It's that time of year: You're finding all sorts of animals in odd situations. Young birds sitting under your car. Raccoons hanging out on your deck - in the middle of the day. What's normal? Good question! Here are some tips.
Fledgling birds are hopping around! Many species of birds go through a period where they live on the ground before they can fly. We know it's stressful to find a young, flightless bird in your yard, or seeking shelter under your car, but it's a very important life stage. They're learning how to find food, how to seek out shelter from the sun and rain, and how to evade predators. They should be flying in 7-10 days. Leave them in that general area (you can shoo them out from under your car) so the parents can keep track of them. If the bird is lying on its side, keeps losing its balance or is dragging a wing or leg bring it in - no need to call us first. Note that some birds, like swallows, woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, do not go through a fledgling stage. These birds should not be flightless on the ground. If you find one, bring it in.
Raccoons are exploring and probably using your deck and yard as a playground. Perfectly normal. Annoying, maybe, but it's what juvenile raccoons do. Leave them alone and if you don't want them making your deck their own personal resort, haze them by banging pots while rushing at them, or even squirt them with your garden hose. It's not going to hurt them but it will teach them to not hang out with humans. Do not feed them. We know they're really cute but they'll quickly come to associate you with food and trust us, a couple months from now you won't be happy with that situation. Don't worry about them being out in the daylight. Their internal clocks will catch up with mom's nocturnal clock in a few weeks. If you find a raccoon that is lethargic, doesn't seem aware of its surroundings or is curled up in a ball in the middle of your yard or covered in flies please call us before bringing it in.
Grey squirrels are having their second litters! If you find a small, newborn pink squirrel on the ground please check it over carefully for any punctures, wounds or bruising. If you find any of these, or if it is covered in flies or ants, bring it in - no need to call first. If it looks okay we'd like you to leave it where it is in the hopes that mom will come for it. At this tiny stage they need mom's milk. Leave it for 4-5 hours and if she's not returned, go ahead and bring it to us. If this happens in the evening, bring it inside once it's dark (mom won't come after dark). Keep it in a shoebox with a soft cloth (old t-shirt, dish towel, etc) on a heating pad set to low. Bring it to us in the morning. Do not feed it - we worry about young animals aspirating.
Obviously, an injured animal (bleeding, dragging a wing, unable to hold its head correctly, lethargic/not moving) can come right in - no need to call first. Otherwise give us a call (651-486-9453) and we'll help you figure out what's best. If you leave a message please be sure to speak clearly and leave a number we can reach you at (and make sure that number has an active voicemail box). We'll call you back as soon as we're able!
Following up on an animal you brought to us? Drop us a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the person's name who admitted it, the approximate date and the species. We'll get back to you within a few days!
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The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRC) in Roseville, Minn., is a nonprofit, donor-supported organization. The WRC was established in response to the increased need for medical care of injured, ill and orphaned wildlife. With a medical staff of 8, the Center is one of the largest and busiest wildlife medical centers in the nation. More than 600 volunteers care for, rehabilitate and release the wildlife that they've worked with. The WRC treats more than 9,000 wild animals every year, representing more than 185 different species.
We cannot give tours since we do not keep any animals for educational use. We do have an open house every winter, usually in February. Watch our Facebook page or register for our emails to keep up to date with WRC.