In most cases wild baby animals should be left alone. Most wildlife babies are not constantly watched by their parents and are often left alone for long periods of time while the parents forage for food. The exception to this rule is the opossum.
Each year Hope 4 Wildlife receives many baby birds and mammals that should have been left alone. These babies require special diets and care that are difficult to duplicate and give with the same care the mother animal would provide.
The nature of life in the wild dictates that most young animals do not survive to become adults, even with their parent’s expert care. All animals, in some way, eat plants or other animals to survive. Of all the productive nests each year, less than half of the animals reach adulthood. Overcrowding and starvation would soon result if they did. This is a natural check and balance system that works unless disrupted by humans.
Pet dogs and cats are often harmful to wildlife. Please restrain your pets when you know young wildlife, that cannot fend for themselves, are in the neighborhood and ask your neighbors to do the same.
Quick Assessment Checklist
- Injured animals with visible wounds, broken wings or limbs need immediate attention.
- If an animal has fallen from its nest or strayed from the den, try to replace the animal in its proper home as soon as possible.
- Baby birds that can not be put back in the nest need immediate attention.
- Do not feed animals before seeking medical advice. This can greatly complicate care and possible kill the patient.
Place animal in closed box lined with tissue or paper towel. Be sure there is enough air. If the animals must wait before you bring it in to us, place the box on a heating pad on the lowest setting in a quiet place. A dark, quiet, warm place will calm the animal and keep it from further injuring itself.
Information on Common Wildlife Situations
Featherless, Downy or Incompletely Feathered Babies Out of the Nest
- Carefully search nearby trees and shrubs for the nest.
- Place baby birds back in the nest.
- It is a myth that birds can smell your scent and will harm their young.
- Only vultures can smell well enough to detect your scent.
- Leave the area quickly and your presence will be quickly forgotten.
- If the nest has fallen from a tree try to replace it in its original position.
- A damaged nest can be fixed using a small margarine tub with holes punctured in the bottom. Put nest inside and attach tub to the tree with a nail. If you need to add building materials, line with paper towel or dry grass.
- If the nest can not be found please contact the Hope 4 Wildlife, or another wildlife specialist.
Most feathered birds are out of the nest days before they can fly well. Parents keep track of them for several days by their calls for food. Baby hawks and owls leave the nest weeks before they can fly at all. They are well cared for by their parents and are dangerous to handle, as are their angry parents.
Waterfowl or Precocial Birds
This category includes ducks, shorebirds, gulls and game birds that are born feathered and can run swiftly or paddle away from danger moments after birth. These are seldom found abandoned and may be found very far from water. Leave them alone and check back the next day.
Every once in awhile leaf nests, which squirrels make, are destroyed by a storm and young squirrels fall to the ground. If there is no evidence of a leaf nest, look for a cavity nest. Place the baby in a box on a branch of the tree to see if the mother will retrieve it. If not or if the young are injured bring them to a wildlife specialist such as that of Hope 4 Wildlife.
Raccoons and Fawns
These wildlife babies are left for hours at a time by their parents. Unless a dead parents is found nearby, these animals are almost never abandoned. Leave the area quickly and quietly and leave the animal alone. Return the next day and see if the animal is still there and noticeably weakened. If the parents have not return after a night has passed please contact your local wildlife specialist such as Hope 4 Wildlife.
Rabbit nests are shallow depressions in the ground lined with fur and dry vegetation, often in grass. If an exposed nest is discovered, cover it with loose vegetation using a stick. DO NOT touch the rabbits in the nest. The mother rabbit visits the nest only in the late evening and early morning, so you won’t see her. To determine if the nest has been visited; lay a string or fine twig across the nest in the evening and check to see if it has been moved in the morning. If parents do not return after a night has passed please contact a wildlife specialist like the ones located at Hope 4 Wildlife.
Cottontail mothers will accept their young even if they were handled or the nest has been exposed by a lawn mower. Lightly cover the nest with clippings if exposed. Young rabbits with their eyes open and at only 4-5 inches long are on their own. Leave them where they are. If bothered by children or pets, move the rabbit to a similar but safe location and release.
These babies usually stay with the mother until well furred, even while she forges for food. If found, leave alone over night and check the following morning. Bring to Hope 4 Wildlife if they have not been moved. Opossums and raccoons are often killed along roads. Finding young wandering near a road may have a dead parent some where nearby. If parents do not return after a night has passed please contact us or a wildlife specialist.
Skunks and Bats
Rehabilitation organizations in Michigan, by law, can not handle these. They are the major carriers of rabies in the wild, not to mention the potent odor of the skunk.
If your pet has been sprayed by a skunk it may be washed in tomato juice or use the following recipe for best results.
Recipe for safely washing pets:
1 Quart Hydrogen peroxide
1/4 Cup Baking Soda
1 tsp Dawn dishwashing soap
Wash animal thoroughly keeping solution out of eyes. Odor removers for clothes are commercially available.
Do not touch them unless in immediate danger from dogs, cats or cars. Please contact the Hope 4 Wildlife at 269-624-2255.
Hope 4 Wildlife typically does not handle nuisance calls. An animal under a porch, in a basement or crawl space can usually be driven out with ammonia soaked rags, moth balls or by leaving the lights or radio on. Please allow the animal 24 – 48 hours to vacate depending on whether the animal must move young.
Hope 4 Wildlife is a non profit, 501 (c ) (3), volunteer based organization. Please consider becoming a member or sponsor. Your tax deductible gift will go directly to the cost of taking care of the animals here.