It is ILLEGAL to keep a native mammal without a State Permit. Wild animals may appear cute and cuddly when young, but quickly grow up to be fairly aggressive and territorial adults.  Wild animals also become highly stressed in captive conditions and stress can lead to health problems, including death.

Please keep in mind that wild animals belong outside, it is unfair to bring a healthy wild animal inside among people (which are scary large predators to them) to allow domestic animals to play outside. What may be a temporary inconvenience to you or your pet is saving a wild animal from being taken away from its parents and raised in captivity.

To determine if the mammal needs to be rehabilitated, please follow this
flow chart.

If an animal is obviously injured and needs attention, please follow the

Temporary Housing Protocol:

Many mammals can be safely scruffed by the nape of their neck (this is how the mother carries them) and be placed in the box; however, most babies will not need to be scruffed.  If you have found a sick or injured adult mammal it may be herded into a box or dog crate lined with a towel. Use a towel or sheet to encourage the animal into the container; this is perceived as a safe place from the animal’s viewpoint.

Place the animal in a securely covered box (some animals are escape artists), making sure there are ventilation holes.

If possible, place a heating pad under half of the box and place the heating pad on LOW.  This will allow the animal to escape from the heat, if it needs to.  If you do not have a heating pad, you can use a water bottle filled with warm (not hot) water.  Place a thin towel around the water bottle and place it next to the animal.

Place the box in a quiet, safe, dark location in your home.  This will help minimize stress to the animal.  Minimize contact with the animal as animals are wild and will become easily stressed, they can also acclimate very quickly to people and may become non-releasable.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FEED any wild animal! Without the proper training and feeding devices it is VERY easy for these animals to aspirate (food or liquid enters lungs instead of stomach) which leads to severe pneumonia. The incorrect diet can also lead to bloat and metabolic bone disease. KMR, or Kitten Milk Replacement, for example is for baby carnivores, NOT HERBIVORES, and can quickly lead to bloat and death for these animals! If you have already fed a baby mammal please contact a licensed rehabilitator.

Call WildNet (919)572-9453 or a local wildlife rehabilitator for further instructions. Keep the baby warm and quiet and still do NOT feed or offer it any water even if you keep it overnight.

To jump to a section in the text, please click on the title in the list below:

Rabies Vectors:  Raccoons, Bats, Foxes, Coyotes and Skunks:

Unfortunately, these animals are considered to be the main vector species for the Rabies virus in North Carolina; therefore, rehabilitators in this state are not legally allowed to admit them despite their age. If you come across one of these animals either injured or acting strangely, contact your local Animal Control or dial 911 afterhours. Animals that are suspected to be orphaned should be left untouched and given the chance to survive on their own or to be reunited with their parents. Even orphaned suckling animals of these species have been known to transmit rabies in rare cases.  Their best chance of survival is in the wild.  If they are seriously injured and non-aggressive, you may call your local animal control office or bring the animal to a local veterinarian who will be able to euthanize the animal so it does not have to suffer.

If a person or a pet has come in direct contact with one of these animals please contact your physician, veterinarian or Veterinary Public Health at (919) 707-5900. If you or your pet is bitten by a suspected rabid animal, please seek medical help immediately.

Small Mammals

  • It is recommended you wear gloves when handling any wild mammal. Most mammals, despite age, are capable of contracting the Rabies virus! If the animal is acting strangely, such as walking/spinning in circles, frothing at the mouth, or acting abnormal or confused, do NOT approach the animal or attempt capture. Call your local animal control office.
  • If the baby mammal is cold to touch, please immediately cover him with soft, non-fraying towels and place in a shoebox. You must provide supplemental heat (place the box on top of a heating pad set on LOW or a put a water bottle filled with warm water and wrapped in a towel inside the box).
  •  Under many circumstances the infant can be reunited with its mother. Bringing a wild baby to a human should only be considered as a last resort. The information provided below will aid in determining if the animal needs medical help.
  • I found a baby bunny!
    • If the rabbit is fully furred (the size of a baseball or fist), the eyes are open, and the ears are up, the rabbit can be on its own.
    • If a baby is found in a yard, try to find a nest (in a burrow).  If you can find the nest, put the bunny back in the burrow, and cover the nest with 2 sticks, to make an “x”.  Monitor the nest to determine if the mother is coming back.  The mother will usually leave the bunnies all day and return to them at night.  If the sticks have not been moved after the evening, the mother has likely been killed or abandoned the nest and the bunnies need to be transferred to a rehabilitator.  If the rabbit can be on its own, it will likely leave the nest in search of food and shelter.
    • If by chance you come across a natural predator (i.e. hawks, foxes etc.) hunting a rabbit you should leave both the rabbit as well as the predator alone. This is an integral part of the checks and balances system and rabbits are a very common an abundant prey species.
    • If you are certain the rabbit is injured, came in contact with a pet, then the animal needs to go to a licensed rehabilitator. Even though the animal may appear fine, cat bites often close up quickly and can cause a deadly infection. Dogs who have handled a bunny, however gently, can still cause internal damage to organs or bones.  Follow the temporary housing protocol and call WildNet or a local wildlife rehabilitatorBaby bunnies are EXTREMELY affected by stress, so limit human exposure to the animal as much as possible!
  • I found a nest of bunnies in my yard!
    • Rabbits are very skittish and won’t come near the nest when pets or people are near. Generally, the mother rabbit only visits the nest at night for a very brief period to feed her babies. If you are concerned about a nest being abandoned, place small sticks or a string in the letter “N” or “X” over the nest and leave it overnight. Check in the morning to see if the mother has disturbed the pattern. If the nest is undisturbed call WildNet or a local wildlife rehabilitator.
  • I found a baby squirrel!
    • If a squirrel is on the ground or alone, it does not always need help! Mother squirrels will build several nests and move the babies if one becomes dirty, flea infested, etc. If the baby is not cold to the touch and does not show signs of injury, leave it alone. Go inside for an hour and allow time for the mother to return and retrieve her baby.
    • If there are predators nearby, place the baby in a box and attach to a tree or place in the branches out of reach of the predator.  If possible, monitor the box every couple hours to see if the mother has returned to retrieve the baby.  If the mother has not come back all day, refer to a rehabilitator, because the animal is likely abandoned.
    • If the baby is cold, but not injured, bring the baby inside temporarily to warm it up. Place the baby in a shoebox and cover it with a soft, non-fraying towel and provide supplemental heat as instructed above. Once it warms up you can put the baby back where it was found or in a mock-nest and check on it throughout the day.
    • If the baby is injured (i.e.: broken bones, blood around the nose), came in contact with a pet,  or the mother did not come back after one hour you should follow the temporary housing protocol and call WildNet or a local wildlife rehabilitator.
  • There is a nest of squirrels in my attic!
    • To encourage the mother to take her babies to another nest, you can play music in close proximity to the nest. You may have to do this for several hours, perhaps days, without interruption.
      • Trapping the mother or physically moving the nest can cause the babies to become orphans and then need assistance). Also, baby squirrels grow up fast and it won’t be long before they leave on their own.
    • Once you are absolutely sure all the animals are gone, you will need to investigate how to seal up their point of entry to prevent it from happening again.
  • I found a baby opossum!
    • If the baby is 8″-10″ from tip of nose to where the tail begins (not ends) then it is a juvenile and already completely independent. Please keep pets and children away until it wonders off on its own. It is not uncommon to see young opossum out in the daytime as they forage for food more frequently than full-grown adults. If you keep pet food outside, bringing it indoors will encourage the animal to search elsewhere for food.
    • If the baby is less than 8″ then it has become separated from its mother. Once the opossum babies are too large to all fit in the mother’s pouch, they will cling onto her back for transport. If she becomes startled (by a car, dog, human etc.) and a baby falls off, she cannot afford to go back and retrieve it as this is a risk to the rest of her babies.  Follow the temporary housing protocol and call WildNet or a local wildlife rehabilitator.

Adult mammals:

  • Use particular caution and proper protection when handling adult mammals; squirrels can bite through leather gloves and adult rabbits easily fracture their backs and even die from fear.
    • Please note any mammal is capable of contracting the Rabies virus! If the animal is acting strangely, such as walking/spinning in circles, frothing at the mouth, or acting abnormal or confused-do NOT approach the animal or attempt capture. Please contact your local animal control office or call 911, if after operating hours.
  • Please keep in mind that small mammals are natural prey species for many larger animals. If you see a natural predator such as a hawk or a fox in the area please leave the situation alone as the predator is only trying to obtain a meal. The predator has possibly experienced several failed attempts over several days before successfully catching its food.


  • I found a fawn (spotted or unspotted, but smaller than a Labrador Retriever)
  • Mother deer often leave their young lying in a relatively open area while they go forage for food. Fawns will not move from where a mother has left them, even when people or pets approach. Resist the urge to pick-up and move the young animal in any way. The fawn may become lost or too far away for the mother to locate it.
  • If you are concerned about pets or children going near the animal, please try to keep them indoors or away from the area for the rest of the day as the fawn should be gone my morning. Remember, even though this may be a small inconvenience to you or your pets, it is saving a wild animal from being taken away from its mother and out of the wild.
  • If you are concerned the fawn may be orphaned, leave the area and check the same spot again in 12 hours. If the fawn is still there, wandering around or vocalizing then contact a rehabilitator.
  • If they fawn is injured contact a rehabilitator before attempting to capture it.

