Found an animal that needs help? Looking for information about coexisting with urban wildlife? Need to find a rescue organization or re-home an exotic pet? This is your comprehensive guide for living with wildlife in the East Bay.
Do not automatically pick it up, first, determine whether or not the animal is actually in need of help. Please click one of the links below to determine the best course of action. Oakland Zoo does not take sick or injured wildlife, but there are many reputable resources in the Bay Area who can help.
Conflict with between humans and wildlife can often be resolved by simply preventing your home from becoming inviting for wild animals! Here are some tips from Conservation Society of California and our partners. Discouraging small animals like opossums, raccoons, skunks, and foxes can be as simple as:
If you live in or have a vacation home in a rural area, you may need to take some additional steps to the ones listed above. For example, if you only use your home part-time:
Sometime animals will look sick, injured or abandoned, but really are just using their natural defense mechanisms or are just waiting for a parent to return. For example, opossums are famous for playing dead and can lay motionless for up to an hour. Do not disturb an opossum that suddenly appears dead after being startled. Instead, leave it alone and check again after 1-2 hours.
Similarly, many baby mammals such as deer and rabbits may be left alone for several hours while the mother is off feeding. This is normal, natural behavior and the baby animals will remain in place and quietly discreet until the mother returns. The best course of action is to leave it alone and check back after 4-6 hours. Keep in mind that many mothers will NOT return to the den if they see people or pets nearby. You need to leave the immediate area and remain out of sight.
An animal that is truly in need of help will exhibit signs of illness or injury such as shivering, vomiting, bleeding, or if you know it was attacked by another animal or hit by a car.
Download a handy guide to caring for found baby mammals here.
Opossums are famous for playing dead, and can lay motionless for up to an hour. This is a natural defense mechanism and completely normal. Do not disturb an opossum who suddenly appears to be dead after being startled. Keep pets away from the opossum and leave it alone and check back after 1-2 hours.
Call a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center near you.
Baby moles or gophers are hairless and blind. They should not be found outside of the underground nest. If you cannot locate the tunnel, take it to a wildlife rehabilitation center.
Adult gophers and moles can be injured easily by lawn mowers and weed whackers. Bring injured adults to a wildlife rehabilitation center.
There are 2 species of squirrels in the Bay Area, fox squirrels nest in trees and ground squirrels who nest underground. In either case, a baby squirrel who is alone on the ground probably needs help. First, search for the nest. Look for more babies by carefully walking a few feet around the area and listening for high pitched cries. If possible, place the baby back into the nest, back away and observe from a distance to see if the mother returns.
If are unable to locate the nest, bring the infant to a wildlife rehabilitation center.
If an adult squirrel is missing large patches of hair, but its behavior is normal, it is probably suffering from sarcoptic mange. Most healthy adult squirrels can fight off this infection naturally so it is best to watch the squirrel for a few weeks. If you are unsure, call a wildlife rehabilitation center for advice before intervening.
If you must bring the animal into a hospital:
What to do if you find an injured bat:
If you must bring the bat to a wildlife rehabilitation center:
What to do if you find an injured adult fox or coyote:
What to do if you find an injured baby fox or coyote:
What to do if you find a baby deer left alone: The mother is most likely out feeding and will be gone for several hours. If you want you can keep back from a far distance and watch for the mother to return.
What to do if you see an injured fawn: Call a wildlife rehabilitation center or call animal services to pick it up.
If you must bring the fawn to a wildlife hospital: Keep as quiet as you can and touch the fawn as little as possible.
What to do if I find an injured adult deer?
Adult deer cannot be treated. They cannot handle the stress. Most injuries can heal on their own. It is best to leave them alone and stay as far away as possible. If you see that the deer has a broken bone you can call animal control.
Water Birds »
Download a handy guide to caring for found baby birds here.
It is very common for fledglings (baby birds with early feathers) to be found on the ground near the nest.Hopping out of the nest is a natural part of learning to fly.The parents will continue to feed and care for the fledgling during this time. Keep dogs and cats away from the fledgling, and observe from a distance.If the parents continue to visit the baby, it is best to leave it alone. If the parents do not return within several hours or if the bird appears injured, call a wildlife rehabilitator for advice.
