|Why Contact a Rehabber ?|
One of the most important reasons for contacting a rehabber is because of the risk of rabies. Not all species are at risk but the disease is on the rise. We are kept up-to-date on this matter by the individual state where we have a permit. We also know from our training which species are particularly more at risk than others. You should never attempt a rescue of a raccoon, fox, or bat, no matter how small. the risk is just too high.
If my words seem harsh please understand that I have a valid reason. DO NOT FEED the animal. Many times I have seen people attempt to raise an animal, and then call me after they get in trouble. By that time they have done so much damage there is little I can do but watch the animal die. If only they had called me from the begining, I might could have saved the animal. Rehabbers spend many years becoming proficient at wildlife diet and care. By not turning the animal over to a rehabber you may be robbing the animal of its only chance of a meanful recovery.
A lot of people find or rescue a wild baby animal and take it home. Their first impulse is to keep it and raise it themselves. "I have raised hundreds of puppies" or "I've been around farm animals my whole life" ...I have heard them all. Wild animals are very different from domestic animals in their needs and their development. Even your local vet can not give you advise in this case. Unless they was trained in wildlife specifically, his information is inadequate. The veterinarians in my area do not attempt to give out such advice. They simply refer these calls to me. If a vet tells you its okay to feed a wild animal cows milk, canned milk , egg yokes or some other concoction, he is dead wrong !
To help you understand more clearly, I like to use the analogy of a child. As most people can relate to that easily. Some children will gladly eat candy all day every day if allowed to will they not ? Eventually will that child get very sick and develop all sorts of health problems...yes to both. Just because the baby animal is eating what you feed it does not mean it is the right diet for that partcular species. They may even appear to be well. Or they may become calcium or mineral deficient , suddenly become lethargic , or go into a seizure and die for no apparent reason. In this case...it would be your fault. No matter how determined you are to do this, you simply lack the years of experience to forsee or handle all the possible problems that could arise with each particular animal. Each species needs the correct protein to fat ratio.
It seems easy enough. You got some syringes and started feeding the little squirrel or bird in your care. But what you didn't know was that when it was swallowing greedily, and that bit of milk was coming out of his nose....in reality it was aspirating the milk into it's lungs. It will take a few days for it to actiually develop pneumonia from the bacteria. The milk will culture and the bacteria will grow and the baby will die a long slow death simply because you did not know how to feed it properly. Another one of the many reasons why the animals best chance of survival is in the hands of an experienced rehabber. If you are still determined to do this yourself...go get the Esbilac puppy replacement formula (powder is easiest and stores well ). It is as close as you can get to mothers milk and the baby squirrels and bunnies will thrive on this formula. Other animals may need the KMR kitten replacement made by the same company.
Another problem with wildlife is people want to turn them into pets. I have actually seen squirrels in cages that have lived there for years eating nothing but peanuts. Honestly...I wanted to kill the poor thing. It was so malnourished, it could barely walk. I would rather see it dead, than live like that. Ignorance is not bliss in this case.
Wildlife should be released back to the wild when the are eight to ten weeks old in a controlled manner. We call it soft release as it is done in stages. The average person is neither the equipment nor the knowledge to do so in a timely manner, and the animal suffers for their ignorance. Primarily squirrels are the ones that suffer. They bond very easily with humans. So much so that people forget they are dealing with a wild animal. Until it becomes dangerous. The squirrel gets aggitated or frightened and scratches or bites someone and they throw him against a wall. Horrified that their beloved pet has betrayed them. Their bottom teeth are one half inch long even in an infant and can easily penetrate into the bone of your hand. In reality it was them that betrayed him. They tried to make the animal into something it was never meant to be...a pet.
I can only speak for myself...but I think most rehabbers will allow you to visit the animal that you turn over to them. You will be doing what is best for the animal, and you will still get to see it progress. You went this far and got involved to try to help...do the right thing and turn the animal over to a quailfied rehabber for rehab and release. Because its the right thing to do...for you and the animal.