How to Rescue a Bird or Mammal
First, wear gloves, if
possible – animals may bite or scratch to protect themselves.
Also, wild animals commonly have parasites, like fleas, ticks or
lice, and can carry disease. To capture a small, immobile bird,
approach it slowly with some paper towels or a soft
gently pick it up. Then, carefully place the bird in your
protective container. Approach larger birds and other immobile
animals with a blanket and gently cover the entire animal to keep
it quiet. Carefully lift the creature and place it in a covered
protective box or animal carrier. Place the box in a warm, dark,
quiet place and keep children and pets away. Do not handle or
bother the creature – stress kills! Wash your hands immediately to
prevent the spread of disease or parasites to you or your pets.
Don’t give the creature food or water – milk is especially deadly!
Get the bird or mammal to Safe Haven as soon as possible.
are a few things you
- Don't give water or food, including
milk, which is
especially deadly, to
an injured or orphaned animal.
- Don't leave pets or children outside when a
fledgling is on the ground.
- Don't cut a tree down without
looking to see if
there's a squirrel or bird's nest in it.
- Don't allow pets or children to
disturb a rabbit's nest.
Punch air holes into the top of
a cardboard box large enough to hold the creature (but small
enough that it cannot run or fly around inside and injure itself
even further). Line the bottom of the box with paper towels, a
soft cloth or toilet tissue.
Keep orphaned babies and injured animals
warm, put a hot water bottle, a plastic soda bottle, or plastic
water bottle filled with warm, not hot water and closed tightly to
avoid leakage and wrapped in a towel in another part of the box to
avoid direct contact with the creature. (You may also use double
zip-lock plastic bags filled with warm water and covered with a
cloth - use 2 in case one leaks)! Once the creature is in the box,
securely tape or rubber band the container shut. Bring the bird or
mammal to Safe Haven right away! Often knowing what not to do is
just as important as knowing what to do.
About Cat Bites . . .
If you suspect that an animal
has been caught or bitten by a cat – even if no puncture wounds are
visible – the creature must be put on antibiotics right away. Bacteria
in a cat’s saliva will cause infection, and, if untreated, the animal
die. Contact Safe Haven immediately.
Baby SquirrelsIf you find a squirrel’s nest
on your lawn after a storm, or encounter infants lying on the ground,
place them near the tree they fell from and watch from inside your
home to see if Mom returns to rescue her babies.
Typically, Mom will build a new nest, which can take
an hour or more, and come back for her youngsters. If she doesn’t
return or the infants are cold, covered with flies or ants, or appear
injured, you should call Safe Haven right away or bring them to us.
Typically, baby opossums are born during March and April and then
again in July. Mom carries her little darlings in her pouch while she
forages for food at night or sleeps during the day. If you see an
adult opossum that has been killed on the road (and can pull over
safely), check for babies in her pouch. Our volunteers routinely raise
baby opossums that survive car accidents. If you find a “kitten size”
(or smaller) opossum, rest assured, it’s an orphan that needs
Bird flew into the window?
A bird who flies into a window
should be watched and a rehabber should be called
who will ask about the behavior of the bird and
other information. If they don't recover fairly
quickly, they need to go to a rehabber, and the
initial call can make the difference in getting them
help quickly enough to avoid more permanent
injuries. We have a way to help them recover so
they can be released again.
It’s a myth that the
parents of a wild bird will reject a baby touched by human hands. The
fact is birds have almost no sense of smell.
Baby birds that have fallen from their nest should be returned, as
long as the nest can be safely reached. If the nest cannot be reached,
place the baby bird in a substitute nest close by. A small margarine
tub or berry basket lined with dry grass can work nicely. Now, from a
distance, watch to see if the parent comes back to take care of baby.
Young birds with feathers (fledglings) spend time on the ground
while learning to fly. This is a normal part of their development. A
fledgling should only be removed if it is in imminent danger, e.g.,
the baby bird is too close to a roadway or there is a free-roaming cat
in the area.
Baby birds that cannot be returned to their nest, and those in
danger, should be placed in a small box (with air holes) and taken to
Safe Haven as soon as possible.
If you see a rabbit’s nest that
has been disturbed, do not touch the babies. After wiping your hands
on the grass, carefully replace the fur and other nest material. Place
two small pieces of yarn or string which is easier for you to see and
preferred or twigs across the nest in an “X” or other pattern the
mother will disturb when she comes back (sprinkling flour around the
nest will also work – you will see Mom’s footprints if she returns).
Stay away until morning. Mom will only return to the nest at dusk and
dawn. If the yarn, string, or twigs (or flour) are not disturbed in 24
hours, or if the babies have been injured or moved from the nest by a
cat, dog or lawn mower, bring the babies to Safe Haven right away.
Fearing her scent may attract
predators, a mother deer leaves her fawn alone most of the day. If you
encounter a fawn lying quietly by itself and it looks healthy – leave
it alone! If you have any doubts, call the nearest wildlife
rehabilitator for advice.
If you see other wild animals
in distress, especially creatures of size or strength, as well as
mammals that are classified as rabies vector species, such as raccoons
and foxes, call Safe Haven immediately for assistance. Only a
State-licensed and specially trained wildlife rehabilitator should
handle these animals.
It’s always best to leave what you may think is an
"orphaned" animal alone unless it is in obvious distress or in
an unsafe location. Quite often, its parents are close by and
reluctant to return because you are there. Watch for their
return from a safe distance.
- Generally, if no parent returns within one to two hours,
you should call Safe Haven or begin preparing your protective
container. An exception to this rule is a nest of baby
- Call Safe Haven (860-653-2811) or a wildlife rehabilitator for assistance
before rescuing any animal. This is especially important with
the rescue of a wild creature of any size or strength. Trained
wildlife rehabilitators will wear the protective gear needed
to attempt the rescue – sturdy gloves, long sleeves, boots,
and safety glasses.
- Other Helpful