What To Do When You Find a Baby Mammal or other Wildlife
If you've found a baby animal thatís on its own and appears to be alone, donít assume the animal has been abandoned or orphaned. Unless the baby is obviously injured or in distress, the very best thing you can do is leave it alone and observe it from a distance for at least an hour to determine if itís really alone. Often people find perfectly healthy baby animals that they think need assistance when in fact a parent is close by and the babies are fine. If you have found an orphaned or injured mammal, please call your local Wildlife Rehabilitator, who can be found on the Internet at pawr.com or www.nwrawildlife.org or ahnow.org.
A Note about Rabies: Rabies is a deadly disease, always fatal to humans. It is a virus carried in the saliva of infected animals and passed through any tiny skin opening. Foxes, raccoons, bats, skunks and groundhogs are potential carriers of rabies and should not be touched with bare hands under any circumstances. If you must handle these animals, use gloves and a thick towel for protection. The only test for rabies involves destroying the animal and testing its brain tissue.
Guidelines for Rescue
- A young animal's best chance for survival is to be raised by its natural mother. Itís important to make every effort to try to return the young to its mother. ONLY after all efforts to reunite
them have been exhausted should the orphan be removed from the wild. DO NOT try to raise
the baby yourself. Save a life by contacting a Wildlife Rehabilitator.
- Wild mammals are protected by law and it is illegal to have them in your possession without proper permits from the federal and state governments.
- Proper care and nutrition are crucial to the survival of the baby and any deficiency will more
than likely cost the animal its life.
- Baby animals easily imprint onto whoever is feeding them and steps are needed to prevent this. An animal that is imprinted on people cannot be released back into the wild and usually must be destroyed.
- Even baby animals can hurt you, so protect yourself and use great caution when approaching any wild animal, even a baby.
We frequently have people bring in babies they have been trying to raise themselves that are now having various problems. These animals often have severe metabolic and nerve problems from an improper diet. Even keeping an animal for just a few days in contact with yourself or your children will require it to be destroyed for rabies testing. These are truly tragic endings that everyone wants to avoid. We can save many more if we get them in right away.
Is the Animal a Baby?
Obviously, baby mammals are smaller than adults, but they also have shorter hair, especially on their tails. Think of a puppy versus an adult dog; the puppy has a short coat and short tail hairs until he's several months old. Most wild mammals are born in the spring, becoming independent by fall, but don't leave their mothers until they're nearly adult sized. Some mammals, squirrels for instance, routinely have two litters a year; one in the late winter or early spring and one in the summer or early fall.
When Does An Animal Need Medical Attention?
- If it has any of the following signs, itís probably sick or injured and in need of assistance:
- Bleeding or wounded
- Seen in a cat's or dog's mouth or there is a likelihood that the animal was picked up by a cat or dog
- Covered or surrounded by flies
- Wet and/or shivering
- Hit by a car, lawnmower, boat, or other vehicle
- When you know the mother is dead
- When there is absolutely no way to return the baby to its nest, den or hiding place.
Some young animals may appear injured when they're not. If the animal has none of the above signs,
it may be healthy. Many young animals may appear to be orphaned, but they are independent and doing just fine on their own. The following links provide more information on the young of species that you may encounter, to help you decide whether or not they need to be rescued. If there are any questions, call your local Wildlife Rehabilitator, who can be found on the Internet at pawr.com or www.nwrawildlife.org or ahnow.org.
Guidelines for transporting injured and orphaned animals.
Help Prevent Animals From Becoming Orphaned or Injured
- Keep your dog on a leash or closely supervised.
- Do not allow your house cat to roam outside.
- Eliminate use of pesticides and rodenticides, either inside or outside.
- Never use glue traps of any kind and always cover Lantern Fly traps with chicken wire or similar material.