Litter costs lives

Fox cub with head trapped in a jar being rescued by an RSPCA officer © RSPCA

We receive over 7,000 phone calls a year about litter-related incidents and our officers regularly rescue animals trapped or hurt by litter.


As owners go directly to vets, and many injured wild animals are never found, it’s estimated that this figure is much higher


Preventable incidents

Here are some of the preventable incidents we have dealt with:

  • A fox cub with its head stuck in a wheel hub.
     
  • A badger cub with a plastic can holder embedded in its neck.
     
  • A cat that lacerated its paw on some broken glass.
     
  • A dog with its tongue caught in a discarded can.
     
  • A hedgehog with its head wedged in an empty tin.
     
  • A seal with fishing net around its neck.


What you can do to help

Protecting animals from harmful rubbish is easy – dispose of your rubbish responsibly

  1. Recycle and reuse
  2. Otherwise put it in a bin.


Everyday objects can become hazards

  • Balloons
    Animals can eat them and choke or become impacted.

    - Cut balloons up before putting in the bin.

    - Don’t release balloons as they can land anywhere. Read our factsheet (above right).
     
  • Chinese lanterns
    Chinese lanterns , also known as sky lanterns, can seriously injure animals.

    - Visit our Chinese lantern advice page.
     
  • Hedgehog trapped in litter © RSPCA
    Containers and cans

    Animals looking for food can get trapped in cans or injured by sharp edges.

    - Clean and empty containers.

    - Pinch cans shut and cut containers in half.

    - Recycle where possible.
  • Elastic bands
    These can wrap around small animals and beaks of birds. If swallowed they can cause choking.

    - Reuse bands when possible or cut them open before putting in a bin.
     
  • Fishing tackle
    Animals can get entangled in line and hooks can pierce skin or be swallowed.

    - Read more on our fishing litter page.
     
  • Fox cub with head trapped in a jar during rescue © RSPCA
    Glass
    Broken glass can cause serious injury and animals can get trapped in jars.

    - Clean and recycle glass.
      
  • Plastic bags
    Animals can climb inside and suffocate, or eat them and choke.

    - Tie bags in a knot before recycling.
     
  • Plastic can holders
    Animals can get entangled, and suffer deep wounds or choke.

    - Always cut the loops before recycling.