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Injured & Orphaned Reptiles and Amphibians

The Tenafly Nature Center does not take injured or orphaned wildlife! An animal’s best chance of survival is in the care of its own mother.

If your circumstance requires you to handle it, always wear protective gloves and place a towel over it to reduce stress. Always take extreme caution with wild animals. They may harbor diseases and try to defend themselves when fearful. Always be overly cautious of an animal you suspect is sick and in this scenario, keep yourself, children, and pets at a distance, and contact animal control immediately.

Have you found a reptile or an amphibian?

The guideline for herps (reptiles and amphibians) care differs from that of other animals. Most herps do not care for their young. Every birth cycle, more offspring are produced than the environment can sustain.

When should you step in?

  • The most common reason a herp may need your help is if it is non-native. This means that some one tried to take on an exotic pet and then decided to dump it.
  • Iguanas & Bearded Dargons (lizards), Red-eared sliders (turtles), and Pythons (snakes) are common examples of pets that need very specific climatic conditions to survive.
  • If you are knowledgeable about northeastern America’s reptiles and amphibians, and believe someone’s ex-pet is on the loose, there are specific places you can bring them.
  • Take extreme caution if you are trying to handle the animal, or contact the organization prior if you feel unsure.
  • Even natives may need your help. An injured reptile or amphibian could benefit from the help of a wildlife rehabilitator.
  • Signs of injury include a cracked shell, missing limb, emaciation, bleeding, injury from a car, or attacked by a dog/cat.

How to Transport a Rescued Animal to the Wildlife Rehabilitator:

  1. Prepare a container. Place a clean, soft cloth or towel at the bottom of a cardboard box or cat/dog carrier with a lid. If there is no ventilation, make air holes.
  2. Protect yourself. Remember that these are wild animals. They are scared and may try to defend themselves. Even if the animal doesn’t try to scratch, bite, or peck, parasites and diseases are common. Wear gloves, cover the animal with another cloth or towel, and gently place it in the container. Wash your hands and forearms after contact.
  3. Keep the animal calm and warm. Keep children and pets away. Do not bother or handle the animal longer than necessary. Keep it covered for warmth and in a dark quite place.
  4. Do not attempt to feed or provide water.
  5. Note where you found the animal. This is important for release.
  6. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator. Do not keep the animal in your home. It is illegal to house injured/orphaned wildlife without the proper training and credentials.
The advice expressed on this page is to be utilized at your own discretion. Laws regarding wildlife may differ between counties.

Painted Turtle - Native
(Belongs outside)

Red Eared Slider - Non-native
(Do not belong outside)

Bearded Dragon - Non-native
(Do not belong outside)

For a complete list of
Wildlife Rehabilitators in
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