Wild animals don’t always make good pets

By Dr. Florian Ledermann

This time of year, it is not unusual to find injured or abandoned wild animals in our yards or fields near our dwellings. These animals are subject to the same risks that humans are in their quest for survival.
These situations always present us with decisions as to what we should do to solve their dilemma.
First off, our diagnosis of “abandonment or injury” must be done with caution before attempting to move the bird or animal. I, as a veterinarian, found that many times, humans intervened too soon in an effort to rescue these creatures.
Fledgling birds and young animals that are beginning their separation from their parents can bring us to believe that by intervening, we are helping the youngsters to survive. Most often, we are better off not touching or moving them, as the chances of survival go down dramatically from the stress of handling.
Obviously, if injury is very evident, the finder should seek veterinary care, as they are equipped to help the injured in many cases. Since funds for this care are not readily available, the finder is usually responsible for the caring costs. In the case of birds of prey, the University of Minnesota Raptor Center is a nationally recognized source of care.
There are still a lot of rescued or captured wild animals and birds that are kept as pets, which is usually not a good idea. These creatures are adapted to living in the wild and many times do not do well in captivity.
In addition, there are often human health risks to keeping these animals in close contact with people. A case in point, pet skunks present a high risk of rabies for humans because of the carrier state in these animals. Many localities and states make it illegal to keep skunks.
Birds can be carriers of Salmonella and respiratory diseases that are risky for human health. Wild birds that are captured in foreign countries and imported to the states should make us think twice about purchase for our enjoyment.
For advice concerning wild animal situations, contact your veterinarian, local humane society or the Department of Natural Resources for help.

Dr. Florian Ledermann retired after 43 years of veterinary practice. He enjoys innkeeping, grape growing/wine making and spending time with his 13 grandchildren.

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