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Think you have found an animal in need of help? CONTACT US

First Steps - Do No Harm

Only interfere in the case of wildlife if you are sure that the animal will benefit. Sometimes it is assumed that animals are orphans when they have just been temporarily left by their parents. In such cases, interference by humans only puts the animals through unnecessary stress and great risk to their survival.

If you are sure that an animal is orphaned, sick or injured and believe that human intervention could help the animal, reduce suffering or prevent the spread of disease then contact and wait for instructions from a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.


Temporary care

Keep the animal warm, safe, and quiet. Minimize handling and exposure to humans while you wait to transfer to a licensed rehabilitator.

Please do not offer the animal anything to eat or drink until you have spoken with a wildlife rehabilitation centre. Although it may seem intuitive to feed it, doing so can endanger the animal in several ways:

  • An orphan is most likely dehydrated and starving. Giving it any inappropriate food or liquid can be fatal. Wildlife rehabbers know how to carefully administer hydration and nutrition to help it recover.

  • Each species has a unique mother's milk; cow's milk is indigestible for most animals besides humans. Any liquid not administered properly can easily be aspirated (breathed into the lungs), which can quickly escalate to pneumonia and possible death. We can rehydrate a baby but we can rarely help it if it has aspirated (inhaled formula).

  • Feeding can seriously affect an animal’s health if it is suffering from trauma or if it's system has started to shut down due to starvation. Providing incorrect food can endanger the health by creating bloating, intestinal blockages, nutritional deficiencies, or metabolic disease.

More fantastic information is available at the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre's website.

It is illegal to keep wildlife in captivity unless you have a wildlife custodian authorization from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Even though you may like the idea of raising baby squirrels or raccoons, there is a lot to know to ensure the animals get the proper nutrition and skills. All animals benefit from being raised with others of their kind. Small mammals generally need to be bottle fed the proper formula about 4 times a day for 3 months. They can easily aspirate their formula if the bottle or syringe feeding isn't done properly. They might carry diseases which can transfer to pets and humans. With rehabilitation care through a qualified wildlife custodian, wild animals will get proper nutrition, vaccinations, medication as needed, veterinary care, socialization with others of their kind and opportunities to learn the skills they need to succeed back in the wild.

Other Ontario Wildlife Contacts

The Ministry of Natural Resources maintains a list of licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators in Ontario.

Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is located in North Gower, Ontario. This wildlife rehabilitation centre takes in small mammals and turtles (skunks, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, porcupines, groundhogs, foxes, bats)

The Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre is located in the west end of Ottawa, Ontario. This well-established centre provides rehabilitation for wild birds of all types. The website includes great instructions for interim care on the Rescuer Info page.

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