If you come across a sick or injured wild animal, it can be hard to know what to do. Wild animals can be very unpredictable if approached by humans, especially when they are injured or frightened.
- Be careful. Remember, wild animals are not tame. Some can also spread diseases, especially if they bite you. Wear gloves if possible – gardening gloves work well. Good protection is especially important with bats as they are the only animal in the UK which can give you rabies.
- Catch the animal with a towel. Throwing a towel over an animal can prevent them from moving around and allow you to pick them up and into a transport box in the least stressful way. If you’re out and about and don’t have a towel you could use a jumper or coat instead.
- Move the animal to a transport box. This can be a small cardboard box (with plenty of air holes) or a pet carrier. Be gentle placing them inside. Put a thick towel over the box to make it dark and dull sound to help keep the animal calm.
- Take them straight to the vets or rehab centre.
What to do with larger wildlife
Do not attempt to catch or transport larger injured animals, such as deer, badgers, seals, birds of prey and large waterfowl, on your own. Without the appropriate training and equipment, you can hurt yourself and put these animals at risk of further injuries.
If you come across a larger wild animal that seems to be injured or in distress:
- Keep your distance so you don’t scare them. Keep other people and pets away too.
- Find out your exact location. This will help any wildlife responders looking for the animal.
- Call in the experts which would be the RSPCA in England and Wales or the Scottish SPCA in Scotland. The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) are there to help marine mammals . A local wildlife rehabilitation centre might be able to give you advice or send someone to help too. Follow their advice.
Treating injured wildlife
Like all veterinary practices, if a wild animal’s life is in danger and they are injured or sick we will always provide emergency care, regardless of their species.
At PDSA, saving pets is what we’re all about. We care deeply about animal welfare and will help any sick animal in an emergency. However, PDSA is a charity and so we do not have the facilities or specialist expertise for rehabilitating wildlife beyond the initial emergency treatment.
Sometimes, sadly, we might not be able to treat sick or injured wildlife. We will always try our absolute best, but if the animal’s injuries are too serious and they can’t be rehabilitated and released our vets may take the tough decision to put them to sleep. It’s not fair for wild animals to be kept captive in close contact with humans for too long. They aren’t like our pets, who we can nurse back to health over long periods. Rest assured we will always try to treat the animal in the first instance.
When to help if they aren’t injured
Injured or sick wildlife can behave strangely. Nocturnal creatures like hedgehogs or bats who usually only come out at night might be seen during the day if they aren’t well.
Any wildlife, especially birds that are caught by a cat or dog, should be examined by a vet even if they aren’t visibly injured, because being caught or carried by these pets can cause shock, or fatal septicaemia.