How to Help Baby Mammals

It’s against Tennessee law to keep wild animals if you don’t have permits, even if you plan to release them. This includes all wild animals, including squirrels.

How to Rescue Baby Mammals (Only adults should rescue baby mammals. Before rescuing adult mammals, seek guidance from a wildlife rehabilitator.) 

  • Prepare a container. Place a soft cloth on the bottom of a cardboard box or cat/dog carrier with a lid. If it doesn’t have air holes, make some. For smaller animals, you can use a paper sack with air holes punched in. 
  • Protect yourself. Wear gloves, if possible. Some animals may bite or scratch to protect themselves, even if sick; wild animals commonly have parasites (fleas, lice, ticks) and carry diseases.
  • Cover the animal with a light sheet or towel.  
  • Gently pick up the animal and put it in the prepared container. 
  • Warm the animal if it’s cold out or if the animal is chilled. Put one end of the container on a heating pad set on low. Or fill a zip-top plastic bag, plastic soft drink container with a screw lid, or a rubber glove with hot water; wrap warm container with cloth, and put it next to the animal. Make sure the container doesn’t leak, or the animal will get wet and chilled.
  • Tape the box shut or roll the top of the paper bag closed. 
  • Note exactly where you found the animal. This will be very important for release.
  • Keep the animal in a warm, dark, quiet place. Don’t give it food or water. Leave it alone; don’t handle or bother it. Keep children and pets away. 
  • Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, state wildlife agency, or wildlife veterinarian as soon as possible. Don’t keep the animal at your home longer than necessary. Keep the animal in a container; don’t let it loose in your house or car.
  • Wash your hands after contact with the animal. Wash anything the animal was in contact with — towel, jacket, blanket, pet carrier — to prevent the spread of diseases and/or parasites to you or your pets.  
  •  Get the animal to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.