Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring is just on the horizon...

...and with Spring comes the bulk of our wildlife charges: babies! Contrary to popular belief, parent animals will indeed respond to cries of distress and return to their young, even if they have been touched by human hands. Should you find a baby animal, here are some quick tips to help you best help Nature take its course.

*Before removing the baby from its environment, determine whether or not it really needs help. Stop and pay attention to your surroundings. Is it snuggled into a hidey-hole in the ground, or hidden under a bush? Is there a tree nearby from which it could have fallen? Do you hear any cries of agitation from what could be its mother? Animals have the best chance at survival if they remain with their parents, and oftentimes the parents know exactly where they have tucked their youngsters-- and will come back. Finding a baby out on its own doesn't necessarily mean it needs human intervention.

*Examine the baby with eyes-only.
Is it obviously injured? Can you see blood, puncture wounds or a broken bone? Are there flies around it? Does it seem weak or unable to use its legs? Pink, hairless babies with eyes closed are in grave danger if they are separated from their mothers for even a short time. A healthy baby will have a glossy coat, round, bright eyes and a healthy sense of self-preservation, in that it will likely try to get away from you.

*If you think everything looks okay, leave the baby there. 
Baby birds on the ground with most of their feathers are fledglings learning to fly; you should leave it on the ground. You can place a younger baby (no feathers, eyes shut) gently back in a visible nest.
Baby squirrels (if its eyes are open) can be left at the base of a tree.
Bunnies can be placed back in their ground nests and covered with grass or other greenery.
Raccoons pups are almost never far away from their mothers, but the mothers will wait for you to leave before they approach.

In any case, allow the mother around four to six hours to return. 

*If you determine the baby needs help, help it.
In these instances, call a wildlife rehabilitator, then put on some gloves and place the baby carefully into a shoebox or other small container, lined with soft cloth, tissues or paper towels. Try to avoid any kind of terry cloth, as delicate toenails can be caught in its loops. Cover the baby with more cloth and put the covered (but not sealed) container in a dark, quiet, warm place away from children and pets. If you have a heating pad, set it to low and place the container halfway on the pad. Resist the urge to handle the cute little thing, as they are easily susceptible to shock...and wash your hands well!  

Please do not give the baby anything to eat or drink unless instructed to do so by your wildlife rehabilitator.

This is only a very basic outline of how you can help baby wildlife if you find yourself in a position to do so. Rehabilitators with Nebraska Wildlife Rehab are always happy to help you analyze a situation to see if a baby needs to come into care--so if the need arises, don't hesitate to call us at 402-341-8619. And for more detailed information, more useful tips and interesting reading, please visit our website at www.nebraskawildliferehab.org.

Thanks for all you do!

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