I found a wild animal....now what?

Apr 25, 2021

Spring is in the air! My plants are growing, there are baby cardinals outside my window and I feel so fortunate to witness them all grow. It is also the time of year when we receive phone calls about abandoned baby animals.

Whenever wildlife is found, whether it is a baby squirrel, bird or bunny, a baby’s real mom is the best mom. One should try to do anything they can to reunite the baby with its natural mother.

If you have found a newborn and you do not see the mother, don’t be quick to  believe the baby has been abandoned and is in need of help.  That may not necessarily be true. Often a mother may leave the newborn behind to search for food or even as a means of protection. If the animal is not in immediate danger from wounds or predators, start by keeping a watchful eye from afar before approaching.

Wild animals can react aggressively when experiencing  fear or pain, therefore, use towels, work gloves and other protective gear if handling measures are needed. Touch babies minimally and make sure and wash your hands since wild animals can carry parasites and diseases that can be dangerous to humans.

Provide a warm and quiet safe place, such as a carrier or a box, and keep wildlife away from your pets at home. It is important not to provide any food for your rescue. Wildlife has different dietary requirements and much harm can be done by even offering baby formula or milk.

Tempting as it may be to want to raise the wild animal oneself, even a caring person can cause more harm than good. Contacting a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible prior to giving any food or handling is what’s best. Licensed rehab facilities not only know the correct way to care for these creatures, they also know how to prepare the animals for release back into the wild.

A complete list of local rehabilitators can be found on the SCDNR website: https://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/rehab/Please consider donating to these homegrown heroes. The wildlife rehabilitators that I know, work so hard round the clock in dedication and love to these babies and ask for nothing in return. I personally want to thank them for such a selfless important job they do.

Dr. Michelle Mayers