If you have found an animal and it needs emergency care, please call rather than e-mail! We may not see your e-mail in time!

How do I know if a baby animal is orphaned?
What do I do if I find a baby animal?
I have raised kittens and/or puppies in the past. Can I raise a wild orphan in my home?
What do I do if I find an injured or sick animal?
How do I find a local wildlife rehabilitator?
What are rabies vector species (RVS)?
What do I do if I find an injured or orphaned RVS animal?
What should I feed an animal while I am waiting for a licensed rehabilitator?
WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN YOU FIND AN ORPHANED ANIMAL
Questions a Wildlife Rehabilitator will ask about the baby you’ve found
Other words of advice


How do I know if a baby animal is orphaned?
Most baby animals are not abandoned even though you may not see the parents. Parent animals leave the nest to forage for food for the babies and themselves, and can remain hidden in relatively little cover.
Birds will return to the nest to feed babies every 15 minutes to half an hour if they do not feel threatened. The babies may be in danger if the mother does not return within 4-8 hours. Baby birds learn to fly on the ground for the first couple of days. If you approach a baby bird on the ground that has feathers and is hopping and other birds either fly towards you or begin squawking leave the bird alone – it is a fledgling and does not need help. If there is a baby bird featherless on the ground, attempt to put it back in the nest. Birds do not have a sense of smell and a parent will take their baby back even if it has been handled.
Rabbits only return to the nest twice a day. If you are not sure about a rabbit nest, sprinkle flour around the perimeter of the nest and leave it alone for 10-12 hours. If there are no tracks in the flour after 10-12 hours then the babies may be orphaned.
Fawns will be left alone for up to 12 hours at a time while the mother feeds. The baby will sit relatively still for the entire time in a place that the mother thought to be safest. Signs of danger include crying loudly, a lot of flies or other bugs on the animal, or an obvious injury.
Ducklings found alone are almost always orphans and should NOT be left alone. Mallard hens do not return to the nest once ducklings are hatched. Chances are they hatched after the hen and other hatchlings left or they fell behind. Do not try to introduce them to other hens and ducklings as the hen will defend her own clutch and may possibly try to kill other ducklings. Do not give them water to swim in as they can chill and drown in a very small amount of water.
Opossums found alone are definitely orphaned. The babies are always with their mother either in the pouch or hanging onto the mom. If a baby is alone the mother must have been harmed, causing the baby to fall off and become orphaned.
Racoons are blind for the first 3 weeks and stay with their mother. If a racoon is found still blind it is an orphan.
Turtles are on their own as soon as they hatch. If a baby turtle is found alone it is most likely alright unless it is physically hurt or in a dangerous location. You can move the turtle to safety but try to leave it as close to its original spot since they are territorial and remain in the same area their whole lives.
Skunks stay with their mother for the first 2 months of life. They are born blind and cannot survive without her until their eyes open between 6-8 weeks. If you find a baby skunk alone with its eyes still shut, it may be orphaned and should be taken in.
Squirrels stay with their mother for the first 10 weeks. For the first few weeks they are naked and blind and fed by their mother every 2-4 hours
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What do I do if I find a baby animal?
Watch from a well-hidden place to see if the parents return. Please do not disturb the nest. If, after careful observation, you still believe that the baby has been orphaned or if you see the parent animals killed or injured, please contact a wildlife rehabilitator or the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in your area for a referral. Please place the baby in a box lined with paper towels with a source of heat, such as a hot water bottle or a heating pad. This should be warm to the touch but not hot. Please do not allow your children to play with or hold the animal. As much as your children would enjoy this experience, it is terribly frightening to an animal. Baby mammals and birds do not eat cow’s milk, eggs, or bread. Please do not feed any of these to any baby animal, bird or mammal. In fact, injured or chilled animals should not be fed at all. The sooner you get the animal to an experienced rehabilitator, the better the chances are for the animal’s survival.
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I have raised kittens and/or puppies in the past. Can I raise a wild orphan in my home?
Keeping wildlife in your home for any period of time is against the law and can result in a hefty fine. Wildlife babies have very different needs from domestic animals and one simple mistake in diet or habitat preparation can be fatal. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators are educated on the specific needs of each animal species and will offer the best chance of survival for the baby. Please DO NOT attempt to keep or raise any wildlife, adult or orphaned, as a pet.
