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Spotted a raccoon? Better stay back! It’s always best to give wildlife as much space as possible, so as to not disturb them. But some wildlife might be in actual danger or distress and might need our help. Check out this little guy, or this lovable creature here (extreme cuteness alert). Sometimes, baby animals lose their parents or, on some occasions, baby animals are even abandoned. This is due to human or other interference such as trapping, window or car collisions, dog or cat attacks, or shootings. The main and most important thing to check, if you want to help, is this: do they really need your help or is it just better to let them be. Sometimes, it’s hard to decide and so your best choice would be to call a professional, like the Wildlife Emergency Services at 1-866-WILD-911 or check out the U.S. directory.  Another important thing to understand is that animals will not stop caring for their babies just because humans touched them. It’s always better not to touch, but it doesn’t mean you have to take a baby skunk home, just because your kid touched it!

If you’re certain that the animal needs your immediate help, don’t leave her or him behind! To be prepared, it’s best to learn the basics of caring for orphaned wildlife. Here are some useful tips!

1. What to look for before capture

Observe the animal and search for signs of illness or injury. Use the information you have to describe the situation to a professional. Note that if the animal is walking away from you or flying away or if the animal is clearly trying to defend itself – your help might be unnecessary. Best thing you can do, according to wildlife specialists, is to check back in a few hours, if possible. Then again, if the situation seems dire, or if the animal is clearly abandoned and to0 young to care for herself or if she’s injured or ill – take initiative and help her.

2. Make sure you remember where you found the animal

The animal you found might be lucky enough to get released back into nature. It’s important for you to remember and make a note of the exact location. If you’ve found a bird next to an empty nest, bring the nest along with you, so the species might be identified.

3. Prepare a carrier

A cardboard box with holes will do just fine, as well as a cat or small dog carrier. For very small birds and mammals, you can use a paper bag. Just make sure to open ventilation holes.  A towel would work great for a bed, while grass clippings do not. Make sure that the container closes securely.

4. Capturing

If you think the animal might be dangerous to you – please call a professional before trying to capture it. There’s no point in putting yourself or your family in danger. If the animal is not dangerous (like a baby rabbit), just pick them up very gently with a towel or a piece of cloth.

5. Keep them warm

It’s important to keep baby animals warm, injured or not. Heat sources can be a warm water bottle, heating pad, or any other heating device, as long as it’s set on low and that it’s not touching the animal directly.

6. Let them rest

Keep the orphaned animal in a dark, dry, and warm place. Make sure it’s quiet and that no humans or other animals might disturb them.

7. Contact a professional

Now that the animal is mostly out of danger and if you haven’t already done this, contact a wildlife professional. Naturally, if the animal is bleeding or suffering, drive to the nearest vet or call the hotline provided above immediately. You will be able to get advice on where to go and what to do for each specific emergency.

8. Wash your hands

After handling a wild animal, make sure to wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Wash all towels and sheets that the animals came in contact with and avoid contact with your dogs, cats, or any other animals living with you. This will help prevent the spreading of  diseases and possible parasites to both you and your furry family.

9. Wildlife animals are not up for adoption

Keeping wildlife animals is illegal. Let them be free, as they should be. Each animal has his or her own requirements that need to be met in order to get released back into the wild. Try your best not to ruin nature’s plan – help them as much as you can and let the professionals do their work.

10. Overnight care

In case you need to keep the animal with you for the night or a few hours, remember that cow’s milk, baby formulas, and most commercial dog and cat food is harmful for wild animals, as is flea spray and most medications. Here you can find a list of animals and how to care for them overnight and here is some more detailed information.

Image Source: Kevin Brennan/Flickr