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To prevent unnecessary 'rescues' (kidnappings) and to keep both wildlife and the community safe, here are some helpful tips and information regarding some specific species natural history .  We hope this will help you decide what to do if you see wildlife you think needs our help!


  • Is the baby animal hurt or sick (bleeding, weak, vomiting, shivering; was it attacked by cat/dog?


(SOUTH ALABAMA - BBWS 334-447-8110/8111)


    • If it is Intact place the baby back into the nest/den. Watch for mother for 4-6 hours.  Stay completely out of sight. Mothers won't return if any people or pets are present.
    • If it is Not Intact, make a substitute nest/den.  Place baby in a shallow box close to where it was found. Keep it warm but out of the sun.  Watch for mother for 4-6 hours.  Stay completely out of sight. Mothers won't return if any people or pets are present.
      • If she did --then the baby will be ok and you can leave the area. A BABY'S BEST CHANCE FOR SURVIVAL IS WITH ITS MOTHER!
      • If she DIDN'T -- then call a wildlife rehabilitator. If you cannot reach one call your state wildlife agency or a wildlife veterinarian.


If an immature juvenile squirrel approaches or follows you, its mother has most likely been killed and it's looking for its mother. These squirrels are generally starving and malnourished and need attention. If a baby (eyes closed) is found  on the ground, it may have fallen from a nest (especially if there has been a recent storm). Check the baby for injuries. If injured, take it to your local wildlife rehabilitation center immediately. If there are NO apparent injuries, place the baby in a small plastic bowl with several holes punched in the bottom. Line the bowl with leaves or grass and place it about 5 feet off the ground in the lower branches of the tree closest to where the squirrel was found. Don't feed the baby. Monitor the bowl during the daylight hours. If the mother doesn't retrieve the baby in a few hours, take the baby to your nearest wildlife rehabilitator.


These animals are on their own when they are about 8-10 inches long (not including the tail.)  If one is found smaller than that, it needs attention. The mother opossum carries her babies in or on her body and if startled or attacked, one or more babies may be left behind when the mother flees. The mother opossum will never realize that she is missing a baby and will not return for it. Check for others, as an average opossum litter is 13! Keep the babies warm with a heating pad set on LOW until you can get them into a rehabilitation facility. Orphans are often found looking for food near a dead mother, especially along roadsides. If you see a dead opossum by the side of a road, check it for babies. Baby opossums can survive on a dead mother's body for about 48 hours. Do not try to detach the babies, just put the body in a box and bring it and the babies to a wildlife rehabilitator.


If their nest has been damaged it can be repaired.  Look for a shallow depression lined with grass/fur. Place babies in nest with light layers of grass to hide them. Leave the area, or the mother won't return. (Mothers return only at dawn & dusk.)

If you find healthy bunnies that are 4-5 inches long or about the size of a tennis ball, able to hop, with eyes open and ears up, they do not need help.  They are able to survive on their own.  If not injured, put it back where you found it. If it was brought in by a dog or a cat, it is probably injured and needs attention. If the rabbits’ nest is disturbed, replace the fur inside the nest and cover the nest well with dry grass. The mother should return to care for her young. The mother will not reject the babies if you handle them. If at all possible, it is best to let the mother rabbit raise her babies. Rabbits are extremely hard to raise! If you can get near an adult rabbit, something is certainly wrong. Carefully and QUIETLY place it in a box and transport to a wildlife rehabilitator immediately.


These animals can be very dangerous and should only be handled by professionals. It is recommended to call Animal Control/Police/Game and Fish for assistance. Even babies can be dangerous. If the babies are newborn or they don't have their eyes open, they can be taken directly to a qualified rehabilitator if it is certain the mother is not returning. Otherwise, it is best to call a governmental official. They are much better equipped to handle these animals and take them to the proper facility.


Fawns are often found lying quietly in a field without its mother. This is NORMAL.  Mothers normally leave their babies to feed. If you find one and it is not crying, leave it there and check back in 12-24 hours.  The mother will not return if people or pets are present.  If one follows you, take it back to where it first saw you and leave as quickly as you can. Check the fawn again in 12-24 hours. If it is injured or crying, looks cold, hungry, diseased, or confused, or if dogs, other animal or people threaten its safety,  then it needs special attention. If small enough, transport to your nearest wildlife rehabilitator. If too large or it is an injured adult, call Animal Control/Police/Game and Fish for assistance.

Rabies Is A Serious Concern To All of Us

Raccoons, Skunks, Foxes, and Bats

  DON'T handle raccoons, skunks, fox, or bats! These animals are known carriers of rabies! Yes, even babies can have rabies!

 If you have to handle these animals, DO NOT use your bare hands, please use protection (rubber gloves, heavy leather gloves, and a towel).