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What do I do if I find an injured or sick animal?
If you find an adult bird or mammal that is injured, please keep in mind that stress from capture and handling will jeopardize its chances of recovery. Place it in a cardboard box or kennel carrier lined with a towel or paper towels, cover the box with a towel to block light (it will still be able to breathe), and place it in a dark, warm, quiet, and protected place. Please do not try to comfort the animal by talking to it or holding it. It is very likely in pain and is most certainly terrified by human contact. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator immediately. Again, the sooner you get the animal to an experienced wildlife rehabilitator, the better the chances are for the animal’s survival. We cannot stress this enough.
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How do I find a local wildlife rehabilitator?
Visit your state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website for a list of all licensed wildlife rehabilitators in your state. Maryland’s page can be found here.
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What are Rabies Vector Species (RVS)?
Rabies vector species are animals that have high chances of carrying rabies. Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that affects the brain and leads to death. It is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Rabies can affect humans and all species of mammals, including your pets. Rabies vector species in the United States are raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats.
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What do I do if I find an injured or orphaned RVS animal?
If you find an injured raccoon, skunk, bat, or fox, PLEASE do not attempt to handle the animal and do not let the animal interact with your children or pets. It is possible that the animal could carry rabies. Please locate a Rabies-Vector-Species-permitted rehabilitator via the DNR website and immediately contact them.
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What should I feed an animal while I am waiting for a licensed rehabilitator?
Baby animals should NOT be fed anything unless you have been otherwise instructed by a professional. Baby mammals require formula that is species-specific and most likely will not be able to digest milk or formula that you can buy at the grocery or pet store. NEVER feed cow’s milk to baby mammals or any solid food to baby birds (including bread!). Animals cannot digest when they are too cold; a difference of 5 degrees from their normal temperature can shut their digestive system down for 4-5 hours. Also do not attempt to give water to baby animals as they can easily become hypothermic or drown.
ADULT ducks and geese can be fed duck mash, spinach, and meal worms. Please do not feed them bread.
ADULT song birds will eat wild bird seed, sunflower seeds, or meal worms depending on their beak shape.
ADULT birds of prey (ospreys, vultures, eagles, hawks, etc) can be fed raw chicken, ground beef, and fish.
ADULT rabbits will eat carrots, spinach, clover, and oats.
ADULT raccoons, opossums, groundhogs, skunks and most other scavenging mammals will eat fruits, veggies, dog or cat food (canned and dry), and imitation crab meat.
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WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN YOU FIND AN ORPHANED ANIMAL
• Do not attempt to feed a chilled baby.
• Do not try to warm up an animal faster by turning up a heating pad.
• Do not give innadequate substitute milk formulas, i.e., cow’s milk, evaporated milk, human infant formulas, kitten/puppy formula, etc.
• If the animal is from a Rabies Vector Species (raccoon, skunk, bat, or fox) do NOT touch it. Please refer to the section on RVS animals.
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Questions a Wildlife Rehabilitator will ask about the baby you’ve found
• When did you first observe the baby on the ground or in trouble?
• Can you see a nest? Are there other babies in the nest?
• Have you seen an adult squirrel, bird, etc. by the baby?
• Have you seen a dead squirrel, bird, etc. near where the baby was found?
• Can you see fleas, lice, mites or other parasites on the baby or in the nest?
• If it is an older baby, is it following pets or people?
• Are its eyes bright and round or are they slitted or closed?
• If the baby is a mammal, is it crying, biting or frantic?
• Does it look thin or fat? Are the eyes shiny or dull?
• If the baby is a bird, does it have feathers or can you see skin, and where?
• Does it have tail feathers, are they short or long?
• Is its mouth open? Is it peeping?
• If the bird has feathers, is it hopping around or has it stayed sitting in one spot?
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Other words of advice
Do not handle any wild creature without gloves. Even young animals can and will bite if frightened. Human scent will not keep a wild mother from her young, but it could make the young vulnerable to predation by dogs and cats which are unafraid of humans and human scent.
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