Wildlife Awareness and Top Tips
As a community, we can come together and improve the lives of our wildlife. We need to be aware of what is natural and normal and when we should, or for that matter should not be interfering with their natural life cycle.
Baby birds – if you find a young bird with not very many feathers you need to act fast. These birds will not last very long without the warmth of their own nest. If you find a baby bird with all or most of their feathers, they are fledging. You should try to leave them in the wild if possible. In captivity, they won’t learn how to survive, and may not be able to cope with re-release.
If a bird is in immediate danger (in a road or near a predator), you can move it into a safe, sheltered place. Some species of birds will be able to climb back into their nests so watch and leave them undisturbed for as long as possible. Never try to return the bird to its nest, as this will disturb the other nestlings and the parents, and may result in their abandoning the rest of the brood.
A nestling (not yet fully feathered) will not survive unaided if out of the nest. If you decide you want to act, these are the birds that require most assistance. Wear gloves and place the bird into a secure box with ventilation, blankets/newspaper. Move the bird to a specialist centre such as a wildlife centre or an RSPCA clinic as soon as possible. Do not feed these birds as they have a specialist diet.
You can read more about managing “lost” baby birds here.
Road traffic accidents – many animals get hit by vehicles. If you see an animal get hit, you should try to prevent any further pain for that animal. You should be aware that spinal fractures are likely following a high impact trauma so be extremely careful when moving the animal, as changing their muscle tone or posture could make things worse. You should put the animal onto a hard surface to be carried on. You should ensure that they are warm, to prevent hypothermia by providing blankets. Any boxes need to securely shut and have ventilation holes – many injured animals will stage quite miraculous recoveries and get loose, panicked and frantic inside the car!
Remember, wild animals are not used to being handled and could, therefore, act aggressively. We need to prevent the situation from becoming worse, but intervene as little as possible. Handling will add extra stress which could worsen the situation. You should take them to a specialist centre as soon as possible. Here, the vet can make the decision about what the best option regarding the animal’s welfare would be. Wild animals may carry zoonotic diseases too so be sure to wear appropriate personal protective equipment and clothing (gloves, masks, covered skin), and wash thoroughly after you have touched them.
Hedgehogs out during the day – Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals. If you see them out moving during the day, they are normally ill. This is not normal behaviour for them. If you see a hedgehog out during the daylight, please collect them in a cardboard box and bring them to us; we can try and stabilise them and then pass them on to a rehabilitation centre.
Animals coming out of hibernation – when animals come out of hibernation, they may have lost as much as half of their body weight. This is normal, they should put on weight as they start to eat again. If you can see an animal has come out of hibernation and is clearly underweight and incapable of moving to find food or escape predators, you may want to take action.
If you find an animal still in hibernation, leave them alone and let them wake up naturally. Forcing them to awaken uses up extra energy, meaning they will eat their food which was stored up to last them over the colder months.
If you feel you cannot transport the animal yourself, contact us, an RSPCA officer or a wildlife rehabilitator. Do not attempt to handle or transport aggressive animals. Keep your distance and call 0300 1234 999.
If you suspect you found an orphaned or injured wild animal, please contact the RSPCA, and get a log number, before calling us. Without that, we are very limited in what we can do!