HOUSTON — That loud thunder and dramatic lightning not only scared people Tuesday night and early Wednesday.
Imagine being a baby animal and your whole world was turned upside down when the storm blew through. That’s what happened when dozens of bunnies, opossums and birds were knocked out of their nests by wind and rain.
Volunteers at the Wildlife Center of Texas are now busy taking care of the storm’s tiniest victims. Some are being treated by staff veterinarians while others are kept warm and dry in incubators.
“When it’s safe to do so, we encourage residents to walk their backyards and look for any injured or orphaned babies who may have been blown out of their nests,” said Brooke Yahney with the wildlife center at the Houston SPCA.
If you find an uninjured baby animal, the Wildlife Center ask that you try to dry them off and place them back in their nests when the weather clears.
“These animals are cold and wet, and could potentially have water in their lungs, so don’t wait, bring them to us as soon as you are able,” Yahney said.
They offer these tips if you find a baby animal.
What to do if you find a baby bird
- Don’t try to give it any food or liquids
- If the bird isn’t injured, you can try to reunite it with the parents by placing it back in the nest.
- If that’s not possible, try placing the bird in a hanging basket with drainage -- or a laundry basket for birds of prey – and hang it from a tree limb where you found it.
- If the parent doesn’t return in a couple of hours, take the bird inside.
- Exceptions are screech and barn owls. They nest in cavities and should not be renested unless the original nest location is known.
- Baby herons should be brought in right away because the parents typically don’t tend to them if they fall out of the nest.
What about squirrels, bunnies, opossums or other mammals?
Again, don’t try to give them food or liquid.
Squirrels: If the baby is not injured, place into a box with soft cloth and place the box at the base of a tree for the mother to retrieve. Watch for ants on the ground near the baby that may get into the box. If the squirrel does not pick it up within the next two to three hours, bring the baby to the center.
Rabbits: Mother rabbits leave the nest unattended for most of the day. Rabbits in the nest/den should be left alone unless they are injured, covered in flies/ants or the nest has been disturbed by predators.
Opossums: Mother opossums who have lost their babies do not come back for them. Please bring in any baby opossums that are less than 8” from nose to rump (not including the tail). If you found a dead mother with babies in the pouch, you can bring in the deceased mom and we will remove the babies on site. Do not cut the nipples to remove the babies from the pouch.
Fawn: Mother deer also leave their babies unattended for long periods. A baby fawn alone on the ground should not be disturbed unless injured, covered in flies/ants or in immediate danger. Fawns in immediate danger can be moved a short distance to a safer space and left for the mother to find. If the mother does not return by dark, or if the fawn is moving around frantically, bleating, and appears to be in distress, it may be appropriate to bring it in. Please call us for more instruction at (713) 861-9453. Remember, do not attempt to give any food or liquids.
Injured animals should be taken to the center at 7007 Old Katy Road or call them at (713) 869-SPCA
Adult birds or mammals
The Houston SPCA’s Wildlife Center of Texas does not take in any healthy adult animals. If you are looking for help removing an animal from your home or relocating an animal from your property, please contact 911 Wildlife at 713-287-1911.
If you find an injured or sick adult animal, carefully throw a towel or blanket over the animal, wrap securely, and gently place into a box. For large mammals, a shovel or broom can be used to gently push the covered animal into your container. Secure the box with tape to prevent escape and then bring the animal to us during our operating hours.
Please do not attempt to remove any animals from a glue trap. If you find an animal stuck to one of these traps, bring the animal and the trap into the center and we will remove it.
Leave these animals to the experts
Raccoons, bats, skunks, foxes and coyotes are classified as high-risk for rabies by the Houston Health Department. Don’t try to touch them. If you see one Please call the Houston SPCA's Wildlife Center of Texas at 713-861-9453 to speak with staff before bringing any of these animals to us.
How you can help
Currently, the Wildlife Center is caring for more than 700 injured, sick or orphaned wild animals.
During the height of the pandemic, they provided lifesaving services by taking in 60 to 90 orphaned and injured wild animals each day.
The animals are cared for until they’re well enough to be released back into the wild.
If you’d like to help out, you can donate here.