If you found a baby animal and don’t know what to do: Please read the species information provided below, and don’t forget to check out the FAQ page, which might have slightly different information.
If you have waited 24 hours for parents to return and a rehabber has agreed it’s time to capture the animal, please follow these guidelines:
- Handle minimally to reduce stress.
- Wear gloves, or use a sheet or towel.
- Wash hands thoroughly.
- Do not offer food or water unless instructed.
- Heat is crucial for neonates. You can use heating pads (cover in a towel so there’s no direct contact), warm water in a pop bottle/milk jug (cover in a towel so there’s no direct contact), heating lamp (ensure the baby can move away if too warm, ensure it’s 8+ inches high, can’t be knocked over), or towels warmed in the drier.
- When transporting, please cover kennels with a sheet/towel to reduce stress.
If you find an injured animal, contact us. We will work through with you how to trap and handle the animal. *Please note that we do often require transport to us.* It takes a village to help wildlife. We put in a ton of blood, sweat and tears into rehabilitation, so we don’t think it’s too much to ask. Additionally, if an animal is inhibited but can still run or fly away, it can be time-consuming or even impossible to capture them. We value your time and our’s, so please assess the situation and use logic to inform us of the big picture.
Leave alone! Bunnies don’t like captivity and are the most fragile species of wildlife. They require their mothers’ cecotropes–yep, you got it–they eat their mothers’ poop! There is no manmade product to mimic this. There are very few circumstances when we will intervene. The most common call we get is about concern for dogs getting into the nest and hurting or killing the bunnies. Place a laundry basket upside down over the nest when your dog is out, remove for mother to attend to the babies overnight and early morning. Let your dog out on-leash or walk your dog elsewhere. Bunnies leave the nest within just a few weeks, so we really appreciate your patience. The nest can be moved if it is going to somewhere safe (on the other side of a fence or barrier) if it is within 4-6 feet from the original nest and still accessible to the mother. If the mother is known to be deceased, please find a friend or neighbor who has a bunny nest in their yard and move them to that nest.
Mother squirrels are VERY attentive. They are almost always watching. They often have up to 3 nests and will move the babies if needed, but this takes time. If you find a baby squirrel on the ground, the first thing you should do is look up for the mother and a nest. The mom can carry the baby in her mouth back to the nest. If you see a mom or a nest, please set the baby at the base of the tree and give them privacy. We suggest waiting 24 hours for most wildlife cases, but if the baby is cold, adding a heat source is very helpful. Please also watch for outdoor cats if possible and shoo them from the area. Baby squirrels are very hardy and often survive falls from great heights without any intervention. If you see blood coming from the mouth or ears, we’ll need to monitor.
If you see an adult raccoon, especially in the springtime, please know it likely has a nest somewhere nearby. Often we get calls about folks who trapped and relocated the mother because she made a nest in the attic. About 3-4 days later the babies come sauntering out of the nest looking for food because mom hasn’t come back. Raccoon mothers are attentive, but they do go off and hunt during the day. They often have backup nests and will move the babies if in jeopardy. There is a major shortage of rehabbers willing to rehab raccoons because they are high maintenance. Raccoons are big, smart, and messy, so at all costs, please avoid making them orphans. They stay with their mothers all summer and thus rehab is a long process. Raccoons also can carry a parasite (Baylisascaris procyonis, the raccoon roundworm) that can be fatal to humans and animals and there is no treatment if it migrates to the brain. These microscopic worm eggs are transmitted from the raccoon feces to the mouth of the infected host, so please always wear gloves when touching raccoons or cleaning their enclosures. Wear a mask if there will be aerosolization of the feces (for example, when using a spray bottle or hose to wash something with raccoon feces on it). Wash your hands afterwards. Raccoons are latrine animals, so they use the same area as a toilet. If this happens to be on your property, this is a major public health issue that needs to be addressed safely. One last word on relocating raccoons – studies have shown they will travel hundreds of miles to get back to their home territory. In my opinion, knowing this information, it is unethical to trap and relocate raccoons. It’s very stressful. Instead, change the environment so it’s unfavorable, encouraging them to move on. Raccoons like to eat pet food left outside, or get into trash bags or bird feeders. Remove these items for a few days to see if that does the trick.
