TWRC Accepts Orphaned and Injured Wildlife Only
Our mission is to take in and rehabilitate orphaned, injured and ill wildlife with the goal of releasing the animal back into the wild. Please call us at 713-468-8972 for advice on unwanted wildlife on your property that is not orphaned, ill or injured.
Please note that we cannot accept domestic animals such as dogs, cats, domestic rabbits or exotic pets. If you have a domestic animal in need of help, please contact your local domestic shelter. If you need help determining whether a found rabbit or reptile is wild or domestic, please call us at 713-468-8972.
Please Call Ahead
Although we strive to admit every animal that needs help, there are times when we are at capacity and are temporarily unable to accept certain species. We recommend you call 713-468-8972 ahead to verify that we have room for your animal. If we have no openings, we will do our best to offer you a referral.
Does the animal seem to be ill or injured?
If an animal of any age was found and was caught by a cat or dog, is visibly injured or you suspected that it is ill or injured (signs include: visible bleeding, hanging wing, unable to walk, limping or dragging a limb, lethargic, adult bird that cannot fly, etc.), please contact TWRC at 713-468-8972 as soon as possible to determine further steps. If we are closed, follow the Temporary Care Instructions for All Animals (below) and contact us as soon as we open again.
Is the animal really abandoned?
Is that seemingly helpless baby wild animal really abandoned? In spring and summer, people frequently find baby wild animals who fall from trees or mysteriously seem to appear, and they assume the babies are orphaned. Some animal mothers leave their young alone for long time periods (deer, rabbits) while others closely supervise them (raccoons). See below for typical situations involving some of our most commonly admitted species. Before intervening, please call 713-468-8972 to determine if it needs help.
Can I keep it as a pet?
DO NOT rescue wildlife and then keep (kidnap) the animal for a possible pet. State and federal laws protect nearly all wild mammals and birds. It is against the law to possess wildlife or the nests, feathers, or eggs of a bird without special permits. The animal must be turned over to TWRC or a licensed rehabilitator as soon as possible.
What should I feed it until I can get to TWRC?
Please do not feed the animal or give it fluids. Giving water or other fluids improperly can aspirate and even kill an animal. The dietary needs of each species of wildlife are different, and it is almost impossible to duplicate their needs in captivity without special training. TWRC receives many irreparably damaged animals because the rescuer used the incorrect feeding technique and/or diet.
How can I help a Rabies Vector Species (Raccoon, Bat, Skunk, Fox or Coyote)?
Do not approach or attempt to touch the animal. Keep all children and pets away. Please call 713-468-8972 immediately for further assistance, or your local animal control.
Temporary Care Instructions for All Animals:
- TWRC recommends that you wear gloves or use a cloth barrier when handling wildlife. Place baby animals in a box lined with a soft cloth such as a t-shirt. For injured adults, and use a stick, broom or rolled up newspaper to push the animal into an appropriately-sized, secure box with a soft cloth on the bottom. Make sure the box has holes in it for ventilation. DO NOT put the animal into a plastic bag.
- Do not give the animal any food or liquids. Feeding an animal an incorrect diet can result in injury or death. Also, a captured animal may get food and water stuck on its fur/feathers potentially leading to hypothermia and feather damage.
- If an animal or bird has been caught by a cat or dog, please call TWRC immediately at 713-468-8972. Even if wounds are not visible, the animal or bird needs medical intervention as soon as possible.
- Keep the animal in a warm, dark, quiet place. Darkness makes the animal feel more secure. If the animal is a baby, the box can be placed half on and half off a heating pad set on low. If the animal gets too warm it can move to the other end of the box. Please do not put adult animals on a heating pad.
- Leave the animal alone. Human noise, touch and eye contact are very stressful to wild animals and can result in shock or even death.
- Keep children and pets away. BE CAREFUL! An animal that is hurt or frightened may bite.
- Call TWRC at 713-468-8972 as soon as possible!
Commonly found species in and around Houston:
*Note: Please call us at 713-468-8972 for information or advice regarding species or situations not covered below
FLEDGLINGS: If the bird is mostly or fully feathered but has short or seemingly no tail feathers, he’s a fledgling who left the nest before he could fly. This is normal. The bird will spend a few days on the ground being fed by parents. Monitor continuously from a distance for 30 min to 1 hour and if the parents return, no intervention is needed. If the parents do not return, put the baby in a box (see Temporary Care Instructions for All Animals above) and call TWRC at 713-468-8972.
