We work throughout North Central Florida and also give referals across the state
please use our 24-hour helpline for emergency help
When an animal is injured, the decision to intervene is usually simple. In most cases, injuries are clearly observable as are peculiar behaviors which suggest that an animal might be hurt or stunned. In such cases, safely capture the animal in a box lined with non-stringy fabric (no terry cloth) and place it in a warm, quiet place until you can get it to a rehabilitator.
Don't give it food or water until you are directed to do so by a professional.
If you find a baby animal which appears to be orphaned or distressed, the most important thing to do is patiently observe the animal in its surroundings to decide whether or not it really needs assistance. If possible, keep cats and dogs or other threats out of the area. If the baby animal has its eyes open, is fully furred and is walking around, it has probably just strayed too far from its mother while she is foraging. Watch from a distance for two hours before intervening. Usually within that time, the mother will retrieve her baby. If she does not, you may decide intervene.
If a baby animal is very young, without fur, and unable to move well on its own, it is a good idea to contain it. As a general rule, place the animal in a box with a piece of non-stringy fabric that has been warmed in a dryer. Place the box in the area where you found the baby, out of the way of ant hills and predators. Keep dogs and cats inside until the mother returns to retrieve her baby. Handling by a human will not cause the mother to reject her young, as the old wife's tale states. All wild animals' natural parents are far better at caring for them than human foster parents. Quite simply, a wild animal's chances of survival are greatly increased when left in its natural environment.
If the parent does not return or retrieve the baby within one to two hours, get it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. If you are outside of North Central Florida, call your local state wildlife agency to obtain a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in the area. If you are in North Central Florida, please call our 24-hour helpline for information and referrals: (352) 371-4400.
The guidelines on the succeeding pages pertain to interventions involving specific kinds of animals commonly found in North Central Florida. They are meant solely as guidelines and not as a substitute for the care of trained wildlife rehabilitators.