Always call your local wildlife rescue centre if you have found a wild animal that is in need.
If you’re not sure if the animal needs help or not, the first thing to do is look for signs of injury and visually evaluate the animal from a safe distance. Ask yourself the following questions:
Is there any blood visible?
Is the animal showing any signs of weakness?
Does the animal have laboured breathing?
Is the animal seizing?
Is the animal conscious? (Is the animal conscious but immobile? The animal could simply be resting)
Has the animal been caught or trapped?
Can the animal move? If the animal is not able to move away from human contact it may be very injured or weak. If it moves away slowly, watch out for signs of injury or broken bones.
Most people call wildlife rehabilitation centres about baby animals that they think have been abandoned. A baby animal that is alone is often not abandoned or orphaned (although this is sometimes the case).
This is why it is important to first monitor the animal and look for signs of distress or injury. If the parents do not return or you see signs of distress or injury then intervention may be necessary.
A baby animal that is alone is often not abandoned or orphaned.
Although you are trying to help, intervening with a baby animal without first being sure the parents are not around is more damaging as its best chance of survival is with its family.
If you are interested in working within wildlife rehabilitation, this section will help you learn some of the basics.
First of all, it is important to understand that the aim of wildlife rehabilitation is to return wild animals to the wild. Some people may find this difficult or emotional but if you remember this from the very beginning you won’t get attached to the animals you care for in the way you do with a pet, instead you will be so happy and excited when it comes to release day as you know the animal is going back where it should be and, thanks to you and your team, has another chance at life in the wild.
Top tips when working in wildlife rehabilitation:
Stay calm. This work can be challenging as well as physically and emotionally demanding.
Remember that each animal has unique needs that are determined by the species, situation, personality and energy levels.
Be prepared for long hours and be flexible as there tends to be little routine and you are often “on call” 24/7 (this can be to deal with emergencies, help the intensive care cases or go out on rescues)
Education is an important part of wildlife rehabilitation. Be prepared to engage with the public and help people understand how to help animals in need and the significance of keeping wild animals in the wild.
“I want to work within wildlife rehabilitation, what do I need to know?”
Working with wildlife in this way requires:
Medical knowledge (understand the anatomy and physiology of the species you work with, know how to carry out health checks and develop or follow treatment plans)
Understand environmental needs (ensure the environment meets the needs of the animal and always monitor the environment for potential issues)
Understand the nutrition and diet requirements for the species you work with
Understand safe handling and care practices
Understand health and safety (it is extremely important to maintain a clean environment to avoid the spread of disease. Make sure you keep up to date with protocols and ensure you can clearly communicate health and safety issues to the community).