Our vision for the Small Mammals project is to have a place where people can enjoy caring for a variety of small animals and thereby, begin to appreciate the wonders of our Heavenly Father who made all things; and through friendship with Christian staff and volunteers, come to experience something of the love and kindness of Jesus.Becky Naylor :- Small Mammals Project Leader
We are planning to develop a new ‘small mammals area’ which will be a really pleasant and stimulating area in which our beneficiaries can work and enjoy themselves. It will require a spacious area that is well ventilated but warm, and for the whole area to be wheelchair accessible, so people can come and enjoy being with animals, whatever their disability.
We will increase the variety of animals on the project, making it as interesting and varied as possible. These will include guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas, spiny mice, hedgehog, tortoise, bearded dragons, geckos, and birds (that can be trained), runner ducks and possibly many more. But we only plan to include animals that are therapeutically beneficial for our beneficiaries.
Alongside looking after the animals, we will have an area for people to learn about and undertake projects about the animals, for example – make posters about what they like to eat and drawing the animals. This would help make the project more interesting and possibly be a way to enable more people to be accommodated.
We also think it would be good to have an area outside to grow plants and weeds that are suitable for animals to eat, again increasing the variety of interests and things to do on the project. We are exploring the idea of combining the project much more with conservation. We currently feed the wild birds, but it would be good to expand this, for people to learn more from our ponds and watch the wonder of pond life through the seasons.
The project could function on two levels, where we could have people who are regularly on the project, who build up routine, confidence and skills in what is needed in everyday care of looking after the animals. Then also having a space and opportunity for people to come in for maybe just one hour a week, to simply enjoy being with the animals.
This project has already proved to be a really stimulating, therapeutic and interesting project for our beneficiaries, especially for some of those who are the most vulnerable, but it has the capacity to help many more.
We must have a suitable building with plenty of room to move around and house the animals in the best possible conditions. This will have to be able to accommodate lockers, toilets, and handwashing facilities. Ideally it would extend to an outside area of runs, aviaries and so forth.