|Humans often take animals that are not orphaned or injured and should have been left alone. No matter how good a rehabber is, we are only a substitute. An animals best chance is with its own mom. In absence of injury, it is always my preference to give the baby back to the mom if possible. Here are a few basic tips to help determine if you should intervene and rescue the animal and a few tips on how to give the baby back if possible. When in doubt, contact a rehabber for assistance. Please NEVER feed the animal.
- If your CAT brings you ANY animal do not attempt to return it, collect the animal and contact a rehabber immediately. With cat involvment infection is eminent . Anitbiotic intervention is needed. Its not as lethal if a dog brings you the animal. More often than not, they cause internal crushing injuries.
- If ANY animal has ANY obvious injuries, collect the animal and contact a rehabber.
- Birds - Its an old wives tale that you can not touch baby birds. In truth, they can not smell at all. It is completely safe to return the baby to the nest if it is unharmed
Grey Squirrels - Quite often baby squirrels fall from the nest ot the nest falls apart particularly after a bad storm. The mother may be off eating or trying to build another nest. Don't assume the baby is orphaned or abandoned.
- Can it fly, does it hop or walk correctly? If not, collect it and contact a rehabber.
- If it fell from the nest, or if the entire nest fell :
- Can you put it back in the nest or put the nest back? If not,
collect it and contact a rehabber. If the nest is a bit shabby, you can reinforce it with something like those little strawberry baskets you get at the grocery store. It allows sun and rain thru. Nail the nest back in the tree as close as possible to where it was before. Back off and watch for the mother. If she does not appear after a few hours, collect the babies and contact a rehabber.
- If it fell from the nest, it appears to be okay, and the parents are feeding it on the ground...make a make shift nest as directed above nail it up in the same tree making sure the parent sees you. They will feed the baby seperately from their others out of harms way of ground predators. If no tree is near, use a bush and the same procedure as above.
Eastern Cottontail Rabbits- Many people remove them from their nest without just cause. They seem so small to be on their own. In reality, they are quite small when they are weened. If the baby is about the size of a large lemon ( or 4 inches stretched out ) hopping about the nest eating grass...leave it alone, its just fine! Resist the urge to take them please.
- Keep in mind that if the baby is fully furred, the mother does not feed it as often and may not return for several hours
- Squirrel mothers don't mind human scent - they just want there baby back
- If the baby has no or little fur, it may die from hyperthermia - collect it and contact a rehabber.
- If it is fully furred - get a small box and place the baby in the box with a rag or paper shavings. Put a plastic bottle of warm water in with the animal. Be SURE it is closed. If it gets the baby wet, they will get chilled or even drown. Nail the box up on the tree out of reach of predators and leave it. If the mother does not come for the baby after several hours then collect it and contact a rehabber.
- If a child or dog brings you a nestling without injured AND you can locate the nest simply return the baby. To cover the scent of human and dog simply rub a bit of vanilla extract on your fingers and touch each baby in the nest. The mother will find this offensive and groom them all but it will not hurt her. Just don't use but a tiny bit as it does contain alcohol.
- If you discover a nest that you think is abandoned, and the babies appear to be in overall good condition - cut two pieces of thread about eight inched in length. Make an "X" on the nest. You don't want the mother or babies to get tangled in it. Keep in mind the mother may not return to the nest till sundown. If the next morning the nest is still undisturbed and the string is unmoved, collect the babies and
contact a rehabber.