Fawn Rehabilitators:

  • Triangle area: CLAWS (919) 619-0776


  • I found a deer on the side of the road or a large deer is injured in my yard. (same size as a Labrador Retriever or bigger)
    • Unfortunately adult deer do not adapt to a captive settings well and often inflict further injury to themselves. If a deer has a broken leg, it is unlikely to heal properly and will become easy prey for a predator in the wild.
    • It is illegal in NC for the rehabilitators to accept adult deer. If a deer is injured, please call Animal Control or the local Police Department, if after hours. They will humanely euthanize the deer, to relieve its suffering.
    • Unfortunately, if the animal is on private land (not your own land), nothing can be done for the animal without the landowners permission.

Wildlife and Rabies

Rabies is a fatal viral disease spread by a bite or by having contact with saliva, onto a cut or other opened wound, from an infected animal. The virus can enter the body through mucus membranes (such as mouth, eyes or nose) if a droplet of saliva happens to come into contact with this tissue. Most mammals are susceptible to the rabies virus, but risk is usually higher in carnivores. Opossums are rarely diagnosed with the disease due to lower body temperature that does not allow the virus to survive. Additionally, animals with head trauma or other bacterial or viral diseases may present with similar symptoms.

  • By law, certain animals cannot be rehabilitated.  These animals include: raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, and coyotes.  Their best chance of survival is in the wild, otherwise they will have to be humanely euthanized.
  • Rabies virus causes an acute encephalitis in all warm-blooded hosts, and the outcome is almost always fatal. The first symptoms of rabies may be nonspecific and include lethargy, fever, vomiting, and anorexia. Signs progress within days to cerebral dysfunction, cranial nerve dysfunction, ataxia, weakness, paralysis, seizures, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, abnormal behavior, aggression, and/or self-mutilation.  (Taken from CDC website:


  • If you see an animal in the daytime, it does not necessarily mean they are rabid.  If the animal is excessively salivating, showing no fear of humans, acting aggressive or showing any other symptoms stated above, contact your local animal control office.
  • If a human has been sleeping and a bat has been discovered in the room with them, the Centers for Disease Control recommends rabies treatment begins immediately. Bats are very small creatures and often a bite does not cause pain and is not visible to the human eye.
  • If bitten by or exposed to a rabid animal a series of shots from your doctor will prevent you from getting this disease. HOWEVER, one should contact health officials immediately if there is a possibility of exposure. The first post-exposure vaccination must be given right away. Once a human has the virus active within the body, which can happen from only a few hours to a few days depending on exposure location, the vaccination does not work and death occurs.
  • Keep your pets vaccinated and indoors or leashed. If a vaccinated pet is bitten by an animal you suspect has rabies get them a booster shot immediately, regardless of when they last received a rabies booster.

Rabies Info:


A predator is hanging around my house/ going after my livestock.

As people move further away from the cities and develop natural environments into houses, there is less and less room for predators to roam and less natural food to be found. Unfortunately this means predators are forced into our communities looking for other sources of food and places to find shelter. When we confine a potential source of food to an area, or introduce new food sources such as feral cats, it often attracts predators because it offers a potential meal. Remember that predators are a natural, and necessary, part of the ecosystem and need to be left in the wild.

  • If your pets are being attacked, bringing them inside or locking them in a secure enclosure is the best chance of avoiding predatory attacks.
  • Pick up any food left outside for outdoor animals.  Piedmont Wildlife Center does not promote feeding of wildlife (other than via bird feeders).  If a known food source is removed, the animals will start looking elsewhere for food.

Ultimately, each city or county has its own regulations on predator control. To find out all your options call your local governmental agencies or the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commissions at (919) 707-0010.

Domestic Animals

If you have found a domestic species, which includes feral cats; please use the links below to find an appropriate contact.  Piedmont Wildlife Center cannot refer the public to rehabilitators for domestic animals.  These animals should be examined by a veterinarian or taken to a local animal shelter, if no owner is found.


Domestic animals are any animal that depends on humans for food, water, shelter and space, such as: dogs, cats, parakeets, hamsters, iguanas, chickens, etc. If you find an injured stray animal, you must take it to a veterinary clinic for domestic or exotic species.