Things to do if you find an orphaned baby wild animal wandering about

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Nothing. You should do nothing if you find an orphaned baby wild animal wandering about. Well, actually, that’s not strictly true, there are questions that must be asked first. In fact, let’s go right ahead and ask them …

Q: Where have you found the orphaned baby wild animal wandering about?

A: If the baby is somewhere around your home, you probably should do something about it. It could be a sign that you have a nest of these animals somewhere. Could the baby have fallen from right above your head - your roof? Squirrels, raccoons, opossums, bats, rats, mice, and more are all well known to try and break in there if they can.

If you have found the orphaned baby wild animal wandering about in your home or on your land, call the professionals. There is a procedure that will need to be followed in order to keep this wild animal removal operation safe and humane for all parties involved. If there are babies in a nest, the nest must be located and the babies removed. The mother must be located and then removed. If releasing is possible, which in many cases it isn’t, you must then find a place that is far enough away from your home that it can’t cause you any problems. Many wild animals travel great distances to find food, shelter, friends, family, and mates, and some of them even migrate thousands of miles away to find heat when colder temperatures come. If they can migrate from virtually one side of the planet to the other, what makes you think they can't find their way back home to that attic again?

In cases where the wild animals, babies and mother / father included, can’t be released into the wild safely, they will need to be destroyed, and this is more than likely a task you won’t want to take on. There are certain legalities that must be followed, and you will need to check the rules in your state for the animal that you're dealing with. These laws apply to using certain traps, monitoring those traps, what to do with the animal afterwards, and in some cases, whether you can touch the animal at all. In many states, for example, some bats are protected species, and you aren't allowed to move them at all during the maternity seasons. This basically gives you a brief window in which you can get your bat extraction operation done, and it's not something you’re going to want to wait a whole year again for.

Q: Are you sure that the baby is abandoned?

A: Wild animals are forever moving home, from safe spot to safe spot. If one home or den is no longer considered safe, a mother will move her young to another spot in order to keep them safe. If they sense that a predator is around, they’ll move things along. If they can't find enough food or water, they’ll soon move along to a place that they can find such things. Living in the wild means constantly being on the move.

This means that a mother could very well be moving her young from one spot to another, in order to avoid whatever threat is present. If this is the case, she won't be able to find the baby if you move it. Not only that, you’ll be leaving YOUR scent markings all over her baby when you touch it, and she won't recognise the smell when and if she does come back. If she doesn't recognise the smell of her youngster, she'll reject it. It will almost certainly die in the wild, not yet old enough or smart enough to fend for itself.

If you can't be sure that the baby actually is abandoned, you shouldn’t touch it. By touching it, you will more than likely result in the baby being abandoned.

Q: Can you be 100% sure that the animal isn’t sick, injured or diseased?

A: If you come across a baby raccoon, you could be coming in direct contact with the rabies virus. They are a well known carrier for it, and the disease can lie dormant in their bodies for a long time before symptoms start to show. This is what makes the disease especially dangerous. An animal can be infected with it without anyone knowing, even the infected animal itself. You are more likely to avoid a rabid-looking animal than you are a cute baby animal, and the cute baby animal will have the best opportunity to bite or scratch you, and therefore pass on the disease.

If you can’t be sure that the animal isn’t sick, which you CANNOT without the assistance of a qualified vet, you shouldn’t go anywhere near it. Raccoons are not the only wild animal capable of carrying and spreading disease. Armadillos have been shown to contain the bacteria behind Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy. Squirrels are dangerous too, carrying and passing on diseases such as louse-borne typhus, tularemia, encephalitis, Colorado tick fever, and even the plague. The rats are capable of such a feat too, as are mice. All of these diseases can be present in the babies such as much as they can be present in the adults, and that’s just another reason why you shouldn't get close to seemingly orphaned (or not) baby wild animals.

Q: Can you ensure that you are handling the baby wild animal safely?

A: In order to remove most baby wild animals safely, and, in fact, all wild animals, you will need a complex kit. This will include a number of protective items, including eye goggles / protection, thick rubber gloves, disposable gloves, foot coveralls, and clothes that you don’t mind burning or disposing of afterwards. You will also need a filter vacuum cleaner to wipe up the feces or certain animals, including bats, as sweeping the matter away can just send disease spores airborne.

A lot of resources are needed to solve wild animal control problems, even those associated with baby wild animals. If you don’t have the resources, you shouldn’t attempt to do the job.

Q: Can you make sure you won’t come in contact with waste or contaminated / biological material?

Just as baby wild animals can carry diseases in their bodies just like their adult counterparts, the feces and urine, as well as other biological matter (such as decaying corpses) can also carry and transmit disease. The rabies virus can be present in the saliva of a dead animal for sometime after it has died, and plenty of other disease risks are present in the feces of these creatures. Bat guano can carry histoplasmosis, and almost all wild animals have the potential to pass on salmonellosis, responsible for many a dreaded ‘tummy bug’.

Handling baby wild animals can be just as dangerous, if not more so, than handling their adult versions, and that's why we would never recommend going anywhere near a wild animal, youngster or otherwise. Let the professionals handle the job. That’s what they’re there for.

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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