How to Help Mammals

It’s against Tennessee State Law to keep wild animals, even if you plan to release them. This includes squirrels. You are allowed to transport them to a licensed rehab.

Only adults should rescue baby mammals. Before rescuing adult mammals, seek guidance from a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.)

  • Prepare a container. Place a soft cloth on the bottom of a cardboard box or cat/dog carrier with a lid. If it doesn’t have air holes, make some. For smaller animals, you can use a paper sack with air holes punched in.

  • Protect yourself. Wear gloves, if possible. Some animals may bite or scratch to protect themselves, even if sick; wild animals commonly have parasites (fleas, lice, ticks) and carry diseases.

  • Cover the animal with a light sheet or towel.

  • Gently pick up the animal and put it in the prepared container.

  • Warm the animal if it’s cold out or if the animal is chilled. Put one end of the container on a heating pad set on low. Or fill a zip-top plastic bag, plastic soft drink container with a screw lid, or a rubber glove with hot water; wrap warm container with cloth, and put it next to the animal. Make sure the container doesn’t leak, or the animal will get wet and chilled.

  • Tape the box shut or roll the top of the paper bag closed.

  • Note exactly where you found the animal. This will be very important for release.

  • Keep the animal in a warm, dark, quiet place. Don’t give it food or water. Leave it alone; don’t handle or bother it. Keep children and pets away.

  • Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, state wildlife agency, or wildlife veterinarian as soon as possible. Don’t keep the animal at your home longer than necessary. Keep the animal in a container; don’t let it loose in your house or car

  • Wash your hands after contact with the animal. Wash anything the animal was in contact with — towel, jacket, blanket, pet carrier — to prevent the spread of diseases and/or parasites to you or your pets.

  • Get the animal to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.