We understand more than most that baby animals are downright adorable, but is it ever a good idea to take an animal from the wild to keep as a pet? The answer to that would be, no. No matter how cute a wild animal is, removing them from their home in the wild to bring in and attempt to keep them as a domestic animal is never advisable for many reasons.
Wild animals can be dangerous. Wild animals are just that: wild. They have natural instincts that they have developed to protect themselves, and it is not uncommon for them to bite, scratch, or attack their owners, other pets, and children.
- They can carry a multitude of diseases. Wild animals can carry what are known as “zoonotic diseases”. These are illnesses that can be transferred from animals to people, such as salmonella, rabies, and psittacosis. They can also carry parasites that can transfer to other pets and humans as well.
- Wild animals are not suited for captivity. No matter how much they may seem like they can adapt from living outdoors to in your home, the simple fact is they have evolved to live in their natural habitats which provide them with the open space, resources, and stimulation that they need. Captive environments, especially those of a typical home, cannot replicate these environments and the animals often suffer from boredom, malnutrition, and stress. They could also develop behavioral problems such as aggression or self-injury.
- Keeping wild animals as pets is illegal. According to the Illinois Wildlife Code, the keeping of wild, native animals is against the law without a special permit. Wildlife rehabilitators that are licensed by the state of Illinois are allowed to keep wildlife in captivity, with the goal of rehabilitation and release.
Most people who are unlicensed to rehabilitate wild animals, but still have them in a captive setting, are not setting out to break the law. They are often well-meaning people or those who have their hearts in the right place and may just be unaware of the laws regarding captive wildlife.
It’s hard to see an animal in distress, and many people want to try and help. The best way to do this is to look up licensed wildlife rehabilitation organizations near you.
Rock Springs Nature Center and the Macon County Conservation District are not licensed wildlife rehabilitators. This is outside the scope of our work, but we are lucky to live in an area with exceptional wildlife rehabilitators not too far away.
Organizations like the Illinois Raptor Center or the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Center are just a couple of options nearby with the appropriate licenses and permits, and they both do excellent work for the wildlife of Central Illinois. Reaching out to them for advice before removing an animal from the wild is the best course of action. Let’s all do our part to keep wildlife wild.