Wildlife rehabilitation centers and professional wildlife caregivers like those working at the Center for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CRAS) in Brazil, can be found throughout the United States and in many countries with abundant wildlife populations.
If you come across an injured animal, or an abandoned baby animal, the first thing you should always do is to try to get aid from a professional. However, since this is not always possible, here are some suggestions for what you should – and should not – do when helping imperiled wildlife:
DO: Make sure the animal actually needs rescuing before taking any steps. Many animals are "saved" each year that don't need assistance – thereby disrupting the animal's natural activities and removing it from its habitat. Rescue the animal only if the parent is dead, if the animal is cold or injured, or if it is in obvious danger.
DO: Protect yourself first. Never attempt to handle an animal that may be poisonous or dangerous. And all animals will try to defend themselves if they feel threatened, so wear heavy work gloves when handling wild animals – even if they appear harmless or docile.
DO: Be careful not to harm the animal when aiding it. To help catch an animal gently throw a box or sheet over it. After it has been put into a safe place, be sure to unwrap the animal – you don't want it to overheat.
DO: Place the animal in a secure box just slightly bigger than the animal itself, to prevent it from thrashing around and hurting itself. Make sure there are holes in the box allowing air to enter. Place paper towels or a soft cloth on the bottom of the box.
DO: Make sure the animal is comfortable. If it is cold, injured or hairless/featherless, put a heating pad on "low" under half of the box, with a folded towel between the pad and the box. Make sure to regularly check on the animal so it does not get too hot.
DO: Try to get the animal professional help as soon as possible. Call a trained and licensed wildlife rehabilitator!
DON'T: Handle sickly looking animals or species known to carry rabies (for example, foxes, raccoons, bats or skunks). If you get bitten, licked or scratched you will need to get rabies shots and the animal is at risk of being euthanized to be tested for rabies. For your sake and the animal's sake, do not take any unnecessary risks. Always contact a wildlife professional as soon as possible to find out how best to proceed.
DON'T: Handle or bother the animal more than necessary. The more you disturb or touch an animal the more stressed and shocked it gets. If the animal gets too stressed it could die.
DON'T: Give the animal anything to eat or drink. Baby birds and many baby mammals cannot digest milk and may die if given anything with lactose. Only feed or give liquids to an animal with proper instructions from a specialist.
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