Spring is the season where newborns emerge and baby wildlife is everywhere. From birds to reptiles and mammals, you may have seen the young while in the yard or on a nature walk. This is also the time, unfortunately, when veterinary clinics and wildlife rescue facilities get many calls about injured baby wildlife.

If you are out and about this spring, you may wonder what to do if you find a baby wild animal. The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital are here to explain and guide you through the steps safely and with greater awareness. Please note that we cannot accept or treat wildlife at Wheaton Animal Hospital. 

Assess the Situation

Before you intervene and risk both your health as well as the animal, you must assess whether the animal is in distress or simply there waiting for their mother. Many animals leave their young for a time to go hunt or gather to provide for their babies. If they are just alone, chances are, they are not really. The mother or parents are often nearby, so leave them and create a wide berth while walking around or away.

It is appropriate to intervene when:

  • The animal is clearly injured through signs of broken bones, deep wounds, bleeding, etc.
  • They are at risk of immediate attack by another animal
  • They are in the middle of the road or have been hit by a car
  • If a bird has struck a window and is injured from this impact

Deer, Rabbits, and Other Mammals

Many deer and rabbits leave their young in tall grasses and other locations while they forage for food for them. Many of these animals are easily camouflaged by their markings and color, so they are hidden from predators. By removing them or handling them, you will greatly decrease their chances of survival, as well as scare away the parent.

Animals that nest with their young in trees and stumps, like squirrels and raccoons, typically are not out in the open. If you see a single baby in your visibility, they might be injured. 

Birds, Reptiles, and Amphibians

If you find a turtle, snake, or other reptile or amphibian, it’s important to leave them alone, but make sure they are in areas where they can hide from predators. This includes rocks, grasses, and sticks for camouflage. 

Bird injuries are the majority of reasons for the calls to wildlife rehabilitators this time of year. Fledglings will often be found on the ground as they are learning how to fly. If you see a fledgling on the ground or somewhere they shouldn’t be, look for the nest and place them back there. Usually, the nest is near where they were found.

Unlike other animals, touching a fledgling won’t deter the parents from taking them back in. 

Did You Find a Baby Wild Animal?

It can be stressful if you encounter a wild fledgling or other baby in the wild. Most of the time, they can be left where they are. If they are injured or in danger, it’s best to first call a local wildlife expert. We recommend calling Willowbrook Wildlife Center for instructions when you find a wild animal. Please do not bring any wildlife to Wheaton Animal Hospital. 

Would you like more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact us.