What to do if you find a baby wild animal

There are many myths out there regarding humans and baby wild animals; if you touch it the mother won’t take it back, etc. The truth is less severe, though the less interaction humans and baby wild animals have, the better. There are two primary situations in regards to nuisance wildlife that will result in finding a baby wild animal. First, an adult animal has given birth to babies somewhere in your home and you stumble across them while the mother is out gathering provisions. Second, the adult wild animal has disappeared–perhaps hit by a car or eaten by a predator–and the noises from the babies as they grow hungry lead you to find them.

Can I handle the baby animal?

As a general rule, you should not handle the baby animal if it appears to be healthy. Monitor it for the remainder of the day and give the mother time to reclaim it. If you discover it in a place the mother won’t likely search for it (if it fell out of a crawlspace into the main living area of the home, for example) put on some gloves and place the baby back in the area where you know the mother will return. Allow the adult the remainder of the day or night before you take any other action.

What if the baby animal is sick?

Babies that are obviously injured or sick are a different story. If you have no wildlife experience, don’t take it upon yourself to care for the animal unless there is absolutely no other option. Ideally, a wildlife rehabilitator should be called. Wild animals have very different nutritional needs from regular house pets, and giving them something you think is appropriate could actually cause more harm. Until the wildlife rehabilitator can be reached, keep the baby in a warm, dark, quiet place and try not to disturb it. You can fill a small soda bottle with hot water and place it in a sock to create a simple water bottle to provide warmth.

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The above scenario can be implemented with a healthy baby that the mother has not come back for. Just remember, if you’ve found one baby animal in your home there are most likely others. Removing babies will be an important part of dealing with a nuisance wildlife issue.

What if the animal enters my home?

Wild animals enter a human home or property because they are looking for shelter and food; shelter not just for themselves, but shelter for their future families. Most raccoons inside an attic, for example, are female and are looking for a safe place to raise their young. This is why hiring a wildlife removal specialist is important; a specialist knows this and will search for the babies as well as the adult. It is inhumane and unnecessary to leave babies behind to starve to death after removing the adult. Punishment for this will be, as the babies die, your home or property will be filled with the odor of decay. The only way to get rid of this smell, aside from waiting it out, is to find the carcasses and remove them as well as any soiled building material around them. In most situations it is easier to just remove the babies while they are alive.

Babies can also play an important role in catching the adult nuisance animal. Babies in a live cage trap make a perfect lure for the mother animal, and then the family can be relocated together or all taken to a wildlife rehabilitator.

Of course, there will be other scenarios where you stumble across a baby wild animal. Sometimes wild animals do get abandoned by their mothers for reasons not obvious to humans. A primary cause of this scenario is illness or deformity in the baby. If you think a baby wild animal has been abandoned, it’s best chances of survival are with a professional.

All in all, either leave a baby animal alone or take it to a wildlife rehabilitator. Those are the best options that animal has for survival. Some states and counties don’t have rehabilitators readily available, so occasionally homeowners do have to take matters into their own hands. If you are considering raising a baby wild animal on your own, make sure you do your research first. Know what to feed it, how often to feed it, if you need to stimulate it to go to the bathroom, what type of bedding it should have, what temperature it should be kept at, and if it has any specie-specific needs. Rodents, for example, need to have hard items to chew on to keep their teeth at desired length and sharpness.

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