Ways to provide heat for orphan or injured wild animal


Saving a life begins with making sure an orphaned or injured animal has heat.

When you rescued the animal, you were directed to provide a T-shirt for comfort and warmth and to make sure you safely contained the animal to prevent escape. To review these steps, go to Quick Tips>I Found an Injured Mammal: How to Assess, Rescue, and Contain or Mammals > select the species > FAQs on babies.

Once you have safely contained and 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. To the rescued animal, you are a predator!

Different warming techniques:

    1. RICE SOCK: Place 1 cup of uncooked rice in a sock. Tie or rubber band the open end. Place sock 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. The Rice Sock will generally, hold the heat for a couple of hours. Check frequently, with little unfurred babies, as they cannot thermoregulate their body.
    2. HOT WATER BOTTLE: Put hot water in a bottle and place the bottle in a sock or wrap with a cloth. This is a good solution if you were traveling or at the office. Check frequently as it will need to be reheated especially with unfurred babies.
    3. HEATING PAD: 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 (never place heating pad in the container). This will keep the animal from overheating as it can move to the warm or cool side of the container. When checking on the baby, it should be warm 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. Normally, they will each hold the temperature long enough to transport to a wildlife rehabilitator.

Proceed to Quick Tips > How to Locate/Transport to a Wildlife Rehabber.