Editor’s note: DYI Garden is a site we follow — and you might want to as well. Where else would you discover what to do when you encounter a wounded animal in the wild, like an adorable hedgehog? Or a limping bird?
In this helpful article, they cover practical steps you can take to help injured wildlife by running through the most common scenarios – including how to pick the animal up. (NOT with your bare hands!)
The Three Approaches to Wildlife Rescue
There are three approaches to helping wildlife and it can be hard to choose the right course of action, especially if you’re stressed and nervous. If in doubt, call a wildlife rescue centre for advice.
- Leave it alone. Sometimes a wild animal is not injured but has been left by a parent so it can gather food. For example, young deer should not be touched nor should fledgling birds unless they are in danger.
- Let the animal recover from shock in a cool, dark place. A wild animal that’s had a knock, say flying into a window or being hit by a car, could be concussed and may recover given time.
- Take the animal to a wildlife centre or a vet. Injured wildlife needs specialist attention. The most responsible course of action is taking injured wildlife to someone who knows exactly what to do to prevent any further suffering.
First Steps – What You Can Do Today
Look up your nearest wildlife centre online to find out what wildlife they can treat and where they’re based. This will save stressful emergency phone calls with an injured animal in tow.
We recommend the following websites:
If you don’t have a pet registered with a vet, also take a look at what 24-hour vets are nearby.
Save the numbers to your phone so they’re ready to go when you find an injured animal.
It’s also worth stashing a cardboard box and towel in your car in case you come across a road injury. Wildlife does have an inconvenient habit of turning up when you are not prepared for it.
So now you have some basic information let’s run through the most common types of wildlife living in the UK and what your course of action should be if you find one injured.
From fluffy to spikey, feathery to scaly – whatever is going about its business in the great outdoors. Here’s what you might find in trouble.
Our lovely hoggies are declining at the rate of Sumerian tigers. They get caught in netting, fall into holes, struggle to find water and are injured on the roads. Mr Spike often needs help.
It’s Day Time
A hedgehog out in the day is usually in trouble. They are nocturnal animals and they definitely don’t sunbathe.
The only time you should spot one outside in the daytime is if a mum has rushed out for extra bedding and a chance to feed herself or the hog’s nest has been disturbed. If a hedgehog is moving rapidly with purpose or has a bundle of leaves in its mouth then it should be left alone.
If the hedgehog is collapsed, wobbling, has flystrike (tiny white flecks which are maggots) is making a screaming noise, is caught in something, or your dog has grabbed it then Mrs Tiggywinkle needs immediate help.
Underweight Hogs In Winter
In winter a small hedgehog isn’t likely to survive hibernation. They need to weigh around 600 grams to make it through.
Weigh your hog and if it’s too small call a rescue centre who will hopefully take it in or will give you advice about feeding it through the cold months.
Football-sized hedgehogs are suffering from ballooning which is air trapped beneath their loose skin. Take it to a vet or wildlife centre straight away.
If you spot a white hog chances are it’s an abandoned pet.
White African pygmy hedgehogs are trendy pets but they are spikey and nocturnal and not everyone does their homework before buying one.
Abandoned pets won’t survive so grab that guy and take it to a rescue centre or vet. If it turns out to be a rare wild albino hedgehog you can release it where it was found.
How To Pick Up A Hedgehog
Don’t be scared, they don’t bite.
Grab the hedgehog and pop it in a high-sided box. Use gloves or a towel if you have any to hand. If not, touch the hog – it should roll into a ball unless it’s badly hurt. Then roll it onto your outstretched hand.
Offer the hedgehog water but not food and call a rescue centre for advice.
Birds get into trouble with cars, windows, and predators such as cats, dogs and even other birds such as meat-eating magpies. Here’s what to do:
If your pet has caught a bird its best to take it to a rescue centre as bacteria from puncture wounds will gradually poison it.
We’ve all heard that ‘thunk’ and spotted white powdery ghosts on the glass. This is window strike and often birds get a concussion from flying into the glass.
Pop the bird in a dark, cool cardboard box and put it somewhere quiet. When you hear scuffling ‘let me out’ type of noises, head somewhere quiet and open the box.
The bird will head off in its own time unless it’s injured. If it’s injured, call your local wildlife centre.
Larger birds such as pheasants have a horrible habit of running across the road. They don’t know any better, most having been raised for the shooting industry in large pens.
If you clip a pheasant stay with it for 15-20 minutes to see if the stun wears off. If not, take it to a rescue centre.
Parent birds continue to feed grounded baby birds so hold off scooping it up to see if the parents return. If the fledgling is in danger of cats pick it up using gloves.
If you can place it somewhere off the ground then do so. You might spot a nest, if not a tissue box tied to a tree branch will suffice. Watch for the parent birds’ happy return. If they don’t come back call your rescue centre.
Often grounded fledglings with lots of feathers are learning to fly and just need a bit of time to get airborne. Keep your pets away to give it the best chance.
How To Pick Up A Bird
Birds are feisty even when injured and the little ones will peck too. Use a towel to cover the bird and scoop it up being careful not to fold or break their wings. Don’t be afraid of the flapping – wings can’t hurt you.
Now you are prepared!