Found an Abandoned Baby Animal: When to Intervene and When to Leave Them Alone
It's that time of year when we all start seeing the posts on social media from people who have found 'abandoned' baby animals. Now, I put abandoned in quotations because not every baby animal you come across is actually abandoned or in danger.
Baby Bunnies & Baby Opossums
For example, a nest of baby bunnies in your yard with no momma insight doesn't mean you need to snatch up those babies and bring them indoors to save them. Momma bunnies venture out for food during the day as it is much safer to leave her babies alone in their nest in the daylight than it is to go out at night when there is a higher risk of predators. Likewise, if you see a baby opossum, it is very likely ok - if it is over 7 inches in length, excluding the tail.
Another baby animal you're likely to see shared as abandoned on social media are baby deer or fawns. Most of the time, if you spot one laying alone in the grass, momma is not too far away and that fawn likely does not need your assistance.
According to a post from Mountain View Wildlife Rehabilitation, the best way to decide if a fawn is actually in distress and in need of human intervention is to look at its ears.
People that call us and are concerned whether or not they should bring the found fawn in can look at this. My very first question is look at the ears. Are they straight? Or are they crumpled?
If straight , was the deer laying down or standing up?
This year every deer we have taken in has looked like this. The ears are crumpled and the deer was standing up and crying.
The crumpled ear tips mean that the fawn is dehydrated and mom is gone.
The baby needs help!!!
Crumpled Ears Means It Needs Help
They say if the baby fawn has crumpled ear tips, it needs immediate help. They also advise that goat's milk is a suitable replacement to feed a baby deer but they do warn against using other milk substitutes, recommending plain Pedialyte and contacting a licensed rehabilitation expert.
It May Not Need Your Help
Likewise, the folks at Humane Indiana Wildlife say that a fawn curled up with no indication of distress should be left alone.
Fawns found curled up in a quiet posture, with no signs of injuries and no external parasites should be left alone. Whether on your porch, along the side of your house, or under your bush, mom has determined that to be a safe space and will rejoin her baby in up to 12 hours.
They also say that a fawn surrounded by flies or one that is crying for an extended period of time or that approaches humans to suckle fingers needs help immediately from a licensed rehabilitator.
Contact a License Rehabber
If you do find yourself needing assistance with an animal that has been abandoned or otherwise needs human intervention, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources offers a list of registered wildlife rehabbers on their website and you can find it here.
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