Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that i have so many friends who have tender, bleeding hearts that want to care for and love all of the world’s little animals. But there are a lot of misconceptions and harmful ideas about what to do with them if you find them. Here are some tips for rescuing common animals!
- If you find a baby bird on the ground, put it in a bush or a tree, the tried and true strawberry box or something similar will do if you are worried about it being nestless. The mother is probably somewhere nearby still feeding it. It is untrue that birds will not touch a baby after a human touches it, and it is untrue that they abandon their young if they fall out of the nest. If you are worried about cats or it is in direct sunlight/heavily trafficked area, put it in a bush or a tree close to where you found it. Do not take it into your own care, baby birds are exceedingly hard to raise because they require feeding every 3 MINUTES. Nobody I know has the time to feed a baby bird every three minutes, and even then, their chances of survival are slim.
- If you find a bat during the day, remember that they do not fly during the day. Pick it up with gloves or a towel (there is a small chance that it could have rabies, bats are asymptomatic so you won’t know until it’s too late) and put it in a box in a cool dark place until night falls. Bats also cannot take off from a horizontal position, like the ground, they have to be vertical. If you place it on a tree it should be able to figure it out and fly into the night.
- If you find a baby rabbit, leave it alone. If it is fully furred, eyes are open, and its ears stick up, it is old enough to survive on its own. If you find a nest, it is important to remember that mother rabbits usually only feed their babies and return to the nest at dusk and at dawn. If there is a lot of animal or human activity around the nest, she will not return. Cottontails are the most common kind of rabbit found, and they are very susceptible to heart attacks or dying of stress related causes if they are captured and held in captivity. If there are a lot of cats and foxes around, remember that rabbits are an important part of the food chain. There is no real safe place for them to be. Even in rehabilitation situations, they have high mortality rates. It is very important that the mother raise the babies and there is as little human interference as possible.
- Baby squirrels are mature when they are fully furred, have tails that stand up , and can sit up and walk. Leave them alone unless they approach you for help. If you see them wandering around, usually by a tree, they are making learning excursions from their nest, and the mother is probably close by. Squirrels often move their nests or build more than one nest in an area, since they may become unsafe or infested with fleas. Sometimes when the mother moves, or the nest is blown from the tree, she may leave one squirrel behind, but she will be back to retrieve it. She will not retrieve a baby squirrel that is cold or injured, so if you find one in this state, you will need to put it in a box with a ziploc filled with warm water and warm nesting material, and put the box in a tree near to where you found it. Watch the box for two hours, preferably indoors, since a mother will not return if there is a human close by, and if she doesn’t come and retrieve the baby in that time span or before darkness falls, call your local rescue league. If a young squirrel approaches you it is because it has been separated from its family prematurely and does not know how to find food for itself. If it cannot be returned to its family, you will have to call a rescue league. If you find an injured squirrel and have to handle it, make sure you protect your hands with gloves or wrap it in a towel so you don’t get bitten. If it has a spine or back injury it will be euthanized, otherwise it is probably capable of being rehabilitated.
All of the above advice has been taken from the Wildlife Rescue League website, there is also more on there regarding skunks, deer, badger, etc. If you find wildlife you believe is in need of human assistance, call the Wildlife hotline at:
A volunteer will return your call and give you instructions on how to proceed.
Never, ever try to keep a wild animal as a pet, they belong in the wild, and despite your best intentions, you will probably do more harm than good.
All of this. If you are ever unsure of what to do, call the wildlife hotline or your local wildlife center. I get you wanna help, but if you just bring in a baby bird without calling, especially around this time of year, they’ll hate you. 99% of the time, it’s entirely unnecessary.