond!

Terrapins are not native to the UK, but are popular pets which had a boom in purchases after the fame of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle" cartoon. Growing fast, many people then released these animals in to the wild to get rid of them, and much like other alien species... the terrapins are now taking over some of our habitats and causing many problems.

This chap is a "Yellow-Bellied Slider", or a cross of that family of terrapins. These are now arguably more popular than the red-eared terrapins that many people know off, and was brought in to us as a rescue a couple of weeks ago.

Our terrapin has been extremely popular with school children, as he is easily visible in his pond enclosure. Be sure to check him out next time you are here.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Heat Wave

One of the most common things I have been asked recently is "How do the animals cope this hot weather?"

We have had some extremely warm days over the past couple of weeks, and yes I think it does get to the animals a bit... they tend to shy away in to the shade to stay cool or stay undergroung. They usually all come out if we call them for a visiting school group, but as soon as we move on we let them go back to keeping cool for the rest of the day.

We can help of course though, and you find many of our animals enjoy our efforts in cooling them off.

Many animals enjoy having a bath to keep their temperature down, this may be a simple task like placing larger water bowls in to enclosures such as our hedgehogs to really allow themselves to have a good soak... Our badgers in particular seem to enjoy a daily bath in their large outdoor pool.

Some of our animals, such as our foxes, enjoy a little spray with the hose to help with the temperatures... even surprisingly our owl, Florence. Usually owls keep away from the water and it is quite rare for one to take a bath, like a bird would for example. But Florence seems to enjoy a daily bath after her flying session, jumping in to her water bowl to have a soak, and even flying under the hose if we have it going nearby.

Some animals may just lay flat out in the shade to cool off, even our snakes who are finding this weather a bit too hot for them... but with others we can offer alternative enrichment to help keep them cool.

The foxes and otters in particular seem to enjoy "iced" food... this may be something as simple as a little frozen blood, or something a bit more like fish frozen in ice blocks for the otters to try and eat.

It usually takes them a while to get used it, but they soon work out that by taking it in to the water it helps to melt the ice, before taking it back to the back to eat.

It looks like the temperatures are easing off a bit now, so we should be all set for the summer opening. I'll remind you of our openings later in the week, with news of a new "unusual" arrival who has already become a bit of a star with visitors!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

New Mole

After a long hiatus, we now have a new mole living in our hedgerow! Our moles have always been a great exhibit, and draw much attention. I think many people are surprised at how small they actually are... especially when all you normally see to tell you they have been around is a large mole hill!

This mole came from the Devon Wildlife Photography Centre, and has yet to be named... maybe something along the lines of Digger, Hans or maybe even Bob?

Moles are fascinating little mammals, with little known about them... here are a few facts that you may not of heard.

 - Moles have tiny eyes and ears which they hardly use, but their sense of touch is amazing!

 - Their velvety fur can lay either forwards or backwards, making it easy to traverse either way through their tunnels without the fur snagging

 - To turn around in a tunnel, the mole will do a roly poly

 - The main predator of moles are owls

 - Moles saliva have a toxin which can paralyze earthworms and and other invertebrates

Make sure to keep an eye open for our mole next time you visit... they tend to be active for a couple of hours, before sleeping for a couple of hours, then awake again. You may need to be a little patient and pop back to have another look if he is not out first time you go to see.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Kate back for the Summer

Some of you may have noticed a familiar face around the Centre over the past couple of weeks?.. Yes, it is that time of year again when we have taken on a helping hand for the summer opening which is coming up.

Kate Ford has helped us out over the past couple of summers, and having recently finished her university degree at Sheffield has come back to help us out for one last summer before moving on to grand ventures!

Kate will be with us until the end of September. Say hello to her if you see her... she will most likely be wandering around with an owl on her arm!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

More Wildcat Kittens

 Kendra, one of our female wildcats, has given birth to a litter of kittens sired by McTavish.  They are now approximately two weeks old, and I first announced it during the wildcat conservation talk during our members evening on Saturday.

This is obviously great news, and is our second litter of kittens here at the Centre this year. Kendra has bred and raised kittens successfully in the past, so hopefully she will continue on this good form as her youngsters may have an important role to play in Scottish wildcat conservation.

 Although not so much of a risk as they are in our main enclosure, and Kendra has them safely tucked away in her den, I'm afraid the usual rules apply... please respect the stand off barrier. It is there for a reason!

I will keep you updated on their progress...

 Now, I don't want to bore you with more photos of our wildcat kittens, but... I'm going to! Above is one of Iona's kittens, now about 9 weeks old. Below are just a few recent photos of how they are doing.

One of the youngsters is a bit of a loner to the other two, and very bold! It spends a lot of time stalking dad and pouncing on him... much to his annoyance. He is a good dad though, and just ignores it and lets them get on with it.

Above is Macavity stalking through the long grass, meanwhile below one of the kittens climbed up the small log in the centre of the enclosure.

Patiently waited till dad passed by, and then pounced on him!

I didn't get the "impact" shot I'm afraid as I was too busy laughing!

I have to say, I have seen many kittens born and raised here in the past, but this litter really has been something else. I think it is because they are in the slightly more open enclosure, so we are seeing them grow, develop and play more intimately then usual.

OK, you have suffered enough. I will try (although no promises) to hold back from more kitten photos until I can update you on Kendra's litter... they probably won't start emerging for another four or five weeks.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Members Evening

Yesterday evening (Saturday the 6th of July) we had our annual members evening. Thanks to every one who came along and helped made the evening the success it was. 

We were very lucky with the weather, a beautiful evening which cooled down nicely from the day, and the animals enjoyed the cooler time of the day being out and about for all to see.

We had several animal feeds on the go, a meet and greet with some owls and grass snakes plus two new talks that we don't usually do on an open day.

The main talk of the evening was about the Scottish Wildcat, where I focused far more on the conservation efforts going on, the new dna testing happening this year and the hope of a possible re-introduction scheme in the future.

Of course we had a look at the kittens too, and how they are developing strongly... it was great to see them put on a good show, and they where playing for most of the evening while mum and dad kept a close eye on them.

Earlier in the evening we went up to see our stoats and weasels... these are some of my most favourite of animals, and once again they put in a good appearance for all to see while I explained just why these fantastic little carnivores are one of the best predators in the world!

Thanks once again to all who came to see us last night, and to all the members of the BWC for your continued support of the Centre and the work we do here for the education and conservation of British wildlife. We all do truly appreciate it.

Hope to see you all again soon.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

New Roe Deer

Earlier this week we welcomed "Russell" the Roe Deer to the British Wildlife Centre. Russell came to us from Wildwood Trust near Herne Bay. Wildwood were looking to expand some of their other enclosures, and so this meant they needed to find a new home for their roe. Being such a handsome buck, and also our little male roe being a little stunted due to his start in life, we offered Russell a home here in the hope he may breed with our female "Chestnut"

It is quite possible that they may catch the season this year, and we may see roe kids at the Centre again next year.

I was very surprised at how quickly our new roe has settled in. They can be quite nervous animals, but even on his first new morning with us I saw him just lying in the grass with our other two roe deer. It seems both Chestnut and Bracken have accepted him already and made him part of the family.

If you are coming this weekend, have a little look to see if you can see him. He is still settling and so is most likely going to be a little further back in the enclosure hiding in the grass and trees... I am pretty sure he will be keeping a close eye on you though.