If you find a young animal, please be sure it needs help before attempting to handle it. Every animal is better cared for by its natural parents if possible. If rescue is needed, please see the advice below and on the following pages.
Remember all wild animals are afraid of humans and can go into shock easily. Wild animals cannot be comforted like domestic animals. It is best for the animal to limit the contact you have with it. If you need to capture or transport/contain it, place it in a secure cardboard box or pet carrier and cover the box/carrier with a blanket or towel.
Do not attempt to rescue any animal if it will put you in danger e.g. on roads or near water. For larger birds or animals, always call an appropriate wildlife rescue centre for advice. Do not do anything that is likely to cause a harm to you or to others.
Many birds that appear in need of rescue are actually fine. Please take the time to assess the situation before stepping in to help. Fledglings (with feathers and mobile) often leave the nest a few days before they can fly, and you may see the young birds sitting on the ground or hopping about without any sign of their parents. The parents stay close by but leave their babies to practice fending for themselves. It is very traumatic for these birds to be taken and hand-reared by humans unnecessarily as they have already become used to the parent bird. The only time fledglings should be interferred with is if they are in immediate danger (eg. in a road), they are injured or if they have definitely been abandoned or orphaned (parents are extremely unlikely to abandon their young and are probably just out of sight or collecting food elsewhere).
Fallen from the nest?
If you find a baby bird with little or no feathers, then it will need help.
Replace into the nest: If you can see the nest, the bird has recently fallen and does not appear injured and is warm to the touch, you can attempt to replace it into the nest. Keep an eye on it though to make sure it does not fall or get pushed out again later.
Contact a wildlife rehabber: If you cannot find the nest, or the bird is injured/appears ill or cold, transfer it to a secure box and bring it indoors somewhere warm and quiet. Do not attempt to put food or water into the beak as it can easily get into their lungs if this is done incorrectly. Contact a wildlife rescue centre or vet who will be able to give more specific advice and arrange for someone to hand-rear the bird.
Any bird that has suffered a cat attack will need to be treated with antibiotics as well as treatment for specific injuries sustained – even a small scratch can lead to infection. Again place into a secure box (in a warm and quiet location) and contact a wildlife rescue centre or local vet for advice.
Other injury or illness
If a bird appears to be sick or injured, it will need help to recover. Again place into a secure box (in a warm and quiet location) and contact a wildlife rescue centre or local vet for advice.
If the bird has flown into a window and is unconscious or dazed, they may recover whilst inside the box. Check on the bird after 10 minutes and, if it appears to be fit and alert, attempt to release into the same location (this will avoid the stress of being transferred into care). If this fails, there may be an underlying injury that requires treatment. Contain the bird and follow the advice above.
Tawny owl chicks are mobile at a very early age and can be seen climbing in and around their nest tree well before they are able to fly. If you find a fledgling or young owl, the best thing to do is to leave it where it is unless it is in immediate danger or injured.
If you find a mammal in need of help, it can be held in an appropriate container until help arrives. Ensure noise, light and human contact is kept to a minimum. Even small mammals can bite, so it is best to handle them wearing gloves. Larger animals such as deer, foxes and badgers should not be handled by inexperienced people as they can be dangerous. Contact a local wildlife rescue centre, the RSPCA or a local vet for advice in these cases.
Certain young mammals such as hares and deer may be left by the parents in a secluded area, and returned to a few times each day. Always be sure an animal requires help before you remove it, as the chances of survival are best with the natural mother.
If you find a hedgehog out in daylight, it is probably in need of assistance, particularly if it is inactive, wobbly, lying on its side, ‘sunbathing’ or otherwise looking unwell. Hedgehogs can be picked up using a towel or gardening gloves and placed into a cardboard box/pet carrier lined with newspaper and a towel. Ensure the lid is secure as hedgehogs are very good at climbing! Place the box in a warm, dark place and seek advice from a wildlife rescue centre or local vet.
The exception to this is during baby season (May – June and August – September) when nursing mothers may come out of the nest to obtain additional food, so please be sure that a hedgehog is actually in need of help during these months as the babies will be unable to survive without her. Nursing mothers will be active and have a healthy appearance.
If the hedgehog is visibly injured or has any signs of flystrike (clumps of what looks like small grains of rice usually around the eyes, ears, mouth or anus), contact a local vet as soon as possible. They will be able to offer immediate first aid and pain relief free of charge.
If you need to keep the hedgehog until help arrives, you can offer food and water. Place a shallow heavy dish of water in the cage, and offer wet or dry cat food on a small plate or shallow dish.
Do not attempt to handle a bat. These animals are protected by law and must be handled by an experienced carer. If contact is unavoidable (if the bat is in immediate danger or has been brought into the house by a cat) never touch the bat with bare hands. Wear strong gardening gloves or use a towel to move the bat into a suitable container and seek advice as soon as possible – http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/help.html