Hatchlings (baby birds without feathers) may need some assistance to return to the nest. Try to locate the nest and replace the hatchling, be sure that the other babies in the nest match the one you are replacing! If you cannot find the nest, make one from a small carton or plastic box filled with grass and place it in a safe location near where the hatchling was found. Observe from a distance for a few hours to be sure that the parents return to the nest. If the new nest is within eye and ear shot of the old one, the parents should be able to locate it. Do not worry about your scent on the hatchling, the mother will not reject the baby.
Domestic cats often attack song birds which can be very stressful and injuries can be severe. Place the injured bird into a secure, covered container such as a shoe box and keep it warm, quiet, and dark. Do NOT offer food or water to the injured bird. It needs immediate medical care and a full stomach can cause complications. Get the bird to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.
Birds commonly hit windows of buildings because the reflections from the windows look like open space. Birds who have flown into windows may receive severe injuries to their eyes or brain and can suffer from broken bones. Place the injured bird into a secure, covered container such as a shoe box and keep it warm, quiet, and dark. Do NOT offer food or water to the injured bird. It needs immediate medical care and a full stomach can cause complications. Get the bird to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. For tips on preventing window strikes, visit Golden Gate Audubon Society.
Songbird is a broad classification of perching birds and the most common type of bird found in inland locations around the Bay Area. They include jays, mockingbirds, sparrows, finches, robins, and blackbirds just to name a few.
Keep the bird safe by preventing pets and children from approaching the bird.
Nestlings will have only fluffy down, without flight feathers (long feathers on the wings and tail). Nestlings need help!
Fledglings are baby birds who have fully or nearly fully developed flight feathers. Hopping on the ground is a normal part of the learning process for fledglings and the parents will continue to care for it even when it is on the ground. Observe from a distance and keep children and pets away from the bird.
Like other birds, it is very common for young raptor fledglings to be on the ground. Many can hop from perch to perch or climb back up to their nests. Often the parents will feed and care for the fledgling while it is on the ground. Keep dogs and cats away from the fledgling, and observe from a distance. If the parents continue to visit the baby, it is best to leave it alone.If the parents do not return within several hours or if the bird appears injured, call a wildlife rehabilitator for advice.
If you find an injured raptor or vulture, you may need to transport it to a wildlife rehabilitator. Raptors and owls have very sharp, very strong talons. Wear heavy leather gloves. Place a sheet or towel over the bird and gently place it in a secure container for transport. Keep the container warm, dark and quiet. Do not offer the bird any food or water. Get the bird to a rehabilitation center as soon as possible.
Nestling and fledgling raptors often are able to hop or climb back into their nests and parents will continue to care for them while they are on the ground.
It is very common to see aquatic birds on the ground, so signs of illness or injury may look different from other birds. Most birds are able to heal and adapt to minor injuries, but water birds are particularly susceptible to certain types of injuries such as becoming trapped in fishing lines or netting, or injuries from fishing hooks. Fishing hook and line injuries are most common in crowded piers. To avoid hooking a bird, try to spread out away from other anglers. If you are on a boat, move away from other boats.
If you see a potentially injured bird that you are unsure of, slowly approach. If you are able to get within about 10 feet without it flying away, it probably needs help. If the bird is a duck or goose that is regularly fed by humans in a park, the approach distance technique is not applicable. In this case, notify the authorities within the park.
Place a large sheet or towel over the bird and gently place it in a secure container such as a pet carrier or cardboard box with a lid. Cover the container with a towel or sheet to keep the area warm, dark and quiet.
From time to time, anglers will accidentally hook a pelican or other water bird, don’t panic.
The only venomous reptile living in the Bay Area is the Western Rattlesnake which is easily identifiable by the rattles at the tip of the tail. Never attempt to handle a rattlesnake. If you find one that is injured, contact animal control.
Most reptiles and amphibians display little to no maternal care. Infants are born or hatched fully prepared to care for themselves. The best thing for infant reptiles is to leave them alone in their natural habitat. If you find a healthy, uninjured animal crossing a busy road or pathway, you can help by simply moving the animal out of the path or road in the same direction they were heading.
