Wild animals should never be raised as pets or kept in your home. It is illegal to keep wild animals in your home, or to provide care for over 24 hours if they require professional attention. Indicators that a young animal may be orphaned or injured are if they are brought in by a family pet, are found shivering, have an obvious broken limb or injury, or if there was a dead adult animal near where they were found. Animal parents will often leave their young to look for food, sometimes for extended periods of time, so be sure that you are not inadvertently “rescuing” a healthy baby animal.
Injured animals are often in shock, which is a life-threatening condition. Wildlife with broken bones must be handled carefully to avoid further injury and pain. Less is best when handling an injured animal. The stress of being held, along with the injury may result in added shock, and possibly lead to death. Immediately place an injured animal into a box or pet carrier, and place it in a warm, dark, and quiet area. Contact your nearest rehabilitator for instructions.
*Do not give any food or water to an injured animal.*
Cow’s milk can cause irreversible diarrhea (dysentery) which may kill a young animal.
The general rule is that if an animal looks injured, or if a baby animal is alone, cold, or wet, s/he needs help immediately.
Steps to Take
1. Orphan or not? Make certain that the animal is truly an orphan – if the parent does not return for at least 24 hours, it is safe to say it is an orphan. Most baby animals, if they are plump, warm, and found in a nest or den, are fine by themselves until the mother returns.
2. Catch: Use gloves or a soft cloth to catch the animal or bird. Handling an animal will not prevent the mother from accepting it later. Approach from behind and cover the animal with a large towel or blanket. Anticipate a struggle; lack of struggling is a sign of shock or a serious condition. Animals may carry infectious diseases, so use heavy gloves to protect yourself. Place the animal in a cardboard box or pet carrier. Do not use wire cages as further injuries may occur. Small birds can be placed in a paper bag. Make certain that cage doors and tops are secure, even if the animal appears to be comatose. Line the box with shredded newspaper strips or paper towels. Add air holes for ventilation.Try to keep the environment quiet and dark.
3. Warmth: All baby animals and birds need extra warmth. A heating pad set on low or a hot water bottle filled with warm (not hot) water. A towel may be used to insulate the bottle. A temporary, disposable heating pad can be made by putting one cup of dry rice or beans in a plastic bag, and microwaving it for one minute. Cover the bag with cloth or several layers of paper and using gloves, gently nestle the animal into the warmth. Make sure the animal is not in direct contact with the heat source – check often for overheating. Never feed a cold animal as this can kill them.
4. Call for help: Contact the SPWC, the Humane Society, or a rehabilitator immediately. They will be able to remove the animal and give him continued care until he can be released. Any bird or animal that has been in a cat or dog’s mouth should also be checked over by a rehabilitator, as internal injuries may have occurred. If you are able, transport the animal yourself to the Centre immediately. This should be done with a covered pet carrier. Do not use wire cages as further injuries may occur. Please see our map for directions to the Centre if necessary.
Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre: (613) 354-0264
Napanee Humane Society: (613) 354-2492
Kingston Humane Society: (613) 546-1291
For information on Ontario wildlife emerging diseases, visit the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative website.