What to do if you find orphaned wildlife

by | Wildlife Fact Sheets |

During the Spring, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society typically receives many calls about orphaned wildlife – and this year is no different. We want to ensure you have all the information you need to protect wildlife and help them if they are in distress.

Note: Whenever young mammals are found, an attempt should be made to reunite them with their parent(s). Parents provide the best care for young wildlife. When young are inadvertently removed from their parents, it decreases the likelihood that they will survive, even with expert human care. Each wildlife species has its own specific needs and requires specialized care to recover.

Click here for the provincial list of authorized wildlife rehabilitators. 

Check out the links below for helpful information on finding a variety of orphaned wildlife in your communities.

What to do if you find orphaned deer

What to do if you find an orphaned deer

A fawn should be left where he/she is found (unless injured) and you can check the site again within 24 to 48 hours. If the fawn is gone, the mother has returned and moved the fawn. If the fawn has moved from the spot, is crying or injured, or if the mother is known to be dead (i.e. the young deer is seen near the body of a nursing doe), call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator to advise you on next steps, before touching the fawn.

Read more about fawns here.

What to do if you find a baby squirrel

What to do if you find a baby squirrel

Step 1

If you’ve come across an orphaned squirrel, the first thing you should do is wait. Young squirrels should be given the opportunity to reunite with their mother if there is any chance that she is still available to care for them.

Unlike raccoons, mother squirrels will retrieve their young during the day, but not at night. Young squirrels should be placed in a shallow, open box with a heat source, such as a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel. A hot water bottle can be made from an empty plastic bottle, filled with warm water, wrapped in a towel and secured to the box with duct tape so it does not roll around.

Read Step 2 regarding finding baby squirrels here.

How to identify orphaned raccoons

How to Identify Orphaned Raccoons and Squirrels

It is easy to mistakenly think that young squirrels and raccoons have been orphaned when a parent is in fact, still caring for them. If the young are removed in these cases, they have essentially been ‘kidnapped.’

Read the steps to take with raccoons here.

How to identify orphaned rabbits

How to Identify Orphaned Rabbits

It is not uncommon to find nests of young rabbits in your yard or garden. Despite popular belief, cottontail rabbits do not burrow to create dens, but nest on the surface of the ground. Typically, female rabbits will find a small depression or hollow in the ground. They will then line the area with fur to use as a nest. Often these nests are found in the middle of open areas such as lawns or playing fields. If you find a group of baby rabbits lying in such a space, they are in their natural nest and do not necessarily need assistance.

Find out how to determine when baby rabbits need assistance.



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