How to Care for Injured Wildlife

BIRDS:

An injured bird should always be passed onto a local vet, RSPCA in England and Wales, SSPCA in Scotland, USPCA in Northern Ireland or an independent rescue centre, so it can receive appropriate treatment without undue delay. Birds which have been caught by a cat should always be taken to a vet as a matter of urgency because of the high risk of septicaemia, which is fatal within around 48 hours.

An injured bird can only be helped if it can be caught. Since a bird with a leg injury or many kinds of minor injury will often be able to fly to get away, it is rarely possible to catch such a bird whether it would benefit from treatment or not.

Catching an injured bird can be difficult and careless handling may cause further injury. Handling must be firm but gentle. Small birds up to blackbird size can be held in one hand. Place your hand over the bird so that its head fits between your forefinger and middle finger. The rest of your fingers will naturally wrap around each wing, holding the bird firmly.

Medium-sized birds are best held with two hands, one over each wing. Handling large birds requires great care because of risk of injury to the handler. Unless you are used to handling large birds, it is best to call an expert rescuer to the bird rather than try to capture it yourself.

Once the bird is caught, examine it quickly and place it in a well ventilated covered box to wait for treatment. Darkness reduces stress and is likely to be the best first aid you can give the bird. It is also the best treatment for shock.

SMALL ANIMALS:

If it’s safe to catch and handle the animal, then, wearing suitable gloves, quickly place it into a secure cardboard box with ventilation holes, lined with towel or newspaper.

LARGER WILDER ANIMALS:

Do not attempt to handle or transport an injured deer, seal, wild boar, otter, badger, fox, snake, bird of prey (including owls), swan, goose, heron or gull, keep a safe distance and call the RSPCA (England and Wales)- 0300 1234 999.

HEDGEHOGS:

If they are out during the day there MAY be a problem. If it seems to have a purpose and is going somewhere, or has a mouthful of leaves, it is probably fine. Otherwise a hedgehog found out during daylight should be restrained in a box or cage, INDOORS, then call a rescue for advice.

If they appear injured, handle very carefully, restrain in a box, INDOORS, and then take them to a wildlife hospital, carer or vet as soon as possible.

Please visit hedgehod-rescue.org.uk for more advice on specific conditions your hedgehog may be suffering.

Who to contact:

RSPCA (England and Wales) 0300 1234 999

USCA (Northern Ireland) 028 3025 1000

More information can be found on the RSPCA websiteFor certain species, the best course of action is to seek advice from experts such as the RSPB for birds, Bat Conservation Trust, or the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust