Our designated nursery space is full, so several of these mammals are now being housed in an office shared by veterinarian Deb Sheaffer and care center operations manager Lacy Campbell. This means life is a little cramped for Deb and Lacy, but the critters are quite comfy: each species has its own warm container filled with soft towels and climbing structures. Like the nursery, the office is a quiet area that minimizes stress for the youngsters.
Of the baby mammals in our care, Brush Rabbits are the most numerous. The bunnies get fed twice a day with a specialized formula when they’re very young, and then we gradually wean them until they reach about eight weeks in age. At that point, they’re old enough to feed themselves and are released back into the wild.
Some of these rabbits needed to be brought to the care center – they were either orphaned or caught by cats – but others should have been left in the wild. Well-meaning people often find rabbit babies that have been temporarily left alone by their mothers and mistakenly assume the young are orphaned. Brush Rabbits only feed their young at dusk and dawn, and the babies are left alone for long stretches of time. If you find a nest and are concerned the young are orphaned, try placing two pieces of yarn over the nest in the form of an “x.” If the “x” has been disturbed in the morning, then the mother has returned.
It’s always best for a baby animal’s parents to raise it. In the case of rabbits, moms teach their young about avoiding hazards like predators, a process care center staff and volunteers can’t replicate.
For more information, read our guide to what to do if you find a baby mammal.
A special note about fawns: We’ve received a lot of calls this spring about baby deer that have been found on their own. Fawns lie motionless while their mothers forage nearby, and the doe will not approach while people are in the area for fear of exposing her young to a possible predator. Unless there is an obvious injury, these animals should be left alone. Give the Wildlife Care Center a call at 503-292-0304 for advice if you find a fawn on a road, but it’s fine if one has settled down near a road.
If you’d like to help us care for orphaned and injured wild animals like these babies, donate to the Wildlife Care Center.