Newborn animals: when to help?

Photo credit: Omroep Brabant/Jeannete van Brabant

They are very busy at the bird sanctuary (Vogelopvang) in Someren and the regional rescue stray animals (ROZE) in Eindhoven. Now that spring has really begun, the animal caretakers notice that things are busier. They have their hands full with newborn ducklings waddling into people’s gardens or along busy roads. The help of animal shelters is not always necessary. “A rule of thumb you can use: Don’t see blood? Then don’t call.”

“Blue tit chicks, ducklings, tawny owls, great-horned owls, but also hares, bunnies, foxes, squirrels…” lists Caroline Relleke, manager at the bird sanctuary in Someren. It’s not just bird chicks that are taken care of there. “Especially now that it is starting to get busier, the animal ambulance brings in all sorts of animals,” she says.

Fortunately, the critters brought in have nothing to fear: they are all helped. “It is busy now, but we are not afraid we cannot cope. We have good communication and cooperation with other shelters in the area.”


That busyness is also recognized by Pascale Attema of animal shelter¬†ROZE. “It varies from day to day, but we are often very busy.” According to her, the season “traditionally” starts with young hares and bunnies. At the moment, it is the newborn ducklings that keep the caretakers busy.

“In addition, we see a lot of nestlings now: chicks that people find on the ground. Often this is not a problem, they learn to fly from the ground,” says Attema.

Practical tips

Part of the fuss, then, comes from cases where there is really no need to call at all. But what is the best thing to do when you come across a newborn chick, hare or other cute creature? Caroline and Pascale have tips:

It is best to put a chick on a higher branch and leave it alone there, to protect it from predators. The mother is nearby, she will come. When you come across newborn rabbits, do call. These often emerge when their habitat is threatened by housing or road construction, for example. The mother then flees, leaving the young behind

Baby squirrels are very tame when they are hungry. They just come to you. Check it out, if the squirrel keeps coming towards you without its mother showing up, call the animal ambulance. If you come across a hare in a field, leave it alone. There is nothing wrong then: the mother disperses her young and returns twice a day to feed them.

Although it is not desirable, animal keepers say there is no harm in touching one of the animals. “Just be careful with newborn roe deer, they run the risk of being abandoned,” say the animal keepers.

Source: Studio040

Translator: Martijn

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