The most common problem encountered is turtles on the road. If a turtle is attempting to cross a busy road or path, help them out by simply moving them off the road in the direction in which they were heading. Turtles are often hit by cars while crossing roads and it can be difficult to tell if a turtle is gravely injured, or dead (even for experts). However, even dead female turtles may have eggs inside them which can be saved. It's best to take any injured turtle to a wildlife rehabilitation center.
Turtles and tortoises are often injured by curious pet dogs. Small chips in a turtle or tortoise shell will heal on their own, but if a puncture is deep or close to the spine, take them to a wildlife rehabilitation center.
Snakes and lizards can be injured by cars, or attacked by pets. Injured snakes will have an obvious wound or may be unable to move part of its body (for example, the front half may move, but the rear appears limp).
Amphibian skin is very sensitive and delicate. Avoid touching the amphibian with bare hands. Amphibian skin is sensitive to drying out. The best way to transport an amphibian is in a container with a moistened towel placed on the bottom. Be sure to cover the top of the container.
If you cannot transport the frog or salamander to a wildlife hospital immediately or if the clinic is not open, keep the frog, toad, or salamander in a warm, quiet place in the covered container until you are able to bring it to the clinic. It is not necessary to try to feed the frog, toad, or salamander, and it is best not to try to treat any injury you might observe.
Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society »
A wildlife rehabilitation center takes care of injured wild animals and then releases the animal back to the wild. Most rehabilitation centers are run by volunteers and do not have the staffing to respond to calls requiring pick up. You may be asked to transport the animal yourself to their veterinary or rehabilitation center.
1931 First Avenue, Walnut Creek, CA 94597
Phone: (925) 935-1978
37175 Hickory Street, Newark, CA 94560
Phone: (510) 797-9449
1801 D Street, Hayward, CA 94541
Phone: (510) 421-9897
3027 Penitencia Creek Road, San Jose, CA 95132
Phone: (408) 929-9453 (929-WILD)
1450 Rollins Rd., Burlingame, CA 94010
Phone: (650) 340-7022
3430 Chanate Road, Santa Rosa CA 95404
Phone: (707) 523-2473
4369 Cordelia Road, Fairfield, California 94534
Phone: (707) 207-0380 Extension 110
76 Albert Park Ln., San Rafael, CA 94901
Wildlife hotline: (415) 456-7283
Wildlife emergencies after 5:00pm: (415) 300-6359
Bay Area Herpetological Society »
California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s mission is “to manage California's diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.” This includes working to prevent illegal poaching, giving out fishing and hunting licenses, monitoring and protecting waterways and public lands from invasive species, and prosecuting polluters.
CDFW also works with researchers and biologists to monitor the health of various populations of our native flora and fauna and makes recovery plans for endangered species. Fish and wildlife is NOT a rehabilitation center and does not take injured or orphaned wildlife, though their website lists potential rehabilitation centers by county if a referral is needed.
CDFW does not remove small animals such as raccoons, opossums, or fox from your property. Contact a pest control company for removal of backyard wildlife. This agency is considered a branch of law enforcement whose focus is on fish, wildlife, and plants.If you suspect someone is illegally taking or mishandling wildlife in state or national parks or forests, please report the actions and specific location along with a description of the person(s) to CDFW at 1-888-334-2258.
Oversees pet licensing, lost and found pets, or removal of dead animals from the side of the road. This is also the agency you contact to report animal bites, sick or injured stray animals, or suspected animal abuse. Some centers may provide low-cost services such as spay/neuter, vaccinations, and microchipping.
1101 29th Avenue, Oakland, CA 94601
Phone: (510) 535-5602
4595 Gleason Drive, Dublin, CA 94568
Phone: (925) 803-7040
1590 Fortmann Way, Alameda, CA 94501
Phone: (510) 337-8565
4800 Imhoff Place, Martinez, CA 94553
Phone: (925) 608-8400
910 San Pablo Ave. Pinole, CA 94564
Phone: (925) 608-8400
171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd., Novato 94949
Phone: (415) 506-6225
876 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, 94960
Phone: (415) 747-8322
1200 15th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 554-6364
12226 San Pablo Avenue, Richmond, CA 94805 Phone: (510) 215-9300 After hours emergencies: (510) 548-6684
4800 Imhoff Place, Martinez, CA 94553
Phone: (925) 608-8400