The weather is warming up, the birds are singing and there is a flurry of animal activity as spring approaches. As animals become more active around the neighbourhood, there’s also an increased chance that you might come across one that needs your help.
Knowing what to do if you find sick or injured wildlife could help save an animal’s life.
During spring, when birds are at their most active, you might come across baby birds that look abandoned, but aren’t. These birds are called ‘fledglings’ and may sit on the ground while their parents are nearby, feeding.
In such cases, it’s best to leave the fledgling alone and watch from a distance to keep an eye out for predators and see if the parents return. If they don’t, call your local wildlife rescue organisation who will advise you on what to do, depending on the location and age of the bird.
Wild animals are different to domestic animals - they will likely become very stressed if handled, and can even die from the shock. That’s why it’s so important to handle them as little as possible, and avoid loud noises and movement.
If you come across an injured wild animal, the best way to handle it is to loosely wrap it in a towel and place it in a secure, ventilated box.
Though you might think the animal could be hungry, it’s best not to attempt to feed it – leave that to the experts. Providing a small dish of shallow water within close reach of the animal is a good idea to prevent dehydration from occurring.
As soon as the animal is in a safe and secure place, it is important to contact your nearest veterinarian or wildlife rescue organisation. They’ll be able to advise you on what to do next and will arrange for the animal to get appropriate treatment.
It’s also important to be aware that wildlife, despite being injured, may be able to scratch and bite to defend themselves against a perceived threat. It’s therefore essential that, if they must be handled, this is done with caution to avoid being injured yourself!
Ideally, this means wearing gloves and clothing that covers the body, while being mindful of keeping your face away from the injured animal during handling.
If encountering an animal that is potentially venomous or dangerous - such as a snake, flying fox, goanna or bat – it is advisable not to try to handle them and to call a wildlife rescue organisation for assistance.
Keeping a ‘wildlife rescue kit’ in the back of the car or at home is an easy way of making sure you have everything on hand to act quickly if an injured animal needs you.
This kit could include a cardboard box with ventilation holes, a pair of gloves, a towel, a shallow dish and a list of numbers for local wildlife organisations and carers.
For a complete, nation-wide list of wildlife rescue organisations, click here.
Wildlife are an important part of our surroundings and live peacefully in our midst, but sometimes need a little bit of help. We can all take the time to lend a hand to wildlife in need.
- RSPCA Australia, an independent, non-government community-based charity providing animal care and protection services. It relies on donations from the public to carry out its work.