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A young animal’s best chance for surviving is with its parents. The first thing to do if you see a baby animal is to step away. You can assess the young animal from a distance. Many young animals appear to be abandoned. Oftentimes, their mother has not abandoned the young, but limits the number of visits to the nesting area to prevent predators from discovering its location. Humans are considered a predator and the parents will stay away while we are in the area. If the young look content and quiet, they are probably being well cared for and should be left alone.

Is it uninjured, furred and moving well?

If you find a baby mammal that is uninjured, is furred, and moving well, leave it alone, it will probably find its way back to a parent, or its parent will find it. If you see the nest, put on some gloves, and gently place the baby back in the nest. Despite the common misconception, wild animal parents will NOT reject babies if humans have touched them! A baby animal will always have the best chance for survival if it is raised by its parents.

Do you see its nest?

If you do not see the nest, you can create a surrogate nest to help keep the baby safe, and give the parents a chance to find them. You can place the animal in a plastic container, such as a laundry bin or Tupperware container, with holes poked in the bottom. Place natural bedding (soft grasses), or soft, 'non-stringy' bedding (try to avoid terry cloth or cloth that can unravel) in the container.

Determine if it is orphaned

Observe the baby and determine if it is orphaned. Follow the instructions below depending on the species


Baby opossums are born as embryos, barely larger than a bee, and spend about two months nursing in their mother’s pouch. When they get to be about 3-4 inches long and start riding around on the mother’s back, they may fall off without the mother noticing. As a general rule, if an opossum is over 7 inches long (not including the tail), he’s old enough to be on their own; if he’s less than 7 inches long (not including the tail), they are an orphan and appear to be healthy, you should contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

If you know the parents are dead, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator to take the orphans.

Note! If the baby opossum are injured, follow these instructions.


Please Note!

Raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal unless you have a proper state or federal permit.


Tufts Wildlife Clinic cannot admit healthy orphaned wildlife. If the wildlife you found is neither sick nor injured, please contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

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