Incubators are a vital component in caring for neonatal mammals, hatchling birds, other orphaned wildlife, and eggs. Most very young animals need supplemental heat in order to survive. Fertile eggs also need constant heat (and humidity) in order to properly develop.
The type of incubator to use is dependent on its intended purpose. Extremely young mammals need an incubator that provides ambient heat; especially babies that have no fur yet and their eyes are still closed.
Still Air Incubators
Still air incubators work well for extremely young mammals and birds that need supplemental heat. The goal is to heat the air around the mammal, not to directly heat the mammal.
Homemade DIY Still Air Incubators
You can make a homemade incubator using a well ventilated plastic container, an adjustable-temperature brooder mat or heating pad, and lots of towels. The towels are placed between the heating pad and container, and allow heat to slowly rise up to the container. The heating pad should never come in direct contact with the incubation container, and the bottom of the container should never be hot. The downside to a DIY incubator is that you must constantly monitor the temperature, it loses heat quickly when opened and takes longer to reheat, and there is greater risk of injuring the baby if the bottom of the incubator becomes too hot. These take a lot more monitoring than store-bought incubators, but they are economical and very effective when set up and used properly. Links to products referenced for a DIY homemade incubator are displayed below.
Still Air Incubators
Still air incubators work that are available for purchase tend to be much more reliable (and safer) than DIY versions. There are an assortment of options and price ranges to choose from. Most come with digital temperature control and displays, still or ciruclated air, and several design options
These incubators are specifically designed for poultry and waterfowl eggs. Along with temperature controls, they also turn the eggs automatically to ensure proper embryo development.