How Your Used Mascara Wand Could Help Save the Lives of Wild Animals

A baby opossum wrapped in a blanket.
A baby opossum wrapped in a blanket. /

Tubes of mascara aren’t just good for giving you long, Elizabeth Taylor-esque eyelashes. They’re also good for wildlife. As Popular Science reports, a nonprofit wildlife center in western North Carolina uses recycled mascara wands to help rehabilitate small animals that have been injured or orphaned.

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge runs an “emergency room” of sorts where animals can receive urgent care from trained professionals. One of the tools they typically have on hand is a mascara brush, because it’s surprisingly effective at cleaning animals. “It works miracles,” wildlife rehabber Janice Burleson tells Popular Science, adding that it’s more efficient than a lice or flea comb.

The bristles of a mascara wand are not only soft, but they’re also positioned in such a way that fly eggs, larvae, and mites can be easily plucked from a small animal’s fur. The center has received more than 50,000 used mascara brushes, and they’ve been used to treat everything from turtles to squirrels to baby opossums. For squirrels in particular, the grooming process seems to calm and soothe them.

The refuge center is still accepting used (and washed) mascara brushes, but it said there's a much greater need for monetary donations and other supplies. “With so many wands coming in, we are asking people to please provide support through a donation or purchase of food and supplies from the wishlist,” the organization writes on its website. Staff are now working on setting up partnerships with other rehabilitation centers in order to redistribute the wands to other areas where they're needed. Some have been sent to Massachusetts, while others have even ended up in Zimbabwe.

[h/t Popular Science]