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What to do if a wild animal needs support

Injured Wildlife

If you find an injured wild animal such as a bird, hedgehog, rodent, squirrel or rabbit you can take it to your local vet or wildlife rehabilitation centre (phone first to let them know you are coming in)

All veterinary practices will take in small wildlife, but they may not have the facilities for bigger animals.

We recommend that if you find larger injured wildlife such as Foxes, Badgers, Deer, Swans, Herons and Geese that you contact the RSPCA so that they can collect the animal and take it to the appropriate sanctuary for veterinary help.

Do not touch these animals unless they are at extreme risk of further damage.

With the exception of small birds, rabbits and hedgehogs, that can easily be placed into a small box or carrier, it is best not to touch or handle the injured wild animals at all – Foxes, Badgers, Squirrels, Rats, Deer, Birds of Prey, Sea Birds, Swans, Herons and Geese can all cause serious damage to people when being handled.

If you think a baby animal has been abandoned by it’s parents then please observe it from a distance for as long as possible unless it is in immediate danger. Many wild animals leave their young on their own for long periods and may only go back to them a few times during the day or night, but rest assured they will be close by.  

Please be absolutely 100% certain that an animal has been abandoned before you rush in to rescue it.

When approaching injured wildlife

  • Observe at a distance and be absolutely certain that it is injured or sick before you go near
  • Never lift a wild animal, unless you are sure that you can do so without risk to yourself, the animal and other people
  • Take care in dangerous locations, such as a busy road. Watch from a distance first to see whether the animal is still alive, call for help if you can’t reach it safely
  • Wear gloves when handling all wild animals, especially oiled wildlife – pollutants like oil can be hazardous
  • Never try to free an animal from a snare or trap – you risk hurting yourself and the animal and it could be an offence if the animal was legally caught. Stay back to avoid stressing the animal and call the RSPCA with the location
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling an animal

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 (a covered cat carrier will be fine as well). Keep the animal quiet and take it to a vet, RSPCA wildlife centre or local wildlife rehabilitator.

RSPCA Wildlife number 0300 1234 999

Please make sure that a wild animal is indeed injured (or has been completely abandoned if young) and definitely needs help before you touch it. Young animals are often unnecessarily taken to veterinary practices when they first start to venture out, and many die from the shock of being handled.

What to do if you find a baby bird out of the nest

Every year during spring and summer veterinary practices and wildlife centres are inundated with baby birds that have been unnecessarily “rescued” by well-meaning members of the public. More often than not, the fledgling birds would have been fine if left alone, but they are picked up and taken to the vet or wildlife centre where, unfortunately, they often die from the shock of being handled and placed in unfamiliar surroundings.

If you find a bird and it has some feathering it is a fledgling

  1. Leave it alone. It is normal for fledglings to land while they are learning to fly and they will often be on the ground for a couple of days before they get the hang of it. The parents will be nearby and will be feeding it
  2. If the bird is in immediate danger (traffic, other animals) you can gently move it to a safer location as close as possible (under a bush is fine).
  3. Leave it alone
  4. Do not try to feed or offer food to the fledgling
  5. If it is obviously injured or sick contact St. TiggywinklesRSPCA or your nearest wildlife rehabilitator for advice
  6. Any local veterinary practice will take in injured wildlife (phone for an appointment first). Take it to your nearest practice with details of exactly where it was found and when, so if it’s ok it can be released where it came from

If you find an unfeathered baby bird it is a nestling

  1. If you can see the nest and you are certain that is where the bird is from, you can place the bird carefully back into the nest (only do this if there is no risk to your own safety)
  2. Contact St.TiggywinklesRSPCA or your nearest wildlife rehabilitator for advice
  3. Contact your local veterinary practice for advice or take it to them (phone first)

Useful Links

St Tiggywinkles


Wildlife Rehabilitator

Here are some images of a Swan that we have recently helped.


This had been arranged by a Swan charity who came to us to treat it.

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