Wildlives Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre

What to do if you find an injured animal

What can I do ?
If you find a wild animal which you believe needs help (see the 'Does it need help?' page), the general rule is to contain it and keep it warm and quiet while you seek immediate professional help.
A box with a lid - and plenty of air holes - with an old towel in the bottom is ideal.
To contact Wildlives, phone 01206 251174
Before handling any wild animal however, there are a number of general principles that you must be aware of, so please at least scan the titles set out below before handling.
Safe Handling Wear gloves and never attempt to handle foxes or badgers.
Wild animals regard humans as predators and will respond to any human contact as if they were being attacked. As a result, they may be aggressive and even small animals can do you some damage when they feel the need. Wear gloves when you have to handle a bird or animal in distress, and use a towel to pick it up.
In the case of a bird, pick it up by holding it over its back, with its wings held against its body to stop it flapping about and injuring itself further.
With a bird of prey, such as an owl or a kestrel, be particularly careful of the feet - the grasping talons are extremely sharp
With seabirds, the main method of attack is using the beak, so secure the back of its head with one hand before attempting to lift it.
DO NOT attempt to handle badgers or foxes. Although not naturally aggressive towards people, if they feel they are being attacked, they can give an extremely nasty bite. Keep the animal in sight, or ensure that someone stays with it, whilst you contact Wildlives or the RSPCA.
Stress Keep human contact to a minimum.
'A wild animal is likely to see any human contact as an act of aggression Thus, even where you are trying your best to help it, you must be aware that you are causing it a high degree of stress.
Stress is a big problem for wildlife rescue teams, since it has such a significant impact on the animals themselves.
 Where an animal is sick or injured, the stress created by the carrying out of various rescue procedures is sometimes enough to kill.
This is one of the reasons why Wildlives is not open to the public: sick and injured wild animals should be subjected to as little human contact as possible. Handling should be kept to an absolute minimum. You should be quiet when you have to handle a wild animal, and one of the few things you can do to minimise the animal's stress levels in a rescue situation is to keep it in darkness.
Heat With orphans or animals found collapsed,
provide a COVERED WARM water bottle.
With orphans, or animals that are found collapsed and very cold, it is essential that they have a source of heat. The best way to do this is to provide a warm water bottle. However, IT MUST NOT be hot, and it MUST be covered with something. In the past, wild animals have been brought into Wildlives with burns - on top of their original problems - from being placed on uncovered hot water bottles. Also see
Feeding Provide water - but NEVER milk.
An injured animal will be unlikely to want to eat, and any animal that has just been taken into captivity - and perhaps handled for the first time - will be too stressed to do so. A more urgent priority, on rescuing a wild animal will be to seek professional help so that it can be properly treated. By all means put clean water down for a wild animal that you have rescued, whilst you are seeking help - but do not attempt to force feed it and DO NOT GIVE IT COWS' MILK. This is very important. Cows' milk can kill birds, hedgehogs and other small mammals - and it will certainly make them very ill. Also see
Wild and Domestic Animals Do not put wild animals with domestic animals.
Close contact with other animals that they regard as predatory can cause wild animals a tremendous amount of stress. Furthermore, domestic animals may actually be physically aggressive towards wildlife. That this is the case with dogs and cats does not require any explanation.
However, in the Wildlives newsletter in January 2005, we carried a story about a partridge, found injured on the road by a member of the public and put in a chicken coop until he could be taken to a rescue centre. When someone checked on him later, he had been scalped and blinded by the chickens. You may believe your pets to be gentle and harmless towards other animals, but please do not take the chance: do not allow them access to rescued wildlife awaiting professional help, and keep the contact between wild and domestic animals as little as possible.
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