Hampton Roads rehabbers offer tips on encountering spring wildlife

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Posted at 4:21 AM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 07:25:20-04

NORFOLK, Va. – Spring is here, and it’s the time of year when you’re likely to come across more wildlife - specifically baby animals. Volunteers with Evelyn’s Wildlife Refuge say they’re ready for the busy time of year.

“Baby season is our extremely busiest season because that’s when all the orphaned babies and supposedly rescued babies starting coming in. So, between now and probably the end of July, beginning of August, that will be our busiest time,” explained Meredith Broadhurst, President of Evelyn’s Wildlife Refuge.

Right now, they’re getting a lot of opossums and squirrels. They also have ducks, turtles and bunnies. Rehabbers say most times, it’s best to just leave the baby animals and wait for the mother to return.

“The best place for a baby is with its mom - way better than us. Even though our formulas are similar to a mom, it’s not Mom,” added Broadhurst.

It can depend on the situation. Sometimes, the mother has perished or the animals got injured.

Rehabbers ask that you don’t feed them and don’t touch the wild animals with bare hands, but put them in a box with holes near where they were found and put something warm in the box like a sock filled with rice and heated up in the microwave.

“A lot of people when they find them, they want to stick a bottle in their mouth and feed them, but that is the last thing we do,” Broadhurst said. “The first thing we have to do is get their body temperature up because a lot of times, they’re on the ground and they’re freezing cold. They don’t have the mom’s warmth or the nest warmth.”

If you find a turtle in the street, they advise you carefully move it out of harm’s way if possible, but put it nearby in the direction it was traveling.

“It’s in their natural instinct to know where to go. Plus, they stay in a one-mile radius their whole entire life,” stated Broadhurst. “If you take it and bring it down the street because it’s a better environment, they’re going to spend their entire life trying to get back home, and a lot of times they don’t get back home. They starve to death or a predator gets a hold of them.”

Rehabbers say when in doubt, please call them for advice. They may ask you to take a photo of the animal.

Volunteers also explained that they do not get any state or federal funding for their work.

“We rely solely on the generosity of the community. It’s strictly donations that makes us operate, or we pay out of pocket depending on how many animals do we have or how much we want to spend.”

Broadhurst said if you call a rehab or rescue organization to help with an animal, consider donating either monetarily or with any of the items on their wish list.

“A lot of times the animals we take in are because we’re extracting out of their attic or something like that. They don’t take into consideration how much it costs for that animal. You’re talking several hundreds of dollars to rehab just one raccoon.”

Much of that cost is because of formula and vet bills. For a list on items often used and requested, click here. Many of them are items that a baby, puppy, or kitten would use.

If you find wildlife, you can call the hotlines below:

Hampton Roads / Peninisula / Eastern Shore Wildlife Hotlines

  • Tidewater Wildlife Rescue 757-255-8710
  • Evelyn's Wildlife Refuge 757-434-3439
  • Tidewater Rehabilitation (TREE) 757-235-3189
  • Second Chance Wildlife 757-323-6627
  • Nature’s Nanny Wildlife 757-714-5093
  • Wild Baby Raccoon Rescue 757-650-3995
  • Altons' Keep Wildbird Rescue 757-416-4098
  • Wildlife Response 757-543-7000
  • Wildlife ER & Education 757-442-4774 / 757-710-3637

Click here for other Virginia contacts.