Rescuing Mammals
NEVER handle raccoons, foxes, bats, otters, bobcats, or any mammals (even babies) that may carry rabies. If one of these animals scratches you, it will have to be killed to be tested for the disease.
While squirrels, rabbits and opossums in Florida have not been known to carry rabies, adults can inflict a nasty bite when frightened. Use heavy leather gloves.
Rabbits do not stay with their babies all the time. Baby rabbits are independent at three weeks of age or when four inches long in a natural sitting position. If it is smaller or if the eyes are closed, return it to the nest.
Place a string over the nest. If, by the following morning, the string has not moved or if the babies are cool and appear very hungry, the mother may have been killed. If a bunny (or any animal) is brought in by a dog or a cat, it is probably injured (although it may not appear to be) and needs special attention.
Before mowing your lawn or rototilling your garden, walk through the area first to make sure no rabbits or ground-nesting birds are in harm's way. It takes only a couple of weeks for these babies to grow and leave the nest. Be patient.
A mother deer will also leave her fawn alone and feed elsewhere so that predators are not attracted to the helpless baby (fawns do not have a scent). She will return to nurse only twice during the day. If the mother has been killed, do not attempt to raise the fawn yourself.
If an opossum has been hit by a car, check its pouch (only females have pouches). If her babies are still alive, remove them, keep them warm, and take them to St. Francis Wildlife.
Why the answer to "Oh, Mommy, it's so cute; can we keep it as a pet?" should always be "No."
  • Baby animals may seem tame now, but they will grow into aggressive and unpredictable adults.
  • Wild animals are happiest when they are wild and free.
  • They may carry diseases.
  • There are plenty of dogs, cats and bunnies at the Tallahassee Leon Community Animal Service Center who need homes.
  • Sick, injured or orphaned wildlife need to be cared for by people who understand their special needs. Keep in mind that it is also illegal to harass, harm or possess most wildlife, their nests or their eggs.
  • Return to: What to do if you find sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife

 St. Francis Wildlife Association