We encourage you to call our center for assistance at 618-466-2990. Please do not try to email us or contact us via Facebook, as the animal may need immediate care and we do not staff our social media accounts 24/7. Do not attempt to handle the animal or to offer it care unless given specific instruction from a wildlife rehabilitator for temporary purposes. You potentially run the risk of injury to yourself or further injury and stress to the animal if you venture to administer help without proper guidance. If you find an animal you think is in need of help, check out the information below and contact our center.
Remember, wild animals do not make good pets and it is illegal to take an animal into you possession that originated from the wild. In Illinois you also must have a wildlife rehabilitators license to care for a native wild animal. Our center is licensed to rehabilitate native wildlife, including endangered species, for release back into the wild. We have staff trained to care for animals in a way that they can be released without becoming dependent on humans. We are also licensed as an education facility, which allows us to permanently house non-releasable wild animals.
Step One: Assess the Situation
Do not approach the animal right away. Take a look at your surroundings and observe the animal. Not all animals found are actually in need of help. For instance, some baby animals are left alone by their mothers for hours at a time and will sit and wait for their mother to return.
Can you identify the animal?
Is the animal in obvious distress?
Is the animal injured and if so, how?
Is there a dead mother nearby?
Are there flies buzzing around the animal?
Is the animal in immediate danger?
Are you at risk if you approach this animal?
These are questions that may be asked when you call our center for assistance. Please note, wildlife rehabilitators do not advocate interfering with natural predation.
Step Two: DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL OR GIVE THE ANIMAL WATER
More often than not, before good samaritans give us a call, they will attempt to give the animal food or water. This is potentially very dangerous for the animal as they require special diets that cannot be found in your kitchen or local store. For example, cows milk from your refrigerator or leftover human baby formula is not good for wild baby animals. The animal may also be very weak and require medical attention from a professional before it is strong enough to properly digest any food or water.
Step Three: Contact us at TreeHouse Wildlife Center
Before attempting to handle the animal, please call our center at 618-466-2990 for assistance. Our hours for rehabilitation are from 9 AM to 7 PM daily. If you cannot reach us right away, we may be busy taking care of current patients or out on a rescue. Leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible. Need assistance after hours? Call the 24-hour Bi-State Wildlife Hotline at 855-945-3435.
At this time, TreeHouse Wildlife Center is not equipped for raccoons, adult deer, rabbits, or orphaned songbirds. Illinois has also banned the rehabilitation of bats and skunks. If you call about any of these animals, we can give you advice on the situation and/or direct you to other wildlife rehabilitators.
Found a baby squirrel? Wait to see if the mother returns before assisting. The mother has multiple locations she can keep her young and will often retrieve them if given the chance. If she does not return, keep the baby in a warm and quiet place until it can be transported to our center. DO NOT FEED OR GIVE THE BABY WATER. Call our center at 618-466-2990 for assistance. Found an injured adult squirrel? Call our center immediately for assistance. Do not attempt to handle without thick gloves.
Found a baby opossum? If an opossum is smaller than seven inches not including the tail, then it is too young to survive on its own. Mother opossums can have up to 13 babies so search the area for others. If the mother is found dead, it may be necessary to search her pouch for live babies. Keep in a warm, quiet place and contact our center for further assistance at 618-466-2990. Do not attempt to feed the babies. Found an adult opossum? Call our center first before attempting to handle.
Found a baby deer? DO NOT DISTURB. If you find a baby deer lying still that looks healthy, this is normal. Mother deer will leave their babies for several hours at a time. She may choose strange places to hide her baby (such as your porch) but she will return to that spot to look for it. If the baby is injured, has lots of flies buzzing around it, or is crying in distress, then call our center immediately for assistance.
Found a baby rabbit? Baby rabbits do not stay with their mother. She will leave them in their nest and will only visit the location a couple times in a 24 hour period. If the nest is disturbed, it is safe to return the babies to the nest and rearrange it as it was. Rabbits leave their mother after 2 weeks, so they are small when independent! If the rabbit is roughly the size of your fist it is old enough to be on its own. Call Wildlife Hotline at 855-945-3435 for injured or orphaned rabbits.
Found a turtle? Unless the turtle is injured, leave it be, no matter what size it is. If a turtle is crossing a road, you can help it by taking it across the way it was facing. Do not take it back the other way or transport it to a different location. They have a homing instinct and will simply try to walk back home. If the turtle is injured or you have questions, call our center at 618-466-2990.
Find an injured or orphaned raptor? Do not attempt to handle and contact our center immediately for assistance. Birds of prey can have dangerous defenses. Found a baby raptor on the ground? It may still be learning to fly and will be fine as the parents are probably nearby keeping watch. If it is injured or small and covered in fluffy downy feathers, call for assistance.
Found a baby bird? Is it on the ground? It may be a brancher or a fledgling learning how to fly. It will be fine as the parents are likely nearby keeping watch. If the baby is not able to hop around on its own or it is injured, keep it in a warm, quiet place and call Wild Bird Rehabilitation for assistance at 314-426-6400.
Found an injured duck or goose? If it can swim or fly, it will be difficult to catch and may survive just fine on its own as long as it has access to open water all year round. If it is easy to contain, call our center for assistance. Found a baby duck or gosling? Search the area for the rest of the family to try to reunite it. The parents should respond if they hear their baby. If the family cannot be located or the baby is injured, call our center for further assistance at 618-466-2990.