The warm weather and longer days will bring us lots of baby rabbits, squirrels and mice, with baby birds not far behind. We’ve put together some simple tips to help avoid displacing baby animals unnecessarily this season and keep them with their mom where they belong.

An important part of our work at Wild Care aside from wildlife rehabilitation, is outreach and education. We strive to prevent healthy babies from being kidnapped by well-intentioned members of the caring public. Heading into the busy season, below are some useful tips that we use at Wild Care to determine if a baby animal is in need of assistance.

What to do if you find a BABY ANIMAL

Eastern Gray SQUIRRELS

Many squirrel nests fall to the ground during wind and storm events and tree felling. Please follow these steps if you find a squirrel nest with babies in it.

• Place babies into a shoebox with a t-shirt

• Provide a heating aid (no direct contact)

• Do NOT give food or water

• Note where the nest fell

• Watch for the mother squirrel

• Place the box of baby squirrels

near the fallen nest

Eastern Gray Squirrels build SEVERAL nests, and will often move their babies, even if the original nest or tree has been destroyed. Squirrels are attentive mothers!

Please delay tree felling until late fall. You could save a life.

Please call our Wildlife Helpline for advice:


In New England, Virginia Opossums have 1-2 litters per year, from February through July. Most litters contains six to nine babies. Opossums remain in the mother's pouch until they are two months old. Between two and four months old, they may ride on their mother's back and are dependent on their mother for help finding food and shelter.

If you find a baby opossum check for injuries (bleeding, broken bones, wounds, deformity). If YES contact us. If NO, opossums that are at least 8 inches long from tip of nose to the base of the tail (do not include the tail) and weigh more than 7.25 ounces are old enough to survive on their own in the wild and do not need human intervention.

Opossum babies are often found crawling around next to their dead mother [often after the mother has been killed by a car] and will not survive at this age without human care. If you find a dead mother with babies in her pouch, do NOT remove them. Place deceased mom with babies into a box and bring them to Wild Care.

Eastern Cottontail RABBITS

A mother cottontail rabbit feeds her young at dusk and dawn. She does not stay in the nest. If you uncover a nest, cover it back up and watch for signs that the mother rabbit has returned (See below). Newborn rabbits with eyes closed often do not survive in a rehabilitation environment. The best chance that they have is with mom.

A bunny that is bright-eyed and 4-5 inches long is fully independent and does not need to be rescued.

READ this helpful chart from WRAM

READ Wild Care's "How to keep rabbit nests safe from pets in

your backyard" to see what you can do to protect baby rabbits

Follow these helpful tips to keep baby bunnies safe:

• Be careful raking leaves this spring!

• Check flower pots. Rabbits sometimes nest in strange locations

like flower pots & planters.

• Be careful lifting yard items, and raking - check for nests.

• Don't touch them. They are unscented in the nest. Once we touch them

and get our scent on them, they are vulnerable to predators.

Protect Rabbits


If your dog digs up a nest and the orphans are not injured, cover them back up. Use the test (shown left) and allow mom the chance to come back overnight and move them. Place string or twigs across the nest in a tic-tac-toe shape. Check the nest the next morning. If the string is disturbed, the mother has returned. If not, please call our Helpline at 508-240-2255.

If you, or your landscaper, uncover a nest of baby rabbits in the yard and they are not injured, cover it back up and leave it overnight. Use our tips for determining if a nest is abandoned, and check in the morning. A rabbit nest is often a shallow depression in grass, covered with dried grasses, and fur from the mother rabbit. Rabbits prefer to nest near human homes.

*Never move a rabbit nest, mom won't find it!

What should you do if you come across a
BABY BIRD that looks like it needs help?


Ducklings (and goslings, ie. goose babies) can often be observed crossing roadways in-line behind their mother. Some may be smaller than the others. They are prone to falling into storm drains and window wells. Ducklings found stranded should be carefully removed and placed into a box. Mom usually remains close by. Once the ducklings are collected, they will often be accepted by the mother when presented as a group. (Male Mallards are not involved in any parental care, and will not be around) Use the box of peeping ducklings to lure mom, and release the ducklings to mom all at once. If mom is nowhere in sight, place the box in a dark, warm and quiet room and contact Wild Care. Minimize handling. Ducklings are extremely stressed without their mother. 

IMPORTANT: NEVER place ducklings into water. Their feathers are not yet structured to repel water, and they cannot sufficiently preen themselves. At a young age, they receive much of their waterproofing oils by being in direct contact with mom. Placing ducklings into water may cause waterlogging and hypothermia.

Reminder: Avian Influenza is present in MA. Get all the facts about Bird Flu prior to

handling birds this summer!


Small mammals are nesting. Grills and lawnmowers make great nest sites, for mice especially. We recommend that you check your grill/lawnmowers daily, and move them slightly on a regular basis. This will discourage mouse moms from setting up a nest! (Move your dormant vehicles too.)

Note: If you are using snap traps during the spring and summer months, you are probably leaving babies behind. Exclusion and deterrents work best during this time.

If you find a nest of baby mice in your grill, place a small cardboard box in the grill with an entrance hole. Make some peep holes. Put some peanut butter in the box. Mom will do one of two things:

1. She will move her babies to another "safe" place. 

2. She will move her babies into the box. You can then cover the entrance hole and peek into the peep holes to confirm they are all inside, then move the mouse family to a safe location in your yard near heavy brush or a stone wall. It works! (Relocation outside of your yard is illegal in MA.)

When in doubt, call our Wildlife Helpline:


Please Remember...

• Always wear gloves when handling wildlife!

• Minimize handling. What appears to be a calm baby,
is often a terrified baby. Wildlife die from stress.

• In Massachusetts, it is against the law to trap and relocate wildlife.

• Relocation is often fatal for the adult animal that is trapped.
During the spring and summer season, a trapped adult animal
may be leaving babies behind.

Do not rehabilitate wildlife in the State of MA unless you hold
a MA Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit.

If you have concerns or need guidance
between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm
please call our Wildlife Helpline:

After 5:00 pm, please contact
the Friends of Cape Wildlife Hotline
Check out our Amazon and Chewy WISH LISTS and donate much
needed supplies to help the animals being cared for at Wild Care.
Wild Care Logo 2011
10 Smith Lane, Eastham, MA 02642 

When in Doubt Please Call Us 508-240-2255
We Are Here To Help!

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