Injured or Sick Mammals

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Injured or Sick Mammals

Signs of Injury:

  • Obvious wound, blood on the body
  • Allows you to walk right up to it
  • Circling or ambulating erratically
  • Surrounded by flies/fly eggs on body or in body cavity
  • One or more of the limbs, or head seem to be pointed in the wrong direction

To Capture:
All mammals have teeth as their primary defense mechanism and they will use them if they feel threatened. The safest way is to pick them up is by using a towel or blanket. It is best to never use your bare hands. 

Upon approach, throw a towel over them aiming for the face and mouth. Remember these mammals look cute and cuddly, but their teeth can cause damage so always be aware of where their mouth is. Once covered, grab the animal and put it inside an escape proof box (squirrels can chew through cardboard quickly). Make sure there are air holes so the animal can breathe.

Some animals may be easier to place in a container on its side and use a broom-like object to slowly nudge it into the box as a less invasive capture method.

Once the animal is secured inside the box, place it in a dark quiet place and leave it alone. DO NOT FEED or offer water to the animal unless you have been directed to by a wildlife rehabilitator.

Rabies Vector Species
Racoons, skunks, foxes, bats, coyotes, bobcats

We recommend not handling any of these species unless you have experience. If you feel that the animal must receive attention immediately, please call Alaqua. DO NOT attempt to handle an adult by yourself. If bitten or scratched at any point, seek medical attention immediately as rabies is a life-threatening disease that can cause death if not treated promptly.

Signs of Rabies:

  • Disorientation
  • Not moving or walking normally
  • Non-aggressive or overly aggressive
  • Foamy or excessive drooling

These signs do not always indicate rabies on their own, as other diseases and injuries can also cause similar symptoms. It is best to always call Alaqua or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922 if dealing with a juvenile or adult rabies vector species.

Orphaned Mammals

Wild animals have the greatest chance of survival when raised by their mothers, and most moms are very attentive to their young. Before calling a wildlife rehabilitation center like Alaqua, it is best to try and determine if the animal is truly sick, injured, or orphaned. A mother’s behavior is very species specific. If the baby seems sick or injured, please call us. If the baby seems healthy, please follow the tips below to attempt a successful reuniting.

If you don’t see the species listed below, please call us to help guide you with species specific renesting/reuniting procedures.

To protect their young, mother deer can leave them alone for up to 12 hours at a time while they forage and distract predators. A fawn’s natural defense mechanism when approached by humans is to lie still and quiet. This is often perceived as a weakness, but it is not. When a fawn is in duress it will be very vocal over long periods of times and often have curled ears (indicating dehydration) or openly approach humans. If you notice any of those symptoms along with limping, puncture marks, laying on its side, or being covered in flies or fly eggs call Alaqua immediately.

Mother rabbits will leave their young for most of the day, often returning after dusk. If you find a baby rabbit in its nest and it doesn’t look sick or injured, leave it there. Mark their area off and let it be. If you scatter flour around the nest, you will be able to tell if the mother enters and exits the nest each night.

If you find a baby rabbit roaming around and its ears are erect, it is old enough to be on its own even though they can look quite small. Rabbits stress extremely easily and do not thrive in a rehabilitation setting, so it’s best to let them be if they are not obviously sick, injured, or orphaned.

If you notice a rabbit that is out of the nest, does not have erect ears, doesn’t look sick or injured, try and seek out the nest and put the baby back in. Nests can often be found under a bush with debris scattered above it.

If you find a sick or injured rabbit, look for indicators such as puncture marks, skin sloughing off, limping, or covered in flies or fly eggs, and call Alaqua.

Squirrel mothers are highly attentive and will often come to the ground to retrieve their young if they fall out of the nest or off a limb. If you find a squirrel that appears healthy, you can place them in a box with the top open and play baby squirrel sounds from YouTube and observe from a distance to see if an adult appears. If you don’t see activity or the animal is still where you left it for over an hour, contact us.

Raccoon mothers often have multiple den sites on their territorial range. If you find a baby raccoon that seems healthy, a renesting attempt should be made. Babies that are not very mobile yet can be placed in a cardboard box with a flap cut out 3” from the ground. This will keep the babies in and allow the mom to push it in to retrieve them. They should be left near where they were found in a safe location overnight. Sometimes the moms take more than one night to retrieve all babies. Please contact Alaqua to help walk you through the process if you have any concerns. Reuniting attempts can be done in exclusion scenarios as well, but please call for further guidance.

To Capture:
If you have found a sick, injured, or orphaned mammal, place the baby inside a small box with a heating pad on LOW. If you do not have a heating pad, a sock with rice microwaved for 20 seconds will also suffice (please test temperature before putting animals on heat). DO NOT feed the orphaned animal. Do not offer water to babies as they can drown. Once the animal is contained, place the box in a dark and quiet location, and get it to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.

Direct Line: (850) 880-6697
After Hours:  (850) 332-4837
*We are on call 24/7.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Wildlife Hotline:  1-888-404-3922

7 days/week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

914 Whitfield Road
Freeport, FL 32439
*Please call upon your arrival.