The other day, I was gardening at a customer's home. While working in the garden I kept noticing a very bad odor. After looking around I discovered a dead opossum in the hosta bed. The mother opossum had probably been dead for a couple of days. Next to her body was this little face peering up at me. Being a animal lover I really felt for this little baby. It has been hot in the high 90's and we have had little rain. The next question was what to do with the baby.
If you ever find a baby animal in your yard, the best thing to do is observe the animal from the distance. Most baby animals that you see in your yard alone are not orphaned. The parents are near by searching for food and they will return. If a parent does not return over a long period of time or you know that the parent is dead, only then take action. I know that many people want to help a baby by trying to care for it themselves. You can actually be doing more harm than good. The best thing you can do for a baby mammal or bird is to take it to a local licensed animal rehabilitator and let them care for the animal. In Indiana, wildlife is protected by law and you cannot keep the animal. You can find a licensed animal rehabilitator by
- Calling a local veterinarian
- Call the Department of Natural Resources in your area
- Look in the phone book or try searching on your computer for a local rehabilitator
Always remember that even baby animals can bite, carry disease and insect pest. You may want the professional to pick up and remove the animal for you.
What happened to the baby opossum that I found? The baby is now safe in the hands of a trained rehabilitator and when it grows up and can survive on it's own, it will be released back to nature again.
The Creative Gardener
Many animal rehabilitators will always appreciate a small donation of money, food or supplies to care for wildlife. Please make a donation.