Wild Animals in Distress

How to Deal with a Wild Animal 

There's no doubt about it, it's a very stressful thing to find a sick, injured, or orphaned animal-stressful for you and for the animal. But there are a few simple things you can do to minimize the stress you both feel and, in the process, to increase the animal's chances of survival.

The most important thing you can do for a distressed animal is to KEEP IT WARM, DARK, AND QUIET — and keeping it warm, dark, and quiet is easy if you follow these steps:

  1. Find an appropriately sized cardboard box (not so large that the animal can thrash about and hurt itself, but not so small that it can't rest comfortably) and line the bottom of the box with a soft cloth (not terry cloth-animals can catch their toenails in the "loops" and hurt themselves further).
  2. Put the animal in the box, close it up, and put the box on a heating pad set on "low." If you don't have a heating pad, you can put a homemade hot water bottle:
    • (To make a homemade hot water bottle, moisten a washcloth and place it in a small Ziploc plastic bag.
    • Heat the unsealed bag in a microwave oven for 1-2 minutes, or until the bag is very warm.
    • Carefully seal the bag and wrap it in a small towel.
    • Place it under the box (with the bird or animal in it), but wrap the bottle in a small towel first so it doesn't make things too hot.
  3. Make sure the box is in a quiet place, away from human noise, such as radios, televisions, and people.
  4. Call Wildlife Rescue or the nearest wildlife rehabilitation service for immediate assistance.
  5. Do not give the animal anything to eat or drink, and fight the urge to peek at it; it only stresses the animal out more — and gives it a chance to escape.

If you own a cat, put multiple bells on your cat's collar to warn unsuspecting birds.  Keeping your cat indoors, especially during the day, will benefit wildlife greatly.

Information Websites

In California, please see http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/rehab/facilities.html for wildlife rehabilitators by county.

Please visit this list of wildlife rehabilitators/centers by state and country. It is by no means a complete listing of rehabbers, but the individuals and groups listed here will be able to refer you to an appropriate person in your area. Please do not contact Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue.

For additional information, phone numbers, and hotlines in the San Francisco Bay Area, click this link to the WildCare website.