The wildlife rotation has been really enjoyable thus far. Sure, it comes with a great deal of euthanasia, but it affords us students with opportunities to work with a plethora of species, all of which have different requirements. One of these requirements is caloric intake. Some waterfowl such as loons need to be fed live fish (which they dive under water to grab in their beaks), birds of prey can be given mice, and other birds are fine eating cracked corn, pelleted feed, and fresh green vegetables. But they all have some minimum requirement for daily calories. We call this value the minimum energy cost (MEC), and it can be found by multiplying a species constant with the body weight of the individual animal to the three fourth’s power. It may not be the most intuitive calculation, but it is how we determine how much to feed each patient.
Because all of the wild animals in the clinic would ideally not be in captivity, we try to limit our exposure to them and only perform the bare necessities of cleaning their cages, periodically weighing them, and regularly rechecking their diseased or damaged areas. Otherwise, it is a largely hands-off approach to medical care. That said, our hands are most focused on preparing their meals in the morning to be given at various times during the day. The food may be chopped fish stuffed with Vitamin B tablets and various oral drugs or perhaps, mice, quail, or beaver. No matter how disgusting they may smell, we prepare the food with love because our patients need it!