FAQ    { Orphans }
Why is there a baby deer (fawn) lying in the back corner of my yard?

The doe will place her newly born baby someplace she thinks is safe for the day while she goes to find food. She will be back about 7 or 8 tonight to feed it. The fawn is OK unless you see some danger for him or unless he is up and wandering around and calling (sounds like a baby goat bleating). The fawn will call for his mother when it is hungry but if the bleating goes on for a long time there may be a problem. That’s the time to call your local wildlife center for advice. NEVER leave a fawn if it is cold and lifeless or there are flies circling around an open wound on it.

Do raccoons, opossums or skunks hibernate in the winter?

None of these animals truly hibernate but they do “den up” during periods of extreme weather – very cold temperatures, deep snow. They may stay in their den for days until milder weather returns.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?

From wiki.answers.com: The amount of wood that woodchucks would chuck on a given day varies greatly with the individual woodchuck. According to a Wall Street Journal article, New York State wildlife expert Richard Thomas found that a woodchuck could chuck around 35 cubic feet of dirt in the course of digging a burrow. Thomas reasoned that if a woodchuck could chuck wood, he would chuck an amount equal to 700 pounds. Some say it depends on three factors: The woodchuck's desire to chuck said wood; the woodchuck's need to chuck the aforementioned wood; and, the woodchuck's ability to chuck the wood when it is a woodchuck.

How long do raccoon babies stay with their mother?

Raccoons are born with their eyes closed and ears sealed shut. Being unable to see or hear anything keeps them from bring curious and trying to leave their nest before they’re ready. At 3-4 weeks old the ears and eyes open. At about 6-7 weeks old, they start crawling out of the nest and start following their mom when she goes out to look for food. They are still nursing at this time. They will start being weaned (nursing fewer times) at this time and will be fully independent by about 4 months old, although they may stay together even through that first winter.


A baby squirrel is lying at the base of my tree. Will the mother come and get it?

Many times baby squirrels will be found at the base of a tree that houses a squirrel’s nest. Sometimes they just fall through a poorly built nest and usually the mother will retrieve them and return them to the nest. If they haven’t been injured during the fall the other main threat is that of a predator – cat, dog, fox, bird of prey. If you know there’s a nest in the tree and the baby is warm and uninjured, place it in a box (I usually suggest that you nail or securely tie the box to the tree so it’s off the ground) and watch for the mother squirrel. She will usually realize the baby is missing within hours. A baby with no fur can become hypothermic (low body temperature) pretty quickly. If this is the case, call a rehabber for advice BEFORE you rescue it. If the baby is cold, wet, or injured, bring it in the house and call a rehabber asap.

Why is the squirrel in my backyard going bald?

Squirrels can be infested with a sarcoptic mite that causes intense itching and fur loss – sarcoptic mange. Some may lose all their fur. These microscopic mites burrow under the skin and cause the itching and damage to hair follicles. If the squirrel can be targeted with food, meaning if you are certain you can get a peanut (or I like making little PB and J sandwiches), you can contact your local rehabber about how to cure this. Foxes and coyotes are also commonly infested with these mites. This is a debilitating and extremely uncomfortable condition that is transmissible to humans and pets.


How many litters of bunnies can one female rabbit have each year?

Well, rehabbers probably think they have a dozen litters a year because of how many bunnies are presented to rehab centers each spring and summer. Actually, three litters isn’t uncommon. Their gestation period (number of days they are pregnant) is less than a month and the babies are on their own at just under a month old. So doing the math and knowing that Oaken Acres gets baby bunnies usually in April, three litters is possible.

Why did that mother rabbit make her nest in the middle of my yard?

Because they're smart! Believe it or not, this allows bunnies to have a careful view of their surroundings when they come to feed their babies, so that they can escape at the slightest sign of danger. They only feed the babies twice a day – once before sunrise and once after sunset – and it takes them 5-10 minutes for each feeding. That’s the only time you will see them at their nests. She will not draw too much attention to her nest with frequent visits. Bunnies have no scent so that pets usually do not discover the nest. IF your dog or cat (or children) have found a nest of bunnies, since the mother is only at the nest overnight, put a laundry basket weighted down with a heavy object over the nest during the day to keep the pet away from the bunnies. Uncover the nest for overnight and keep your pet indoors. The bunnies are out of their nest by three weeks old so this won’t take that long to help them survive. Bunnies that have their eyes open, will probably be gone from the nest within a week or so. NEVER move the nest in the hopes that the mother will find them somewhere else because she won’t.

How long is the gestation period (when they’re pregnant) of most mammals?

For mice, it’s about 21 days. For deer, it’s about 200 days, almost 7 months. Many of the other mammals have a gestation period similar to our pet cats and dogs, about 60 days.

How can I keep rabbits out of my garden?

The only true defense is a fence, tall enough not to be jumped over. Really determined rabbits will tunnel under. You may have some success with a soap mixture of 3 tbls each cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce and dish soap in one gallon of water. Unfortunately, it has to be applied frequently, daily if you are truly in love with the plant. Sometimes, once a plant gets more mature, it is not as tasty and the rabbits will leave it alone.


How many babies can an opossum have?

They can have as many as 20 babies but since they usually only have 13 teats or nipples, if there are more than 13, some will not survive. Each baby is born after a 13-day gestation (pregnancy) period and crawl up the mother opossum’s abdomen into the pouch where they attach themselves to a nipple for almost two months. The babies are so tiny when they are born, you can fit all of them in a tablespoon!

What makes an opossum a marsupial?

The Virginia Opossum is North America’s only marsupial, meaning that the female has a pouch on the front of her abdomen where the babies grow up after being born. The kangaroo is the marsupial most people know about because they’ve seen photos of baby kangaroos – joeys – in the mom’s pouch.

Why do opossums, play ‘possum?

According to the Opossum Society of the United States: The opossum has an involuntary comatose-like state induced by extreme fear. Predators find “the kill” part of the stimulus to eat; therefore, an inert opossum does nothing to excite their appetite, and they will leave it alone. Somehow the opossum’s body knows when the danger has passed, and the opossum “comes to” again. Nature’s mystery!

I found a dead mother opossum on the road and there are babies stuck to her! Should I pull them off?

Yes! Remove any babies that are still attached to a dead mother as soon as possible, to prevent ingestion of rancid milk. Immediately call our rehab center and then bring them in for care.

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rachel and trashman