What is Rehabilitation?
Wildlife rehabilitation is the care of injured and orphaned wildlife by providing medical care, food and housing while taking precautions to minimize the animals' stress and maintain animals in their natural wild state so that they can appropriately be released back to the wild once they are able to survive on their own. Wildlife rehabilitators hold permits from State and Federal governments for their work and the permits they hold determine what animals they are allowed to accept for treatment.
A wildlife rehabilitator should understand a variety of information about each species treated and is equipped to meet each species' individual requirements. Food requirements vary greatly between species as well as between babies and adults. Medical care varies among species. Caging requirements vary among species. Anatomy varies among species. Release criteria varies among species. So besides legal issues that require you to take an animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, it is also in the animal's best interest that the person you select holds permits and has knowledge and experience dealing with the species of animal you found.
We often receive calls from people who are interested in becoming a wildlife rehabilitator. While we certainly need more good rehabilitators to handle the ever-growing number of animals that are injured or displaced by human activity, it is important to understand the serious commitment typically required of wildlife rehabilitators. To that end, we've included two publications - Learn About Wildlife Rehabilitation and Wildlife Rehabilitation Is it for You? - that should help you evaluate whether wildlife rehabilitation is truly for you.