Lethargy, circling, out during the daytime, nasal and ocular discharge are all signs of Distemper virus until proven otherwise. The chances of surviving this severity are very small and euthanasia is recommended. Call animal control. Use caution around your pets.
Marsupials are interesting. Baby o’possums live in their mothers’ pouch for 2 months, then ride on her back for another 2 months, progressively getting more exposure to outside. You will read that if you find a deceased o’possum (most commonly hit by a car), you are supposed to check the pouch for babies. “Pinkies” are babies that do not have fur yet. In my opinion, pinkie o’possums are not compatible with life. I believe it is a welfare concern to keep these animals alive. Here’s why: 1. Marsupials are born without any lymphoid tissue, meaning neonates are not immune competent. 2. The tiniest tube made in medicine is still too big to fit easily down their esophagus. Some rehabbers may argue you can buy a specialized tube (from The Peculiar Purple Possum 1.8 fr and 2.8 fr tubes) and these animals can do well. In my opinion, every time a pinkie o’opossum is tubed, it is causing damage to the esophagus which is painful in the short-term and can equate to esophageal strictures later in life. 3. Physiologically, the marsupial mother-neonate bond in the pouch acts like an umbilical cord. Their immune system matures about halfway through pouch life (4 weeks), as they are still receiving passive transfer of maternal antibodies at this time. If the neonate becomes detached too early, they are losing components vital to life. For these reasons, please know if you bring me pinkie o’possums, they will be humanely euthanized. Please consider our perspective that humanely euthanizing an animal is better than letting it die a slow, painful death. On another note, the mother will throw a baby out of the pouch if she senses something is wrong with it.
If you see a baby bird on the ground, look around for a nest and/or a parent. Most commonly, these will be fledgling birds; they will have a decent amount of real feathers. They leave the nest before they can fly because they need to develop their flight muscles. They may hop around in the yard for several days, but they are not injured! The adult birds should be supervising and feeding the baby. Please give them privacy. A baby bird that is featherless, or still has tiny fluffy downy feathers on it, belongs in the nest. Scoop up the bird up and place it back in the nest. If the entire nest has fallen, you can try to put it back. If needed, set the nest in a container with holes in the bottom of it for drainage, and place that in the tree or branch.
Adult birds fly into windows often; windowstrike can knock them out entirely or partially, and for varying amounts of time. We want to keep the bird in a warm, dark place to recover for 2 hours. Wearing gloves, set the bird inside a mostly enclosed box with a towel or paper towel, bring the box into your garage with the lid closed and adequate ventilation, or on your porch in the shade. In 2 hours, open the lid or check the box to see if the bird has left. If not, call a rehabber. Prevention: You can find various tricks online to reduce window strikes. https://wildlife.tufts.edu/bird-strikes-windows/#:~:text=Windows%20Can%20Be%20Deadly%20For,recover%20in%20a%20few%20moments. If you see an adult bird who is unable to fly, you may send us videos or photos. We may ask you to capture it in a net or towel and transport it to us.
In Iowa, it is illegal to rehabilitate deer per the Iowa DNR due to Chronic Wasting Disease. If you see an injured deer of any age, we would advocate calling the local police department or DNR.
Most commonly turtles are hit by cars or found with fishing hooks. Call us.
Ducks, Geese, Pelicans and other Water Fowl
Fishing line, botulism
Aside from the obvious foul odor and chance of getting sprayed, skunks are rabies vectors. Call with any questions.
Do not handle. Poke holes in a tupperware lid and capture, then decide where the bat should go. If you find a bat in your home, please visit the Iowa Department of Public Health website: https://idph.iowa.gov/rabies/resources and call us with any questions.
These are ferocious animals who are difficult to trap and even harder to relocate. Call to discuss. Occasionally dogs will get into fights with them. If your dog has injuries, unfortunately I have to recommend the groundhog be sent for rabies testing. Trap and do not handle.
Lethargy, circling, out during the daytime, nasal and occular discharge are all signs of Distemper virus until proven otherwise. The chances of surviving this severity are very small and euthanasia is recommended. Call animal control. Use caution around your pets.
Birds of prey
Owls, hawks, falcons, eagles, etc. Contact us.