Found an Orphaned or Injured Animal?
If you have found an animal, call the ARC Hotline immediately at (704) 552-2329 and follow the directions below based on the animal found, as all wildlife have unique needs. Also, please note that handling wild animals – even the cutest little babies – requires precaution. To protect yourself and the animal, always wear gloves.
It is very important to note that our bat populations are declining and several have been listed as either threatened or endangered species; therefore, they are state and federally protected. It is illegal to harm or kill a single bat or a roost of bats even if they are in your home or place of business. There are save ways to remove bats from unwanted areas. Please visit the Bat World Sanctuary website at https://batworld.org/what-to-do-if-you-found_a_bat/ to review options on how to handle bats in your home or place of business. Note that some states do not allow the rehabilitation of bats.
Bats are very intelligent animals that are not blind. Our bats are insectivores and they are very important to our environment because they will eat 100% of their body weight in insects every night, including those pesky mosquitos you do not want around you.
If you have found an injured or orphaned bat, please do not pick up the animal with bare hands. As most wildlife, they are capable of catching the rabies virus, with records indicating less than one-half of one percent are positive for rabies. This may be a low percentile, but it is a disease to take seriously. Safety is the best practice so only use thick gloves or blanket to pick up the bat. You can also slide a piece of plastic or cardboard underneath while being very careful not to damage the wings. If you believe the bat to be an orphaned pup, place the pup in a shallow box that mom can enter to retrieve her baby. The moms are good caretakers and will seek out her baby if the pup is left in the location you found it. Do not leave exposed to direct sunlight because they can experience sunburn and dehydration quickly. If the mom does not retrieve the pup after 12 hours, please contact a licensed rehabilitator. If you know the location of the existing maternity roost, you may place the pup underneath the roosting area (i.e. beneath the eave of the house). You can also build a pup catcher to prevent pups from falling and suffering injury or predation. Visit https://batworld.org/bat-house-pup-catcher/ for instructions on how to build an inexpensive pup catcher which can be a life saver. DO NOT attempt to feed these tiny animals that can easily aspirate and die.
If you find an injured or orphaned beaver, contact ARC as soon as possible. Baby or juvenile beavers do not leave their den unless they have been orphaned. They will follow people if they are starving but DO NOT attempt to feed. Adults may be sick due to toxic exposure in their water habitats such as oil spills or have been struck by a vehicle. Beavers have large strong teeth and are capable of a very uncomfortable bite. Use gloves or towel to pick up the beaver and place in a ventilated box. Keep the animal in a warm, dark quiet environment until you have transported to a licensed rehabilitator as quickly as possible to assure a successful release back into the wild.
Currently, ARC does not rehabilitate birds, raptors or waterfowl. If you have discovered an injured or orphaned bird or waterfowl, please contact Carolina Waterfowl Rescue by texting them at 704-684-9247 or email email@example.com. Please do not attempt to feed but keep in a warm dark quiet location until further instructed.
If you have discovered an injured or orphaned raptor also known as birds of prey, such as hawk, owl, vulture or eagle, please contact the Carolina Raptor Center at 704-875-6521 or see their website at http://www.carolinaraptorcenter.org/rescue/ for further rescue instructions. Please do not attempt to feed but keep in a warm dark quiet location.
Our Eastern cottontail rabbits, also referred to as bunnies are adorable but they do not make good pets. “Robbing the nest” is when baby rabbits are rescued unnecessarily. It is important to note that the mother does not stay at the nest all day because she does not want to lure predators to her offspring. The mother typically feeds her babies twice a day; dawn and dusk, so chances of seeing her are slim. The nest will consist of dry grass clippings and mom’s underbelly fur in a shallow hole or indention in the ground. The babies typically have round full bellies. If the nest has been disturbed but the babies have not been harmed, simply re-cover the nest and leave for mom to attend to her offspring. The offspring will be on their own at 4 weeks of age so they will leave quickly, if given the time. Please keep children and pets away from the nest. If you want to confirm mom is still present, you may mark the nest with a BIG tic-tac-toe pattern using dental floss. If she returns to feed, this pattern will be disturbed. If the dental floss remains untouched after 12 hours, contact ARC.
Predation is a reason to seek immediate help for a rabbit. Cat and dog attacks cause trauma that may not be visible to your eyes. Even if you cannot see the puncture wounds by the cat, they are there and a dog’s mouth has a crushing impact so their fragile bones and internal organs are compromised. Most times, spinal trauma has occurred due to the cat or dog shaking the animal. This is most obvious when an animal is holding their head sideways (referred to as torticollis). In addition, a cat’s saliva may contain a type of bacteria, Pasteurella, that will cause infection in the animal without immediate antibiotic treatment.
