assisting sick, orphaned
or injured wild animals
If you find a wild animal who needs assistance, contact a local wildlife rehabilitation facility or veterinarian to provide potentially life saving help. To find a wildlife rehabilitator near you, Google "wildlife rehabilitation near me", "veterinarian near me" or visit:
First, make sure the animal is actually in need of assistance. Birds and small mammals are often removed from their homes by well meaning people who think they are injured, when in fact, they are just waiting for their parent(s) to return or are learning how to fly. Signs they may need help include:
They are brought to you by a cat or dog.
There’s evidence of bleeding or a bite wound.
They appear to have a broken limb.
A bird is featherless or nearly featherless and on the ground.
The animal is shivering.
There’s a dead parent nearby.
They are crying and wandering for many hours without a parent in sight.
Once you have determined that they are indeed in need of assistance, follow these simple steps:
If you have a towel, blanket or shirt in your car, use that to safely contain the animal. If you have gloves or protective eyewear, utilize those to avoid injuries. Even small animals can inflict wounds when distressed. If you do not have access to a box, carrier or ventilated container, you can use the towel to contain them during the transport. I always travel with a carrier, towel, gloves and net in the event of an emergency. Approach the animal slowly, without speaking to them or making unnecessary noise. You can throw or place a towel over their head to calm them down and avoid additional stress.
While transporting the animal, keep noise to a minimum, lights off and keep the temperature comfortable, not cold. Keep the container away from direct sunlight, air conditioning or heat. Resist the urge to peer into the box or speak to them. Wild animals can die from stress alone. Humans are seen as predators.
Do not offer them food or water, as this can create further complications. If you find the animal after hours, you can typically leave them in a drop off cage at the facility or you can keep them at your home until the facility opens the next day. Do not have any contact with them during this time. Keep their world dark and quiet to lower their stress level and help keep them alive. If you cannot reach a wildlife rehabilitator, you can contact a local vet for assistance or for additional helpful references.