See a baby animal all alone? Here's what to do

With spring officially sprung and temperatures warming up, many animals have a springtime baby boom. What should you do if you see a baby animal that appears to be orphaned or abandoned? 

Fairfax County Police Department says most baby animals that are brought to wildlife professionals don't actually need help from humans. 

Fairfax County's Animal Protection Police Officers and Wildlife Management say residents frequently attempt to "rescue" animals such as squirrels, red foxes, raccoons, rabbits, skunks, opossums, and songbirds. But many baby animals that are left alone are not necessarily orphaned or abandoned. 

"Many species of wildlife will hide their young for safety, leaving them alone for extended periods of time," says FCPD. 

How can you tell if an animal is in need of help? If an animal is displaying any of the following signs, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, veterinarian or our Animal Protection Police for help: 

  • The animal shows signs of injury such as bleeding, swelling, or a broken limb.
  • The animal is very cold, shivering, thin, or weak.
  • The animal is on the ground unable to move or is nonresponsive.
  • The animal is featherless or not fully furred.
  • The animal shows signs of flies, worms, or maggots.
  • The animal was picked up by a cat or dog, even if no injuries are visible.
  • There is a dead parent nearby or parents are separated and cannot be reunited.

You should not touch any wild baby animals or give them food or water unless a professional tells you to do so. 

"Many young animals require special diets and inappropriate food or feeding technique can lead to sickness or death. Wild animals can also cause injury or carry parasites and disease, even at a young age. Human handling may cause unnecessary stress or result in trauma to the animal and could increase the risk of disease exposure to humans," says FCPD. 

Touching a wild mammal could also increase the risk of rabies exposure.