Saving a life begins with making sure an orphaned or injured animal has heat. Begin by providing soft bedding for the animal you are rescuing. An old T-shirt or similar fabric is ideal. Avoid fabrics with large loops or an extremely open weave. Towels, terry cloth, and similar fabrics have threads that can get wrapped around little toes and ankles and cut off circulation.
Once you have provided bedding, the next step is to supply warmth. Holding or placing an animal in your pocket is not an adequate or safe way to keep the baby warm. It is also terrifying for the animal. Remember, to the animal you are rescuing, you are a predator!
- Place 1 cup of uncooked rice in a sock and tie or rubber band the open end. Place in the microwave for 1 minute. If not warm, heat another 30-60 seconds until the sock is warm but NOT HOT. If you don’t have rice, try lentils or similar product.
- Put hot water in a bottle and place the bottle in a sock. This is a good solution if you are traveling or at the office.
- If it will be several hours until you can transport the animal to a rehabilitator, use a heating pad set on low. It is very important to place heating pad under one half of the container only so that the animal can choose the side of the container it prefers. When checking on the baby, it should be warm but not sweaty or hot.
- CAUTION: Newer heating pads have automatic shut offs that you may need to monitor if you are keeping the animal overnight.
The rice sock or hot water bottle will travel with the animal as you are transporting to a wildlife rehabilitator. Each can be reheated as needed and normally they will each hold the temperature long enough to transport the animal to safety.