Baby Season 2011

“Baby season” is in full swing this season at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.  The first baby squirrels of the year arrived on February 10, phone calls about rabbit nests began the weekend of March 19, and the first orphaned opossums were admitted on March 23.  As we head into the time of year when many wildlife species are reproducing and caring for their offspring, there are a number of things that you can to do help: Check for nests.   Before trimming trees or mowing the yard, perform a thorough check for any nests that might be in the area.  Squirrels nest in tree cavities or dreys (balls of leaves in trees), and their first nesting season runs from mid-February through April.  Postpone tree-trimming until young squirrels have left the nest. Rabbits nest in shallow depressions in the ground; their nests are sometimes found when mowing lawns and fields.  Young rabbits grow up quickly and will leave their nests within three weeks.  In the meantime, mow around the nest, providing a few feet of safety.  Keep cats indoors!  Keeping cats indoors year-round is always the best option, for both wildlife and cats.  Cats kill millions of birds and other small animals each year and can particularly be harmful to young wildlife.  For more information, including resources on how to help your cat adjust to an indoor-only lifestyle, please visit the American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors programAsk:  ‘Is this animal truly orphaned?’  Many times, young wild animals are found alone, leading would-be human rescuers  to believe that these young animals have been orphaned or abandoned.  Some animals don’t require constant parental supervision or many feedings a day.  Baby rabbits and young deer fawns, for example, are left alone during the day. In other cases, a young animal may have been separated from its parents or mother, and just needs assistance with reuniting.  If you’re unsure if the young animal you found truly needs assistance, please visit the rescue advice portion of our website.  You may also call the WCV front desk coordinators, seven days a week, at 540-942-9453. We urge you to ask questions FIRST. Fight the urge to feed.  If you do find a truly orphaned or injured young animal, please don’t feed it.  Wild animals have special diets, each unique to their species.  Feeding food that humans eat – for example, cow’s milk—can cause serious problems in wildlife.  Feeding techniques for young animals can be tricky as well.  In any case, it’s best to first contact the Wildlife Center or a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.  If you have questions about wildlife, please don’t hesitate to contact the Wildlife Center of Virginia at 540-942-9453 or wildlife@wildlifecenter.org.  At the Wildlife Center, we treat to release.  Your donation will help support the Center’s life-saving work with about 2,500 wild animals in need.