It’s spring, so it’s a good time of year for some tips on what you can do if you come across a baby in its natural habitat.
What should you do if you find an orphaned or injured animal?
With good intentions, people sometimes attempt to rescue baby animals. Sadly, a lack of training in the proper care and diet can lead to fatalities. Sometimes an animal does not even need to be rescued! If the animal appears healthy and there is no immediate danger, the following guide may help you to reunite the baby with the parents.
Birds not fully feathered & uninjured should be put back in the nest or nearby in a makeshift nest, such as a box or plastic container lined with shredded tissue. The parents have no sense of smell & will not reject the baby. The parents will not feed their baby if you are visible to them, so observe from afar. If a parent does not return within two hours, rescue should be initiated.
Birds fully feathered but unable to fly more than a few feet along the ground are fledglings, and they are usually being taught to fly and find food on their own. If adults are present, do not interfere. They will take care of the baby until it can fend for itself.
Tree Squirrels: If the squirrel is able to walk steadily & climb on its own, place it on a high branch and watch to see if a parent leads him back to the nest. If the squirrel is unable to climb, or his eyes are not yet open, follow the same procedures as for the baby birds that are not fully feathered.
Ground Squirrels: Since infants are rarely seen above ground, you may have caught the mother in the process of moving it. You should rescue the squirrel if the mother does not retrieve the little one within 30 minutes.
Raccoons & Skunks: People should wear gloves when handling raccoons, as they can carry rabies and other diseases. Since skunks can be rabies and leptospirosis vectors, do not attempt to catch the animal yourself; call a professional.
Opossum babies can survive on their own when they are 5 to 6 inches long, not counting the tail. If you find a deceased female, check the pouch for any live young. If found, wrap the babies in a soft, ravel-free towel and transport them to a wildlife rehabilitator immediately.
The young opossums cannot survive long outside the pouch environment. Opossums are generally shy, will avoid people and will appear dead when extremely frightened and will also emit a rotten, dead odor to dissuade predators from eating them! If found, put dogs in the house, leave the area and give the opossum a chance to recover (from a few minutes up to four hours). DO NOT immediately place the opossum in a plastic bag or garbage can! If after at least four hours there is no movement or signs of life, contact animal control for disposal.
Pasadena Humane Society 626-792-7151
California Wildlife Center 818-222-2658
Visit Wildliferehabinfo.org to locate private rehabilitators in your local area.
*Article from the Wildlife Waystation. The non-profit is located at 14831 Little Tujunga Canyon, Lakeview Terrace.