When to leave an animal alone

It’s common to see wild baby animals outside during spring, as a new generation makes its way into the world. Wild baby animals might seem like they need our help, but unless the animal is truly orphaned or injured, there is no need to intervene.

If You Care Leave Them There

Nesting Season Tips

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Signs that a wild animal really needs your help.

If you see animals with any of the signs below, please contact SFWC immediately at


  • Presented by cat or dog
  • Evidence of bleeding
  • An apparent or obvious broken limb
  • Featherless or nearly featherless and on the ground
  • Shivering
  • A dead parent nearby
  • Crying and wandering all day long
Capturing and Transporting an Injured Animal

Never handle an adult animal without first consulting a wildlife professional. Even small animals can injure you. Once you’ve contacted someone who can help, describe the animal and his physical condition as accurately as possible.

Unless you are told otherwise, here’s how you can make an animal more comfortable for transport while you’re waiting for help to arrive.

  1. Put the animal in a safe container. For most songbirds, use a cardboard box or similar container. First, punch holes for air (not while the animal is in the box!) from the inside out and line the box with an old T-shirt or other soft cloth. Then gently place the animal in the box.
  2. Put on thick gloves and cover the animal with a towel or pillowcase as you scoop him up gently and place him in the container.
  3. Do not give the animal food or water. It could be the wrong food and cause him to choke, trigger serious digestive problems or cause aspiration pneumonia. Many injured animals are in shock, and force-feeding can kill them.
  4. Place the container in a warm, dark, quiet place—away from pets, children and all noise (including the TV and the radio)—until you can transport the animal. Keep the container away from direct sunlight, air conditioning or heat.
  5. Transport the animal as soon as possible. Leave the radio off and keep talking to a minimum. Because wild animals aren’t accustomed to our voices, they can become very stressed by our noises. If they’re injured or orphaned, they’re already in a compromised condition. Keep their world dark and quiet to lower their stress level and help keep them alive.

Baby Squirrels

A squirrel who is nearly full-sized, has a full and fluffy tail and can run, jump and climb is independent. However, if a juvenile squirrel continuously approaches and follows people, her mom is probably gone. In this case, you should contact a rehabilitator because the baby is very hungry and needs care.

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Gray Squirrel SFWC

Download Re-nesting Squirrels Fact Sheet

Renesting Baby Squirrels

Baby squirrels often fall from their nests during storms or as they become larger than the area can compensate for. If you find a healthy baby squirrel on the ground, please give it a chance for the mother to come back and pick it up. If you care leave it there! Mammals such as gray squirrels form a very strong mother-young bond and given the opportunity, mothers will usually come back and pick up their babies if they can do so without human interference. It is imperative for humans to keep a distance from the baby and keep pets inside or leashed while in the area. Take a look around and see if you see an adult in the area. If you’re concerned with predation, the baby can be placed in a box or basket and fastened to the tree or structure it was found under. If you think the baby is orphaned or injured contact SFWC at (954) 524-4302 x10 for guidance.

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Baby Bird Fell from the Nest

If the baby bird appears uninjured, and has NOT been in a cat’s mouth, put the baby bird back in the nest if you can. It’s a myth that the parents will abandon babies if they’ve been touched. If the original nest is unreachable or destroyed, secure a wicker basket (available at garden stores/supermarkets, but you may have one around the house) close to where the original nest was.

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Opossum Seen on Lawn or in Tree

This is normal behavior, not cause for alarm. Opossums are normally seen at dawn and dusk, but can be seen anytime. They are not looking to attack or bother anyone; they are actually very gentle and harmless creatures (despite their scary looks!).

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Raccoons in the Garbage

Uncovered garbage cans provide an open invitation to hungry raccoons. Trash needs to be better contained to stop garbage raids. Some options include securing the trash lids with bungee cords, getting an Animal Stopper brand garbage can (equipped with a built-in locking mechanism), putting the garbage out the morning of trash pick-up or getting an outdoor storage container for trash cans from a home building store. Trapping won’t work to solve the problem because as long as there’s a food source, wild animals will keep coming to it.

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4 baby raccoon

Renesting Baby Raccoons

The best chance for survival of baby raccoons is to ensure that they are able to stay with their mother. If baby raccoons are found alone and seem healthy, they should be left for an entire night in the place that they were found so that the mother has a chance to return and retrieve them – she is motivated to do so!

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