Caring for orphaned animals
Stop! Do NOT attempt to handle a live badger, deer or fox.
They can all inflict severe injuries to humans. You can protect these larger mammals from receiving further injury by positioning a car with its hazard warning lights and headlights on, behind the animal, to warn other road users, providing it does not endanger you or other road users.
Do move any dead creatures off the highway; roadkill attracts other birds and animals that want to scavenge off the remains, which then places them, and road users, at risk. To check if a creature is dead, a gentle prod with a long stick should be enough to provoke some response, if it is still alive.
In the boot of your car, it can be handy to carry a strong cardboard box (or pet carrier), a torch, a towel and a pair of thick gardening gauntlets.
Covering an injured animal will help reduce stress and keep it warm; try to handle the animal as little as possible. Put it somewhere quiet, dark and warm. Wild animals are not calmed by contact with humans. Talking to them and stroking them will only increase their stress, although it may not be apparent.
Do keep the number of your nearest wildlife rescue centre to hand. We suggest keeping one copy near the phone and one copy in your car.
Do keep all animals away from your face. Long-beaked and long-necked birds (herons and grebes, in particular) will peck at anything shiny; your eyes being an obvious target. If in doubt DO NOT pick it up. If attempting to pick it up, ALWAYS wear protective goggles.
Do watch out for the talons on birds of prey (owls, kestrels, sparrow hawks, etc.), as these are their most dangerous weapon. Throw a towel over the bird and pick it up using thick gloves.
A basic rule of thumb - if you can pick up any wildlife it probably needs help.
The most important exception to this rule is baby deer (fawns). The adult deer will leave them hidden in undergrowth (or even, sometimes, out in the open) for anything up to eight hours at a time. If the fawns have human scent on them, the adult may well abandon them. If you are in any doubt, contact your local wildlife centre, they will ensure that the fawn is discreetly monitored until the mother deer returns.
Also, fox cubs can be moved by a vixen and left for a while. Give the vixen a chance to return to pick them up. The more noise the cub makes, the more chance of the vixen hearing it and retrieving it.
Baby birds can, often, be placed back in a nest (ideally, using gloved hands), if it can be located. If no nest is visible, a makeshift nest should be fashioned from a tissue box or similar, and can be hung from a tree/washing line, etc. (out of the reach of cats).
Monitor from a distance to see that the parent birds return. Baby birds are fed pretty constantly, throughout daylight hours, so if a parent bird does not return within an hour or so, contact your local rescue centre for help.
If you are in any doubt about the above, or when to intervene, please, contact us.
How to feed an orphaned mammal in an emergency
Orphan hedgehogs and other small mammals
Please never feed with cow’s milk. They cannot digest it, at all, and it can even kill them.
Call us for advice.
If you cannot get the baby to us, immediately: warm the baby before attempting to feed it. You can do this by using a covered hot water bottle, or microwaving a sock filled with rice.
Once the baby is warm, bright and alert, you can try to give it some fluids.
To give the baby fluids, please, follow this recipe:
A homemade rehydration solution can be made by mixing: ¼ teaspoon salt + ¼ tablespoon of sugar + 1 mug of warm water (pre-boiled from your kettle and allowed to cool to body temperature).
Feed the baby with great care, very slowly, as babies can inhale the fluid easily and get pneumonia.
You can use a small syringe or pipette to feed the baby.
Only small amounts, little and often, are needed, and, please, only use this homemade solution until you can get the baby in to us, preferably as soon as you can (between 9am and 8pm).
We will then start feeding a specially-made milk formula.