Many young wild animals that may appear to be abandoned really are not. Their mothers are most likely nearby and will return to feed them throughout the day.Here are some ways to tell if young animals need assistance:
If white-tail deer visit your property throughout the year, do not be surprised if you discover a fawn curled up, much like a sleeping cat, close to your house during May and June. This fawn is not abandoned and does not need your help. The mother will return at night to care for the fawn. If it is still in the same spot the following morning, call the Center for further information. On the other hand signs or distress include, a fawn lying beside a dead mother along the side of a road or a fawn lying on its side or attracting flies. These situations do require assistance.
Eastern cottontails nest in small depressions in the ground, typically near bushes, but sometimes out in the open or in a flower bed. The nest is often covered with loose grass. Mother rabbits nurse their young near dawn and then leave the nest until dusk, when they return to nurse again. If you are in doubt as to whether the mother is actually returning to the nest, place a few pieces of string across the nest and check it the next morning. If the string has been disturbed, chances are very good that the mother returned to check on her young.
Young cottontails are ready to leave the nest at three to four weeks of age. At this stage, they are fully furred, their eyes are open, and they are no longer nursing. They may appear to be too small to be on their own, but unless they are injured they do not need our assistance.