Heat, drought impacting urban animals


A mockingbird, the state bird of Texas, is hand fed a cricket by volunteers. Homeowners around Houston are finding the drought distressed animals and bringing them into the Wildlife Rehab and Education Center in west Houston.

"I was turning on the sprinkler in the yard and I heard a little chirp-chirp, and I looked down and there was a bird," said Allison Gonzales.

The southeast Texas drought is taking its toll on urban wildlife, who no longer have access to their typical water and food source as the earth continues to dry out.

Debbie Mitchell with the Wildlife Rehab and Education Center explained, "We are seeing little armadillos come out and they're looking for little puddles of water where people have watered their yard. They're looking for soft soil so they can dig for insects and things."

The triage unit at the Wildlife Rehab and Education Center is nursing all kinds of southeast Texas critters back to health. As soon as they come in, they're hydrated and given vet checks. Fortunately many are able to be nursed back to health.

"(This animal) is finally getting a nice fat little belly because he has had some good groceries while he has been here, but he came in just thin and emaciated," Mitchell said. "He was weak and we are seeing a lot of the fleas this year because of the drought."

From birds to mammals the entire Texas ecosystem is doing its best to endure the worst drought in Texas in more than 50 years. It's also put the Wildlife Rehab and Education Center under duress. They have already taken in the same number of animals as all of last year - 7,000 in 2010.

"This year we have already reached 6,900," Mitchell said.

The wildlife center says they are still accepting wild animals as well as volunteers.

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