If you find a small mammal in need of help, it can be held in an appropriate container until you are able to get help. Ensure noise, light and human contact is kept to a minimum. Even tiny mammals can bite, so it is best to handle them wearing gloves.
Larger animals such as deer, foxes and badgers should never be handled by inexperienced people as they can be dangerous. Always 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 – 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 look like small grains of rice usually around the eyes, ears, mouth or anus), do not delay - contact a wildlife rescue centre or local vet as soon as possible. They will be able to offer immediate first aid and pain relief (vets will not charge for this). If the hedgehog has flystrike and it hatches, the hedgehog has little chance of survival, so it's really important to get it removed ASAP.
If you need to keep a hedgehog until you are able to get help, you can offer it food and water. Place a shallow heavy dish of water in the cage, and offer wet cat/dog food on a small plate or shallow dish (ideally meat flavoured in jelly). Meat flavoured cat biscuits can also be offered.
Rabbits that have crusty eyes, or sores around their eyes, may have myxomatosis. This is a highly infectious and usually fatal viral disease, which causes swelling of the mucous membranes and inflammation and discharge around the eyes.
If you find a wild rabbit which is possibly infected with myxomatosis, it is best to try and gently capture it and take it for assessment at your local vet. Please call the vet in advance to let them know you have a suspected case of myxomatosis, as they will need to keep it segregated from any domestic rabbits in their care.
If you can't get to a vet until the next day, keep it well away from domestic rabbits in a warm, quiet place with something to hide in/under (lots of straw, hay and/or a large towel) and make sure it has grass/dandelions to eat and water to drink.
Whilst we would love to be able to help grey squirrels, they are classed as a non-native species and require a licence for us to be able to release them, which sadly we don't have at present. If you have found a squirrel in need of help, please contact an alternative rescue centre via www.helpwildlife.co.uk.
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 from the Bat Conservation Trust as soon as possible – http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/help.html
Any animal 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. Place it into a secure box (in a warm and quiet location) and contact a wildlife rescue centre or local vet for advice.