How to Safely Handle a Situation of an Injured or Orhpaned Animal
There may be many different reasons why a wild animal may need your help. Usually a wild animal only needs help if it is injured, orphaned, or suffering from disease. It may be injured due to a traffic accident, get shot or attacked by a dog or a cat.If an animal is clearly injured, stuck or entangled, showing signs of diseaseor is in imminent danger, please call us at 1190 Wildlife Support Line which is active 24 / 7 every day.
Common signs that a wild animal needs your help:
- The animal is brought to you by a cat or a dog.
- There is signs of activebleedingor dried blood on the animal.
- The animal has a broken limb.
- A bird is featherless or nearly featherless and on the ground.
- The animal is showing signs of disease such as shivering, inactivity and fluffed up feathers, or discharge from eyes, mouth and/or nose.
- There’s a dead parent nearby.
- The animal is crying and wandering all day long.
Capturing and Transporting an Injured or Orhpaned Animal
Never handle an adult animal without first consulting a wildlife professional. Even small animals can injure you or transmit disease. Once you've contacted us, you will be asked to describe the animal, where you found it, and the physical condition of the animal as accurately as possible to help us determine the correct action, as different cases are likely to require different approaches. Unless you are told otherwise, here's how you can make an animal more comfortable for transport while you're waiting for help to arrive:
- Find a cardboard box or similar container suitable for the size of the animal, such as a shoe box.
- Punch holes for air (not while the animal is in the box!) from the inside out and line the box with an old T-shirt or other soft cloth. Then you can proceed to put the animal in the box as described below.
- Your safety comes first. Put on thick gloves if available before handling any animals, especially bats and hedgehogs. You should not handle foxes unless you have previous handling experience, as they are likely to bite when they feel threatened by human approach. If the animal is a bird of prey, you should pay extra attentian to protect yourself against their talons.
- Cover the animal with a towel or pillowcase as you scoop it up gently and place it in the transport container that you prepared.
- Do not give the animal food or water. It could be the wrong food and cause them to choke, trigger serious digestive problems or cause aspiration pneumonia. Many injured animals are in shock and force-feeding can kill them.
- Place the container in a warm, dark, quiet place—away from pets, children and all noise (including the TV and the radio)—until you can transport the animal. Keep the container away from direct sunlight, air conditioning or heat.
- Transport the animal as soon as possible. Leave the radio off and keep talking to a minimum. Because wild animals aren’t accustomed to our voices, they can become very stressed by our noises, and stress can kill even a healthy wild animal. If they’re injured or orphaned, they’re already in a compromised condition, and it is very important to keep their stress level at a minimum. Keep their world dark and quiet to lower their stress level and help keep them alive.
Orphaned Baby Animals – Do they really need your help?
It's common to see baby wild animals during spring, as a new generation makes its way into the world. Baby wild animals might seem like they need your help, but unless the animal is truly orphaned, rescue attempts will do more harm than good for the animal. These tips can help you decide whether to take action.
If you accidentally damage a nest: If the original nest was accidentally damaged or destroyed, you can hang a small, shallow basket close to where the original nest was. Woven stick baskets work well; they resemble natural nests and allow rain to pass through so the birds won’t drown. Adult birds won’t jump into anything they cannot see out of, so make sure the basket is not too deep. Put the fallen babies into the new nest and keep watch from a distance for an hour to make sure the parent birds return to the new nest to feed their chicks. Watch closely, because parent birds can be quite stealthy. If they definitely do not return, then contact us (1190), or bring the birds to us.
Nearly or mostly featherless birds: If featherless or nearly featherless baby birds have fallen from their nest but appear unharmed, put them back in the nest if you can do so without danger to yourself. If you cannot find the original nest,then bring them to our center. Remember that baby birds do best when raised by their parents or other birds, so try to reunite them with their parents before bringing them to us.
Fledglings: Birds with fully feathered bodies, but short or non-existent tail feathers may be fledglings (adolescent birds who have left the nest). You might see them hopping on the ground, unable to fly. This is normal; birds learn to fly from the ground up! Fledglings might remain on the ground for a few days or even a week, supervised and fed by their parents before they get the hang of flying. You can tell if the fledglings are being fed by watching from a distance to see whether a parent bird flies over to them, usually a few times an hour. You can also look for white-grey feces near the fledgling. Birds defecate after being fed, so the presence of fecal material means that the birds are being cared for. Be sure to keep cats indoors and dogs leashed until the fledglings are old enough to fly. If you are positive that the parents aren’t returning to feed the babies, then please contact us (1190).
Baby Hares: Baby hares do not need help unless they are clearly injured or in danger of being attacked by pets. It is normal for baby hares to be all alone in a field, and you should resist the temptation to take the baby hare to your care. Although they might look abandoned because their mom isn’t around, mother hares visit their dependent young only a few times a day, usually around dusk and dawn, to avoid attracting predators. A baby hare may wander into unsuitable areas, such as close to roads or urban areas, in which case it is advisable to move or gently direct the animal to the closest grassy area. To monitor if the baby is truly abandoned and in need of help, follow these steps:
- Keep all pets out of the area.
- Avoid touching the babies under any circumstances
- Observe the nest(take a photo of the nest if you can) and leave the area undisturbed
- Check the area in 24 hours to check if there is any signs of mother hare visiting the baby. If there is no evidence of mother’s visit, please contact us.
Baby Foxes and Hedgehogs: Fox and hedgehog babies will often appear unsupervised for long periods while their parents are out hunting for food. Observe themfrom a distance; if they seem energetic and healthy, leave them alone. If they appear sickly or weak, or if you have reason to believe parents are dead, contact us.
Adapted by CWRI from: