Sharon and her family are collectively (and affectionately) known as ‘Team Richardson’. Together they have helped so very many animals, often in emergency situations and we joke that they are a ‘satelite animal centre’! Sharon tells us about their fostering experience with RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch:
- How long have you been fostering and what species?
We have been fostering small animals since summer 2017. We started off with mice and since then had guinea pigs, rats, rabbits, hamsters and a tortoise. This week we took in our one hundredth foster.
2) What have you learnt?
We have learnt so much over this time about the special needs and appropriate foods for each of these animals. The importance of socialising them from a young age. With rabbits what their poop should look like and what it means if not right. The importance for rabbits and guinea pigs to live with a partner or in groups. The minimum amount of space required and ensuring enrichment is provided. They need to have access to hay 24/7. Best way to give meds to a non compliant rabbit. Learning to sex guinea pigs. What to look for on piggies after being neutered.
3) Funniest experience fostering?
Funniest experience was when Keith (my husband) got up one morning and gone into bathroom, starts shouting me. He’d seen something black run behind the toilet and asked should there be a rabbit in the bathroom. I checked the pen in the kitchen and it was empty. We then went on a bunny hunt to catch the little terror.
4) What has been you greatest heartbreak?
The greatest heartbreak would have to be Atlas and Avery, 2 little Netherlands dwarfs. They had come in a group of 12 that Susie (branch manager) had asked us take in as an emergency. We had split them into 2 groups based on how old we thought they were, sadly over the week I came down to 3 bunnies having passed away. The older group went to the Centre and we continued to look after the younger ones. Susie advised us to separate the 2 neddies from the group after they had been with us for a few weeks. The 2 neddies stayed with us for a few months but they weren’t putting on weight and after vet visits and poop testing the prognosis wasn’t good. They stayed with us until it was time to be put to sleep. They where a sweet pair and it was so sad that it ended this way.
5) What is the best thing about fostering?
Best thing about fostering is seeing the improvement in the animal with their health and socialising. When the animal let’s you give them headrubs or they come to sit on your lap. Having babies born in our care is an amazing experience. Seeing photos/videos of fosters in their new homes.
6) How many foster fails have you had?
Our house has had a number of foster fails:
Merlin – the mouse
Styx, Padfoot and Harribo – hamsters
Houdini and Chet – rabbits