First Steps - Do No Harm
Only interfere in the case of wildlife if you are sure that the animal will benefit. Sometimes it is assumed that animals are orphans when they have just been temporarily left by their parents. In such cases, interference by humans only puts the animals through unnecessary stress and great risk to their survival.
If you are sure that an animal is orphaned, sick or injured and believe that human intervention could help the animal, reduce suffering or prevent the spread of disease then call and wait for instructions from a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
Please do NOT offer the animal anything to eat or drink until you have spoken with a wildlife rehabilitation centre. Although it may seem intuitive to feed it, doing so can endanger the animal in several ways:
If it is an orphaned baby, it is most likely dehydrated and offering it any type of milk or formula can interfere with digestion and cause severe stomach bloating and cramping.
Any liquid not administered properly can also easily be aspirated (breathed into the lungs), which can quickly escalate to pneumonia and possible death.
Feeding can also seriously affect an animal’s health if it is suffering from trauma.
Keep the animal warm and safe. Minimize handling and exposure to humans.
Please note, it is illegal to keep wildlife in captivity unless you have a wildlife custodian authorization from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Even though you may like the idea of raising baby squirrels or raccoons, there is a lot to know to ensure the animals get the proper nutrition and skills. All animals benefit from being raised with others of their kind. Small mammals generally need to be bottle fed the proper formula about 4 times a day for 3 months. They can easily aspirate their formula if the bottle or syringe feeding isn't done properly. With rehabilitation care through a qualified wildlife custodian, wild animals will get proper nutrition, vaccinations, medication as needed, veterinary care, socialization with others of their kind and opportunities to learn the skills they need to succeed back in the wild.
Click below for great information on wildlife from the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre:
The Ministry of Natural Resources maintains a list of licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators in Ontario.
HHWR (Us!) (text: 613.222.4719) - located in the west end of Ottawa, we are licensed to take in squirrels, porcupines, groundhogs, rabbits, raccoons, foxes, bats, skunks, and fawns.
(hotline: 613.258.9480) - located in North Gower, Ontario. This wildlife rehabilitation centre takes in small mammals and turtles (skunks, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, porcupines, groundhogs, foxes, bats)
The Wild Bird Care Centre (call 613.828.2849) - located in the west end of Ottawa, Ontario. This well established centre provides rehabilitation for wild birds of all types. The website includes great instructions for interim care on the Rescuer Info page.
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