RAPTOR HOTLINE: 423-847-5757

Advice for wildlife emergencies

Before approaching wildlife, call or text us at 423-665-WILD or 423-520-NEST. We can help you determine if the animal needs to be rescued, and assist you with care instructions until you can arrange for transport of the animal to a rehabilitator.

NEVER ATTEMPT TO RAISE AN ORPHANED WILD ANIMAL. Tennessee state law prohibits individuals from keeping wild animals without a permit. Laws are enforced for the well being of the animal AND for YOUR well-being, too!

This does NOT mean you can't help the animal.

How to help sick, injured or orphaned wildlife:

Remember to call or text us first at 423-665-WILD or 423-520-NEST. We may not be able to answer immediately, so please leave a message. We will return your call as soon as possible.

Please follow these temporary care instructions for ALL animals.

  1. DO NOT GIVE THE ANIMAL FOOD OR WATER. Feeding an incorrect diet can result in sickness, injury and sometimes death.
  2. Place the animal in an appropriately-sized carrier or box lined with towels, paper towels or an old t-shirt. Poke a few holes in the box and lid and make sure the lid is secure.
  3. If the animal feels cold to the touch or is lethargic (sitting still with eyes mostly closed) or looks "puffed up" it is probably in shock. It's very important to warm the animal up if it is in shock. Hairless or featherless babies CANNOT regulate their own body temperature and MUST be kept on heat. Place a heating pad (on the low heat setting) inside the box, or sit the box on top of the heating pad. Keep the secured animal in a warm, dark and quiet location until ready for transport. If you do not have a heating pad, an alternate heat source needs to be used, but making sure not to overheat. We often recommend a Hot Hands warmer (wrapped up, not directly touching the animal), hot water bottle, wheat/rice sack, ziplock bag with hot water, or in emergency, even your own hands for body heat.
  4. LEAVE THE ANIMAL ALONE. Human sound, touch and even eye contact can be very stressful for wild animals. Keep children and pets away.
  5. Be prepared to write down and carefully follow the instructions given to you by Happinest.

By law, we can only rehabilitate animals found in Tennessee.

Your safety is important!

  • Handle ALL animals with extreme CAUTION!
  • ALWAYS wear gloves.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after animal contact.
  • If bitten, seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY!

The following animals are rabies-vector species and should NEVER be handled with bare hands:

  • Bats
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Foxes
  • Coyotes

Rabies is typically transmitted to humans via the bite of a rabid animal. Occasionally it can be transmitted if the saliva of an infected animal gets into a break in the skin or contact with mucous membranes.

The best way to protect against rabies is by taking sensible precautions and using good common sense.

NEVER approach a wild raccoon and ALWAYS wear gloves when handling a wild animal, even if it is dead.

Remember to be very cautious with wild animals, as they can also carry parasites and other disease.