Wild animal rescue Guide
All intakes are by appointment only. If after using this guide you feel you have an animal in need of rehabilitation, please contact us at 717-808-2652 or find a wildlife rehabilitator near you at pawr.com.
If you find a baby mammal or bird on the ground, it may not be injured or orphaned.
In the first few days and weeks of a baby animal’s life, they are often left alone while parents are off
searching for food to feed them. Many wildlife parents leave their young alone during the day,
sometimes for long periods. The young need to remain hidden, or at least quiet, to survive.
Some animals watch their young from a distance as to not draw attention to them.
If a baby has wandered out to an exposed area for a long period of time and there is a threat of
predators (humans & pets) place the bird back into a hidden, bushy or covered area, well away
from trails or human & pet interference in a location where you know the parents are nearby.
Parents will not reject their baby just because it was handled briefly by humans.
Click on the animal name for specie-specific "What To Do"
instructions. For an animal not included here,
please contact us.
How to Rescue a Baby Mammal
(Only adults should rescue baby mammal.)
Please do not attempt to rescue an adult animal without advice from professionals. Contact Raven Ridge at 717-808-2652
Never give a wild animal any food or water.
Do not give the animal ANY medications or try to treat
ANY wounds (especially with hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, ointments or creams). For an animal not included here, or for more specific help, please contact us at 717-808-2652.
1. Prepare a container. Place a clean, soft cloth with no strings, such as
a baby blanket or dark colored T-shirt on the bottom of a cardboard box
or cat/dog carrier with a lid. If you don’t have a baby blanket
or dark colored T-shirt, use a towel. If the container doesn’t
have air holes, make some.
2. For smaller mammals, you can use a paper sack with air holes.
Protect yourself. Wear gloves, if possible. Some mammals may try to
protect themselves. Mammals commonly have parasites (fleas, lice, ticks)
and carry diseases. Cover the mammal with a light sheet or towel.
Gently pick up the mammal and put it in the prepared container.
3. Warm the animal. Put one end of the container on a heating pad set
on low. If you do not have a heating pad, fill a water bottle or plastic
soft drink container with a screw lid with hot water; wrap warm
container with cloth, and put it next to the mammal and secure
it so it does not roll on the animal. Make sure the container
doesn’t leak, or the animal will get wet and chilled. Also make sure
the animal can get away from the heat if desired.
4. Tape the box or bag shut. Make sure there are breathing holes.
Note exactly where and when you found the mammal. This will be
very important for release.
5. Keep the mammal in a warm, dark, quiet place. Don’t give it
food or water. Leave the mammal alone; don’t handle or bother it.
Keep children and pets away.
6. Don’t keep the mammal at your home longer than necessary.
Keep the mammal in a container; don’t let it loose in your house or car.
When transporting the mammal, keep voice and noise levels low.
Do not play the radio/music and refrain from talking,
smoking, or high AC or Heat settings.
7. Wash your hands after contact with the mammal. Wash anything
the mammal was in contact with towel, jacket, blanket, pet carrier
to prevent the spread of diseases and/0r parasites to you or your pets.
Rabbits build their nests in plain view and are therefore frequently disturbed by mowing, raking or digging by dogs or cats. If you find a baby bunny, but it is not sick or injured, return it to the nest if you can find it. (Look for a shallow depression lined with grass or fur.) Cover the baby bunnies with a light layer or dry grass to hide them. Mother rabbits only visit their young 2 times a day at dusk and dawn to avoid attracting predators.
If the nest has been destroyed, reconstruct it with grasses, hay and straw in the same location. Ideally, Return the young and leave the area or else the mother will not return. Put an “X” of sticks or yarn over the nest to determine if the mother is returning to nurse her young. If the “X” is moved but the nest is still covered the next day, the mother has returned to nurse the babies. If the “X” remains undisturbed for 24 hours, contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator near you. Keep all pets out of the area, as they will surely find and kill the young rabbits.
Baby bunnies are incredibly difficult to hand raise. Because of their high stress levels, many do not survive even in the care of an experienced Wildlife Rehabilitator. A baby bunny's best chance of survival is always with its mother. A rabbit that is four inches ( 3/4 size of a dollar bill) with open eyes and erect ears is independent from his mother and able to fend for himself.
If you find a nest of baby raccoons, leave them alone and watch from a distance. The mother may be gone the entire night. Raccoons are nocturnal, feeding and eating at night. If the baby raccoon has been seen alone for more than a few hours, it has probably been orphaned. Mother raccoons closely supervise their young and don’t let them out of their sight. If the mother has been killed, the babies may wander out of the den because they are hungry. They may be crying (but not always), look weak or sickly. In this case, the babies need attention. Call a local Wildlife Rehabilitator. Do not pick these animals up with your bare hands because of the concern of rabies. Newborn raccoons may be exposed to the virus after birth if their mother has rabies. If you find a raccoon aggressive or friendly towards humans, please contact the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
If skunks are out during the day, they may have been orphaned because the mother skunk would never allow her babies to wander out of the burrow. However, mom will take older babies out for walks during the night and sometimes an individual will get separated from the group during these walks. This baby is orphaned unless it can be reunited with the group. If the mother has been killed, the babies may wander out of the den because they are hungry. They may (but not always) be crying, look weak or sickly. In this case, the babies need the attention of a Wildlife Rehabilitator. Skunk babies typically don't spray until they mature, but always aim their tails away from you just in case they do spray. Don't pick these animals up with your bare hands because of the concern of rabies.
Squirrels are often found after a nest has blown down from a storm or if tree work was recently done and the nest or baby fell down as a result. The mother will usually come retrieve them if they are placed in a shallow box (sides 6" - 8" high) set at the base of the tree. They will only retrieve them if people are not around, so keep dogs, cats and children away. If it’s chilly outside or the baby isn't fully furred, place him in the box with something warm (like a warmed rice bag or a hot water bottle wrapped in a cloth) so he doesn't get cold and compromised while waiting for his mother to return. Do not cover the squirrel with leaves or blankets, as the mother may not be able to find him. Leave the baby outside for 2 hours or until the sun goes down, whichever comes first (but NO LONGER than 2 hours). If the mother does not retrieve the baby, bring the box and baby inside, Go online to locate a wildlife rehabilitator near you where you can take the baby ASAP. If you must keep the baby overnight, leave him in the box, put a towel over the baby (he'll feel secure) and refill the water bottle with warm water. Contact a rehabber as soon as you can the next morning. Do not attempt to feed the baby anything. Note: A squirrel that is nearly full sized, has a full and fluffy tail, and is able to run, jump, and climb is independent and does not need rescuing.
It is unusual to find a baby, so if one is found, it probably needs special attention. If the mother is killed, the babies may wander out of the burrow because they are hungry. Sometimes, the babies are washed out of the burrow during a rainstorm and may be disoriented and lethargic. Do not pick these animals up with your bare hands because of the concern of rabies.
Typically, baby bats will not be encountered unless their nest is suddenly disturbed by demolition or construction. Chimney, attic and shutters are the usual areas that a bat’s nest will be disturbed. Bat babies are difficult to identify because they quickly become adult size, but still need special diets and the attention of a Wildlife Rehabilitator to survive. Don't pick these animals up with your bare hands because of the concern of rabies. Adult bats found lying on the ground or in the same spot for several days, especially in cold weather, are in need of assistance.
If you find a feathered baby bird hopping around on the ground, or maneuvering in branches, It is probably not injured, even if it cannot fly well. Birds that have just left the nest (fledglings) need time to develop their skills and their parents continue to watch over, teach, and feed them for up to several months, depending
on the species.
It is important to
leave these young birds with their parents,
and keep all people
and pets away!
These birds do not need your help. If a baby has wandered out to an exposed area for a long period of time
and there is threat of predators (humans/pets) place the bird back into a hidden, bushy or covered
area, well away from trails or human/pet interference in a location where you know the parents are nearby. Parents will not reject their baby just because it was briefly handled
If a cat or dog brings you a bird, or you suspect the bird has come into contact with a cat or a dog
Please keep the bird warm and contact a wildlife rehabilitation center, EVEN IF THE BIRD IS UNINJURED.
Any bird who has had contact with a cat or dog MUST receive antibiotics for bacteria present in dog/cat saliva. The bird will be released back to it’s home area after the course of antibiotics.
If you find an unfeathered or partially feathered bird fallen from
The best thing to do
is try to put the
If you can’t return
the baby to the nest, make an artificial
nest out of a small margarine tub or
small shallow box (poke drainage holes
in the bottom). line container with natural materials
such as pine needles and small twigs.
Do not use grass as it contains moisture that will chill the babies. Watch from a distance to see if the parent returns.
If the parents do not return after 1-2
hours, contact a rehabilitator.
If the nest has fallen, or been knocked down, the nest and babies can be put back in the tree.
If you cannot replace the babies be cause it is too high, place the babies in their nest
and place in a plastic container such a margarine tub.
Wire the new nest as close to the original location as possible. You may have to put it on a nearby branch or another tree or bush.
Make sure it is out of direct sunlight or weather. leave the
area and watch for parents to return.
A fawn (baby deer) may be curled up on the ground and appears approachable. The mother is likely
nearby and watching you. If you know the baby has been orphaned, call the Pennsylvania Game Commission for
assistance. Do not attempt to capture or transport the fawn yourself. People often mistakenly assume that a fawn is orphaned if found alone. Mother deer, called does, often leave their fawns to forage during the day. The doe usually only visits and nurses her fawn a few times a day to avoid attracting predators. The best thing you can do is leave the baby alone and vacate the area. Fawns should be removed only when the baby appears cold, hungry, injured/sick exhibited by lying on its side, or wandering and crying incessantly or if its safety is threatened. In these cases, call a Wildlife Rehabilitator in your area. But remember: a fawn found alone and quiet is usually okay.
Often fox kits will appear unsupervised for long periods of time while their parents are out hunting for food. Observe the kits from a distance; if they seem energetic and healthy, just leave them alone. Only contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator if the kits appear sickly or weak or if you have reason to believe both parents are dead. Do not pick these animals up with your bare hands because of the concern of rabies.
An adult fox seen during the day is not necessarily sick. If you find a fox that is aggressive or friendly towards humans, please contact the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
If you see a dead opossum, check to see if the female still has young in her pouch. If she does, bring
in the dead mother with the babies still in the pouch. Do not attempt to remove the babies by yourself.
If the opossum is less than 7 inches long from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail and it is without
it’s mother, bring it in. Also, any opossum that is lethargic and approachable in the daytime. it is EXTREMELY rare for an opossum to contract rabies. The most often-cited theory is that because of the opossum’s unique physiology (pre-mammal) and lower body temperature, the virus does not find a welcome host in an opossum’s body chemistry. Opossums are remarkably resistant to snake venom and many common animal diseases, including distemper.
How to Rescue a Baby Bird
(Only adults should rescue baby bird.)
1. Prepare a container. Place a clean, soft cloth with no strings
such as a baby blanket or dark colored t·shirt on the bottom of
a cardboard box or cat/dog carrier with a lid.
If you don’t have a baby blanket or dark colored T-shirt, use a towel.
If the container does not have air holes, add some. For smaller birds,
you can use a paper sack with air holes.
2. Protect yourself. Wear gloves, if possible. Some birds may stab
with their beaks, slice with their talons (claws) and slap
with their wings, to protect themselves, even if sick;
birds commonly have parasite, (fleas, lice, licks)
and carry diseases.
3. Cover the bird with a light sheet or towel. Gently pick up the bird
and pull it in the prepared container.
4. Warm the animal. Put one end of the container on a heating pad
set on low. If you do not have a heating pad, use a plastic soft drink
container with a screw lid with hot water; wrap warm container
with cloth, and put it next to the animal ( make sure you secure the
bottle so it doesn't roll on the animal). Make sure the container
does not leak, or the animal will get wet and chilled. Also make
sure the animal can get away from the heat if desired.
5. Tape the box or bag shut. Make sure there are breathing holes.
6. Note exactly where and when you found the bird.
This will be very important for release.
7. Keep the bird in a warm, dark, quiet place. Don’t give it food
or water. Leave the bird alone; don’t handle or bother it.
Keep children and pets away. Don’t keep the bird at your
home longer than necessary. Keep the bird in a container;
don’t let it loose in your house or car.
8. When transporting the bird, keep voice and noise levels low.
Do not play the radio/music and refrain from talking, smoking,
or using high sir conditioning or heat settings.
9. Wash your hands after contact with the bird. Wash anything
the bird was in contact with – towel, jacket, blanket, pet carrier
to prevent the spread of diseases and/or parasites to you or your pets.
1828 Water Street Washington Boro, PA (717) 808-2652
Raven Ridge Wildlife is a registered non-profit 501c3 organization