If you’ve found an animal, please click here for first steps and read the instructions for each species listed below. You can also call us at 908-730-8300 ext 4 if you have questions about what to do. Do not give the animal food or water.
Please also ensure that your voicemail system is set up and not full so we can help you promptly.
To view animal instructions, click the animal photo and read the care description provided.
Woodlands Wildlife Refuge has permits to care for the following species:
Mammals: Rodents (chipmunks, squirrels, etc.), minks, skunks, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, bats, beavers, otters, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, bears Reptiles & Amphibians: Turtles, snakes, salamanders, frogs, toads
For all other species such as birds and deer, please use the list below to find a rehabilitator permitted for those species.
Click here to find a NJ wildlife rehabilitator near you.
Mother deer very commonly leave their fawn alone, in a curled up position, while she feeds. If you see a fawn lying down without its mother, leave it alone. You may not see its mother during the day, but she is probably watching you. Stay away from the fawn so its mother will feel safe to return. If the fawn has not moved, or the mother has not returned by the next morning, please contact the wildlife rehabilitator closest to you. If the fawn is injured, there is a foul odor or flies around it, please contact the wildlife rehabilitator closest to you for advice.
Please note Woodlands Wildlife Refuge does not have permits to rehabilitate deer, please use the list below to find a permitted rehabilitator closest to you.
Click here to find a NJ wildlife rehabilitator near you.
Foxes are most active around dusk and dawn and year round. Foxes use maternal dens and typically all move on after the kits are old enough to follow the parents. Both parents care for the fox kits. Fox kits generally will not be seen alone outside of their den when very young. As the kits get older they begin to explore outside their den. If you see one or more kits wandering around an area for more than a couple of hours and there is no sign of the parent(s), they might be orphaned. From a distance or inside, watch the area and activity. If the kits do not go back to their den by dusk, please call a wildlife rehabilitator for advice. Foxes often get the mange parasite which is a tiny mite that lives in the hair follicles. Mange by itself is not life threatening and in many cases the fox can overcome the parasite on its own. For fox concerns and questions Woodlands Wildlife Refuge can be contacted at 908-730-8300 x4
Opossums are North America’s only marsupial! The mother carries the young in her pouch. They are active mainly at night foraging on the ground and can climb trees. Opossums that are not injured and are over 7 inches long (excluding the tail) are old enough to be on their own and should be left alone. If the baby is under 7 inches and all alone, please call the wildlife rehabilitator closest to you. If you find a mother opossum that is dead or hit by a car, check her pouch for infants. Any pouch infants will need help. Do not try to remove them from the pouch. Please contact the wildlife rehabilitator closest to you.
Rabbits are most active around dusk and dawn and year round. Rabbit nests are often in areas of open lawn and have even been in gardens and potted plants. If the rabbits’ eyes are open, ears are up, and it is larger than a tennis ball, they are old enough to be on their own and do NOT need rescuing. Mother rabbits only visit the nest at dusk and dawn to feed the infants. The “string test” can be done by placing thin string in an “X” formation over the top of the nest. Check the nest the next morning and if the string has been disturbed then the mother has been coming back to feed the infants. If you mowed over a nest and the rabbits are not injured, simply place them back in the nest and use the “string test” to make sure the mother is coming back to feed them. However, in recent years we have had calls that mother rabbits have been eluding the string test and a nest may seem abandoned when it is not! Call a rehabilitator for further instruction on how to tell if the nest is truly abandoned. If the rabbit has obvious injuries, please contact a wildlife rehabilitator right away. If your cat brought home a rabbit in its mouth, please contact the wildlife rehabilitator. For rabbit concerns and questions Woodlands Wildlife Refuge can be contacted at 908-730-8300 x4
