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A Moment of Science

Don’t Touch That Fawn

Trying to help a wild baby animal that you find is more likely to harm it than help it.

a fawn curled up in green grass

Yes, this fawn is adorable. But if you found it in the wild like this, you shouldn’t touch it. (Deb Watson, Flickr)

Imagine you’re walking alone. As you walk, you stumble upon two fawns on in the tall grass. They’re so cute, and you can’t see their mother anywhere. It’s up to you to take care of them, right?


Before you judge another animals’ parenting standards, let alone actively interfere with their offspring, you should know that it’s rarely the case that the baby animals you run across have actually been abandoned.

Hidden In The Tall Grass

For example, you may often find a fawn alone in the woods. Even though fawns can stand up and walk immediately after birth, it takes them a few days before they’re able to keep up with their mother as she looks for food. So, the mother leaves them in a safe place and comes back every few hours to nurse them.

To avoid predators, the fawns sit perfectly still and have white spots which function as camouflage. Also, the mother consumes the fawns’ urine and droppings so that predators won’t pick up their scent.

In general, if you run across a baby animal that’s fully furred or feathered, and doesn’t appear injured, it’s probably fine. Just leave it alone and keep your pets away from it. However, if you do suspect something’s really wrong, check with a wildlife expert before taking action.

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