“I’ve found an injured animal?”


Wild animals instinctively see some other animals as dangerous, top of the list is humans, so when a wild animal is picked up it becomes severely distressed. Therefore minimising this contact along with keeping the animal calm and quiet is essential.

If you find an injured, sick or baby animal, there are a number of vital steps that you can take, which will drastically increase the chances of survival.

Most wildlife casualties are the victims of some form of trauma. They regularly have severe infected injuries and shock, not commonly seen in domestic animals. Wild animals however, generally have a greater capacity to cope with these injuries and will sometimes recover, if given the chance and the necessary supportive treatment.

Yet even the most sophisticated treatment is of no use, if the casualty does not survive long enough to reach help, or if basic steps have are not taken.

This document should be read and understood, if followed the greatest chances of survival for wild animal, will be achieved.

  • Keep warm – The animal will go into shock and the body temperature will fall. Keep the animal warm, fill a plastic bottle with warm water and place in the box next to the animal to keep it warm, but the animal must be able to get away from it if it gets too warm. For small animals put in a box with shredded newspaper. Do not use damp bedding such as grass.
  • Keep Quiet & in the dark – Keep the animal away from noise, including pets, children, radio and talk quietly.
  • DO NOT FORCE FEED – If you found an injured human, you would never attempt to force water or food into them, so why an animal? Leave this to a rescue, someone with experience. Animals do not die or thirst or hunger overnight, but they die very quickly if incorrectly force fed.
  • Voluntarily feeding – Once they are settled and warm, provide water and let them drink, if they want, NEVER give any animal or bird milk . Only offer the animal food and water, to take themselves, if the person is absolutely sure what the animal eats, otherwise do not feed.
  • Seek Advice – Whilst calling to find somewhere for the animal to go, get in touch with a rescue centre as soon as possible. Don’t leave an animal in a box for 24 hours with food and expect it to eat. Injured animals, particularly hedgehogs  very often suffer from fly strike. In just 24 hours eggs can become maggots and these can literally eat a the animal alive. In a lot of cases hedgehogs have to be euthanased because of flystrike and in many instances this could have been avoided if the hedgehog had gone to a rescue centre earlier.

Found a Bird?

The first thing to remember when you find a baby animal, is that in most cases the animal should be left alone. Each Spring and Summer in particular, we are inundated with calls from people who find what they think is an abandoned young bird or orphaned animal. In many cases these youngsters have not been abandoned.

All too often we are presented with a baby animal that should have been left with their parents, this is particularly the case with birds.

After a few weeks, birds fledge the nest to become fledglings, therefore they have enough feathers to partly fly. They often leave the nest and live on the ground for a week or so, still being cared for by their parents until they can fully fly. Fledglings should not be moved unless they are in immediate danger.



  • Baby animals stand a far greater chance of survival if they can be left with their parents, even when on the ground will be fed regularly as the parent is most likely close by.
  • Do not move any baby animal unless they are injured or in immediate danger.
  • Watch a young fledglings bird constantly, often their parents aren’t far away and will return to feed them, but not if you’re frightening them off!
  • Do not think that because the bird appears alone that it had been abandoned, the parent may just not be visible.
  • There is always a period of time just after the youngster has left the nest when it spends most of the day either on the ground or hopping amongst shrubs and trees. During this time it does not need to be scooped up and brought inside. Please do not rush in and pick it up, leave it where it is and watch it from a careful distance.
  • If it is in danger from traffic, cats, larger birds, strong sunlight or heavy rain move it to a safer spot (using gloved hands) nearby so the parents can find it.
  • Only if the bird has been alone for more than a couple of hours should you consider stepping in, but do not attempt to rear the bird yourself.
  • However, if it is a newborn (no feathers, eyes closed) get it to a wildlife centre as soon as possible. It needs to be kept warm but do not attempt to feed it or give it water as you could drown it.



