There are a lot of wildlife babies out there right now, so please, use your common sense and take a moment to both enjoy what we are so lucky to have and to think before jumping in and rescuing something that may well not need rescuing at all. Please try to keep wildlife centre admissions down to strictly the sick, injured and TRULY orphaned creatures that can benefit from the rehabber's skills, and not waste precious time and space on perfectly healthy infant wildlife.
Stick to the basics, gently heat if chilled, use a small container to
prevent movement and a dark, quiet spot to wait in while a rehabber is
contacted. Most injured, ill or orphaned creatures need intravenous or
subcutaneous rehydration before anything can be given by mouth, so
please, do not offer any food or water, and
NEVER attempt to feed a wild creature cow's milk (or
human baby formula, or soy milk...), wildlife is lactose
intolerant and requires very specific fat to protein ratios - without
the 'right' formula they can get extremely ill.
Try contacting your local veterinarians; they should have contacts for local wildlife rehabilitators, and/or may be willing to treat the creature if injured or in distress. If you get nowhere with the local vets, try the local humane societies, animal shelters or perhaps even the non emergency number for your local police department. Often one of these sources can locate a nearby wildlife rehabilitator.
"My cat brought home a baby...."
this animal or bird CANNOT BE RELEASED, even if it 'appears' uninjured. It must be immediately transferred to a rehabber (our clinic) for critical antibiotic treatment to prevent death from pasturella infection, and to assess any internal, crush or fracture injuries. More often then not, if antibiotics are not started within 6hrs, it is too late. Do not wait, do not feed, quickly give this to your nearest wildlife vet or rehab centre - time is of the essence.
If the animal or bird has suffered an obvious injury and is bleeding, be very cautious about approaching if untrained - even the family dog or cat will become aggressive if injured or in pain. Frankly, if the animal is mobile, I highly recommend that you DO NOT intervene...unless the injury is obviously life threatening the animal can be killed by the stress of captive care, so often it is best left to heal on its own. Ideally, contact your local wildlife rehabber to consult with and do the rescue, if this is NOT an option, please use the common sense that you were born with. Thick blankets are better protection than gloves when dealing with an animal that bites or scratches. Keep in mind that critters as small as squirrels can deliver incredibly painful bites, potentially putting you at risk of injury or disease such as rabies.
In a pinch, PAPER (not plastic, yes, several times a year I am brought live animals in plastic bags and they suffocate!) lunch bags are great for transporting small songbirds (assuming they truly need rescuing); cardboard boxes are great for small birds and mammals, but only for a short time; pet carriers are great for mammals, but not good for birds - they damage their feathers on the ventilation openings; a clean garbage can or rubber container (vented for oxygen) is also great in a pinch.
Old Wives Tale – Human Scent
Birds and animals DO NOT CARE IF HUMANS TOUCH/LEAVE SCENT ON THEIR
BABIES, they gladly accept renested babies back! If you are harassed by
the Adults versions of the same species you are trying to ‘rescue’ keep
in mind this is probably the parents trying to prevent you from
undertaking an unnecessary rescue. If the parent(s) are visible, DO NOT
REMOVE THEIR YOUNG, they do not need rescuing...
Don't become a kidnapper, if in doubt, put it back and observe from a distance for at least an hour or two. During this observation period would be a good time to call for information on what to do.
If found eyes open, ears up, and somewhere between the size of an egg and large orange - YES, believe it or not they ARE old enough to be on their own. If you find an 'abandoned' nest, don’t be so sure...the mum's only feed once or twice daily, in the dead of night.
Fully feathered birds with short stumpy tail feathers have jumped, NOT FALLEN from their nest and DO NOT NEED RESCUING. Just as a human child cannot learn to walk, in a crib, nor can a bird learn to fly in a nest. Fully feathered songbirds with the apparent inability to fly and short stumpy tail feathers are simply learning to fly under their parent’s watchful eye and being regularly fed. This can take from two days to two weeks depending on species. If they are featherless, then renesting should be attempted, if unsuccessful, contact a rehabber immediately - it is critical that baby songbirds are fed a species specific diet EVERY 20 MINUTES from dawn until dusk!
Mother deer leave their newborns for many hours at a time, returning
only to feed. The fawn's protective spots and lack of scent prevents
predators from finding it, mum just drops by to feed. It is normal for
the fawn to remain in the same location for several days, even weeks -
so long as it remains alert and healthy looking. Please be very cautious
- your scent may attract predators, and the unknowing fawn may feel
lonely and decide to follow you home. If you would like to observe a fawn
(or any wildlife babies), please do so with the aid of binoculars,
a camera or camcorder. Do not allow your curiosity to cost a wildlife
baby it's life.
Before Submitting Animals
Fear of predation (commonly by the pet cat), or the assumption that the wildlife baby isn't in 'a safe spot' IS NOT a reason to rescue a wildlife baby and send it to a wildlife rehabilitation centre. The centres must be reserved for the sick and injured and truly orphaned. We do not rescue human children from crossing the street just in case they MIGHT get hit by a car...with probably five nests in each backyard can you just imagine if everyone rescued every fledgling bird, wayward raccoon, and unattended fawn or bunny? We would be overrun in a matter of days. There would be no choice but to euthanize healthy babies...please, trust that Mother Nature has a plan, convince pet owners to keep their kitties inside (or build an outdoor room for them!), and enjoy spring's wonderful wild babies!
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