It’s baby season, so we’ll be focusing our posts over the next few days on identifying babies that are truly orphaned and in need of help! Some of the most common kidnapping victims are fawns. Their mothers leave them alone for long periods of time, so well-meaning people often mistake them for orphans. It’s usually best to leave a fawn exactly where you found it. Some signs to that you do need to call a wildlife rehabilitator are:
- The fawn is crying. A fawn will make a loud, desperate “myaaa” sound when extremely hungry. Fawns don’t usually vocalize because their noises can attract predators, so crying is a sign that something is amiss and that the baby is desperate for its mother.
- The fawn has curled ears. When a fawn becomes dehydrated, its ears curl at the tips. Some healthy fawns have naturally curled ears, so it’s not a good idea to use this sign alone as a reason to take a fawn into care. Instead, look for this symptom along with other red flags.
- You see flies, fly eggs, or maggots. Flies are drawn not just to dead animals, but also sick or weak ones. An orphaned fawn may be surrounded by flies or have eggs in its fur. (These look like grains of rice.) When the eggs hatch, this is a medical emergency and needs very urgent attention.
- The fawn has is visibly injured. While minor scrapes and bumps often heal fine on their own, serious injuries like gashes, bites, and broken bones warrant medical attention. Please take an injured fawn to a rehabilitator as quickly as possible.
- You have seen no sign of the mother for more than 48 hours. In the absence of other signs of danger, it is safe to leave a fawn up to 48 hours to wait for its mother to return. We have seen many cases of mothers who left their young for long periods of time but ultimately returned. However, after 48 hours, it’s usually best to “call it” and assume that the mother isn’t coming back.
Please remember that rehabilitation is not a DIY job! If you do find a fawn who needs help, it is critical to get in touch with a licensed rehabilitator as quickly as possible so the fawn can receive proper care. If you’re here in Tennessee, our friends at Walden’s Puddle in middle Tennessee and Little Ponderosa in East Tennessee are currently able to accept fawns.