Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife

Welcome to the Abandoned Animal and Rabies Information Page

What to Do If you Find an Orphaned Baby Wild Animal

First try to locate the nest and see if it is a safe or possible to place the baby or babies back. It is always best for the mother to raise her own young. The mother will continue to care for her young, even after you’ve touched them. If you cannot locate the nest or if you cannot reach it,


If the baby animals are in bad condition or the mother is dead,


If you find a nest of rabbits, do not immediately assume that they are abandoned. The mother feeds her young once or maybe twice a day. A mother rabbit will leave her young and forage for food for the largest part of the day. If you should find a nest, keep all pets away and watch from a discrete distance. If the mother does not return to the nest,




1. Allow children to handle or cuddle them.

2. Let pets near them.

3. Attempt to feed them unless you first speak to a REHABILITATOR.

4. Give the animal any medication.

5. Try to raise them yourself. It is against the law in the State of Delaware.


1. For warmth, find a bottle with a tight fitting lid, fill to the top with warm water, replace the lid, wrap with a cloth, and place it in a box with the baby animals. DO NOT USE A HEATING PAD!

2. Keep the animal in a dark, quiet place and



What you do in the first hour could determine if the orphaned animal will survive or not.


Wildlife Rehabilitator Contacts

In New Castle County (Above the C&D Canal) call:

Hilary Taylor 834-4604
In Kent County (Includes below the C&D Canal) call:

Catherine Martin 674-9131 (Evenings), 653-2887, Ext 106 (Days)
Claudette Dean 674-4838

In Sussex County call:

Ruth Townsend 875-1452 (Laurel Area)
Bob Hughes 227-2084 or 227-2463 (Lewes Area)

Bonnie Kruch (Reptiles Only) 378-4761

Let’s Talk Rabies...

A very misunderstood disease that every pet owner should take seriously. A contagious infection of the central nervous system, the virus usually enters the body through a bite from a rabid animal. The exchange of bodily fluids, such as saliva can transmit the virus also. Any warm-blooded animal is susceptible to the rabies virus. In Delaware, the disease is most common in raccoons, skunks, fox, cats, and dogs. A few cases were reported in bats. In the past few years one cow, three horses, and one white tail deer fell victim to the rabies virus.

Why are raccoons the #1 carrier of the rabies virus? Because they adapt well in any habitat and are very curious animals. They stand up to, rather than run away from challenge, crossing the paths of many animals. Similar to the raccoon, a skunk usually never runs away from a threat which makes them an easy target also. Rodents, such as mice, rats, squirrels, and chipmunks rarely become exposed to rabies because once they are bitten, they usually go into shock and die. Reptiles and turtles do not get rabies because they are cold-blooded animals. Birds don’t get rabies, they are not susceptible to it.

The course of rabies in animals can take two forms, "furious" rabies or "dumb" rabies. After being exposed to and infected by rabies, symptoms may not become visible for three weeks to four months. During this period of time, the infection is a virus which then become contagious to others. The last ten days of a rabid animal’s life is when the disease can most likely infect other animals. The first visible symptoms of "furious" rabies is that of a personality change. The animal then runs amuck attacking and biting every living thing it comes in contact with. Extreme thirst occurs but spasms in the larynx prohibit the animal to swallow fluids. Foaming of the mouth can occur. Convulsions begin and death occurs. In "dumb" rabies, the virus attacks the muscles of the jaw and larynx in the early stages, thus paralyzing the animal’s ability to swallow which causes foaming of the mouth. Unable to control facial movements, the animal appears "dumb". Death occurs quietly.

Can a rabid animal transmit the virus to human beings? YES! In 1995, five people died from rabies in United States. The stages of rabies in humans are as follows:

1. Exposure from a bite or the exchange of bodily fluids.

2. Incubation period; the infection is virus. This can take three weeks to four months, with an average time of six weeks.

3. If bitten, the area around the wound becomes irritated and painful, numbness may occur.

4. Depression and anxiety starts, which lasts for about two to four days.

5. Now very irritable and sensitive, an overwhelming attitude of terror occurs and is intensified by the onset of difficult and swallowing. Spasms within the diaphragm and larynx cause a severe feeling of strangulation.

6. Becomes extremely thirsty.

7. Vomiting begins. Body temperature rises to about 102. A thick secretion of mucus collects in the mouth and down the throat.

8. Convulsive seizures begin causing cardiac and/or respiratory failure.

9. Death occurs.

Does this scare you? Good. RABIES CAN KILL, even you! Vaccinate ALL of your pets against rabies. As young as four months of age, puppies and kittens can receive their first inoculation. A booster must be given at one year, then again every three years. Livestock and horses kept as pets and used for show should be vaccinated yearly, especially if they are pastured near a wooded area.

DO NOT TOUCH ANY WILD ANIMAL! They are dangerous and should not be handled by humans. Even those cute little furry babies can carry the rabies virus and pass it on to you, your family, or your pets. If you are bitten by an animal that you think has rabies, wash the area with warm soapy water thoroughly for an extended period of time. Contact your doctor immediately. If able to destroy the animal that possible carries rabies, do not damage the head. Testing is performed on the brain tissue and at the present time is the only way to get accurate results. If unable to capture or destroy the rabid animal safely, contact your local S.P.C.A.

I hope this enlightens you to the seriousness of rabies and encourages you to be a responsible pet owner by keeping your animals’ vaccines up to date. I cannot stress enough, the importance of leaving wildlife where it belongs, IN THE WILD! Enjoy the beauty of nature and it’s wild creatures at a distance, through the lens of a camera, or even with a set of binoculars!

Dawn Webb
The Delaware Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators and Educators
48 Delshire Drive
Dover, Delaware 19901


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2003 Delaware Department of
Natural Resources and Environmental Control
89 Kings Hwy
Dover, DE 19901

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