West Hatch wildlife centre in Taunton, Somerset treats thousands of animals from the far Southwest, the West country and southern England every year. The veterinary staff are complimented by experts in animal husbandry and rehabilitation, enabling the highest standards of treatment and care of wild animals. The centre has also been key in the development of release methods and post-release monitoring of casualties. During the busy summer months, our staff are supported by tireless and committed volunteers – we just couldn’t survive without them!
In 1963, the local branch bought Little Creech farmhouse together with 20 acres of land and West Hatch animal centre was born. Over time, as well as looking after domestic animals, caring for wildlife became a focus and the site expanded to include West Hatch wildlife centre. The facilities have continued to grow and improve ever since, including a major rebuild for the wildlife centre in 1993.
West Hatch has some of the best rehabilitation facilities in the country, with over 120 rooms and specifically designed enclosures. These include:
- A fully equipped veterinary examination room and operating theatre.
- A full range of intensive care units and rooms that can be individually controlled to provide correct conditions, whether the casualty is as small as a blue tit or as large as a red deer.
- An extensive range of indoor and outdoor pools for birds and seals.
- Large waterfowl paddocks.
- A bat flight to prepare bats for release.
- More than 25 large outdoor aviaries, long exercise aviaries used for assessing flight in birds as well as seclusion and release aviaries. Seclusion aviaries are used for hacking out birds of prey. The release aviaries are used for releasing garden birds. Birds are put in these aviaries for a few weeks before a hatch is opened, allowing the bird to leave in its own time.
- An oiled seabird cleaning room and tank for assessing the fitness of seabirds.
- Large paddocks for holding badgers and deer.
- A large classroom for educational visits and training.
What does ‘hacking out’ mean?
This is more than just exercising the birds – it’s a method by which birds of prey can be released into the wild. They’re given access to the outside so that they are free to fly out and explore, but we provide food on a platform in the aviary should they still need it.
Over the years, our staff has gained a great deal of experience in dealing with species such as badgers, foxes and otters. They are also extremely skilled in handling birds of prey, like buzzards and kestrels.
Hedgehogs and gulls are the most frequent animals admitted, but we also see many other birds, and mammals like deer and seals.
Visiting West Hatch
Unfortunately, because welfare of the animals is our priority, we can’t allow the public to tour the centre. Too much human contact can prevent animals from making a full recovery. However, supervised visits to support vocational courses or groups can be booked in advance.
Bringing an injured animal to the centre
The centre is open for admission of wildlife casualties every day, 365 days a year.
Our opening hours are 8 am - 9 pm.
Out of hours, the best thing to do is call the 24-hour cruelty and advice line: 0300 1234 999.
How to contact us
RSPCA West Hatch Animal Centre,
Somerset TA3 5RT.
Telephone: 0300 123 0721
Fax: 0303 123 8140