What to do with injured wild animals

Seagull with foot stick in margarine tub. © RSPCA

If you find an injured wild animal, watch it first to see how badly hurt it is. Then contact us on 0300 1234 999, or take it to a nearby vet or wildlife rehabilitator. If possible, contain the animal before calling - see advice below.


Caution!

Wild animals can scratch and bite when frightened, particularly if they are injured.


If in doubt, keep a safe distance and call us.


Apply common sense when approaching an injured animal:

  • Never lift a wild animal, unless you are sure that you can do so without risk to yourself or others. 
     
  • Wear gloves when handling all wild animals, especially oiled wildlife – pollutants like oil can be hazardous.
     
  • Keep the animal away from your face. 
     
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling an animal.
     
  • Take care in dangerous locations, such as a busy road. Watch from a distance first to see whether the animal is still alive, call for help if you can’t reach it safely.
     
  • If you find a whale, dolphin or porpoise on a beach call us or the BDMLR immediately. Keep a safe distance and don’t touch the animal.
     
  • Never try to free an animal from a snare or trap – you risk hurting yourself and the animal and it could be an offence if the animal was legally caught. Stay back to avoid stressing the animal and call us with the location.


Capture and boxing

If it’s safe to catch and handle the animal, then, wearing suitable gloves, quickly place it into a secure cardboard box with ventilation holes, lined with towel or newspaper. Keep the animal quiet and take it to a vet, RSPCA wildlife centre or local wildlife rehabilitator, (but note not all have been inspected by the RSPCA).


It’s often faster to take an animal to a vet yourself as your nearest RSPCA officer may be out of the area attending other calls. If you are unable to transport the animal, call 0300 1234 999.