Peek-a-BooAs animal lovers, few of us can just walk past the baby bird that has fallen from his nest or not worry about the tiny rabbits whose mother has not been around all day long. Wildlife is not the same as our pets, though, and it can be difficult to know how and when to help.

Keep reading to learn how you can go about helping wildlife the next time you find yourself with the opportunity.

Assess the Situation

Wild animals are quite different than our domestic pets, so it is important to fully understand the situation before you intervene. Stepping in without educating yourself can often cause more harm than good.

Before you step in to help, also understand that it is illegal as well as dangerous to try to keep wildlife as a pet. You should plan to obtain guidance and likely surrender the animal to a local wildlife rehabilitation center that is properly licensed.

Talking to a wildlife rehabilitation center before acting can stop you from making a big mistake. Did you know, for instance, that mother rabbits only visit their nest about twice a day for about five minutes in order to feed their young? This means that baby rabbits spend much of their childhood unsupervised and are often scooped up by well-meaning humans without any experience in raising these fickle youngsters.

How to Go About Helping Wildlife

So how can you help? There are certainly ways that you can go about helping wildlife.

Baby mammals – If possible, a baby’s best chance is always with his or her mother. If this is not possible, be sure to try to contact a wildlife rehabilitator in order to keep the baby mammal and yourself safe. Keep the animal in a secure container and keep him or her in a warm, dark place until you can get help.

Birds – If you have determined that a bird needs help, handle it with gloves with a soft cloth and place in a secure container. Keep the bird warm in a calm location until you can obtain help.

Keep in mind that wild animals can carry disease or may try to defend themselves, hurting their captors. This is an important thing to consider before bringing one into your home.

There are many licensed rehabilitators here in Iowa that can be a great resource should you find a wild animal in need. Not everyone has the experience or resources to help with every species, however if they are not specifically able to help you, they can often direct you towards someone who can.

Helping wildlife in need can be a truly rewarding experience. The best (and often only legal) way to do this is with the aid of a wildlife rehabilitator. Wild animals often have specialized needs and need a knowledgeable caretaker to thrive. The most important thing that you can do to help an animal in need is to find someone who knows what to do for it.