Baby Mammals


Baby Rabbits: Mothers feed their babies twice a day—at dawn and dusk. Baby rabbits found alone in a nest are not usually orphaned. If the nest has been disturbed, the caller can reassemble it, covering the babies with the grass that covered them originally. To check if the mother is coming to care for them, the caller can place several lengths of thread in a grid pattern over the nest. If, after the next dawn or dusk, that grid pattern has been disturbed, the mother is still caring for the youngsters. A rabbit can be on its own at 3-4 weeks, or about the size of a softball.

How to Prepare a Reunion Box: Using a cardboard box place an old t-shirt or piece of blanket--no toweling since little toenails can get snagged in the loops--in the bottom to snuggle the baby in. Under the cloth, near the baby, put a soda bottle filled with warm water or a heated rice sack for warmth. Do not put food or water in the box.

Baby Squirrels: generally seen with their mothers, or not at all. If a squirrel has fallen from a nest but is not injured, or if the baby squirrel is wandering around the yard, a "reunion box" should be prepared. Wearing gloves, place the baby in a "reunion box" near the tree where the nest is (or near where the baby was found). An adult squirrel may be chattering nearby, hopefully the mother. 

Watch from inside the house to see if the mother comes. If she’s still around, she should come to get the baby within a couple of hours. If the mother hasn’t come by dusk, she won’t come that day. Bring the baby in and contact the wildlife hotline or the wildlife rescue center

If a baby is found at dusk he should not be left out at night. If the baby is furred and has fur on the tail, assemble a "reunion box."  The box should be in a warm, dark and quiet place, away from children and pets. In colder weather, place a cloth-covered warm water bottle or heated rice sack in the container with the young squirrels to keep them warm. Please do not attempt to feed or give fluids.

First thing in the morning, place the box with the baby in it below the same tree to see if the mother will take the baby back; the babies may be crying – this is ok, it will alert the mother faster. Watch from inside to see if the mother comes, but do not disturb the babies once they are in their reunion box. If the mother squirrel doesn’t come within a couple of hours, the reunion will probably not be successful.  And should the mother come, sometimes she will not take all of the litter. Bring any baby left behind to the wildlife center. A squirrel’s nest is often a large ball of leaves high in the branches of a tree. A baby squirrel can be on its own 10-12 weeks, or when squirrel’s tail is bushy and full.

Baby Opossums: youngsters stay in their mother’s pouch or on her back, almost until they are independent. If a baby opossum is found with no mother nearby, it has probably been separated from its family and needs assistance.

Young opossums whose bodies are more than 10" in length are most likely independent (i.e. weaned and away from the mother and living on their own.)

If a female opossum is dead, she can be checked to see if she has any young – often they are alive and unharmed. Wearing gloves, gently roll her over and check the pouch on her belly to see if she has any young. If she does, the litter—mother and all—can be wrapped in a quilt or blanket and moved into a box or bin, with airholes, for transport and be brought to the Cape Wildlife Center. Do not attempt to remove the babies from within the pouch.

Baby Mice: If a mouse nest has been inadvertently disturbed, gently reassemble it and leave the babies alone. The mother will find that her nest has been disturbed and will move the litter to a safer location. If a baby mouse is found in an unlikely place, such as the middle of a shed or barn floor, a mother may have inadvertently been disturbed that was in the midst of moving her litter. Quietly leave the vicinity for at least a half hour than return and recheck the area where the baby was found. Hopefully the mother will have returned to retrieve him. If not, the baby can be transported to the Cape Wildlife Center.

Baby Raccoons: generally seen with their mothers or not at all. Mother raccoons are very smart and fiercely protective and generally won’t let a baby become separated from the group. Finding a young raccoon alone is probably an indicator it is orphaned.

Prepare a "reunion box" and wearing gloves gently place the babies inside. Position the box near where the mother’s nest was, or right in the path of her entry to the attic, chimney, shed, etc. where she had her nest. Cover the box of baby raccoons with an upside-down laundry basket and place two bricks on the laundry basket. The mother raccoon will be able to move the bricks and basket but cats and most other predators won’t. Baby raccoon reunions should be attempted overnight. If the baby's eyes are closed and the fur on the tail is very short, there should be a source of heat—place a soda bottle filled with warm water, tightly-capped and wrapped in a T-shirt on its side, or a heated rice sack in the box beside the babies.

The rescuer may hear the babies crying – this is ok, it will alert the mother faster. The rescuer may watch from inside to see if the mother comes, but should not disturb the babies once they are in the reunion box. The raccoon babies should be checked the following morning, and if the babies are still there, should be brought to the wildlife center. Sometimes the mother will not take all of the litter. The rescuer should bring any baby left behind to the wildlife center.

Baby Skunks: generally seen with their mothers or not at all. If you find a young mammal alone, other than a rabbit, it may be orphaned. Baby skunks sometimes get stuck in window wells, or other places that may actually be near their nest.

Wear gloves and use a towel to cover the youngster. Use a cardboard box to scoop him up. (It is best with any baby mammal if you don’t touch the baby at all, because even very young babies can bite.) Place the cardboard box, with the baby in it, on its side near where you found him. Skunks are nocturnal, so the mother may not come to find him until after nightfall. Put him safely under some bushes. Check on the box in the morning – if the baby’s still there, bring him to the Cape Wildlife Center. Baby skunks can spray—while the scent is not as powerful as an adults it still lingers.


These baby mammals and their parents are found in suburban and rural landscapes. Squirrels, opossums, mice, raccoons and possibly skunks are adaptable to urban locales, being able to modify crawl spaces, alleyways, abandoned buildings and public green areas to meet their habitat needs.


Raccoons are RVS (rabies vector species). Rabies is contracted by coming in contact with the saliva of an infected animal. It is possible for a baby raccoon to contract rabies from its mother as a result of grooming. Skunks are also classified RVS. 


Additional Info

It is imperative that the rescuer not give the baby any food or water; the wrong food can make the baby very sick, and baby squirrels don’t drink water.