 If you do get bitten or scratched you may be exposed to rabies.                                                            

 BY LAW!  If you are bitten or scratched, the animal must be euthanized and tested for rabies.


These babies often play in the woods under their mothers care. Before disturbing them, observe from a distance to see if the mother is indeed watching over them. It's best to leave them alone unless there is an obvious problem. If the mother has been killed, the babies may wander out of the den because they are hungry. They may be crying, look weak or sickly. In this case, the babies need attention. Don’t feed the baby! Don't pick these animals up with your bare hands!  Adults can be very dangerous and should only be handled by professionals. It is recommended to call animal control for assistance. Bat pups are usually found in May through early August. Many times bat pups will fall out of trees or housing during a storm. Babies that are furred look very much like the adults except they are smaller, and do not fly well. These babies need assistance.  Adult bats can’t take off from the ground but must be hung from a tree or building. A grounded bat can often be made to crawl onto a towel which can be draped from a fence or tree limb so the animal can fly off. Adult bats found inside the house and are uninjured, can be released directly outside.


2012 Rabies Reality Check for BBWS:

We received a positive case of rabies in a 5 month old female raccoon.  This was our fifth young raccoon in 2012 and it was suspected to have been hit by a car and was found alongside the road unable to walk.  The animal was brought to us and we suspected it had a spinal fracture and took it directly to our veterinarian.  Upon exam there were no indications of spinal fracture but we knew something wasn't right.  The animal was scared and in pain and when one of the vet techs got too close, the raccoon lodged its canines into her hand.  It took a lot to pull the animals teeth out of her hand, but we finally got them out.  The law requires us to euthanize rabies vector animals that have injured someone or another domestic animal.  The Health Department called back a few days later with confirmation of a positive rabies result.  Any animal can get rabies but some are known carriers. Unfortunately these animals can have rabies without showing any signs of the disease.  This particular little raccoon was really suffering from the disease.  The vet tech had to go through a series of three shots but she is ok and there were very valuable lessons learned that day for everyone involved.     



 Watch out for the dangerous parts of wildlife like teeth, claws, talons, beaks, etc. and the unbelievable strength of a frightened wild animal.  When trying to rescue an animal the most important thing you can think about is your own safety before and during capture or rescue.  Those raptor talons are incredibly sharp as are their beaks.  They use them to rip and tear meat, as well as take down prey.  Hooves and claws are very dangerous too.  The hoof of a baby deer can rip open your skin like a knife.  And don't forget the bacteria that lie in wait of their teeth, claws, beaks and talons, etc.  Oh and those beautiful birds with long slender beaks can go through your eye in an instant.  It is more important to worry about first grabbing the beak than it is the wings of herons, egrets and other shore birds that spear fish their dinner with great precision.  You do have to watch out for the slaps you can get with a birds wings too.  If a baby bobcat or fox kit want to bite you, they can puncture our thin skin before you know it. Just imagine what an adult would do.  A net, large blanket, coat or heavy towel can often be all you need to rescue an animal by throwing it over their head and grabbing whatever else they can hurt you with, with thick gloved hands.  Bottom line is the animal you are considering rescuing will be scared and feeling cornered.  They are going to fight any way they can and with whatever it takes to get away from their captors.  Many animals commonly have parasites (fleas, lice, ticks) and carry diseases.  PLEASE DON'T FORGET TO BE SAFE!

Once you have caught the animal, place the animal in a secure cardboard box with small holes placed in the side or lid; or possibly in a travel carrier for dogs and cats. The container should be just big enough for the animal to stand and turn around, to prevent the animal from thrashing around and hurting itself. Place paper towels or a soft cloth on the bottom of the box so the animal has traction. Keep the box in a warm, quiet, dark place, away from family pets and children. Many times injured or ill wild animals are in shock or at the very least scared.

If the animal is injured, cold, or featherless/hairless, put a heating pad on ”LOW" under half of the box.  This allows the animal to move away from the heat if needed.

Try to get an animal help as soon as possible. Call a wildlife rehabilitator. Some birds need to eat every 30 min. ** If you can get an animal help within 2 hours the chance of survival increases greatly!

DON'T keep peeking at or handling the animal. The more you look at or handle it, the more you stress the animal and reduce its chance of survival.

DON'T give any animal anything to eat or drink without discussing with wildlife rehabilitator first!  Cow’s milk is a big NO-NO!  Baby birds can't digest milk or milk products. Many baby mammals are lactose intolerant and may develop fatal diarrhea.

Together we can make a difference in the future of our native wildlife.

On behalf of the BBWS volunteer staff, we want to thank you for caring and sharing your love of wildlife with us.


Big Bend Wildlife Sanctuary Inc.

1034 County Rd 445

Enterprise, AL 36330




It's against the law in most states

to keep wild animals if you don't have permits,

even if you plan to release them.



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