How to Handle Baby Animals This Spring

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Caring for injured baby animals like this newborn squirrel is a daily task for those at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn.

But when someone like you or I comes across young wildlife, it’s best to take the advice from the experts before taking any action.

“If someone comes across a baby, the first thing that I would do is make sure that the baby is not injured,” said Willowbrook Naturalist Krystle Piwowar. “You can usually just see that from a little bit of a distance.”

If you notice the baby animal isn’t injured then what Willowbrook naturalists like Krystle say to do is stay back, so the mother won’t be afraid to retrieve her baby.

“The biggest thing is a lot of the time people think they need to help just because they’re babies. Just because you see babies that you think are abandoned, before you think they’re abandoned take a step back, think about what type of species it is, and if you have any questions give us a call at Willowbrook,” explained Krystle.

But if a baby animal does appear to be injured, it’s ok to get a closer look and help.

“Even though we try to be very hands off when you find babies, if it comes down to trying to see if the baby is injured or not, mom will not abandon the baby because it smells like humans. That is definitely a myth,” she explained.

It’s also recommended that you don’t try to rehabilitate any injured or abandoned baby animals.

“It’s very difficult to do and we have years and years of experience here at Willowbrook, working through different formulas and different ways to feed them,” said Krystle. “So really let the experts take care of those babies. So if you think ‘this baby is so cute, I want to take it into my home,’ it is something that can be detrimental to that animal.”

Krystle says as you may notice baby rabbits, birds, or squirrels in your yard or trees at this time or year, just remember that they’ll only be nesting there for a few weeks and keep children and pets at a safe distance from them.

And another tip from experts at Willowbrook – if you see an opossum on your street that’s been fatally struck by a car, there are sometimes babies that survive. It may be worth a check of the opossum’s pouch, and a call to the wildlife center.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.