Adult or juvenile rabbits that have been hit by a vehicle are typically complacent and can be easily picked up with a towel to carefully place in a box. Their backs usually suffer spinal trauma which causes the back legs to drag. They would need to seek immediate medical attention by a veterinarian, who can then contact ARC for rehabilitation. Note, that eastern cottontails are highly stressed animals. Keep children and pets away. Fear can kill a rabbit quicker than their initial injury. Keep them in a warm, dark quiet place and transport to a licensed rehabilitator or a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Any chipmunk that has experienced predation, has been struck by a vehicle or has been orphaned must seek immediate attention. Those that have sustained a back injury and are dragging their back legs, must seek immediate medical attention. Chipmunk nests are not above ground so if a baby chipmunk is discovered above ground, they will need a licensed rehabilitator as quickly as possible. Adults and juveniles should be picked up with gloves or towel because they will bite out of fear.
Remember to keep the chipmunk in a warm, dark quiet environment until you are able to transport to a licensed rehabilitator or veterinarian.
Please do not assume a fawn is orphaned if you find one lying alone in your back yard under a shrub or tree. The doe does not stay with her offspring because she does not want to lure predators to her newborn. The fawn is not able to keep up with their mother, so they will rest while their mom forages. Keep your dog away from the fawn. A fawn in need of rescue will typically make distressed crying sounds, have flies hovering around or on their body, and are generally too weak to stand. Chasing or capturing a fawn can also cause the newborn to die by developing capture myopathy. Seek advice from an experienced fawn rehabilitator before robbing the mother of her newborn. If you know for certain the mother has been killed or the fawn is injured, then locate a fawn rehabilitator as soon as possible. To find a local fawn rehabilitate, please follow the links below. DO NOT attempt to feed the fawn.
Flying squirrels are usually encountered due to cat or hawk attacks. Please keep the animal in a warm, dark, quiet environment until you transport the flyer to a local wildlife rehabilitator. Do not attempt to feed.
Note that some states will not allow the rehabilitation of foxes. If you see a fox during the day, do not assume the animal has rabies. Mothers with kits will forage during the day while her offspring are sleeping. Foxes are not aggressive but rather shy animals, unless they are sick or protecting their young. If the fox is behaving unusual such as charging at you, salivating excessively, appears abnormally thin or unsteady on their feet, then contact your local animal control. If the animal has been struck by a vehicle or you see obvious signs of an injury, then contact a local wildlife rehabilitator.
Baby or juvenile foxes are typically orphaned when their mom has been struck by a vehicle, shot or poisoned. Both parents are great caretakers and will provide food such as rodent and rabbits until the young have learned to hunt for themselves. Once the young have grown, the family will disperse and move on. They do not attack pets like coyotes; however, they will take advantage of a chicken coop (they love chicken eggs) so be certain to secure the coop to prevent entry.
Foxes can catch the rabies virus but it is not true that all foxes have rabies. Foxes with mange are the usual concerns of Good Samaritans. Mange is treatable if caught in time. If you have a fox with mange, please contact ARC. Be safe and use gloves or a towel/blanket when picking up a fox of any age. Place the animal in a ventilated secured box with a soft blanket underneath them. Keep them in a warm, dark quiet environment until you transport to a local rehabilitator. DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO HANDLE or you may prevent the animal from seeking the care it needs. Keep children and pets away and do not attempt to feed.
Injured adult squirrels may bite due to pain and/or fear so please be cautious and use gloves or a towel/blanket to pick up squirrels. Adult squirrels are typically encountered due to a dog attack or being hit by a vehicle. They may sustain a broken back or spinal trauma. They will need immediate assistance. Baby or juvenile squirrels are encountered for several reasons: their mom has been hauled off by a critter removal because she had her nest in the attic and now the babies are orphaned, or a tree has been cut down with a nest of babies, possibly the mom has been killed so the babies are starving and will climb down the tree to seek help (even with their eyes closed) and follow you around (do not attempt to feed), or simply young squirrels fall out of the nest or tree due to lack of balance. Predation such as cat attacks (even if you do not see the puncture wounds, they are there), dog attacks (even if the dog just pawed at it) and of course, hawks dropping them from the sky are the main reasons baby and juvenile squirrels are received for rehabilitation.
