Wait—is that an orphaned baby animal?

Spring is the season for most animal babies, but some critters like squirrels and rabbits have multiple litters throughout the warmer months. And as a result, it’s more likely you will come across their injured or orphaned babies—creating a confusing situation if you don’t know what to do. So we spoke with the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (RVWS) and got a quick how-to-help guide.

3 golden rules to helping wild animals

  1. It is important not to provide any food or water if you discover an injured/orphaned animal. According to RVWS, this “risks doing more harm than good.”
  2. Always wear protective gloves when handling wildlife and avoid touching adult animals.
  3. If you are unsure of the situation — call RVWS or your local animal rehabilitator.

Squirrels

Photo: Jaël Vallée

As we enter the last month of summer, squirrels about to have their second litter. As a result, in the coming weeks, people may encounter some orphaned babies.

When does a squirrel need your help?

  • If they seem to be following people (may crawl up your leg), cars or pets.
  • If there was an incident involving a dog, cat or crow.
  • If multiple babies fall out of the nest/the nest is destroyed.
  • If they show other signs of sickness or injury (such as: bleeding, bug/flies over the body, difficulty breathing or discharge from mouth, nose or eyes, etc.).

If you encounter this situation, the first thing to do is determine if the squirrel has any injuries/if it’s an orphaned baby and then call RVWS for further direction. Depending on the situation, they may direct you to try reuniting the baby with its mother or temporarily care for it before bringing it to the sanctuary.

Bunnies

Contrary to many animals, rabbits have multiple litters through the warmer months. Though most of the baby bunnies you will encounter will not need any help. Mum will only visit around twice a day to keep attention drawn away from them, but not to worry, she’s still taking care of her fluffle (a group of wild bunnies)! And the smaller rabbits you see out on their own are likely okay too because they can care for themselves at 3-4 weeks old.

When do bunnies need your help?

  • If the babies were abandoned (steps to help determine this).
  • If there was an incident involving a dog, cat or crow.
  • If they show other signs of sickness or injury (such as bleeding, bug/flies over the body, difficulty breathing or discharge from mouth, nose or eyes, etc.).

If the bunny needs rescuing, call RVWS, and they will direct you on temporary care before bringing it to the sanctuary. Otherwise, leave the bunnies alone!

**Additional animal help

Featured image: Green Ottawa

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