Did You Find a Stray or Injured Bird, Squirrel or Rabbit? Here’s What to Do Next

September 9, 2014

If you come across a stray or lost dog or cat in your area, it’s best to take the animal to your local shelter as soon as possible. But, what should you do if you find an orphaned or injured bird, squirrel or rabbit? It’s natural to feel compelled to help in these situations, but your local shelter may not have wildlife rehabilitators on staff.

If you’re in the New York City area, call 311 to reach Animal Care & Control of NYC, or you may choose to contact the Wild Bird Fund. Outside of New York City, utilize the following resources for helpful information and to find wildlife rehabilitators in your area: livingwithwildlife.org, nwrawildlife.org and wildneighbors.org.

ASPCA Animal Care Technician Jessii Parham has provided care for injured and orphaned squirrels in New York City. She notes that if you come across a baby squirrel, it is best to leave him alone unless he looks malnourished, dehydrated or covered in fleas. Those are usually signs the baby has been away from his mother for an extended time period. If the squirrel looks healthy, he most likely fell out of his nest and will soon be retrieved. If the baby squirrel is still on the ground after one hour, regardless of being healthy or looking sickly, it is best to step in to help.

Keep the baby squirrel or squirrels warm—around 91 degrees or higher. Brush off fleas with a towel, but do not bathe the squirrel entirely. Once the squirrel warms up a bit, you may try to feed him a tiny amount of flavorless Pedialyte for rehydration, and a puppy milk replacement for nourishment, until a wildlife rehabilitator can take over his care.

Have you ever come across an orphaned or injured animal? How did you respond? Please share in the comments.