The mission of the Living Desert’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Program is to provide care to injured or orphaned native wildlife with the goal of eventual release into natural desert habitats. We strive to serve as a reliable source of information about desert species and to empower our community to coexist with wildlife.
47900 Portola Ave. Palm Desert CA 92260
Hours of Operation
June – Sept 7:00 am to 1:30 pm
Oct – May 8:00 am to 1:30 pm
$5 recommended intake fee.
How do you know that a wild animal needs rescuing?
Not every animal that is on its own, can’t fly or climb, or seems to be in the wrong place, is in need of help. If you are uncertain that the animal is truly orphaned or critically injured, it is better left alone. Some situations that appear to be problems may instead be normal behaviors or stages of development. Sometimes it is just too dangerous for you to intervene or it might be more harmful for the animal. Call us for a consultation.
What should I do with a truly orphaned or injured native animal?
For legal and humane reasons, it is advisable to not care for an orphaned or injured native wild animal yourself. State licensed wildlife rehabilitators are your best bet for a legal, humane and successful outcome. In the Coachella Valley, The Living Desert and the Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center (760-347-2647) in Indio are your best choices. Outside of the Valley, see the California Department of Fish and Game’s directory of currently licensed rehabilitators by clicking here. Before transporting your injured or orphaned wild animal to a wildlife rehabilitator, call for the best advice on capturing and handling during the transport.
You’ve found a wild animal that may need help- now what?
If you find an animal but you’re not sure what it is, here are some links to help:
- Bird Identification: http://www.whatbird.com/
- Reptile/Amphibian Identification: http://www.californiaherps.com/
- Mammals: http://www.livingdesert.org/animal-category/north-america/
Desert Tortoise Adoption Program
It is a program where captive-bred desert tortoises are adopted out to families and individuals. This program was started in conjunction with the California Department of Fish and Game, when the desert tortoise was listed as threatened. Click here to learn more!
The Desert Cottontail rabbit is one of the most common patients admitted into The Native Wildlife Conservation Program (NWCP). Rabbits are hit by cars, attacked by pet dogs and cats, or brought in as babies that have been orphaned.
Recently, an adult Desert Cottontail came into our rehab center. The person who brought in the rabbit had the animal for several days and transported it between counties after finding it. The finder was able to handle the rabbit, which is highly unusual for a wild adult rabbit. Rehab staff suspected a possible vision problem since the finder reported having found the rabbit near a road.
Upon examination by veterinary staff, both of the rabbit’s eyes were dilated (widening of the pupil), suggesting possible vision issues. The rabbit did not react to a human hand being placed on either side of its head, which was an unusual response. The rabbit did not have any broken bones or any other obvious issues, so it was determined the rabbit should be set up with rest and food to see if there would be any change in its condition.
When placed in an outdoor holding area, the rabbit showed normal behaviors. It was able to find food and to navigate the holding area without any issues. It had a normal reaction of hiding or running away when rehab staff entered the space. After a few weeks, the rabbit had a final veterinary check-up where it was determined that the rabbit’s vision was fully normal and the rabbit was given the okay to be released!