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What Should I Do with Baby Wildlife?

Posted June 05, 2014 in A Vet's Life

After months and months of horrible winter weather, spring has finally sprung. And just as April showers bring May flowers, spring also means babies — lots of them: baby birds, baby mammals, babies everywhere. Usually, babies are up in their nests or safely hidden in their dens where they belong, but sometimes they wind up out in the open. If you happen upon a baby in the wild, what should you do? 

Lost baby birdTake for instance the couple in Canada who last month rescued what they believed was an abandoned puppy only to find out that it may, in fact, be a baby fox. According to Joel Christie at Mail Online News, local conservation officers think that its mother was killed after being hit by a car, but how can they know? She may have been hiding and watching and waiting to safely retrieve her little one but instead had to watch someone take it away. It’s a heart-wrenching dilemma. Yukon conservation officer, Dave Bekica, says, “If you think you’ve found orphaned wildlife, in most cases mother is very close by and just waiting for you to leave (Mail Online News).”

The Humane Society of the United States likewise cautions that unless a baby wild animal is visibly, “injured or in distress” (for instance: bleeding or broken or with their dead parent nearby), “there may be no need to rescue them.” The most important thing to do is to wait and to watch from a distance in order to truly assess whether the animal has been abandoned. You need to give the parent(s) time and opportunity to return.

The Human Society website is a great resource for simple information about the natural behaviors of different species of wildlife and can help you to assess whether a baby is in need of assistance.

What you may not know about wildlife (

  • A mother deer or a mother rabbit only visits her offspring a few times a day. A fawn sitting alone or baby bunnies in an undisturbed nest are typically not an immediate cause for concern.
  • A baby bunny may only be four inches long but if its eyes are open and its ears are erect it is already independent.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, birds will not abandon their young if a person touches them. So if you find baby birds that have fallen from their nest and are not visibly

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.

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