Wildlife rehabilitators routinely receive patients critically ill with anemia, diarrhea, nutrition-related hair loss, tooth decay, bloat, and other serious problems when people have tried to raise baby wild animals themselves. When we start taking information about the animal’s history, we all too often hear, “I’ve been feeding it goat’s milk.”
Regardless of what your Google search, your father-in-law, your Facebook group, or your former roommate told you, goat’s milk is not an acceptable milk substitute for any wild animal in our area. Yet, somehow, the myth persists that it is an ideal milk for opossums, raccoons, foxes, rabbits, bobcats, and many other animals that are definitely not baby goats.
Nature knew what it was doing when mammals developed their own individual milks. A rabbit, for example, has an extremely concentrated milk since they only feed their kits twice daily. A whale’s milk is full of massive amounts of fat to help their calves produce blubber. A kangaroo’s milk has almost no lactose and a human’s milk is full of specialized fats for brain development. Milk isn’t just a matter of being “nutritious,” but specifically formulated for each species. The wrong nutritional profile can prove fatal.
Goat’s milk is an excellent milk for raising baby goats, but if you’ve found a baby animal in need of help, please don’t feed it goat’s milk or any other milk. Bring it to a professional immediately so it can receive formula made for its own body.