Wellness Wednesday- Leave Wildlife Babies in the Wild

This is the time of year I used to hate when I worked in the veterinary hospital. It’s when wild animals start having babies and well-meaning people would find them and bring them home thinking they were orphaned. We’d get an assortment of calls about bunnies, birds and even fawns.
Unfortunately, while people think they are helping the baby, they can actually be causing it more harm. Our maternal instinct goes into overdrive when we see a little baby by itself, but being left alone is normal for most wildlife young. Moms need to go off and find food so they leave their babies in a safe spot (If you have kids, you know how hard it is to go to the grocery store with them.) The babies are actually safer from predators when left alone because their scent and size aren’t as noticeable as an adult so there is a method to mom wildlife’s madness. Some moms like rabbits, only visit there young twice a day.

What do you do if you find a baby? If the baby is injured, it needs to be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator as it may not survive if left. If you see the mom has been killed, you know the baby is orphaned so can take steps to transport the baby safely to a rehabilitator also.

If the baby is not injured or you aren’t sure it’s orphaned in most cases the best thing to do is leave it where you found it. Some such as baby birds that can’t fly may need a make-shift nest rigged up for them to help keep them safe while mom and dad feed them until they can fly on their own. Animals have a sense of smell that is many times greater than ours so they know you are there even if you can’t see them so be sure to leave the area. If you have touched the baby it is okay to leave it. It’s a myth that moms won’t accept their young if a human has touched them.
We all want to do what’s best and leaving babies alone is usually the right thing to do. To learn more about orphaned wildlife visit PAWS which has great documents on what to do if you find a bird, fawn or small mammal you think needs help.


Note- It’s important to remember that in many states it is illegal for someone to care for wildlife without a license even orphaned babies so contacting a wildlife rehabilitator should always been the first step. To find a wildlife rehabilitator in your area, visit The Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory.

6 comments to Wellness Wednesday- Leave Wildlife Babies in the Wild

  • This is great information Dawn, I would assume a baby was abandoned and not even considered that mama might have to leave.  I’m not sure if I would ever pick up a baby animal but I definitely would be concerned, of course if they were hurt that would be a totally different story. :-)

  • We have wild bunnies by my office! Instead of trying to catch them, we planted them a special garden of snacks and we all bring tasty extras for them to much on! It’ss so cute to watch them, but we’ve resisted them tempation to let them socalize with us! We don’t want them getting to comfortable with humans!

  • Jen

    Good advice!
    My coworker has a cat that she lets outdoors. The cat leaves the groundhog and the fox alone, but brings my coworker baby bunnies. The last one he brought her, she ended up passing on to somebody else who keeps rabbits, because it just wasn’t going to stay in the yard where it belonged.
    Yes, I’ve suggested keeping her cat indoors so it doesn’t slay wildlife. You might guess the response I got.

  • I imagine you got an earful! If the bunny isn’t hurt she could just release it nearby. Baby bunnies that are able to move around do range a bit so it doesn’t have to be the exact spot.

  •  @kolchakpuggle Wow those are some lucky bunnies Jodi! it’s good that you aren’t letting them get comfortable to people as that can be dangerous for them too.

  •  @JodiStone There was a time I would have picked up a baby bunny or bird not knowing how bad it could be for them. Then we had a game commission officer (our state wildlife officials) come and talk to us at day camp.  

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