Raccoons are mainly active at night, but can be seen during the day when young are with the mother or if the mother is out foraging while the young are in the den. They are active year round. Raccoon mothers will sometimes move her infants to another nest once their eyes are open. If the infant’s eyes are open leave the area to give the mother a chance to come back for it. Watch from indoors to see if the mother comes back within a few hours. Call the rehabilitator at this time for further instructions. Note: Reuniting has been successful up to 5 days later. If the mother does not return, there are flies, or the infant is injured, please contact a licensed rehabilitator. If the infant’s eyes are closed it will need help, please call the wildlife rehabilitator closest to you. Raccoons smaller than a football are not old enough to be on their own. If there are obvious injuries, flies or the infant appears to be in very poor body condition, please call the wildlife rehabilitator closest to you. For raccoon concerns and questions Woodlands Wildlife Refuge can be contacted at 908-730-8300 x4
Skunks are mainly active at night, but can be seen during the day when young are with the mother or if the mother is out foraging while the young are in the den. They are active year round. If you find an infant skunk alone that has its eyes closed, please call the wildlife rehabilitator closest to you. As infant skunks get older, they sometimes come out to explore while their mother is away. Most of the time, however, they don’t appear without her. If you repeatedly see an infant outside alone, it may be orphaned. If the skunk appears to be truly orphaned, is injured, or there are flies around it, please contact the wildlife rehabilitator closest to you. If you have accidentally caught a skunk in a trap: slowly cover the trap with a dark towel or blanket to calm the skunk. Then open the trap so the skunk can leave on its own. **Please call us if you are in need of help with any wildlife concerns. Trapping out animals can leave orphaned young and possibly lead to other concerns. For skunk concerns and questions Woodlands Wildlife Refuge can be contacted at 908-730-8300 x4
*To remove the smell of skunk, combine 1/4 cup of baking soda, 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, and a splash of dish detergent in a spray bottle. STIR do not shake! Apply generously to the area. Discard the rest of the solution. Recipe may be halved if less is needed.
There are 3 species of squirrels in New Jersey. Eastern gray squirrels, red squirrels and flying squirrels. Flying squirrels are active at night while the other 2 species are active during the day. Gray squirrels have 2 litters a year. If you find an infant squirrel, don’t panic. Mother squirrels have more than one nest and she will move her young to the secondary nest if necessary. The mother will come back to retrieve her young when she feels it’s safe. If you know the mother is around, leave the area so she will feel safe to come back. It is best to observe from indoors. If you have not seen the mother after several hours, put the infant in small box and try to get it in the nearest tree or off the ground. Continue to watch from indoors to see if the mother comes back within a few hours. If she does not return, there are flies, or the infant is injured, please contact a licensed rehabilitator. Reuniting with squirrels has been successful up to 5 days later. Please follow the instructions after speaking with the rehabilitator. If your cat brought home a squirrel in its mouth, please contact the wildlife rehabilitator closest to you. For squirrel concerns and questions Woodlands Wildlife Refuge can be contacted at 908-730-8300 x4
New Jersey has 11 species of native turtles. Most commonly seen are Eastern box, snapping, and Eastern painted. Some live on land and most in the waterways. All are reptiles and hibernate in winter. If you find a turtle crossing the road, and it does not have injuries, please move it to the side of the road in the direction it was heading so it can continue its journey safely. If the turtle has injuries, please contact the wildlife rehabilitator closest to you. Red ear slider turtles are not native to New Jersey and should never be released in the wild. For turtle concerns and questions Woodlands Wildlife Refuge can be contacted at 908-730-8300 x4
Red Ear Slider Turtles
Red ear slider turtles are not a native species in New Jersey and are detrimental to our native species. They can be easily mistaken for native painted turtles. Please take pictures and call for proper identification. Woodlands Wildlife Refuge cannot accept these turtles for rehabilitation or surrender.
Below are the websites for organizations that help find homes for these domestic pet turtles. You can also try social media groups created for animals that need homes such as this one Animals In NJ That Need Homes.
