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June 02, 2004

Poor Homer

When I came home for lunch the ducklings were under the tree having a snack. All eight present and accounted for, although Homer does not look well at all. He seems to be very weak now, although when I see him at night (around 7-8 p.m.) he looks a little stronger.

His behavior is off, though. He will occasionally swim away from the mother duck and the other ducklings, like he doesn't realize where he's going and that they aren't following. I was worried last night because he swam about 10 feet away from them and seemed to get lost in some reeds. But the family eventually caught up to him.

Unfortunately I think it's only a matter of time before we lose him. He's just too small (about half the size of the others) and too weak. There's obviously some underlying problem with the little guy, but if he doesn't succumb to that I think a predator of some sort will get him.

It makes me sad to watch him, the poor little thing.

ETA: I just spoke with a wildlife rehabilitator up in Tarpon Springs (just north of me) and he basically said that it's typical for there to be one runt in a clutch of ducklings, and that there is probably nothing that can be done for Homer even if I were able to catch him and bring him in. But if I wanted to try and bring Homer in, I'd have to bring ALL the babies in, not just the runt. I'm not sure why that is, but there you go. But I don't think that's a good idea - the other ducklings are healthy and strong and doing fine right where they are.

The man said that what will probably happen is the mother will try to run off and leave Homer behind at a point when he is too weak to follow. Which, honestly, makes me want to burst into tears even though I know that that is just how animals are.

It makes me think about my mom's cat, Punkin. I rescued her from underneath Dunedin Stadium when she was about 3 weeks old. The grounds crew had found her, abandoned by her mother. When we took Punkin to the doctor we found out why - her heart is on the wrong side of her body, and she has a bad heart murmur. The vet told us not to expect her to live more than six months.

This summer, Punkin will be 10 years old.

Posted by Highwaygirl on June 2, 2004 12:25 PM to the category Animals

Would you consider taking him in just to get him a little better?

Posted by: rappy at June 2, 2004 12:58 PM

I looked into it, and I'm just not qualified to rehabilitate a duckling. Feeding them is complicated. The best I could do would be to turn him over to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator ... but the thing is, I don't think he's injured. I think there's something physiologically wrong with him (because he's so small).

I don't know that there's anything that a qualified person could do for him. I might make a few calls and see, though.

Posted by: Highwaygirl at June 2, 2004 01:20 PM

Aw, Punkin!

Posted by: rappy at June 2, 2004 03:23 PM