Almost every rehabber can tell you of a personal experience where some well-meaning soul brought in an animal they thought was orphaned or injured - BUT WASN'T. Many animals leave their young for long periods of time to forage for food. While thought of as nocturnal, raccoons will often leave their young in the den to go forage in the middle of the day. Many fledging birds and some species of adult birds may appear to have broken wings - BUT DON'T. Contrary to popular myth, birds and other animals CAN be returned to their nest or den and their mother will NOT abandon them simply because they were touched by a human. So before doing anything
ARE YOU SURE IT NEEDS TO BE RESCUED?!
Once it has been determined that the animal is REALLY orphaned or injured, the most important aspect of wildlife rescue and rehab is
PROTECT YOURSELF (AND ALL HUMANS) FIRST!
Unskilled handlers can expose themselves to rabies. Just the possibility of exposure can result in a perfectly healthy animal being euthanized for rabies testing. Raccoons are leading carriers of rabies. Additionally, they can carry a nasty worm that is transmittable to humans. Other animals can also carry rabies as well as parasites. Injured and even dead-looking animals can be especially dangerous. Remember wild animals are WILD ANIMALS - you can not predict their behavior. Unless or until you know exactly what to do and how to do it
DON'T TOUCH THE ANIMAL!
Your first reaction to finding a hungry or orphaned wild animal may be to give it milk. DON'T! Most animals cannot digest cow's milk. It can cause severe diarhea and death. Kitten replacement milk formula is the recommended formula for baby raccoons. Should you feed them this? NO! If not feed properly, the animal can aspirate the liquid into its lungs and DIE. Further, if the animal is severely dehydrated, the preferred fluids might be pedialyte or even a vet giving it subcutaneous injection of fluid or ringers IV. So for its own good
DON'T FEED THE ANIMAL!
Yes, you want to help the animal and that is a truly wonderful and noble thing. So, how do you help it? Follow the above rules, keep the animal calm (it is best keep in a dark and warm enclosure, scaled to its size to provide minimal movement) until it can be transported to a wildlife rehabber or vet.
CALL A LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABBER!
If you can't locate one, some local vets, animal control officers and shelters may have names of licensed wildlife rehabilitators on hand for referral. While some animal control agencies may pick up and transport the animal to a rehabber, be advised that most have no resources other than to euthanize the animal. The rehabber, even if not licensed for the particular animal you found, can probably put you in contact with either another rehabber or a vet who may care for the animal. Some rehabbers may be part of a group and have volunteers who will come pick up the animal. Many groups are always looking for volunteers to train in wildlife rescue and rehab and that is something you may wish to consider FOR THE FUTURE so you will be prepared the next time you find a baby raccoon, fox, squirrel or whatever. Right now, the animal needs a trained, licensed rehabber. If you can't find one, the following site has an extensive list of rehabbers, arranged by state.
LIST OF WILDLIFE REHABBERS GROUPED BY STATE
Check my Raccoon Facts & Info section for pages on Raccoon Rehab Info, Facts and FAQS (Frequently Asked Questions), Raccoons as Pets and more as well as my section on diseases and parasites, particularly the Raccoon Rabies page.