Feeding a wild baby animal I found

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If you find a baby wild animal whilst out and about, we would highly recommend that you leave it alone. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the biggest is because you would want to avoid leaving your scent on the animal. Once your scent is on it, there’s a good chance the mother will reject the baby, even if she hadn’t already. Essentially, by trying to help, you have made the problem a lot worse, and could even cause the death of the poor youngster.

If you are concerned about the welfare of the animal, you could give your local wildlife control services a call. Wildlife rehabilitators can also help, particularly if the animal is injured. If the injury is too bad, the animal can be euthanized, putting an end to its suffering. If it can be nursed back to help, some wildlife rehabilitators will put their efforts into making it well again, before releasing the animal back into the wild if it is deemed safe to do so. The problem with baby animals, is that they can often become too tame and used to human interaction, so releasing them back into the wild again would more often than not sign its death warrant.

Why is the baby animal left there?

In the wild, mothers will regularly move their young round from nest to nest, and this is a rule that applies to many different species. If they sense that a predator is nearby, or there isn’t enough food close to support them all, the mother will move her young to another nesting site. One that is close to food or water, and that is better protected, not only from predators, but also the elements.

If the mother was moving her young from one nesting site to another, she will come back for the ‘orphan’ you have come across. Once again, if you have touched the baby and left your scent there, she will likely reject it.

The baby animal could have fallen from a nest, and this could be the case with animals such as bats and squirrels. With nests often in the trees, babies fall down. Sometimes the mother will save her young, but if she senses that the baby is too injured to survive, she will abandon it. She will also abandon her young if she knows they are diseases, or too weak to survive. It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and she would much rather focus her attentions on the babies that will survive, rather than wasting her efforts on the ones that won’t. If that is the case, trying to save the baby will be fruitless, and you will be just prolonging the pain and inevitable death. Sometimes you just need to let nature run its course.

What should I do about a baby wild animal I've found?

In most cases the answer is simply, nothing. Leave it alone. Let nature do what nature needs to do. Nine times out of ten, the baby has been left there for a good reason, normally one of the above.

By interfering with the baby wild animal you have found, you run the risk of the mother rejecting it even when she hadn’t already done so, and also preventing the mother from finding the youngster at all. If you have moved it, there’s no way for her to find it. She won't be able to move it to the safety of the new nest.

If you are unsure of what to do, give the experts a call and let them tell you how to solve the problem. If you give us a call, we can offer free advice over the phone, and where necessary we can usually make same day appointments for urgent call outs!

For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How To Guide: Who should I hire? - What questions to ask, to look for, who NOT to hire.
How To Guide: do it yourself! - Advice on saving money by doing wildlife removal yourself.
Guide: How much does wildlife removal cost? - Analysis of wildlife control prices.
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