Fawns & Adult Deer

Fawns don’t have a scent for the first few weeks so their mother doesn’t stay with them.  She feeds, cleans, and leaves them.  A fawn will spend most of its life the first three weeks alone.  Even when we have them in our pens they never lay together.  A dog or coyote can walk right by a fawn and not know it’s there unless it moves which it is really good at not doing.  Usually there are twins that will be about 50 to 100 feet apart.  If a fawn follows you around and is crying, or if it is crying constantly for hours, or if it is laying on its side with legs outstretched, it is in trouble.  As stated above, DO NOT FEED ANY WILD ANIMAL COW’S MILK.  This will kill a fawn.  They are very delicate animals and all come in with their own issues.  The first week or two of life they have a freeze response where they stay where Mom tells them no matter what.  Farmers scoop them up in combines and kill them even though those machines are big and noisy, because they stay where Mom said.  People will call and say “It’s so weak it can’t stand up.”  You can pick them up and they are limp and you can put them back down and they are limp.  The second and third week they want to follow Mom after feeding but they can’t keep up so they plop down.  

Sometimes it’s on a sidewalk or in the middle of a road.  Fawns have fat pads that are between the back of the eyes and the ears that will be depleted if they are dehydrated.  We can spot this across the yard.  You won’t have to look for it as it will be quite obvious.  It will look like you pressed your thumb into clay.  If you touch this fawn and put your scent on it, Mom will move it the next feeding.  If it is there in the morning, leave it until dark.  If it is there at dark, leave it until the next morning.  Refer fawncare.com for excellent further advice.


Opossums

After the babies are born they crawl into Mom’s pouch and swallow a nipple.  They drip feed instead of nursing, as the nipple is long like a piece of spaghetti.  Baby possums don’t know how to nurse like our mammals do.  If Mom is hit by a car and killed, her milk secretes a toxin that will kill the babies.  You can open the pouch and remove the babies by gently and slowly pulling them off the nipple so as to not do damage to their throats and mouths.  When the babies are old enough to leave the pouch they cling to the mother’s back. 

They fall of and she doesn’t know it and she does not come back and collect her babies.  They are capable of feeding themselves at a very young age but as they are small they are easy prey.  If you see a possum under 6” long not including the tail, it should go to a wildlife rehabilitator.  They do have sharp teeth so be careful when handling them.


Rabbits

Rabbits can have six litters a year and often will use the same nest.  She feeds the babies only at dawn and dusk, then leaves.  Baby rabbits don’t have a scent.  The only way a dog or cat or person knows a nest is there is if they step on it and the babies squeak.  They are in the nest only three weeks so when they leave they may be no bigger than a golf ball.  The white mark on their heads has nothing to do with their readiness to be out of the nest.  They will hang around with their mother for a short time.  Some rabbit nests are only a small scoop in the ground, and others you can put your whole hand in.  If you discover a rabbit nest in your yard and you have pets, you can put a laundry basket or a crate upside down over the nest during daylight hours and can weigh it down with a rock.  Remove this before dark then replace it after dawn.  Or keep your cat in and watch your dog while in the yard. 


Please understand that we can’t take in baby rabbits just because you have a dog, cat, hawk, lawnmower, or car in the area where the mother rabbit has chosen to make her nest.  We have those dangers at our homes, too.  Rabbits die easily from the stress of being around people, even in the hands of someone experienced.   Their gut pH and blood sugar levels change all the time.  They have the best chance of survival by being left with the mother in your yard.


If you don’t want Mom to use that area again, fill the hole with cement as soon as the babies have left.  Odds are she is pregnant with the next litter by that time.


Photo by Christopher Schlaf

Squirrels

They can have two litters a year, one in the spring and one in the late summer.  Babies can be blown out of nests in higher winds.  Most people know where the squirrel nests are in their yard.  You can reunite the babies with their mother by nailing a box about five feet up on the nest tree or on a nearby tree.  This is a comfortable height for you to reach, and the babies are off the ground and safe from predators. 

Then place the babies in the box using the rice sock described above.  You may need to reheat the sock as Mom may be out eating and may not know right away that the babies have fallen from the nest.  If you do this in the morning and they are still there in the late afternoon, call a wildlife rehabilitator that takes in squirrels or small mammals.