As we transition from lockdown, more of us are exploring the outdoors with our pets in the summer weather. With increased time outside, the chances of coming across injured or sick wildlife also multiply. If you encounter a wild animal in need, it can be hard to know what to do. Wild animals can be very unpredictable if approached by humans, especially when they are frightened or injured.
Many baby birds and mammals are mistakenly taken from their families each year by well-meaning people. Check to see if a baby animal is orphaned before intervening – often their parent is hiding just out of sight, ready to return as soon as the human danger is gone. Unless there are clear signs of injury or sickness, it is best to call the RSPCA or your nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre before acting.
Signs that your help is needed
There are a few common signs that you can look out for to help:
- The animal is brought to you by your cat or dog.
- There is evidence of bleeding.
- The animal has an apparent or obvious broken limb.
Top tips to remember
If you find an injured, orphaned, or trapped animal, it’s important to approach carefully – and remember to place your own safety first. By using some of these tips, you can ensure a better outcome for wildlife:
- Gently place an injured bird in a cardboard box and a mammal in a pet carrier, with a non-frayed towel on the bottom, and place somewhere quiet until they can be transported to a wildlife rehabilitation centre.
- Please try to put uninjured baby birds with no feathers that are found on the ground back into the nest. Mother birds will not reject babies that have been handled by people.
- Keep birds away from your face as their beaks can cause injuries.
- Always check long grass for rabbit nests before mowing. Keep an eye out for hedgehog nests; they can be found at the base of thick hedges, garden sheds or piles of rubbish.
- If you are transporting an injured animal in your car, leave the radio off and keep talking to a minimum. Since wild animals aren’t accustomed to our voices, they can become very stressed by noise. Keeping their stress level to a minimum will help keep them alive.
- Wear gloves if possible – gardening gloves work well if you have them. Proper protection is especially vital with injured bats as their bites can transmit rabies-like disease. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling an animal.
- Never lift a wild animal, unless you are sure that you can do so without risk to yourself or others.
Feel free to contact us if you are uncertain on what to do, however, if you need to bring an animal for care, the RSPCA and local wildlife rehabilitation centres are better suited for injured wildlife than most vets. We can refer you to a local contact who specialise in treating wildlife. For more details on handling injured wildlife, please visit www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/injuredanimals