Many animals generally give birth in the spring, which gives the young ones time to become big and strong before winter sets in with the loss of vegetation and insects. However, it’s not unusual for some animals like squirrels and rabbits to give birth a second time in the fall.
Predators (including humans), strong winds and storms can disrupt a nest, leaving the person who finds a baby bird or animal in need wondering what they can do to help.
The Wildlife Center of Texas offers the following helpful tips on what to do if you find a baby squirrel or other orphaned wild animal:
First make sure the baby wild animal is truly is an orphan!
If you find a nest, and the babies look healthy, the best thing to do is nothing. If worried that the mother has abandoned the babies, put unscented talcum power around the nest and wait to see if the mother comes back. Sometimes orphaned wildlife isn't orphaned at all - mom might be just hiding from you!
Unless the baby is wet, cold, injured, covered with ants, fly eggs, or maggots or in danger from a predator, simply observe it at a distance for a time for one to two hours.
Birds do not have a developed sense of smell. So birds will not reject their young if you touch them. The same goes for rabbits. However, handling any wildlife babies isn't recommended unless absolutely necessary. Some, like baby rabbits, have no scent either, so predators are not drawn to them. Until, of course, a human touches and puts their scent upon the animal.
Raccoons usually mate in the spring, but in some areas their mating season goes through June. A raccoon mom will usually stay with her kits, but in the case of rabbits, the mother, or doe, usually spends most of her time away from the nest. She does her best to keep attention away from her newborns.
Many babies that end up at a rehabilitation center should not be there in the first place. Human intervention is usually the cause of tearing the families apart. Often a homeowner calls a company to trap a raccoon or opossum living under their porch, not realizing they are taking a mother away from her litter. Mom gets taken away and released into the wild and her babies end up being cared for at a rehabilitation center.
If the mother does not come back, pick up the baby animal with a washcloth and put it in a box lined with soft rags.
If it is determined that the baby is actually orphaned, the sooner the baby can get to a wildlife rehabilitation center, the greater its chance for survival.
Do not feed or water the baby!
Even though you may be tempted to give the baby animal cow's milk, don’t do it! Many newborn animals, including kittens, cannot digest cows milk.
The sooner the orphaned baby can get to an animal rehabilitation center, the greater the chance for survival and release back into the wild.
You may want to help, but the rehab center has the experts who will know what to do. A baby without its mother will not last long without help. If it is an emergency, please do not email your local rehabilitation center. Call them to get the animal the quickest help.
Also, for an injured animal, whether baby or adult, contact a wildlife rehabilitation group. Some animals which are not usually aggressive, like opossums, may become unpredictable if they are in pain so should be handled by an expert.
Does the baby animal need removed, or just protected?
Wildlife Haven provides information to help determine whether you should help an animal, or if you should call the professionals. Wildlife Haven receives about 700 injured, orphaned or displaced wild animals each year. They are located at 3659 State Route 598, in Crestline, Ohio. 419-683-3228
For information on orphaned birds, also check out “Does this bird really need my help” on Ohio Bird Sanctuary’s website. Ohio Bird Sanctuary is located at 3774 Orweiler Road, Mansfield, Ohio 419-884-4295. They also have a Facebook page.
To find a wildlife rehabilitator by state or zip code, click here.
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