OKALOOSA ISLAND — It's baby season at the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge.

"We've got opossums left and right out here," said Michelle Pettis, Chief Wildlife Rehabilitator at the refuge.

 

She said that most of the outdoor mammal enclosures are housing Virginia opossums. A couple groups of weened opossums will be released at the end of each week back into a suitable habitat.

Pettis said that baby season begins in February with a lot of squirrels, then moves to an influx of opossums and ends with raccoons.

Some of the more unusual baby residents at the refuge this year include a baby skunk and armadillo.

Baby birds are also commonly brought into the refuge. She advised that if a baby bird has fallen out of its nest, people can carefully place it back into the nest using their bare hands. She said the human scent will not deter the mother from coming back. However, if the mother does not return after an hour, people can call the refuge for help.

This year the refuge has also cared for a red-bellied woodpecker, red fox, gopher tortoise, eastern screech owl and red-tailed hawk.

The refuge is asking for donations from the public. Pettis said they have an Amazon Wish List that people can order from. The public can also shop for other items online and have it shipped to the refuge.

Some of the items include wet and dry dog and cat food, bleach, baby wipes, laundry detergent and fresh produce like berries, corn, melon and grapes.