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Orphaned Mammals

Found an orphaned mammal? Then this is the page for you! Check out the page below for information on how to get the best help for your orphan.

First, A Few Questions

Cottontail Rabbits


​Because their mothers visit their nest so infrequently, it can be tough to tell if baby bunnies actually need rescued. Most people never see mom because she typically only stops by to feed her hungry offspring once or twice a day. Check out these questions to help you know if you need to intervene:

  • Is the mother dead?

    • Yes: Call a rehab center​

    • Not sure: Move on to the next question

    • No: As long as babies are uninjured, they're fine! You can leave them be.

  • Are the babies injured?

    • Yes: Call a rehab center​

    • No: Move on to the next question

  • Are the bunny's eyes open and ears up and is it at least 4 inches long and active?

    • Yes: Unless injured, no help necessary!​

    • No: Move on to the next question

  • As long as babies look healthy, place twigs parallel to one another along the top of the nest so that they are completely covering the opening. Leave them over night. Were the twigs disturbed?

    • Yes: Mom was there! No need to worry.​

    • No: Call a rehab center

  • Worried about a cat or dog getting into the nest? Rabbits only take about 3 to 4 weeks to grow up enough to be independent. If you can keep your cat inside and/or cover the nest with a board or something heavy when you let your dogs outside to potty, you can keep these babies with their moms AND keep them safe at the same time. Talk about a win-win situation?

  • Click HERE for more information on how to transport/contain an orphan that needs to come to a rehab center.

Skunks, Squirrels, and Other Mammals

  • Is the mother dead?

    • Yes: Call a rehab center​

    • No/Not sure: Move on to the next question

  • Is the baby injured?

    • Yes: Call a rehab center​

    • No: Move on to the next question

  • Is the weather severe (thunderstorms or SERIOUS rainfall)?

    • Yes: Call a rehab center​

    • No: Move on to the next question

  • As long as the baby is not visibly ill (lethargic, emaciated, barely moving), place the baby into a box and place the box near where the nest/den is known to be. If it is a squirrel, place the box at the base of the nearest tree.

  • Observe from a distance for about an hour. Did mom come get the baby?

    • Yes: Great job! You just reunited a baby with its mother.​

    • No: Call a rehab center

  • Click HERE for more information on how to transport your orphan.

**NOTE: Opossums, like kangaroos, are marsupials. These attentive moms carry their babies everywhere with them in their pouch. If you find a dead mom with babies in her pouch or babies in a yard with no mom in sight, give us a call at 419-684-9539

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Whitetail fawn up close.jpg

​In the state of Ohio, with a few tightly regulated exceptions, it is illegal even for wildlife centers to rehabilitate deer. However, please don't hesitate to call us if you have a truly orphaned fawn and we will do the best we can to get help for you!

  • Do you know that the mother is dead?

    • Yes: Call a rehab center​

    • No/Not Sure: Move on to the next step

  • Is the fawn laying still?

    • Yes: This fawn is most likely just patiently waiting for mom. No need to worry!​

    • No: If the fawn is running around frantically (not just grazing) and bleating, call a rehab center.

  • Why shouldn't you rescue a fawn who is lying still? Deer moms know that their babies are very vulnerable to predators. They pick a spot to hide their precious cargo and then spend the day foraging for food. It can be 10 to 15 hours before the doe comes back to check on her fawn. In this time, people often see cute little baby deer and think they need to be rescued when in reality, they're unintentionally kidnapping the fawn.

    • Is the fawn in a very inconvenient spot (like under a truck)? Give us a call at 419-684-9539!​

To download an in depth guide on what to do if you find orphaned wildlife, click the button! You know you want to...

Transporting Wildlife Orphans


While most baby mammals do not pose much of a physical threat to people, some can bite and scratch. It is always important to be careful!

  • First things first, find an appropriately sized container for your orphaned mammal. This container should only be just big enough for the baby. The box should have small holes in it to allow the baby to breathe.

  • Get your container ready by lining it with paper towels or soft, non-terry fabric to soak up any waste. If the orphaned mammal still has it eyes closed or barely has fur because it is so young, add a bottle filled with hot water wrapped in a paper towel to the box to help keep your orphaned patient warm.

  • To place the mammal baby in the box, you can either wear gloves (garden gloves) or use a small trowel or shovel to GENTLY place the baby in the waiting box. Garden gloves will not protect you from a bite so if it is an older baby mammal or is a rabies vector species (such as a bat or skunk), using the shovel is the best method.

  • Close your box securely (tape it shut if necessary). When transporting the patient, try to keep your vehicle as quiet as possible.

  • Never, EVER give food or water to an orphaned mammal! This can cause serious and irreversible damage to the very baby you are trying to save. Even if you read a How-To on the internet, don't attempt to feed the baby. Getting it to a rehab center is the best thing you can do. We have special formulas for each species here at Back to the Wild.

  • Remember, most wildlife centers are non-profit and work with a very small staff. We depend on heroes like you to help us rescue helpless wild animals. Thanks so much for helping us make a difference!


Why do you need to call a rehab center at all? Why not raise the baby yourself? There are lots of reasons to make sure you find professional help for your wildlife orphan.

  • In the Ohio, it is illegal to rehabilitate native wildlife without a state license. This may seem harsh, but there are good reasons for this policy. Read on to find out!

  • Training: Many people on social media will tell heart-warming stories about babies they raised and released. Sadly, studies show that many of these animals don't live for more than a year in the wild. Without proper training, it is very difficult to know how to raise an animal to be, well wild! 

    • Babies need to learn how to fend for themselves without human interference.​

    • Babies need to learn how to avoid people (not everyone is nice to wildlife) and pets.

    • Babies need proper socialization to ensure their ability to socialize with their own species.

    • Babies need to have the right, and very specific, diets growing up so they don't end up with long-term neurological, organ, and other health problems caused by lack of proper nutrition.

    • Knowing what to feed them and how to raise them without making them too used to people takes a lot of training and work.

  • Doing what's best for them! We, just like everyone else, fall in love with these animals. However, in our hearts, we always know it's vitally important to always do what is best for THEM, not what is best for our own feelings.

  • Want to do more to help wildlife orphans? Click HERE

Still have questions? No problem! Give us a call at 419-684-9539!

Still have questions? Didn't find the answers you were looking for here? Just want to chat with some awesome wildlife people? We don't blame you, we want to chat with us too!

We are more than happy to help you with whatever wildlife questions you have. Don't hesitate to give our trained staff a call at 419-684-9539. For our calling hours, click HERE.

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