What to do if you find an orphaned animal
By: Dr. Kelli Klein ER doctor – Veterinary Specialty Care; Mt. Pleasant
We all enjoy finding baby bunnies, squirrels, and birds. Trying to help them involves several steps. The most important thing to do first is to stay quiet and not bother the little critter if possible as there is usually a mom hanging around somewhere close by. This may not only stress her out and deter her from coming to care for the young but may also put you in danger. If you can try to evaluate if the animal appears to be injured that is the next step. If the animal is injured you can contact your local wildlife rehabilitator or in some areas there are businesses designated to catch and treat wildlife. If you cannot reach anyone and you can safely catch the animal bring it to the nearest veterinary clinic. If the animal is not injured it is best to leave it alone and allow the mother time to come back. She is usually off gathering food or looking for a place to move the babies if she feels threatened.
Squirrels commonly fall from trees during storms because their nests are generally high up in trees. The wind blows the nests out and the babies end up on the ground. Believe it or not the mother squirrel will be able to care for these squirrels. The best thing you can do is try to put them back in the nearest tree as high up as possible. If it gets dark outside and the mother has not yet returned bring the squirrel(s) in to a veterinary clinic. The same rule applies to birds. Animals that do not live in nests are often found in yards or fields. Again, the mother is usually somewhere close by probably trying to get food for the babies or keeping predators away.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for wildlife is step back and let them be. Just as people need time to grow and learn animals do as well and sometimes they encounter some roadblocks along the way. By bringing them into captivity we are not always doing the best thing for them. It is also very stressful on the mother to have her babies abruptly removed. Injured animals are a different story and we welcome the chance to try and help any animal we can. Please remember though that nearly all of our wildlife is rehabilitated by Keeper of the Wild and this group runs solely on donations and volunteers. If you are put in the position of bringing an orphaned wild animal to a vet clinic consider making a donation to help care for it.