HELP! I Found An Animal in Need!
This page includes important information to help you identify, assess, and contain injured or orphaned wildlife.
We also include information to help you find a local wildlife rehabilitation facility or organization.
Do not care for wildlife by yourself. Wild animals have a vast array of needs that cannot be met by the general public.THIS PAGE WILL HELP YOU THROUGH THE FOLLOWING STEPS:
STEP ONE. ASSESS IF THE ANIMAL NEEDS YOUR HELP
STEP TWO. FIND A LOCAL REHABBER
STEP THREE. CAPTURE & CONTAIN THE ANIMAL
STEP FOUR. KEEP THE ANIMAL SAFE UNTIL TRANSPORT
STEP ONE - does it need your help?
The below signs are warnings that an animal around you may need immediate help. If in doubt, proceed to Step Two for assistance.
1. If a baby, the mother is not within sight or is deceased & the baby is too young to be on its own.
2. Obvious injury, including fractures, bleeding, or open wounds.
3. Obvious sickness, including severe head tilt, rolling, and/or circling. (If you believe the animal may have rabies, contact animal control. Do not handle the animal on your own.)
4. Issues with eyes, including the presence of swollen, crusty, and/or red eyes or an obvious eye injury.
5. If an adult, inability to stand or walk.
6. Obvious other signs of need, like emaciation, maggots, or parasites.
STEP TWO - Find a Rehabber
Wildlife rehabilitators are trained and licensed professionals who dedicate their lives to helping animals in need. Rehabbers may work alone out of their homes OR they may be part of a larger rescue organization or refuge. This will vary based on your location and state.
Rehabbers’ ultimate goal is the rescue, treatment, rehabilitation, and release of wild animals. If an animal is non-releasable, it is up the rehabber to decide whether to place the animal into an educational or ambassadorial setting.
If you need an animal in need, your next step is to try to find an rehabber. Rehabbers are experienced and can give you up-to-date advice and guidance on whether the animal needs help, how to capture and transport, and more.
At Gilbert & Friends, we suggest that you have a list of Rehabilitators & Rehabilitation Centers on your fridge. You never know when you might need their help!!!
STEP THREE - Capture & Contain
Never handle an adult animal without first consulting a wildlife professional. Even small animals can injure you. Always use adequate protective measures when handling wildlife.
Once you've contacted a wildlife rehabilitator who can help, describe the animal and its physical condition as accurately as possible. Wear thick leather gloves and long sleeves when handling wildlife or gently use a tool — such as a broom or shovel, when possible — to move the animal. Cover the animal with a heavy towel to help avoid contact and keep the animal calm.
Put the animal in a secure and safe container with good air flow. Shoe boxes, pet carriers, plastic food containers or cardboard boxes work well, just make sure there is access to air. Securely fasten the lid with duct tape.
• For baby birds, line the bottom of the container with a towel to absorb waste products and provide secure footing and insulation. Add a plastic cup with tissue as an artificial nest for songbirds or raptors.
• For baby mammals, place a towel inside the container so the animals have a place to hide.
• For adult animals, line the bottom of the container with a towel to absorb waste products, and cover the container with a large towel for darkness.
STEP FOUR - IMMEDIATE CARE
Providing immediate and accurate care is essential when you find a wild animal in need. The instructions below will help you ensure that the animal you found makes it to the rehab facility SAFE, ALIVE, and READY FOR MEDICAL CARE.
1. Do not give the animal anything to eat or drink. They can choke or swallow improperly, leading to aspiration pneumonia. Babies are only fed by their parents; adults don't eat when scared and can be dangerous to approach.
2. Yes, not even water. Most wild animals will not drink water from a cup, and leaving a water bowl with a young or debilitated animal could result in it drowning or a drop in its body temperature.
3. Place the animal’s container in a warm, dark and quiet place. Wildlife should be kept away from pets, children and all noise (including TV and radio) until you transport them to the rehabber. Follow the instructions in the “capture & contain” section above to make the container comfortable for your little friend.
4. Keep the container away from direct sunlight, air conditioning and heat. Remember, warm is good - hot can be deadly.
5. Time is of the essence. Transport the animal as soon as you are able. Leave the radio off and keep talking to a minimum. Keep the animal's space dark and quiet to limit its stress and help keep it alive.
6. Do not keep the animal under any circumstances. Your quick action directly affects the animal’s chance of survival. Read below for contact resources to help you locate a rehabilitation facility near you.
🐭 BUT GILBERT & FRIENDS, WHAT ABOUT RABIES? 🐭
Rabies is a concern in certain wildlife populations (“vector” species) and is one of the many reasons why you must always be careful when trying to capture injured wildlife. Always assess the animal’s behavior and talk to a wildlife rehabber before attempting capture.
🐭 What Should I Watch For?
Always use extreme caution when capturing any “vector” species - in the United States, these mainly include foxes, raccoons, skunks, and bats. This is for your protection and the animal’s - any bite by a vector species will often lead to euthanasia for the animal involved.
If an animal is overly friendly or aggressive, walking in an erratic or staggering gait, has matted fur on its face or is drooling or foaming at the mouth, rabies should always be a concern. NEVER directly handle an injured or “downed” bat - bats can bite without you even really noticing - call animal control.
🐭 What Should I Do if I Think An Animal Has Rabies?
If you think an animal may have rabies, DO NOT TOUCH OR ENGAGE WITH THE ANIMAL and keep all adults, children, and pets away from the animal. Call your local rehabilitation facility or local animal control for assistance. In a pinch, your local police non-emergency hotline should be able to help if you cannot get in contact with anyone else.
🐭 Out during the day? Don’t Worry!
Contrary to popular belief, being out during the day is not a sign of rabies. Nocturnal animals will venture out during the day for a variety of reasons, ESPECIALLY if they are a mom trying to feed hungry babies!
Instead, pay attention to behavior - it is with the above warning signs that you should be concerned about a nocturnal animal out during the day.
🐭 Opossums & Rabies
Keep in mind, our amazing opossum friends have natural defense mechanisms like freezing, drooling, and falling over (playing dead). They are, in fact, highly resistant to rabies!
🐭 Using this Information
While you should always be cautious, please do not let fear stop you from helping any animal in need! Make sure that you are taking adequate safety precautions for the benefit of all! You can also visit the CDC for more information.
Find a Rehabber Now!
The best way you can help wildlife that has been injured or orphaned is to contact a wildlife rehabilitator ASAP!
You can often find local rehab organizations via simple Google search or by calling your veterinarian.
If you don’t know where to find your local wildlife rehabilitation facility, the links below will be helpful to you.