If the tree has been cut and the babies do not show any signs of injury (i.e. bleeding from nose or bruising), attempt to reunite the babies with their mom. Their mom already has another den in another tree so she will relocate, if given the opportunity but you must give her the chance to rescue her offspring first. Place the nest and the babies in a box, a clean gallon milk jug (with the side cut out, a hanging basket, etc: something to secure babies and mom can access easily). Place the container at the stump of the original tree or attach low to the closest tree. This will prevent predation from domestic animals. Keep pets inside or away. Do not leave the babies in direct sun light because they can experience severe sunburn even in cooler temperatures. During cold weather, you must keep the babies warm (see KEEP WARM). It is crucial for the babies to remain warm to prevent exposure pneumonia. Observe from a distance and allow the mother at least 2-3 hours to retrieve her offspring. If the mother does not retrieve her baby after 3 hours, please call ARC Hotline, at 704-552-2329. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FEED OR GIVE FLUIDS BECAUSE YOU COULD POSSIBLY ASPIRATE CAUSING ASPIRATION PNUEMONIA, WHICH CAN KILL THE BABY.
Squirrels stress while in captivity so it is important to keep their stress to a minimum. Keep away from children and pets; place in warm, dark, quiet location in a secured box with ventilation, and transport to a licensed rehabilitator or a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
If you have found an injured or orphaned opossum, please use a towel/blanket to pick up the animal. As all animals that are scared or injured, adults and juveniles may bite. Pick the animal up gently, especially if they have been struck by a vehicle or attacked by a dog, because they have sustained head and spinal injuries. Place the animal in a ventilated secured box and keep in a warm dark quiet environment. Do not attempt to feed.
If you have found a deceased mom with babies in her pouch or on her body, please remove the babies from her body. The babies will probably still be attached to her teats that are swallowed, which will require you pulling them off slowly. If the babies are on her back or side, they will have tight clinched fist grasping her fur and you will have to pull their hands free. Some babies may be nearby if they were thrown from her body during impact or shook off by the dog, and you may have to listen for a hissing noise which is their “crying” sound. Please retrieve those babies as well and place all together in a warm dark quiet environment until you transport to a license rehabilitator.
If you have discovered a single individual in your yard and they are smaller than a dollar bill from rump to head (do not include the tail), they will need a rehabilitator. Their mom does not go back for them because she does not realize the baby has fallen off due to the large load she is carrying.
Opossums are very important to our ecosystem. Their consumption of ticks helps with the prevention of lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. They will also eat the slugs and other insects that are destroying your gardens. In addition, they are resistant to venomous snake bites and will eat snakes. Did you know that opossums have a body temperature too low to incubate the rabies virus? They must already be sick and have a fever to be able to catch the rabies virus so remember all of these facts when you’re considering destroying such an important animal.
If you find an injured or orphaned otter, contact ARC as soon as possible. Baby or juvenile otters do not leave their den unless they have been orphaned. They will follow people if they are starving but DO NOT attempt to feed. Feeding a baby or juvenile otter could possibly mean a potential death sentence because they are highly susceptible to pneumonia caused by aspiration when fed incorrectly. In addition, do not place the young in the water because this could also lead to pneumonia. Despite them being an aquatic species, there are life stages where they learn to swim and dry themselves properly. If they remain wet and chilled, they are likely to become sick and possibly die. Adults and young may be sick due to toxic exposure in their water habitats such as oil spills or have been struck by a vehicle. Otters are capable of a very uncomfortable bite. Use gloves or towel to pick up the otter and place in a ventilated box. Keep the animal in a warm, dark quiet environment until you have transported to a licensed rehabilitator as quickly as possible to assure a successful release back into the wild.
The NC box turtle population is declining due to habitat destruction, being hit by vehicles and illegal pet trade. Please refrain from kidnapping a wild turtle to make as your pet. First of all, it is illegal to make any NC wildlife a pet. Second, you cannot create Mother Nature and what they need to survive, so they will become sick and possibly die.
If you find an uninjured turtle on the road, please assist him/her by moving them in the direction they were headed to a forest, field or water source depending on the type of turtle you found. Please reference this video on how to assist a snapping turtle across the road without injuring either of you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgd_B6iKPxU
Do not relocate the turtle unless their habitat has under gone recent construction. Then try to locate the nearest forest if they are a box turtle or nearest water source (i.e. pond, lake, creek) if they are an aquatic turtle. Note that turtles may travel up to a mile away from their original location to deposit their eggs. All turtles will bury their eggs on land and then return to their original location. Also note that box turtles are the only terrestrial turtle in our area. They do not swim so please do not place them in a pond.