Handling Birds

  • Several people are worried about doing the bird more harm by actually catching it. The most important thing to remember is to stop the wings flapping by gently picking the bird up with both hands around its body and over its wings.
  • By preventing it from flapping, you will not only stop it from sustaining any further injury, but the bird will struggle less, making it easier to transfer it to a cardboard box.
  • Please remember that some birds have very powerful beaks. Birds such as seagulls, rooks, crows, jackdaws and magpies will need to be handled using gloves, as they will use their beaks for defense.
  • Birds of prey will use their extremely sharp claws to warn you off, so be very careful.
  • Herons and gannets will go for your face and eyes, so make sure that you have a firm grip on the beak at all times.
  • The best method of transporting any bird is to put it in a cardboard box or pet carrier with a towel or newspaper in the bottom. Keep the box covered at all times to avoid it escaping and it will also help to reduce the stress the bird.
  • Wire cages should not be used for birds as they will most likely damage their feathers or injure themselves even more.


When should you rescue a bird? When should you not rescue a bird?
If the bird is obviously injured If the bird is out of the nest but being fed
If the bird is out of it’s nest and is not feathered (try to return to the nest first if possible) If it is not safe for you to do so and you are putting yourself in danger
If the bird is out of it’s nest and there is no sign of a parent bird for a couple of hours If the bird is fully feathered and not in any current danger
If the nest has been destroyed and the occupants are not fully feathered
If the bird is in immediate danger from a cat, cars or any other threat
If both parents have been killed








Injured, Abandoned or Orphaned Mammals


NOTE If you put your scent on a baby mammal, the mother will reject them. Either do no handle them until you need to, or were gloves, having rubbed bedding on them to get the mothers scent.




When should I rescue a hedgehogs?


  • If they are out during the daytime
  • If they are injured
  • When been attacked
  • If they have poor balance
  • Green poo or have blood in their poo
  • Baby hedgehogs should only be rescued if their mother is injured, died or the nest has been disturbed.


Fox Cubs

  • It is normal to see fox cubs during the day wandering about above ground from the age of about four weeks. Therefore if you find a cub it is quite likely that it is not abandoned and that its parents or close relatives are not too far away.
  • If the fox cub is uninjured, in a safe spot and not in danger from traffic please leave it alone.
  • If the cub is in danger such as on an exposed roadside and uninjured move it to a sheltered safe spot nearby, handling it with gloves if possible to avoid scenting it.
  • If you find an older cub, with its eyes open and if after leaving it for 12 hours it is still in the same spot, it is generally still better to leave it in the wild and call your nearest wildlife centre for advice.
  • If the cub is obviously sick, injured or distressed call your nearest wildlife centre for advice.
  • If you must remove an injured animal from the area, handle it with gloves if possible and make a note of the exact location where you found it and call your nearest wildlife centre for advice.
  • It is essential that you do not try to rear or care for the animal yourself.


Larger Mammals


Before attempting to rescue any larger mammals, you must first consider your own safety and the animals ability to fight back.




When should you rescue a baby mammal? When should you not rescue a baby mammal?
If the animal has been in a RTA If the animal is out of the nest but being fed
If the animal is obviously injured or appears unwell If it is not safe for you to so and you are putting yourself in danger
If the animal is in immediate danger from a cat, cars or any other threat. It is perfectly normal for the parents to spend time away from the babies. Observe from a distance for several hours and seek further advice if no parents return.
If the mother of nursing babies has been killed, or if both parents have been killed Unless the animal is injured or in immediate danger, it is always best to seek advice from a wildlife centre before removing the animal
If the animal has been caught by a cat or dog

A basic rule – if you can approach and pick up any wildlife

it is probably ill or injured and may need help.


Try calling us to help or advice ;

0845 4582813

Please remember we are volunteers, we cannot always help but we will certainly try.

Try calling Nottingham Based Animal Accident Rescue Unit on; 0115 9321 555.