If You Find a Baby Wild Animal
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A BABY WILD ANIMAL:
MAKE SURE THE BABY IS REALLY AN ORPHAN. Don't kidnap baby animals! Many of the baby animals brought to wildlife rehabilitators didn't need to be "rescued". Humans are poor surrogates for the real mothers and should only intervene if absolutely necessary. If you see a baby, don't just assume it's an orphan. If you find a quietly resting baby that appears healthy, it's probably best to leave it alone. Many mothers watch their babies from a distance. For example, deer and rabbit mothers leave their babies alone for extended periods of time, so they don't attract predators to their defenseless babies. It is an old wives tale that a mother animal will reject her young if they have been handled by a human. Wild animal mothers will risk their own lives to save their babies and will not reject them based on human scent alone. So, if after reading this you feel you may have acted too quickly, simply put the baby back where you found it. However, the baby probably needs immediate medical attention if any of the following conditions apply: the presence of an obvious wound or injury such as a cat or dog bite; the baby is crying or aimlessly wandering around; it appears to be cold, weak, or listless; or it has noticeable parasites such as maggots or fleas.
CONTACT A LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR ASAP. Wildlife Rehabilitators have the training, experience, and supplies needed for treating orphaned and injured wildlife. The faster the baby receives the appropriate care, the better its chances for survival. For wildlife emergencies in Central Kentucky, please call Karen Bailey at (859) 983-4330. For other areas of Kentucky, please Click Here for a list of licensed rehabilitators by county.
DON'T TRY TO FEED THE BABY. This is critical. Orphans must first be adequately rehydrated before any type of milk replacer is offered. Wildlife intakes are generally given fluids (such as Lactated Ringers Solution or Pedialyte) for at least the first 24 hours. Failing to do this significantly decreases the chances the baby will survive. Also, there are specific milk replacers for different types of babies. For example, you NEVER give a wild animal cow's milk. They are unable to properly digest it, and it can lead to bloating, diarrhea, further dehydration, and death. A final point to remember is that baby animals are always at risk for inhaling formula if improperly fed. This causes aspiration pneumonia and is fatal in most cases.
KEEP THE BABY QUIET AND WARM AND AVOID UNNECCESSARY HANDLING. Don't try to cuddle or comfort it. This only adds to its stress. Keep dogs, cats and children away.
DON'T TRY TO KEEP A WILD ANIMAL AS A PET.
Besides being illegal, wild animals don't make good pets. Although baby
animals are cute, they often become aggressive and destructive if kept
in captivity. It usually ends badly for the owner and the animal. Also,
wild animals can carry diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to
humans and pets. You've cared enough to rescue the baby, so please take
the next step and place it with someone who is trained and experienced
with wildlife. If you have room in your heart and home for another
animal, please adopt a domestic pet such as a cat or dog from your local
animal shelter or humane society.
For more information on why it is best to contact a rehabilitator, please Click Here.