What species of baby did you find?
Wildlife baby season is officially upon us here in the Midwest, and while they are adorable to watch out of a window, they also can be quite a problem for many of us. Sometimes it is difficult to see the logic in Mom’s decision to have her babies in dangerous places like a yard with multiple dogs, a patch of grass right next to a busy roadway, or inside a construction area. Even as rehabbers, we have to agree that Mom doesn’t always pick the safest spots for child rearing, but we have to respect her instincts, even when we don’t agree with her methods. When a nest of babies needs to be moved, either for their own safety, or to protect our own property, it is important to give Mom every possible opportunity to reunite with her babies if at all possible. Even when we had nothing to do with moving a nest of babies, sometimes wildlife babies just show up in our laps – usually courtesy the family dog or young child that literally brings a baby inside and plops it into your lap! It happens, and that’s okay. Babies are babies, even in wildlife, and they get themselves into trouble sometimes. To best assist these cute little critters the first step is attempting to get them back to Mom. However, there are times when you should NOT try to reunite babies with Mom.
If you have found a wildlife baby of ANY kind, first assess the baby’s well being with the following questions:
- Does Baby feel cold and lethargic?
- Is Baby covered with parasites (fleas, fly strike or ticks)?
- Has Baby been in a dog or cat’s mouth?
- Does Baby have a broken limb or other obvious injury?
- Does Baby have abrasions?
- Is Baby having difficulty breathing (gasping, gurgling)?
- Is Baby’s coat matted and/or patchy?
- Does Baby have a head tilt and cannot hold its head straight?
- Is Baby exhibiting odd behavior (circling, falling over, etc.)?
- Is Baby bleeding?
- Did you find what you believe to be Mom dead?
- Did you find a baby opossum or baby skunk?
If you answered YES to any of the above questions, reuniting babies with Mom is no longer an option and baby needs to get to a rehabber immediately. Please call the Wildlife Hotline @ 1-855-WILD-HELP for assistance on how best to house and secure babies until you can get them to a rehabber.
If you answered NO to all of the above questions our best bet is to try to reunite the babies with their natural mother. Please know that we realize this is not how you planned to spend your day today. We know that this is kind of a pain to have to do when you really had other plans and would much rather just drop these babies off at a rehab and go on about your day. Remember, your tax dollars do NOT pay for rehabbers to take care of these baby animals. Often, a rehabber is paying for formula, medical supplies, and caging out of their own pocket, and taking their own time to raise these babies on top of their day job with feedings every 2-4 hours for months out of each year. We love what we do, and we’re happy to do it, but every year we have to turn away many precious little lives just because we cannot physically take in anymore. Every baby that successfully reunites with Mom is one less baby truly in need that gets the care they deserve. Plus, Momma squirrel, bunny, raccoon, bird and everything else WANTS her babies back. She is like us, frantically searching for her children, thinking the worst, and grieving when she can’t find them. Reuniting is the kindest, most caring thing you can do for the animals. Call us anytime to discuss how to reunite, or to get help in reuniting when you are having trouble with it. To see written guides for reuniting babies with Mom, click on the following links.
It is AGAINST THE LAW to keep and raise a wildlife baby on your own. Rehabbers have special permits and are licensed by the state to raise, rehabilitate and release wild animals back into the wild. We use specialized formulas for these animals that are not available in stores, and we are specially trained to rear the young in a way that makes it possible for them to survive in the wild again once they are old enough. Please consult a rehabber instead of attempting to raise a baby on your own. It is best for the animal to be with others of its own kind and get the nutrition that is specific for their species. If you live in an area where a rehab cannot be found, or if no one in accepting the animal you found, we’re not here to to ‘report’ you or anything. We try to persuade people to do what is best for the animal, but we care more about the welfare of the animal then anything else and will always try to do our best to assist you.
If you have found a baby of any species and have questions, feel free to call us anytime at 1-855-WILD-HELP. One of our wildlife specialists would be happy to assist you.