When to Refer to a Licensed Rehabilitator
- The mother is known to be dead.
- The animal has been cat or dog caught, regardless of visible injuries. The only exception might be if a dog has gently carried the animal in its mouth.
- The baby is showing signs of maggots (a death sentence if not quickly removed). This might look like yellow milky patches, rice kernels, fly eggs, or flies buzzing around the baby. Always refer when in doubt.
- The baby is cold, sick, weak, injured or otherwise looks like it needs immediate care.
Anytime a baby appears to be orphaned, check the area for siblings. All baby animals should be handled with at least thin latex gloves or garden gloves and adults with heavy‐duty gloves because of the possibility of parasites or diseases being transmitted, Hands should be washed after handling.
Adult and juvenile mammals will bite if cornered. Care must be taken when capturing. A bite from a frightened mammal may mean a death sentence for it. An effective means of capturing larger animals is to use a large, heavy towel such as a beach towel folded double or triple, or a heavy padded jacket. Animals will not be able to bite through the towel, and generally will be calmed when placed in a dark environment. You should not try to handle juvenile or adult rabies high‐risk species (foxes, skunks, raccoons, groundhogs, bats). Call a rehabilitator in your area or animal control for rescue.
How to Care for the Animal in the Interim
- Keep the animal warm, covered, and in a dark quiet surrounding.
- Cover with several T‐shirts, towels, or an old sheet.
- If you have to talk, speak softly. Turn off TV or radio.
- If it is cold, place a container filled with warm water and wrapped in cloth beside a cold animal. The layered materials will quickly create a warm environment.
- A cold naked squirrel, opossum, or mouse can be warmed in your hands or wrapped in cloth and placed on top of a doubled plastic zip lock bag that has been filled half way with warm water.
- Handle the animal as little as possible. Do not disturb it or repeatedly uncover and check on it.
- If you must handle it, all movements should be performed slowly. Try to cover the animal before attempting to pick it up. Scoop up the animal; do not dangle the lower body. Handling of cottontails should be particularly minimal since they die easily from the shock of capture.
- Keep cats and dogs away.
- Do not give food or water unless directed to by a rehabilitator.Milk causes diarrhea in baby mammals and can actually kill them. Special formulas are needed.