2016 Year in Review: Brie Hashem, Wildlife Rehabilitator

It’s time to look back on 2016! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2016 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Shortly after I started working at the Wildlife Center in August, I fell in love with Severus, one of our Eastern Ratsnake education ambassadors. During my training session on how to feed our education snakes, he grabbed the mice from my feeding tongs with fervor. His affinity for food (which rivals my own) and Harry Potter moniker stole my heart.

While watching training videos, I stumbled across a video of Severus being fed a chicken egg as enrichment. Enrichment is used to improve the quality of life of captive animals. It has many benefits, including the encouragement of naturally occurring behaviors and mental stimulation. During education snake enrichment, I learned how beneficial enrichment can be for caregivers as well.

After seeing the video of Severus eating a chicken egg, I immediately emailed Raina, one of our outreach coordinators, to discuss education snake egg-feeding Round Two. Could we use quail eggs this time? Where does one procure quail eggs? When should we do it? Raina said that she absolutely wanted to be involved and that she would pick up quail eggs from her local farm store. We settled on November 29th and I began counting down the days.

The morning of November 29th, I came into work to find an email from Raina with the subject line “Sad”. The body of the email read “They were out of little eggs at the store :(”. I was crushed. Raina thought to check Whole Foods on her way in though and they had quail eggs in stock. Education snake egg feeding Round Two was back on!

When it came time to feed the education snakes, there were four rehabilitation externs, a volunteer, and an outreach coordinator in addition to Raina and me. We made bets over on who would eat the quail eggs first. Of course my money was on Severus, and he didn’t let me down. In the background of the video, I can be heard whisper-shouting “winner!” as he eats his first egg.



I think what made education snake egg-feeding Round Two my most memorable moment of 2016 was that it involved my favorite education ambassador displaying natural behaviors and being mentally stimulated, which is what wildlife rehabilitators strive to provide for both their education ambassadors and patients. And also, maybe that “my” snake won. :)


Keep checking the Wildlife Center's blog for more year-end posts this week!