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What to do when finding a sick, injured or orphaned wild animal...
Helping a Wild Animal in Distress
There is no doubt that it is stressful to find a sick, injured or orphaned wild animal; stressful for you and the animal. There are a few simple things that can be done in order to minimize the stress for both you and the animal and that can also help increase the animals’ chances of survival.
WARM, DARK and QUIET!!!
The most important thing you can do for the animal is to keep it warm, dark and quiet. Find an appropriately sized box (not so large that the animal will be able to thrash around and possibly injure itself, but not so small that the animal cannot rest comfortably) to contain the animal in. Line the bottom of the box with a soft cloth and make sure that there are small air holes in the box. Place the animal somewhere that is warm, away from human noise and domestic pets until the animal is able to be transported to the local wildlife rehabilitation center. If the animal is cold, the box may be placed on a heating pad set to low. If you do not have a heating pad, a homemade water bottle may also be used, although be careful not to make it too hot. Do NOT give the animal anything to eat or drink and do NOT bother or peak at the animal. As this will not only increase the chances of the animal escaping, but will also only add further stress to the animal.
When You Find a Destroyed Nest
If a storm has destroyed a nest, a make shift nest can be made out of a hanging planter or a plastic dish. Make sure there are holes in the bottom of the container for rain to drain through. Lay white tissue paper or paper towel inside the container and put the eggs or young inside the make shift nest. Then, place the new nest as close as possible to the old one, and watch for the parent birds to return. If the nest has been moved more than a couple of feet from the old one, they will not be able to locate it. If the parent birds do not return within 24 hours, contact you local wildlife rehabilitation center.
When You Find a Young Bird
If you find a featherless, downy or incompletely feathered young bird, find the nest and place the bird back into the nest. Birds have a poor sense of smell; the parents will not reject the bird because you have touched it.
If you find a completely feathered young bird on the ground that looks healthy, but is unable to fly, leave it alone. If you are unsure whether or not a grounded bird is young, consider the time of year. Spring and summer is the breeding season. During this time these birds, called fledgling, are frequently encountered on the ground and it is often assumed the bird needs to be rescued. This is not always the case. Fledglings live on the ground for approximately two weeks, while they are learning to fly. The parent birds are still feeding and caring for them. It is always in the best interest of the bird to be raised by its parents. Leave the fledgling alone, unless it is being attacked by a dog or cat. The bird can be observed from a distance in order to determine if the parents are indeed still around or if the bird has possibly been orphaned. Depending on the species, young birds are fed anywhere from every 15 minutes to every four hours. After observing the bird, if there has not been any sign of other birds, the fledgling may need to be rescued.
If you find a young bird on the ground and there are signs of blood, a drooping wing, any obvious broken bones or has come into contact with a domestic cat or dog bring the bird to you local wildlife rehabilitation center.
If you have a fledgling in your yard and you are concerned about neighborhood pets, turn on a sprinkler to deter pets from bothering the fledgling.
If you find a fledgling in an unsafe area, perhaps in a parking lot or in the road, simply scoop up the bird and place it near the closets tree or bush.
When Birds Fly into Windows
If the bird has sustained obvious injuries from flying into a window, bring the bird to your local wildlife rehabilitation center.
If a bird appear stunned or is unable fly after flying into a window, but has no obvious injuries, allow the bird time to recuperate. Place the bird out of direct sunlight or under a nearby bush. Wait two hours to check on the bird. If at this time the bird is still unable to fly, take it to your local wildlife rehabilitation center.
When You Find a Young Squirrel On the Ground
Just like young birds, young squirrels frequently fall out of their nest and do not always need to be rescued. It is always in the best interest of the squirrel to be raised by its parents. If you find a young squirrel on the ground that appears healthy, place the squirrel in a small box with low sides in the location where you found the squirrel. Put a warm blanket or a hot water bottle in the box to keep the squirrel warm. The mother will not take back a cold baby. Keep all domestic cats and dogs away from the area. Leave the box and observe from a hidden area for 3-4 hours. The mother will not approach if she feels threatened in any way. If after 3-4 hours the mother has not come to collect her young, the squirrel may need to be rescued. Contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center.
If you find a young squirrel on the ground and there are signs of blood, broken bones or it has been attacked by a domestic cat or dog, contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center.
If you find a young squirrel on the ground that appears healthy and the nest has been destroyed, the squirrel can still be returned to its mother. Squirrels use two or more nests concurrently throughout the year. Follow the steps above and allow the young squirrel a second chance at being raised in the wild by its mother.
Always call your local wildlife rehabilitation center if you are unsure about something.
If you plan to rescue an animal and bring it into a rehabilitation facility, it is recommended to call ahead so that preparations for your arrival can be made.
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