How will the animals in Southwest Florida handle the frigid temperatures that are anticipated over the next few days?
Staff members at the Peace River Wildlife Center are taking all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the injured or orphaned animals that call it home.
WINK News spoke with Callie Stahl, the executive director of the Peace River Wildlife Center about how the animals will handle the temperatures.
“Since we’re not expecting anything drastic, like snow or ice or sleet or something like that. Really, what we do here at the wildlife center is every winter, all of our birds have nesting boxes that we fill with pine needles and all kinds of soft materials so that when it does get chilly, they can go into those boxes,” Stahl said.
An Eastern Screech Owl named Luna. CREDIT: WINK News
One of the many good qualities of the wildlife center is every animal is native to Florida.
“They’re used to the Florida weather so they can deal with the heat. And then they can also deal with the little cold snaps that we get,” Stahl said.
Stahl is particularly worried about turtles and tortoises at the center.
“Because they’re not out in nature. And they can’t find those natural warm little burrows and spots like that,” Stahl said. “Those are the animals that will typically bring in when the temperature drops below 40 degrees.”
“She is a gopher tortoise, which is our protected species of tortoise in Florida. She lives here because she was actually attacked by a dog,” Stahl said.
Gopher tortoise. CREDIT: WINK News
Without her strong front feet and nails, she can’t burrow into the ground to escape the frigid temperatures. Due to this, the gopher tortoise will be taken inside for her safety.
It’s the same story at The Shell Factory and Nature Preserve.
Karen Schneider, the park director, spoke with WINK News about preparations before the cool weather.
“Starting tomorrow a little by little bit covering up enclosures, pulling certain animals in putting up tarps, and getting the lights out,” Schneider said.
“I worry about it every winter because you just never know. You know, it’s a whole lot of work for two or three days, you know, but it has to be done,” Schneider said. “You got to keep them warm and keep them happy.”
Schneider said Florida’s cold weather is rare but they’re always prepared to handle it.