The "Don'ts" ...
Please do not give milk to any baby mammal or bird.
Please do not force feed, or drip/syringe water into any young or injured creature, as this may kill them if they inhale the liquid rather than drink it.
What should I do if I find an injured bird or mammal?
As a basic rule - if you can pick up any wildlife, it needs rescuing - but with a few important exceptions.
- Adult birds: As there are so many different types, it is hard to give specific advice here. It is important that you know what sort of bird you have if you intend to give it any food at all. Giving the wrong sort of feed to a bird can cause digestion problems. Do remember that baby birds often look nothing like their parents whilst they are young. Many birds, particularly gulls and others with long beaks are inclined to stab at rescuers - never hold a bird near your face, hold it facing away from you. Birds of prey - owls, kestrels etc. will use their talons as a form of defence. They will often pretend to be dead, then strike when you try to pick them up. Throw a towel or coat over the bird and if you have gloves - use them.
- Baby deer (fawns): The adult deer will leave them hidden in undergrowth for anything up to eight hours at a time. If the fawns have human scent on them the adult may well abandon them. If you are in any doubt contact your local wildlife centre, who will ensure that the fawn is discreetly monitored until the mother deer returns.
- Leverets (baby hares): These will often be found alone above ground. They do not tunnel like rabbits, and the mother will leave them, normally singly, for the day and only feed at night. Please leave them alone, they often do not need rescued. If you are unsure, please ring for advice BEFORE picking them up, or touching them at all.
- Fox cubs: These can be moved by a vixen and left for a while. Give the vixen a chance to return to pick it up. The more noise the cub makes the more chance of the vixen hearing it and retrieving it.
- Baby birds: These can often be placed back in a nest (using gloved hands) if it can be located. Monitor from a distance to see that the parent birds return to the nest. Baby birds are fed pretty constantly throughout daylight hours, so if a parent bird does not return within an hour or so, contact your local rescue centre for advice.
- Hedgehogs: These should not be out during the day, particularly in the summer. Hedgehogs do not sunbathe. If a hedgehog is out during daylight hours, it needs rescuing. The main causes for this are lungworm or poisoning. Please wear gloves before handling. See our dedicated hedgehog page for more information.
- Squirrels: Young squirrels do occasionally fall from the dray from huge heights. If they are on the ground and unfurred, or their eyes still closed, they need urgent help. Any squirrel motionless has a serious problem, they are normally very fast! Squirrels can and do give an extremely nasty bite, please call for advice/help.
- Bats: If you find a bat in your house, don't panic. If it is flying around, open the window, switch the lights off (and if possible put a light outside), the bat should leave of its own accord. If the bat is still, it may need assistance, or may just need released in the evening, please give us a call. If a bat has been caught by a cat, it will need antibiotics, so please ring as quickly as possible. Please ALWAYS wear gloves if you need to handle a bat.
- Mammals (general): Many injured mammals are dangerous. Do NOT attempt to pick up a fox, badger or deer, as you may receive at the very least a serious bite. Any injured animal will want to get away and will not appreciate your attempts to help it. If the animal has been involved in a road accident you can protect these larger mammals from receiving further injury by positioning a car with its hazard warning lights and headlights on, behind the creature, to warn other road users, providing it does not endanger you or other road users. A coat or blanket placed carefully over the head often calms them a little.
If you decide an animal or bird is injured or orphaned, please put it somewhere warm and dry and above all quiet. Wild animals and birds are not reassured by humans stroking and talking to them, this increases their stress and in some cases may hasten their death. Please call us on (0796) 225 3867 as soon as possible for advice.
Please note: There are many laws governing the wildlife in this country - it is illegal to remove birds from nests in most circumstances, and that includes disturbing young gulls which many consider a nuisance. We are happy to take in all and any genuinely rescued bird or animal, but if we suspect that an illegal activity is taking place, we retain the right to discuss the details with the Wildlife Crime Officer for the area.
If you are unsure whether any wildlife needs rescuing or for any general advice, please feel free to call us on (0796) 225 3867 and will give whatever advice and help we can.
How do I get injured birds or wildlife to you?
During the busy season (April - September), we do rely on people transporting small mammal and bird casualties to us. We are a voluntary organisation and simply do not have the manpower to pick up casualties from people as well as dealing with the hundreds of animals in our care.
We do not expect nor encourage people to handle animals such as foxes, badgers, deer or swans - But, most people are able to get smaller casualties to us
If you're unable to drive, please ask a family member or neighbour to assist. If it is impossible to get the animal or bird to us, please call our helpline on (0796) 225 3867, and we will do our very best to help.