Animal rehabilitator goes viral with post about wild use for mascara brushes

Appalachian Wildife Refuge says the mascara brushes are a handy tool when working with squirrels and other critters. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The co-founder of a North Carolina nonprofit just wanted to make a statement about how small things can make a big impact on wildlife.

Her Facebook post about how used mascara brushes can be so useful has drawn more than 37,000 shares.

"They're a fun age at this size," Savanna Trantham says, referring to a couple of orphaned baby squirrels.

Just when you think they couldn't possibly be cuter, the little suckers surprise you.

"He gets really excited," she says as one of them loudly sucks down some formula. "He pulls in and pulls it off. He makes a mess."

As an animal rehabilitator, Trantham handles with care. She's co-founder of Appalachian Wild with plans to open a triage facility in Candler soon.

On Friday, she shared a trick of the trade that went viral.

"Because there's so many simple ways that can help wildlife that literally start in your own backyard or in your kitchen," she explains.

Her recent post wasn't about a magic wand, but something as basic as an old brush.

Especially when it's warmer, rehabbers find the usually discarded makeup tools handy.

"When we do a thorough exam, we're looking for anything on their fur that shouldn't be there," she says while demonstrating.

"We would simply run that through," she tells us, gently using a mascara brush on a squirrel. "And all the bristles and teeth of the brush are gonna catch fly eggs or the larva without causing any damage to the fur."

Co-founder Kimberly Brewster says Savannah's post hashtagged #SmallThingsCanMakeABigDifference has drawn likes, comments, and shares almost around the clock.

"We're at 37,000 shares of this post about mascara brushes," she marvels. "See someone is writing a comment right now!"

"I started crying as the numbers went up," says Brewster.

They hope the overwhelming response raises awareness and draws attention to the group's other fundamental supply needs.

Monday someone from Sacramento, California, shipped a big box of brushes. That could be just the beginning. Click here to see a wishlist of supplies needed for the triage center that's opening soon.

"I don't know what we're gonna do with 37 thousand people sending us brushes," Brewster says. "But we'll figure that out."

You could say it's an unexpected makeup call that's caught on like wildfire.

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