Jersey Shore Tortoise and Turtle Rescue- https://jerseyshoretortrescue.com/
Scales & Tails at http://www.scalesandtails.org
Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society at http://www.matts-turtles.org/ adoptions.html
Forgotten Friend Reptile Rescue at http://www.forgottenfriend.org
New York Turtle and Tortoise Society at http://www.nytts.org
Garden State Tortoise – https://www.gardenstatetortoise.com/unwanted-turtles
Also known as groundhogs and whistle pigs, woodchucks are large rodents active in the daytime and they hibernate in winter. It is common to see them grazing in grassy fields and they can climb trees. Woodchuck infants generally will not be seen alone outside of their den when very young. As infant woodchucks get older, they sometimes come out to explore while their mother is away. Most of the time, however, they don’t appear without her. If you repeatedly see an infant outside alone, it may be orphaned. If the woodchuck appears to be truly orphaned, is injured, or there are flies around it, please contact the wildlife rehabilitator closest to you. If you have woodchucks under your deck, porch, or shed and hope to humanely encourage them to live elsewhere call us! We have many tips for just that and we receive these calls every year. **Please note: Trapping out animals can leave orphaned young and possibly lead to other concerns. For woodchuck concerns and questions Woodlands Wildlife Refuge can be contacted at 908-730-8300 x4
New Jersey has 23 species of snakes. Some are more active during the day and some at night. All are reptiles and hibernate in winter. Most commonly seen are black rat, black racer, garter and milk snakes. There are 2 venomous species of snake in New Jersey – timber rattlesnake and Northern copperhead. Please respect all snakes and let them be if they are not injured or in need of help. If you find an injured snake or if one is caught in a net or glue trap, or perhaps by a cat or dog, please call a wildlife rehabilitator right away. Please do not handle the snake before a definite identification is made. For snake concerns and questions Woodlands Wildlife Refuge can be contacted at 908-730-8300 x4
Bobcats are elusive native predators to the region and endangered in New Jersey. They are active mostly at night and year round. They are rarely seen. If you have seen an injured or possibly orphaned bobcat, Woodlands Wildlife Refuge can be contacted at 908-730-8300 x4
Black bears are the largest land mammal in New Jersey. They are an integral part of the state’s natural heritage and a vital component of healthy ecosystems. Black bears live in mixed hardwood forests, dense swamps and forested wetlands. They prefer areas with dense cover. In New Jersey, excellent bear habitat is found primarily within Sussex, Passaic, Warren and Morris counties. However, as the bear population increases, black bears are expanding their range both east and south. Black bear sightings have now been confirmed statewide. Bears are highly adaptable and can live among human development.
Black bears are omnivorous. As opportunistic feeders they will consume whatever food is available. About seventy-five percent (75%) of a black bear’s diet is comprised of plants. They will naturally consume berries, fruit, nuts, insects, bird eggs, small mammals and carrion. When black bears emerge from their winter dens they will primarily eat newly emergent skunk cabbage, grasses, forbs, tubers, bulbs and insects. They may also feed on carrion, such as white-tailed deer carcasses. With the onset of summer, black bears will consume more soft mast items, such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and wild cherries. By fall, their diet will consist mostly of hard mast items, such as acorns, beechnuts and hickory nuts. Throughout late summer and fall, black bears need to consume a minimum of 20,000 calories a day to prepare for the winter den season. The main source of unnatural foods for black bears in New Jersey is garbage.
Female bears emerge from their dens with their cubs in New Jersey around mid April. If you find a young bear that appears to be without its mother, leave it alone. Mothers will sometimes leave their young for periods of time to search for food. These young animals are usually not in danger, and their mothers may be nearby even if you don’t see them. If you have reason to believe that a bear cub you encounter is orphaned, give us a call for further advice.
Every spring mother bears expel their yearling (approx 18 month old) cubs from their dens after hibernation. The newly homeless young bears must find food and stomping grounds for the first time in their lives. Sometimes, they end up in unlikely places.
If you have seen an injured or possibly orphaned bear, Woodlands Wildlife Refuge can be contacted at 908-730-8300 x4.
Click Here to visit the NJDFW’s “Know The Bear Facts” page for information about Black Bears in New Jersey and how we can be better neighbors to our wild friends.
What To Do If You Find An Orphaned Wild Animal:
Don’t Rush!! – It may not be orphaned at all. Wild young must go out and about with Mom in order to learn how to make it on their own. Mom may not be in sight when you came along.
Observe – Gather as much information as possible about the animal. What kind? Is there blood or flies? Is it moving? Is it making noises? Is it plump and round or scrawny and thin?
Leave the area – If there are no apparent injuries, leave the area for a while. This will give you a chance to call for advice and it will give the wild Mom a chance to retrieve her young.
Return – With the advice you have been given, you can now safely do what is best for both the animal and yourself.
What To Do If You Find An Injured Wild Animal:
Don’t panic or rush!! – You could put yourself in danger and/or cause more injury to the animal.
Don’t touch!! – Unless it has to be moved out of immediate danger (such as the road). Then you must protect yourself. Never handle injured animals without creating a barrier between it and you. For example, use heavy gloves, a blanket, net, box or board.
Do not feed!! – Keep animal warm, dark and quiet.
Call for help or advice – Do not attempt to take care of wild animals yourself. This is for your safety.