Lesson 3.2: Rehab Enclosures & Daily Care

A snapshot of one of our enclosures.

About the Enclosures

The rehab enclosures are similar in design to the enclosures of our permanent residents, but they are located on our property away from the regularly trafficked areas.

Each enclosure is divided into two sections, separated by a guillotine door. The enclosure is constructed of 4×4” wire panels and completely covered in 1 inch chain link to prevent the escape of prey items and smaller kittens. A panel of wire is buried along the inside and attached to the perimeter wall. This wire prevents both bobcats and prey animals from digging out of the enclosure. Each section has a den with fresh brush surrounding it, providing natural places to hide.

Since we can’t have trees in the enclosures due to the roofs, logs are provided for climbing, and to create burrows for the bobcats to hide large whole prey items.

We also install shelf-like platforms on the walls of the enclosures to provide the bobcats with higher vantage points, since they enjoy climbing.

Swings are included in the enclosures for climbing and stimulation.

Enclosures may also include platforms or swinging catwalks.

Daily Care

Daily care includes:

  • checking the perimeter of the enclosure
  • cleaning or raking of the inside of the enclosure (performed every 3 days)
  • cleaning of the water bowl and replacing the water
  • feeding the bobcats
  • adding program enhancements on cleaning/rake days

On some days, there may also be an administration of medications or veterinary care. Daily care should be completed in the mornings to ensure the bobcat has fresh clean water at the start of the day. All daily care should be conducted at one time to limit the bobcat’s experience with human exposure.

Perimeter Checks

If the enclosure is not scheduled to be cleaned, a perimeter check should be performed. To do this:

  1. Lock the bobcat in one section of the enclosure
  2. Check the perimeter of the opposite section to ensure that it is secure
  3. Shift the bobcat to the checked section
  4. Check the other section
    A closeup of the cage, and the mesh overlay.

Locking the bobcat away will prohibit it from following you during the perimeter check. This is more applicable when working with kittens, since wild adult bobcats will usually either hunker down, hide, or run to the opposite side of the enclosure on their own. Because this behavior is pretty typical, you may not need to shift them.

During the perimeter check, there are a few key things you’re looking for:

  1. Visually inspect the enclosure for damage, paying close attention to the wire at ground level. This is where the 1 inch chain link is most often damaged and requires repair.
  2. Check the roof of the enclosure for large branches that need to be removed; if there are branches, you can use the ladder stored behind the plastic bench, near the water hose to reach and clear them.
  3. Finally, check for low areas that require fill dirt.

Cleaning Enclosures

Because the enclosure is constructed of 1 inch chain link, we are unable to clean the bobcat enclosures the same way we clean other enclosures in the sanctuary. Therefore, the enclosure must be entered and cleaned every 3 days. Here’s a list of tasks that should be completed when cleaning the enclosure:

  1. If there is a significant amount of leaf litter, the entire enclosure should be raked and the leaves discarded in plastic bags.
    • When raking, take care to rake lightly as to not disturb and uproot any grass that is growing.
    • Rakes can be found in the safety entrance.
    • Garbage bags and gloves can be found in the plastic bench by the water hose.
  2. If there is not much leaf litter, then a cleaning will suffice.
    • Take a plastic garbage bag and tongs and walk the enclosure removing feces, left over foods, mushrooms, and nuisance plants.
    • Tongs can be found hanging on the safety entrance to the enclosure.
      Another view of an enclosure, showing the brush, hiding space, and den.
    • If a bobcat is on quarantine, it will have its own assigned tongs and rake.
  3. Check inside dens for stashed food items and remove them.
  4. Replace the hay in the den if the hay is soiled.
    • If clean, fluff up the hay to make new again. You might remember that we advised against using hay in the Hospital Housing lesson; while we don’t like to use hay when bobcats are kept inside, using it in smaller enclosures is usually fine, as it’s rare for them to get bored outside to the point of eating the hay.
  5. Again, pay close attention to the integrity of the chain link at ground level.
    • If any holes have opened up, repair them before giving the bobcat access to the section.
    • Wire and tools can often be found in the plastic bench by the water hose.
  6. Check the entire enclosure for low areas or areas where the buried wire floor is exposed and add dirt to fill those areas as needed.

Cleaning Water Bowls & Replacing Water

Mesh and wire covering the water bowl.

Water bowl boxes are affixed to both sections, but only the water bowl nearest the hoses are used. However, if the bobcat has to be locked away from this section for more than 3 hours, water must be provided in the section where the bobcat is housed. Water bowls that are not being used should be stored upside down to prevent collection of leaves, dirt, or other debris.

The water bowls are accessed via a flip-up wire panel on the top of the water bowl box. This panel is secured with a clip on each side, with a padlock on the front. To clean the water bowls and replenish fresh water:

  1. Shift the bobcat to the opposite section prior to unlocking and opening the water bowl box.
  2. Unlock the water bowl box and remove the water bowl.
  3. Discard the water, spray bleach solution into the bowl and scrub with the cleaning brush.
    • Bleach solution and a cleaning brush will be hanging on the safety entrance to the enclosure.
    • If a bobcat is on quarantine, it will have its own cleaning brush.
  4. Rinse the bowl out thoroughly, fill with fresh water, and place the bowl back into the water bowl box.
  5. Secure the two clips onto either side of the top of the box, lock the padlock on the front of the box, and place the tile on the top of the box.
    • Shifting may not be possible with an adult wild bobcat that is insistent on remaining hidden. If this is the case, ensure the bobcat is a safe distance away, and be sure to use the clips to secure the water box once you remove the bowl to clean it.

Click on the Mark Complete button to go to Lesson 3.3: Enhancements & Monitoring.

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