If you find an injured wild animal, watch it for a short while to find out how badly hurt it really is. Then either contact us on 0300 1234 999 or find a vet or wildlife rehabilitator near you. If possible, contain the animal before calling - see our capture and boxing advice below. Read on for more advice about what to do in specific circumstances. Our FAQs also have some useful information.
Capture and boxing
If it's safe to catch and contain the animal this should be done very carefully. Make sure you use gloves and keep the animal away from your face. A secure cardboard box with ventilation holes and lined with a towel or newspaper is ideal. Keep the contained animal as quiet as possible and either take it to a vet, one of our wildlife centres, or call us on 0300 1234 999. You can also take the animal to your nearest wildlife rehabilitator, but note that these will not all have been approved by the RSPCA.
Handling any animal - whether it is domestic, wild, dead or alive - is potentially hazardous. Obvious dangers include bites, scratches and general hygiene issues such as disease transmission.
Whenever handling wild animals you should wear gloves and hold the animal away from your face and those of others.
Always use common sense and, if unsure, seek additional advice or assistance. Personal hygiene should be taken into consideration after handling any animal.
I have found an injured…
animal by the side of the road
This can be a very dangerous situation. Don’t do anything that will put you or anyone else at risk. If you can, watch the animal from a distance. Try to see whether it’s still alive. If the animal moves away, watch where it goes. Don’t try and stop it – it will be very stressed and might cause you or itself further injury. If safe to do so, pick the animal up and contain it as described above. If the animal is alive but you can't contain it, call us to report your location.
animal on the beach
If you find an oiled bird and it is safe to pick it up, make sure you're wearing gloves - not only can the bird injure you but the oil could be hazardous to your health. See our capture and boxing advice above.
If the animal is a seal or whale, don't get too close and call us immediately.
animal in a snare or trap
As upsetting as this situation is, never try and free the animal yourself. You might hurt yourself or the animal even more, and may actually commit an offence if the snare has been legally set. Stay well back to avoid stressing the animal further and call us to report the animal’s location. If you happen to have a camera with you, it would also be useful to take some photographs of the scene.
animal tangled up in fishing line
Don’t try and free the animal yourself – you could end up hurting it even more. Call us and report the animal’s location. If there are wardens or water bailiffs responsible for the site, let them know so they can clear up the litter.
Unfortunately cats kill many wild animals every year, especially young birds. Birds that have been caught by cats are often found on the ground and may not show any obvious injuries. However, wounds can become infected so the bird will need veterinary treatment. See our capture and boxing advice above.
If you think chicks have been orphaned, see our advice on orphaned and abandoned animals.
Another common cause of injuries is birds flying into windows. Unfortunately they don’t always see panes of glass but you can help by putting bird of prey silhouettes on the windows. If you find a bird that you think has hit a window, it might need veterinary treatment. Sometimes though, they are just stunned and can recover on their own, given time. If there's no sign of recovery in a couple of hours or so, then you need to help. See our capture and boxing advice above.
Other causes of injury
Some birds, like swans, can hit power lines because they don’t see them. Any bird that has hit a power line will need immediate treatment so call us. Other animals, such as deer, can get trapped on wire fences. Don't try and untangle them yourself - let us know.
Litter can pose a significant problem to wild animals that can get trapped or entangled. Sometimes it is a matter of freeing the individual and letting it go back to the wild but in some cases treatment and care is required. If this is the case, read our capture and boxing section above.
You can get more advice on what you can do to help protect animals from harmful rubbish in our litter page.