Rabies-Vector Species


Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system, changing an animal’s behavior and causing increased aggression and a pronounced lack of fear. Any mammal acting unusually friendly or overly aggressive should be reported to Animal Control. In Maryland, rabies is found most often in stray/feral cats, raccoons, foxes, bats, and skunks. Healthy, uninjured, orphaned foxes, raccoons, and skunks should be taken to a fully RVS-permitted  facility. Please call your nearest wildlife rehabilitator for advice if you have a RVS.


  • Any bat found on the ground.
  • Any kit found abandoned and cold. NOTE: Foxes have multiple dens and may be in the process of moving their litter. A lone kit that appears abandoned may be the last to be moved. Give the parents time to retrieve the kit before intervening.
  • Any kit with visible injuries. NOTE: Raccoons often nest in trees. Check the young for injuries and, from a safe distance, watch to see if the mother retrieves the young before intervening.
  • Any kits that were attacked by another animal, especially a cat.
  • Any kits that were hit by a car or moving equipment.
  • Any kits that are bothered by flies and/or ants.
  • Any kits that have been handled by a child.


  • Any RVS displaying abnormal behavior. Keep children and pets away from the animal and alert animal control.
  • Any older-juvenile raccoon, skunk or fox. If they are roughly two-thirds the size of an adult, and subsequently weaned from their mother, they are considered adult by law.
  • Any young raccoons found in a nest in your attic, etc. To evict the litter, locate the nest site and place a small radio nearby and leave it on around the clock. The constant noise bothers the animals when they want to sleep, causing the mother to move her young to another, quieter location. When you are sure that all of the babies have been removed, find the entry location and patch it over to prevent another creature from moving in.


  • AVOID DIRECT CONTACT. Use thick gloves or a towel to handle.
  • BE CAREFUL! Rodents have sharp teeth and claws.
  • DO NOT force feed any injured RVS. Unskilled hands can force food/water into the lungs and excess handling can cause shock, exacerbate the animal’s injuries and increase your risk of exposure as rabies is transmitted through saliva.
  • DO NOT feed any baby. Unskilled hands can force food/water into the lungs and an improper diet can be fatal. Excess handling can also increase your risk of exposure as rabies is transmitted through saliva.
  • Write down the EXACT location the RVS was found, including a street address and/or nearest crossroads, and a general description of the area. By law, RVS must be released within five miles of their site of origin.

See Transporting Wildlife. Keep it warm and quiet.


All information on this and other pages of “What Do I Do If…” is the work of Brittany Davis of Second Chance Wildlife Center (Gaithersburg, MD).