Day to day, The RSPCA receive a high volume of calls from concerned members of the public about wild animals that are in distress, sick or injured. These animals range from common garden and woodland birds to birds of prey, swans, deer, rabbits, small rodents and so on.
With your help and calls to action last year alone, the RSPCA took 18,337 animals into one of our four wildlife centres across the UK for treatment and rehabilitation, and many more were taken to local vets and wildlife rehabilitators around the country.
The Society’s aim is always to work together to protect the welfare and safety of our wildlife so, if you see a sick or injured wild animal, here’s what you can do to help.
If you are able, watch the animal from a distance first to get a better idea of the situation: how badly hurt the animal is, what its general condition is. The more information you have, the better. It may also be useful to take photographs if you can do so safely i.e. without approaching the animal too closely and without putting yourself at risk or further distressing the animal.
If you are able, it may be quicker to take the animal to a vet or wildlife rehabilitator yourself. In some cases, the closest RSPCA officer could be out of the area attending to another incident. However, be very cautious before attempting to handle any wild animal.
If a wild animal is injured, sick or in distress, it will very likely be frightened. Wild animals will use their defenses to keep themselves from harm and therefore might try to scratch and bite when approached. Never attempt to free an animal from a snare or trap. If you have any concerns, keep a safe distance from the animal and call us.
There are some animals that you should NOT attempt to approach or handle, such as injured deer, foxes, birds of prey, badgers, swans, geese or gulls, and so on. Please refer to the full list here. If you see any of these animals injured or in distress, call us on 0300 1234 999.
Handling Wild Animals
For your safety and the safety of the animal, it is important that you do not try to lift an injured animal unless you are sure that you are able to do so without risk to your own safety and to the safety of others.
If you are handling the animal to contain or safely transport it to a vet or rehabilitator, make sure that you wear gloves and keep the animal away from your face. Always wash your hands after handling an animal. To see our full list of do’s and don’ts, and to best ensure you take safe precautions before handling an animal, click here for more.
Safely Containing Wildlife
If you can do so safely, and the animal doesn’t fall under our list of those not to handle, prepare your container by lining a secure and well ventilated cardboard box with a towel or newspaper. Then, follow the above precautions and quickly place the animal into the box.
Call your nearest vet or wildlife rehabilitator to ensure that they are able to take the animal in. You can call one of our wildlife centres located in Cheshire, East Sussex, Norfolk and Somerset or, you can find a list of additional rehabilitators, here.
Do note, however, that not all wildlife rehabilitation providers will have been inspected by us.
If you are unable to transport the animal, call 0300 1234 999.
Additional Important Information
If you see a young wild animal alone, please read our guidance on orphaned wildlife before taking action. You can also find out more about what to do if you see an injured animal, here: guidance on injured wildlife.
Remember, if you are ever unsure about what to do with an injured animal, call us!