NESTLINGS: If the baby bird is not feathered or has minimal feathering, put the baby bird back in the nest if you can—it’s a myth that parent birds will abandon babies if they’ve been touched. Watch continuously for at least an hour to make sure that the parents return to feed their chicks. If you cannot reach the nest or if parent birds do not return, please call 713-468-8972 as soon as possible. Refer to the Temporary Care Instructions for All Animals above for proper care.
If the baby is young (eyes are closed and not moving around much) and is uninjured, give the mother squirrel a chance to retrieve it. Put the baby in a shallow box and place the box at the base of the tree closest to where it was found. Make sure the box is off the ground so ants can’t get into it (set it on a chair or nail it to the tree). If it is chilly outside or if the squirrel is cold to the touch or not fully furred, he’ll need a heat source, such as a hot water bottle or a chemical hand warmer. Place a piece of soft fabric, such as fleece, between the animal and the heating device, and check to make sure both stay warm but not hot. Give the mother 4 hours to retrieve her young (bring the box inside during the nighttime hours and follow Temporary Care Instructions for All Animals above). If the mom does not retrieve the squirrel after 4 hours, please call us at 713-468-8972. NOTE: If there are tree trimmers working during the 4 hours, the mom will not come while they are there, so please call us. If the squirrel is an older baby (moves around independently) but is docile or following people or pets (often will cling to pants or shoes) or can be caught, please call us at 713-468-8972.
Baby opossums stay in their mother’s pouch until they are about 2.5 months old and the size of a mouse. At this age, they ride on Mom’s back and can sometimes fall off without her noticing. If the baby opossum is smaller than 7 inches long (not including the tail), they are too young to be on their own.
If you have found a dead mother with babies, please check the pouch to ensure that you have retrieved all the babies. If babies are still attached to the nipples and are not easily coming off, please do not try to remove them, but instead call us at 713.468.8972 as soon as possible. Refer to the Temporary Care Instructions for All Animals above for proper care.
Rabbits nest in a shallow “scrape” in the ground lined with, and covered by, a mixture of dried grass and the mother’s fur. Finding babies alone in the nest is normal, as the mother only visits twice per day to nurse, usually at dusk and dawn when no one is around. If you find a nest of rabbits you can check whether they are orphaned by performing the “String Test”. To do this, cover the nest back up with the dried grass + fur mixture and fashion a large “X” or tic-tac-toe pattern on top of the nest using string, yarn or small twigs. Leave the nest overnight and check it the next day. If the pattern is displaced or pushed aside but the nest is still covered, the mother is caring for them and no intervention is needed. If the tic-tac-toe pattern is undisturbed after 12 hours, please call 713-468-8972. If a cat or unknown animal has attacked the nest and babies are injured, put them into a box, follow the Temporary Care Instructions for All Animals above and call us at 713-468-8972.
A fawn found alone is most likely not abandoned. Young fawns cannot keep up with their mother, so the mom will “bed down” their fawn in what she thinks is a safe place and leave it there alone for long periods of time during the day. If the fawn is wandering around, crying constantly for hours, following people, laying with its limbs stretched out (versus tucked under its body), laying on its side, appears injured or is covered in flies, the fawn may be orphaned and you should contact 713-468-8972 immediately for further assistance.
Raccoons are often orphaned unnecessarily when a homeowner hears activity in their attic and hires a pest control company to remove them. Often the company will trap the parents and relocate them, overlooking the babies, and the homeowner will hear the babies crying within a day or so. If you have raccoons in your attic, please call us at 713-468-8972. We can advise you on passive methods that will compel the raccoon to relocate on their own, taking any babies they have with them. If you find a baby raccoon on its own, call us at 713-468-8972 for further assistance. Adult raccoons are very dangerous, and raccoons are a Rabies Vector Species, so please do not touch the animal. Call us first for instructions.
If the duckling is all downy (fluff but no feathers) or is a juvenile (has mostly adult feathers but still may have down visible) and there is no parent around, look around thoroughly in nearby trees and on the ground for a parent. If the parent is present, monitor from a distance to ensure she reunites with them. If there is no parent, call us at 713-468-8972. If you suddenly find ducklings in your yard (usually found in yards with a pool) with or without a parent present, call us at 713-468-8972 before attempting to intervene.