It's been a busy season for wildlife rehabilitators. Abandoned or injured baby animals are commonly turned in to rescue centers at this time of year for a multitude of reasons, from a mother being killed and leaving behind her babies, to landscapers trimming a tree without noticing that nest of baby birds. The work to nurse these critters to health and release them back to the wild is rewarding not only because you're helping a vulnerable being in need, but also because look at the cute!

rescued baby bunnies

A litter of baby bunnies being nursed back to health. The rehabilitator lost three of them because they were so young, but the one survivor was released. "This one was very hard to let go because I became very attached but it's the best thing for the bunny." (Photo: Audrey/Flickr CC)

rescued baby bird

A tiny bird is wrapped in a sock to keep it warm and protected. (Photo: Margaret M Stewart/Shutterstock)

rescued baby squirrel

This tiny baby squirrel is only about 3 weeks old. "Once she is old enough, she will be set free in a safe area." (Photo: Audrey/Flickr CC)

rescued baby squirrels

Squirrels grow quickly and have big appetites! "As you can see, there can be unlimited amounts of food for them, and they still want each others'." (Photo: Audrey/Flickr CC)

rescued baby moles

A litter of seven tiny moles fits easily into the palm of this rehabilitator's hand. (Photo: Audrey/Flickr CC)

rescued baby possum

A rescued baby possum learns how to climb. (Photo: Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock)

rescued baby birds

This nest of tufted titmouse chicks is a lesson to check trees before pruning or better yet, wait until nesting season is over. They ended up with this rehabilitator because the people trimming the tree didn't see the nest. (Photo: Audrey/Flickr CC)

Certainly a big part of the satisfaction of being a wildlife rehabilitator comes with knowing that a tiny, helpless wild creature like this Florida panther kitten...

florida panther kitten

Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife/Flickr CC

... can be rescued, raised, and released back into the wild when it is grown enough to fend for itself:

rescued panther released into wild

Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife/Flickr CC

What to do, and what not to do, if you find baby wildlife:

Though the photos might make it tempting to take in any baby animal you come across, there are times when help actually isn't needed. Unless you're trained in wildlife rehabilitation, the first thing you should do is call your local wildlife rehab center. It might be that the baby animal you've found isn't injured, but is holding perfectly still in an effort to hide until you leave and the parents can return. And of course if you harbor any thoughts of raising up this little critter to keep it as a pet, you might get a rude awakening as soon as that wild animal hits adulthood. So the best way to help wildlife this spring is to get familiar with the numbers to your local wildlife rescue and rehab centers.

However, if you are interested in doing more, you can always volunteer with a local rehab center, and get the training and certification necessary to pick up injured wildlife and care for the animals as they heal. And if you're really serious about wildlife rehabilitation, you might even think about making it a full-time job!

releasing rehabilitated cattle egret

Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Department/Flickr CC

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