Young and Orphaned Mammals
Throughout the spring and summer, many wild mothers will raise their young in both rural and urban environments. It is important to know when to intervene, and when the mother is just out of sight. When in doubt, call for help! Don’t accidentally kidnap a hare, they have a much better chance of survival with their mother! WILDLIFE HOTLINE: 403-214-1312
Deer and hares are prey animals and tend to attract predators, they will keep their distance from their young when not feeding them to prevent predators from eating their babies
A female hare can have up to 4 litters of young a year throughout the summer while squirrels can have up to 2 litters (one early in the spring and another late in the summer)
It is always a good idea to contact a wildlife rehabilitator before intervening with a wild animal
White-tailed Prairie Hares
Hares are common throughout Calgary and Southern Alberta. They don’t construct nests for their young, but rather deposit the babies (called leverets) in protected areas like bushes and shrubs nearby. The leverets are born fully furred and with their eyes and ears open, unlike rabbits that are born naked, blind, and deaf. The mother tends to stay nearby but keeps her distance to avoid drawing predators to the leveret’s location, reuniting with her young twice daily at dusk and dawn for feeding.
While usually well hidden, occasionally people stumble upon a lone baby hare. LEAVE THE HARE ALONE, it is more than likely not orphaned, but rather tucked away for the day. If the leveret is in a conspicuous location, it is okay to move it to a nearby bush or shrub. The mother and leveret will vocalize to each other.
If the hare is under threat of attack from a crow or magpie, the best thing to do would be to shoo the birds away and place a cardboard box over the hare until the birds have lost interest and moved away. Be sure to remove the box by the evening to make sure it can be found by its mother in time to be fed.
If the hare is injured in any way, contact a wildlife rehabilitator for advice. If the leveret has been attacked by a cat, it is important to intervene. Cats have bacteria on their teeth and claws can be deadly, and small puncture wounds can be difficult to see. It is always a good idea to contact a wildlife rehabilitation organization for advice.
Despite their size, deer are still considered prey animals and distance themselves from their young when they’re the most vulnerable. Dogs in off-leash dog parks will often come upon them, but more often than not they are not orphaned and the mother is within earshot. The best practice is to leave the fawn alone unless it is obviously injured or ill. Within an hour or two, the mother will likely check on the fawn. If there is any doubt about the health or safety of the fawn, contact a wildlife rehabilitation organization for advice.
Squirrels create nests far up in trees and give birth to litters of around 4-8 baby squirrels. They are born very small, fur-less, blind, and deaf. It takes about 8 weeks before the babies are ready to venture out of the nest and start exploring the world around them, and it will be another 2-3 weeks before they’re completely weaned and self-sufficient.
If you find a naked baby, every effort should be made to return it to the nest, but often the nest is simply too high up. Placing the baby squirrel in an box at the base of the tree will give the mother the opportunity to grab the baby and carry it herself up to the nest. If those strategies fail, contact a wildlife rehabilitation organization. In the meantime, it is critically important that the baby is kept warm. Do not, however, attempt to feed the squirrel – even water. Once the squirrel is in the right hands it can easily be rehydrated and started on the appropriate diet.
Squirrels that are juveniles tend to be friendlier and less fearful of people, that does not necessarily mean they are orphaned or in need of help. It is best to maintain your distance while these squirrels begin exploring and learning to navigate the trees. It is especially important to keep pets indoors as they are often curious of young squirrels and risk harming them.