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What To Do If You Find a Baby Mammal

Quick guide to help you make the right decision if you find a baby mammal that you think might be in need of rescuing.

Baby chipmunk - Tinsley Hunsdorfer
Baby chipmunk - Tinsley Hunsdorfer

The following is a quick guide to help you make the right decision should you find a baby mammal that you think might be in need of rescuing.

Many of the mammals that are brought to the Wildlife Care Center each year become orphaned by people who have live-trapped and relocated the mother before realizing that she had young. Seal up all possible denning sites in your home before a wild animal moves in. If one has already taken up residence, try and wait until the young begin emerging from the den, and then seal the whole family out at one time.

If you must remove an animal from your home or yard, please consult the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife or the Wildlife Care Center on how best to accomplish this. See below for contact information.

Professional critter removal services must have state permits to engage in this type of work. Ask to see this permit before hiring them; it will save you a lot of aggravation and might save the animal's life.

Specific Cases

Raccoons and Squirrels
Raccoons and squirrels frequently move their young around and sometimes drop them when spooked. In addition, adolescent raccoons and squirrels are prone to wandering and sometimes get lost. Usually the mother will backtrack and retrieve her young when she thinks it is safe.

It is best, unless the young are injured, to not interfere. Leave the young outside overnight as this is when the mother is most likely to return. Often she will approach and leave several times before retrieving the young. This is her way of testing to make sure that the coast is clear.

If you are concerned about predators, place the animal in an open box suspended from a nearby branch or other high area.

Brush Rabbits
Brush Rabbits only feed their young at dusk and dawn and the babies are left for long stretches of time. If you find a nest and are concerned that the young are orphaned, try placing two pieces of yarn over the nest in the form of an "X." If the "X" has been disturbed in the morning, then the mother has returned.

Fawns have no scent and lie motionless while their mothers forage nearby. The doe will not approach while you are nearby for fear of exposing her young to a possible predator. Fawns are very difficult to return to the wild once they have been in captivity. Unless there is an obvious injury, these animals should be left alone.

Injured Animals

If you find an injured wild animal, please take the following steps:

  • Place the animal in a small cardboard box lined with a towel. If you have a heating pad, set it on low and place it under the box. Place the box in a warm, quiet area.
  • Do not attempt to feed the animal. You may offer it water either through a dropper or by placing a small jar-lid full in its box. No wild animal can tolerate cow's milk. In many cases, giving cow's milk can cause fatal digestive problems.
  • Bring the animal into the Wildlife Care Center as soon as possible. Please remember to keep your cats inside and remind your neighbors to do the same!

For More Information

Injured or Orphaned Wildlife
Audubon Society of Portland Wildlife Care Center | 503-292-0304
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife | 971-673-6000
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife | 360-696-6211

Wildlife Law Enforcement
Oregon State Police | 503-375-3555
Washington Department of Wildlife | 360-902-2936 (enforcement) or 1-877-933-9847 (poaching, dangerous animals)
US Fish and Wildlife (Federal Regulations) | 503-231-6125

Domestics, Exotics and Other Animals
Oregon Humane Society | 503-285-7722
Humane Society of SW Washington (Vancouver) | 360-693-4746
Multnomah County Animal Control | 503-248-3066
Clackamas County Dog Control | 503-655-8628
Washington County Animal Control | 503-681-7110
Clark County Animal Control | 360-397-2488

Baby skunk in the Wildlife Care Center, 600 pixels - Tinsley Hunsdorfer
Baby skunk in the Wildlife Care Center - Tinsley Hunsdorfer
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