If you find an injured turtle that has been hit by a vehicle or lawn mower, chewed on by a dog, or appears to be suffering from an illness (i.e. eyes swollen shut, large tumor like protrusions on side of head, or snot bubbles from their nose), please seek immediate medical attention by contacting a local reptile rehabilitator.
It is important that you do not wash off any blood coming from the carapace (top shell) because their lungs are immediately beneath that bone and the water may enter the lungs causing the animal to literally drown. Simply place the turtle in a secured ventilated box with a towel underneath. Bring the turtle inside to prevent flies from laying eggs and creating maggots.
Note that some states will not allow the rehabilitation of raccoons. If you see a raccoon during the day, do not assume the animal has rabies. Mothers with kits will forage during the day while her offspring are sleeping. They typically will take advantage of backyard pet food bowls. Why not? That’s a “fast-food” drive through for them. If you do not want them around, remove the pet food. Raccoons are not aggressive unless they are sick or protecting their young. If the raccoon is behaving unusual such as charging at you, salivating excessively, appears abnormally thin or unsteady on their feet, then contact your local animal control. If the animal has been struck by a vehicle, trapped in a fence or dumpster or you see obvious signs of an injury, then contact a local wildlife rehabilitator.
Baby or juvenile raccoons are typically orphaned when people have their moms hauled off by a critter removal because her nest was in the attic. There are ways to humanely remove the family without having the mom killed or her offspring orphaned. The mothers are great caretakers and will not abandon her offspring. She will fight for her babies. She will not give up on retrieving them so be certain if you close her entrance, make her babies accessible by placing the kits in a box underneath the entrance and watch from a distance. She will not retrieve with you standing there. Raccoon kits are very vocal when they are hungry so their mom will hear and smell them. Allow her the opportunity to reunite and relocate her babies to another den.
Raccoons can catch the rabies virus but it is not true that all raccoons have rabies. Be safe and use gloves or a towel/blanket when picking up a raccoon of any age. Place the animal in a ventilated secured box with a soft blanket underneath them. Keep them in a warm, dark quiet environment until you transport to a local rehabilitator. DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO HANDLE or you may prevent the animal from seeking the care it needs. Keep children and pets away and do not attempt to feed.
Note that some states will not allow the rehabilitation of skunks. If you see a skunk during the day, do not assume the animal has rabies. Mothers with kits will forage during the day while her offspring are sleeping. Skunks are not aggressive but will spray if feel threatened. If the skunk is behaving unusual such as charging at you, salivating excessively, appears abnormally thin or unsteady on their feet, then contact your local animal control. If the animal has been struck by a vehicle or you see obvious signs of an injury, then contact a local wildlife rehabilitator.
Baby or juvenile skunks are typically orphaned when their mom has been struck by a vehicle, shot or poisoned. The mom is a great caretaker and they keep insects under control. Once the young have grown, the family will disperse and move on.
Skunks can catch the rabies virus but it is not true that all skunks have rabies. Be safe and use gloves or a towel/blanket when picking up a skunk of any age. Place the animal in a ventilated secured box with a soft blanket underneath them. Keep them in a warm, dark quiet environment until you transport to a local rehabilitator. DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO HANDLE or you may prevent the animal from seeking the care it needs. Keep children and pets away and do not attempt to feed.
If you find an injured snake hit by a vehicle, lawn mower, tangled in garden/bird netting or appears sick (i.e. lethargic and not moving when approached), please contact a local reptile rehabilitator or exotic veterinarian who can provide medical attention. Please do not wash off any blood because it could possibly compromise their lungs.
If you encounter an uninjured snake on the road, sidewalk, trail or backyard, please do not kill the snake. They do serve a purpose and keep the rodent populations under control as well as other snake populations. If you do not want them in the chicken coop, please make certain the coop is well secured to prevent entry. Also, please do not place golf balls in the coop if a snake could possibly enter because they will swallow the golf ball which will eventually kill them.
If you find injured or orphaned wildlife:
- Call ARC for instructions or read the information provided on this site.
- If it is determined the animal needs assistance, then: Pick up the animal gently with gloves on;
- Place animal in a small box with soft cloth on the bottom. Secure lid and create ventilation.
- Place a heating pad set on “low” half way UNDER the box, or a plastic bottle filled with hot water and wrapped in a cloth IN the box;
- Place the box in a quiet, dark room. DO NOT give food or water.