“Mom, it’s so cute! Can we keep it and take care of it?”
“I’m the person everyone in the neighborhood comes to with animals. I’m good at raising them.” “When we were growing up, we always had pets. I think I’ll raise this animal to teach my kids about nature.”
We know you love them and want to help them – here’s why turning that injured or orphaned native wildlife over to a wildlife rehabilitator is the best way to help!
Abducted by Aliens!
How would you like to be abducted by aliens? At first it might seem interesting, but think how frustrated you would be after a short time when you couldn’t communicate with your abductors, you didn’t understand what they wanted from you, and they certainly didn’t understand what you needed. That is exactly how a wild animal feels; we are aliens to them. They need to be raised and live with their own species, just as we do. A wild animal living in a domestic situation, even a great one, is under constant stress, and its life span will almost definitely be much shorter than normal.
The Terrible Twos!
We’re all familiar with the terrible twos when children seem to be unusually difficult. Keeping a wild animal means living with a perpetually unruly child. Not because the animal wants to be difficult, but because it is an animal that follows its natural instincts. These instincts may lead the animal to bite, scratch, or become destructive, many times without warning. A young animal may appear tame, but as it attains adulthood, it will become aggressive and unpredictable.
I’ve Got Mange!
Well, yes you could catch mange from animals (and so can your pets); there are over 100 diseases which can be transmitted from animals to humans. These diseases include rabies, lyme disease, parrot fever, and ringworm; their severity ranges from deadly (rabies) to inconvenient (ringworm). All wild animals are susceptible to diseases and parasites, and you have no way of knowing what the animal was exposed to before you found it. Don’t keep wild animals and you won’t expose yourself or your family to any of these problems.
The Police Are at the Door!
Yes, a warden could come to your door because it is illegal to keep wild animals here in Virginia without a permit. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries issues a limited number of permits to qualifying institutions and individuals to possess wild animals for scientific, educational, or rehabilitation purposes. NO permits are issued for keeping wild animals as pets.
What You Should Do
If you find an injured wild animal, call the wildlife hotline at (703) 440-0800; a volunteer will help you decide whether the animal needs assistance; if it does, the hotline will put you in contact with a wildlife rehabilitator. See our brochure “Does this animal need help?” for more information.