IS IT ABANDONED?
In regard to babies, just because a baby is without its mother DOES NOT mean that it has been abandoned. Each species of wildlife is different and will raise, and especially wean, its young in different fashions. Knowing this will save everyone involved a lot of headaches. Don’t just snatch up wildlife because it appears to be on its own. Below are some common species that are often mistaken as abandoned by their mothers.
In the event that you do have an orphaned baby, please see the “Rehabilitators” section to reach a professional rehabber.
Fledglings (fully feathered) often fall from trees and will take shelter under bushes and thick shrubs as they do not yet have the proper tail feathers (lift) needed to get back into the nest. Mama and Daddy still feed them and watch them closely. Unless visibly injured and in distress, simply put baby on the highest branch you can reach (hide baby in a leafy spot) to keep them away from strays and other predators. If baby is visibly injured, it has probably been attacked and will need rescue.
Nestlings (not fully feathered) that have fallen out of the nest should be placed back into the tree (on the highest branch you can reach and on the same side as the original nest). Simply screw a Tupperware bowl to the branch (punch tiny holes into the bottom so babies don’t drown when it rains), place grass into the bowl, and then place bird/s into the bowl. Monitor for about 1/2 hour to see if Mama comes to tend to them. If not, the babies will need rescue.
If your lawn has gone over 2 weeks without being mowed … PLEASE give it a walk-through before you mow or weed-eat or other. The number of deaths because of this is ridiculous! Baby rabbits are left alone in tall grasses all day long. Mom only visits the nest about twice a day to feed and tend to them. Please do not pick up! Baby rabbits are extremely susceptible to stress and are among the hardest species to rehabilitate, even by a veteran rehabber. Most will die without Mom’s expert care. If you find them, please be kind and section off this one small area (allow an opening for Mom) and mow around. If you accidentally disturb the nest, please put back any uninjured survivors and try to restore the nest as best as possible. The nest is usually a hole in the ground covered with grass so it’s difficult to see sometimes. Mom will come back and tend to them and may move them upon realizing the nest has been tampered with and is no longer safe. Remove only the severely injured and contact a rehabber immediately. Keep baby in a safe, dark place until taken off your hands.
RACCOONS & SQUIRRELS
Babies begin to roam and explore at very early ages. And, at times, they can wander too far. But not necessarily so far that Mom can’t hear them calling. If you see a lone baby moving about without injury, watch from a distance for about a half-hour. If Mom has still not shown up on the scene by then, it may be safe to assume the baby may need intervention. A tiny baby (eyes and ears still closed) by itself in the open is NOT a good sign and will need immediate intervention. BE CAREFUL. Though rabies is highly overdramatized, Zoonotic disease is not fun. WEAR GLOVES and immediately take the baby to the nearest rehabber. DO NOT under any circumstance attempt to rehab on your own. Countless babies have died when they could have been saved by experienced rehabbers. Yes, they are cute, but this is about THEM, not us and there is MUCH you do not know.
In the meantime, while waiting to hand over your abandoned baby, be sure to do the following:
1. Keep warm and quiet. Use a heating pad on low, and cover with a blanket.
2. Do NOT attempt to feed or rehydrate with Pedialyte or other commercial formulas!! They are way too high in sugar and magnesium and will cause tremendous harm to baby, even death. There is a ton of different and conflicting information online about commercial formulas but instead of playing guessing games, Sundown has partnered with a professional animal nutritionist. We’ve also done the research. We know what is and what is not dangerous to babies. Please keep in mind that commercial entities are in it for money. It’s the sole reason they exist. Sundown is in it for life … and every single one matters.
3. Do not allow children or others to pet or hold the baby. It’s not a toy. Stress is the number one killer of wildlife. Put baby in a safe, secluded area until a professional rehabber is able to take over. Please note that not all rehabbers are professional. We have names and numbers of professional rehabbers that you can access in our Rehabilitators Section.
The more you are in the know, the better able you will be to save our wildlife and give them a proper fighting chance.