When spring rolls around our backyards come alive with birds, squirrels, rabbits, and other wildlife native to your area. They're soon followed by their young offspring who they're working tirelessly to feed and raise. Many a well-intentioned homeowner has stumbled upon a baby bird or squirrel in their yard and moved them in an attempt to rescue them. Unfortunately, this often does the animal more harm than good. Whether you've just come across a lone baby animal in your yard or you want to be prepared for when it happens, this article will tell you everything you need to know to make the right decision.
Knowing when to interfereThe most important takeaway from this article is that just because a baby animal is alone does not mean they need your help. The parents of these animals have a hard job. They're trying to feed and rear their offspring while modeling behavior that will help them eventually care for themselves. If you take a baby bird or other animal from its home and attempt to care for it there are several things that could go wrong.
- It could die. We are not adept at raising baby animals who sometimes require very specific diets and feeding times that humans cannot provide for.
- It might become dependent upon you. This isn't usually a good thing. Wild, undomesticated animals aren't meant to be kept as pets. Furthermore they'll develop trust of humans which can harm them later on.
- It will miss out on important lessons from its mother. Birds and other animals learn through imprinting. Without gaining this vital survival knowledge from its parents a baby animal won't survive on its own for long.
When to helpThere are certain instances when it is okay to interfere. Again, finding an animal alone is not sufficient cause for concern. Its mother might be away gathering food or is hiding nearby waiting for you to go away before it returns to its young. If you happen upon a baby animal alone leave it be but keep an eye on the situation from afar. If several hours pass by and the baby is still alone it might be time to step in. Depending upon the animal, babies can be alone for a range of time per how often they need to feed or drink. In some situations it is absolutely okay to step in. Some such scenarios include:
- the animal is bleeding
- the animal has an obvious broken limb
- you find the animal's parent dead nearby
- the animal has been crying and wandering for hours
- a featherless baby bird is on the ground alone for several minutes
- your cat or dog brings the baby animal to you