As part of our service to the community, we gladly accept injured and orphaned wildlife.
These animals are stabilized and cared for until transferred to a knowledgeable wildlife rehabilitator.
If an adult wild animal lets you get close to it, it is seriously compromised and needs immediate assistance. Even apparently calm animals are incredibly frightened and stressed because they see you as the predator. They do not understand that you are trying to help. It is very important to keep the animal in a dark quiet area until help arrives. Resist the urge to peer in at or speak to it. Wild animals can die from stress alone. The wrong food, medication, or liquid can kill an already debilitated animal. Never give any food, fluids or medication!
Baby Wildlife: *Initial Assessment for every species*
First try to determine whether the animal is hurt or sick. Is it cold or bleeding? Does it have a broken wing or limb? Are there ants, maggots, flies, or any other insects on it? Has the animal been hit by a car,
caught by a dog or cat?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the animal needs assistance. Keep it in a warm, quiet and dark place. Do not attempt to give it any food, fluids or medications! If the answer is no, then see the species list below:
Human Scent on birds or mammals will not deter the parents from caring for their young! As long as it’s warm and healthy, you can put it back!
A. Bird Nestlings: These babies are pink and bald with little tufts of fluff or just beginning feathers. If the baby bird appears healthy and warm, gently place it back into the nest. Watch from far away for the parents. If none return in 2 hours, call a licensed rehabilitator for advice. If it is pushed out repeatedly, it may be the parent’s choice.
B. Bird Fledglings: Feathered, with short tails about the size of your pinkie fingernail. They have hopped out of the nest and are learning to fly. This process can take over a week. They spend this time on the ground practicing, while the parents bring them food. Although it is a dangerous stage, it is very important for development! As long as they appear healthy, it is always best to leave them where they are.
C. Baby Raptors (Hawks, Owl, Vultures): If you find a baby raptor, be careful, as mom and dad are usually watching and can be very protective. For your own safety, call an experienced, licensed rehabilitator to help
get the baby back in the nest. If the animal in injured, call a rehabilitator for help. For your safety, do not attempt to capture the animal.
D. Baby rabbits: Rabbits can literally die just from the stress of being handled! It is important to work quickly, gently and quietly while checking for injuries. Rabbit nests are shallow depressions in the ground,
lined with fur and dried grasses. Furless infants can be placed back in the nest and gently covered with leaves and grass. Mother rabbits only feed their young twice a day, at dawn and dusk. To determine if the mother is
returning to the nest, place two small twigs in an “X” on top of the nest and stay away from the nest for a day.
If she is still caring for her young, the marker will be disturbed. If not, call a rehabilitator for care. Rabbits are independent of their mothers at a very early age. If they are fully furred, have open eyes and erect ears, they
are not orphans! If they are healthy, leave them alone. If they do need help, handle them gently and place in a small, dark box and keep warm and quiet.
E. Baby Squirrels: Furless baby squirrels are fairly dependent on their mothers for a long time. Mother squirrels are very dedicated parents. In most cases where a nest is blown down or the tree cut down, the mother
will return to retrieve her young. Healthy babies found on the ground can be placed in a shallow box at the base of that tree. The mother should be off making a new nest, and will return for them. If she does not return by dark, call a rehabilitator for help.
F. Baby opossums: Opossums carry their young in their pouch. Because of this fact, if you find a hairless opossum, it will need immediate assistance. Opossums are independent at a very young age. If they are fully furred, eyes open, and longer that 7 inches not including the tail, they are able to survive on their own.
G. Fawns: Fawns are left alone for long periods of time while the mother feeds. Deer almost always have twins and will usually leave their babies hidden in tall grass or thickets, separate from each other. If the fawn
is healthy, it is very important to leave it right where you found it.
H. Baby Reptiles: Turtles and snakes are completely independent of their parents from day one. If healthy, always leave them alone. Whenever you see a turtle in the road and it is safe for you to help it cross, always place the turtle across the road in the direction it was originally headed.
Copyright 2012 – Stacy Huff (NC Wildlife Resources Commission Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator), Happy Tails Veterinary Emergency Clinic
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