What to Do if You Find a Wild Animal

Call us for advice: (850) 627-4151

Before you pick up or rescue a wild animal, please call St. Francis Wildlife for advice. We will help you determine if the animal truly needs to be rescued, if it should be left alone, or —if it is a baby — if it can be reunited with its mother. 

These animals always need to be rescued:

  • The parent is dead, and the baby is too young to be on its own.

  • The animal is weak, thin, cold or appears sick.

  • The animal is injured.

  • A cat or dog caught the animal (even if you don't see wounds). 

  • Flies or other insects are on or around it. 

  • The animal is in obvious danger--any life-threatening situation. 

Individual species information can be found at the bottom of this page.

Baby Owl

How to Transport Wildlife

  • Get a cardboard box or plastic container, punch air holes in the top, and place an old t-shirt, sheet or pillow case (not a towel) on the bottom.

  • Your safety is the first priority. Never put yourself at risk; think before you act. 

  • Wearing gloves, place the animal in the box, which should be taped and secured.

  • Keep it quiet, warm and very dark. Do not keep it longer than absolutely necessary. 

  • Don't stare at it or handle it. They view you as a predator. Stress can kill a wild animal.

  • Note exactly where you found it. This is important for release. 

  • Baby animals always need an external source of heat. Warm a plastic water bottle or sock with rice in the microwave. Wrap an old t-shirt or pillow case around it, and place it in the box. 


  • Do not give it water or food.

  • Never handle bats, raccoons, foxes or skunks (common rabies vectors). ALWAYS call us.

  • During transport, do not play the radio, smoke or blast AC.

  • If you call St. Francis Wildlife and we send a rescuer, please don't leave until we arrive. Remain nearby to monitor the animal's movement. 

St. Francis Wildlife at Capacity, New Wildlife Admissions

Temporarily Halted, Except RVS

St. Francis Wildlife will temporarily stop admitting all animals, with the exception of Rabies Vector Species (RVS) — raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats — because they can pose a potential public health and safety concern. Our two Tallahassee veterinary partners, Northwood Animal Hospital and Allied Emergency Veterinary Hospital, will temporarily not accept any wild birds or animals.

If you find an RVS, do not take it to Northwood or Allied. Please call St. Francis 24/7 at 850.627.4151. If it’s a displaced baby that can be reunited with its mother, we will help with that. If it’s injured or sick, we will care for it. Do not handle any rabies vectors, even babies.

If you find other species please read the information below, or call us at 850.627.4151. If we determine that the animal needs a wildlife rehabilitator, we will temporarily refer you to Goose Creek Wildlife Sanctuary. Goose Creek, like most wildlife rehabilitators, is a non-profit and will be grateful for your donation if you take an animal to them.

For more details about this situation (why we are temporarily stopping admissions) and other ways you can help wildlife now, please read our community blog: http://blogs.tallahassee.com/community/2022/03/28/wild-baby-season-is-here-stfrancis-wildlife-is-already-at-capacity/

For updates, please check the St. Francis Wildlife website, www.stfranciswildlife.org and our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Wildlife.Matters.to.Florida.