Spring Babies

Every year, around this time, wildlife rehabilitators and nature centers are flooded with calls about “orphaned” baby animals that folks have found in their yard, in the woods, in the fields, etc.  And before the nature centers or rehabbers can say “leave it alone” these animals are brought to them, often very traumatized, by very well-meaning people.


Hopefully this week’s blog will help everyone!


When you find an animal or bird that you suspect has been left by it’s mother, take a DEEP breath and….. now this is important……STEP AWAY FROM THE ANIMAL!  You heard me.  The reality is that most of these “orphans” are not really orphaned at all!  Mom is just a heartbeat away (probably scared of you being so near her kids) and will return to help her offspring just as soon as you leave.  And by that I don’t just mean stepping away – you need to REALLY be away!!! 

Now I do know that sometimes Mom isn’t around and, due to a fast moving car or cat or…, won’t be back. So I’m going to list a few of the most common critters found and tell you what to do and what NOT to do!


Deer – Baby deer (fawns) are very common.  Momma Doe will leave them in what she thinks is a very secluded, safe spot. Baby Deer is instructed to stay still in that spot, which they usually do unless something of danger (coyote, person) comes too close.  But Momma Doe will be back for her child – She’s just off munching some tasty clover.  She also knows that predators will go after her before they see her child so it’s a way to protect the child as well….So what do you do?  NOTHING.  Baby deer have (as do adult deer) VERY sharp hooves.  Never get in the way of those hooves or you’ll find yourself with one nasty cut!  But I digress – Just leave the baby alone – Mom will be back…


Raccoons, Squirrels, Rabbits – These guys are actually out on their own at a very small size.  Rabbits and squirrels are not really considered Rabies Vector Species but Raccoons are.  SO, if you see one you’re thinking is abandoned, it’s best to leave it there and call in for help (animal control, police, nature center, etc)…  Once the rabbits and squirrels have fur and eyes open, they’re actually ready to be on their own.  They’re usually no bigger than an adult’s hand when it’s time for them to go and remember that Mom is usually near by, too, until she’s ready to have another litter.


If you do find a rabbit or squirrel without fur, etc., call the animal control officer.  If there is no help available and you MUST take it, wear gloves!  Remember, this is a WILD animal and it may bite even though it’s small.  Put it in a box with a towel and keep it warm until you can get it to a wildlife rehabilitator.  Remember that these babies can die of shock so keep them quiet and call for help immediately.  The sooner they get into professional hands, the better their chance of survival.  Keep dogs, cats and children away so as not to further traumatize the baby.


Opossums – See Raccoons, etc. but if you do have to “rescue” this orphan, put it in a knit cap – they find that very comforting.  Also, they’ll froth at the mouth and make weird noises – this is their way of telling you to GO AWAY.  They, too, are on their own at a very young age so if they’re out walking around, leave them alone!


Birds – Baby birds fall out of nests a lot.  First, try to find the nest.  If you can put the baby in a box (small) and put the box back up in the tree, Momma Bird will most likely come to its aid.  If it has feathers and looks like a mini version of Momma Bird, it’s most likely trying to learn how to fly.  Put it up in a tree, out of cat reach, and LEAVE.


Bear – Baby bears ALWAYS have Mom around – GO AWAY!!!!!  Nuff said!!!


The point I’m trying to make here is this – Baby animals have existed for eons without our help.  They’ve been born, grown up and died without even so much as a human voice having been heard.  I do understand (BELIEVE ME!) that it’s human nature to want to help keep the baby from harm but often times “rescuing” the baby causes it MORE harm than good. 


If you do find an animal and you TRULY feel that this animal is in dire danger, the BEST course of action is to back off and call for help. Keep dogs, cats and children away from the animal.  An animal control officer or a wildlife rehabilitator will be able to tell you IF there is a danger and, if necessary, THEY will be able to take the animal in and get it the assistance it needs. 


One more incentive – Per State Statute – it is ILLEGAL in the State of Connecticut to have or keep a wild animal in your possession unless you are licensed by the state.  Last time I checked, the penalty is ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS PER DAY, PER ANIMAL. 

And remember, warm blooded animals can carry RABIES.  Best to do?  Call the pro’s!!!


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