PSA: I Found an Animal Indoors! What Should I Do with It?

It is very common for many different reptiles and amphibians to be found in basements, window wells, crawl spaces, or in other areas indoors of human habitations during late autumn or winter when temperatures drop and conditions become colder. Most reptiles and amphibians will naturally over winter underground and below the frost line in self constructed or existing burrows up to two feet or more, and depending on the animal and where they may be living.

It is important to remember that many reptiles and amphibians can be more cold tolerant than many may believe, although this of course should still be considered within reason as far as where they can be placed or how each specific situation may be addressed. Some amphibians even have molecular properties in their cells to be able to withstand freezing temperatures without harmful effects. If a reptile or amphibian is found indoors during an unexpected time of year, the best course of action depends on the current outside conditions.  Contacting one’s local herpetological society or other wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization in one’s area to care for the animal and then release it where it was found nearby during the appropriate time is often the best solution.

Animals found indoors may be able to be released nearby in suitable forested or other moist, shaded or other suitably covered habitat when and where temperatures are at their highest, or between 32 degrees F and 50 degrees F. Only when outside temperatures fall below this range should they not be immediately re-released, and where further assistance or intervention may be required. However, as with many other forms of wildlife, keep in mind that in general, oftentimes, they do not need to be rescued or re-homed in most circumstances. It is also important to remember to rinse hands prior to handling or moving these permeable skinned amphibians, and not to wear any lotions or other chemicals that could be harmful to them.

For a listing of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Rehabilitation Organizations in and around Wisconsin, see the following resource below: