Babies, Orphaned or Not? Baby Dos and Don’ts

How can we tell whether to act or not? Spring is upon us and with it comes the birth of wildlife babies. Many dedicated volunteers are trained and ready to go. But do these babies really need rescuing?

Every year many orphaned babies find their way to wildlife rehabilitation facilities everywhere. But not all were truly orphaned. Kind-hearted people thought they were. I’m going to tell you a few things that may help you to know when they need your help or not. Because their moms are the only moms they should have.

Rabbits: mother rabbits do not stay with their babies. They only feed twice a day. Babies are left buried in their nests on the ground. Protected. Camouflaged.  If you find a nest just wait for 24 hrs. Unless you know the mother is dead. Keeping an eye on it from a good distance. Mom won’t come if she sees you. You can sprinkle flour around the perimeter as well and you will see her footprints knowing she has been. If they go 24 hrs with no mother, only then call your nearest wildlife rehabilitation facility. Never care for them yourself, never feed them. They have very special needs and they could die in the hands of the inexperienced. They don’t do well without mom.

Fawns: these are another baby mother’s leave alone to protect them from predators. They will be curled up. Perfectly still. Camouflaged. But they have no scent. Mom is feeding them. So, monitor from a safe respectful distance where she would not detect you. She will not come if she senses you near. Again. Wait for 24 hrs for these species unless you know mom has been hit by a car. Either one does not do well in rehab. Both so sensitive and stress easily. It breaks your heart when you lose a wildlife baby. Fawns have been successfully reunited with moms. But most times she has moved on by the time you get all the details and get back there.

Raccoons: Procyon gets so many raccoon babies they get to where they have to turn them down. Not all facilities take eyes closed babies. You MUST call first to be sure. NEVER leave them at the door. This has happened with a bad outcome. Babies need feeding every 4 hours and are a lot of work.

Birds: If you find a baby bird out of nest it’s okay to put them back as it’s a myth that parents won’t accept them, they will. Never try to feed baby birds. Always call ahead because not all facilities take baby birds due to the fragility and feeding demands.

Volunteers are always needed. The more volunteers a facility can get the better for the animals. They can only take what they can care for, if you can volunteer to contact your nearest location, they train you. It’s very rewarding for the soul. To be on any release to see an animal go free, well no words can describe it.

NEVER trap animals as they may have babies or young. Put a light on in the area and set the radio to a loud talking station to make them move out of any spot they may be as they will move their family. They want peace and quiet. Then and only then, when you know they are gone, close that area off.

If you see a dead opossum on the road, take it to a wildlife facility ASAP, she may have babies in her pouch. They are our only marsupial. Don’t try removing them on your own.

NEVER use rodent poisoning. You poison everything in the food chain and it’s a slow horrible death. It could even be your pet! Poisons poison everything that eats the dead or dying animal.

NEVER feed babies as they need a special diet and NEVER ever try to raise them. A human habituated animal is as good as dead. The animal gets surrendered to wildlife facilities eventually and they have to try wild them up, they can not be released. Puts more pressure on wildlife facilities when they are already at capacity.

There are many more animals, but I have touched on the most frequently seen. Consensus is. Always make that call. Always be sure they are orphaned. Procyon Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Centre is in Beeton and accepts eyes closed babies. Call 905 729 0033, or logon to  http://www.ontariowildliferescue.ca/wildlifecentres/ and to find the wildlife centre nearest you.

Remember, leave it to the experienced as that life depends on it. They all have special needs. Needs that if not met can be life or death. All wildlife rehabilitation facilities depend on us to keep running, they are not funded, so please find it in your heart to donate, every little bit helps and is much appreciated. They all also have wish lists. Check out on their web pages. Towels sheets newspapers etc… always needed. Please. Do the right thing. Keep ’em wild. Keep ‘em safe.

Jennifer Howard

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