Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I Found a Wild Animal-Now What?

Spring and Fall are the wildlife baby seasons in the southeast and are the busiest times of the year for licensed wildlife rehabilitators. If you find a baby wild animal, the first question to ask is "Does this animal need help?"

Baby squirrels sometimes fall from their nests. If the mother is around, she will retrieve it. Place the animal in a box (without a lid), tape it to the tree near where it was found and watch it. If the mother has not returned within a few hours, it likely needs intervention.

Bunnies leave the nests at about the size of a tennis ball. This is normal and no intervention is needed. If your cat brings you a baby bunny,it must be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator, as it will require antibiotics. Cats carry pasteurella in their mouths and without antibiotics, the baby will die. If you find a nest of bunnies and you do not see the mother, it does not mean they are abandoned. The mother bunny does not stay with the nest in order to keep predators away. She will normally come at around dusk and dawn to feed and care for them.

If you find a fawn, please leave it alone unless it is injured or is covered in flies or fly larvae, or a laying flat instead of in a curled up position. Like bunny moms, fawn moms do not stay with their babies because it draws predators to them. Rest assured she is near by. If you have reason to believe the mother is not returning, watch for at least 6 hours before intervening unless the baby seems injured.      

Baby birds jump from their nests as soon as they are able to hop. Their family members stay close by, following them around and feeding them. This is simply a part of baby birds growing up. Intervention is not needed. If you have outdoor cats, bring them indoors for a few weeks until the babies have grown enough to fly away. In a rehab setting, most baby birds have to be fed every 15 to 20 minutes from sunup until sundown. A federal license is required to rehabilitate migratory songbirds and licensed bird rehabbers are not abundant in NC. "Kidnapped" babies overload these rehabbers and make it difficult to care for all of their charges efficiently.

Opossums smaller than a nerf football should be with their mother and need intervention if found alone.

Any adult or baby found injured, cold, emaciated or with maggots or fly larvae on them is in need of immediate help.

If you find a wild animal in need of assistance, carefully (without getting bitten) place the animal in a warm, dry, safe place and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Larger mammals such as groundhogs and otters can cause severe damage if they bite and should be handled with extreme caution. Please do not attempt to feed a wild animal any milk products, as this does more harm than good. Do not handle or play with them and do not allow anyone else to either. Wild animals do carry internal parasites, external parasites and diseases.

Monroe Road Animal Hospital does have a licensed wildlife rehabber on staff. (That's me). Hours for accepting wildlife at the clinic are Tuesday thru Friday from 7:45 am until 12 pm. Please call first to make sure I am in before bringing animals to the clinic. If you find a wild animal and I am not available, go to ncwildlife.org. On the left of the page, click on "have a wildlife problem". The site then takes you to a page to locate a wildlife rehabilitator by county.

Please keep in mind that wildlife rehabbers do not get paid or even reimbursed for feeding, housing and providing medications and care for the animals they receive. In most cases, all expenses are paid by the individual rehabber. Donations are not required, but are appreciated and enable us to continue to take care of these animals.    

It is illegal in the state of North Carolina to keep an indigenous wild animal as a pet, or to be in possession of one without the proper licenses and no matter how cute they are, they are not meant to be pets. All animals in our care are released back into the wild for a second chance,

-Your Friends at Monroe Road Animal Hospital

(Michelle Ray-Hospital Administrator)

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