2021 Year in Review: Rachel Wolffe, Licensed Veterinary Technician Intern

It’s time to look back on 2021! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2021 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

While 2021 has been a difficult and challenging year for most people due to the pandemic, for me it has also been a very rewarding year at the Wildlife Center. I have volunteered at the Center for several years and this year, decided to gain more experience in wildlife medicine by completing a summer vet tech externship. Though the hours were long, I enjoyed the externship immensely and learned so much! Based on the externship experience, I decided to continue building wildlife medicine skills by becoming the year-long vet tech intern.

I enjoy working with all the wildlife that comes to WCV, but I have a special interest in amphibians, including frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts. I learned a lot about their natural history, conservation, and husbandry through my undergraduate studies and other previous internship and work experiences. However, I had very little experience in the medical treatment and rehabilitation of amphibians. Enter American Toad #21-2924.

This toad was brought to WCV due to a large, fluid-filled swelling on his right side. I learned a lot from treating this individual and was able to apply a lot of my previous knowledge. I assisted with his initial physical exam and radiographs; during this initial exam, we drained a large amount of fluid from the swelling. Initially, the swelling returned, but we decided to try several different medications. Over the course of his stay, I learned to administer medications orally and via injection. I took skin swabs to send to a lab where they tested for several amphibian diseases that are affecting populations worldwide. Luckily these tests were negative for our toad. I also performed physical therapy by encouraging him to hop around his terrarium. I am very happy to report that after several weeks of treatment and monitoring, the swelling gradually resolved, and this toad was able to return to the wild.

My experience with American Toad #21-2924 was rewarding not only because I learned a lot about treating toads, but also because I was able to participate in every phase of his treatment.

— Rachel Wolffe, Licensed Veterinary Technician Intern

Check out all of our year-in-review posts!