Wildlife FAQs

What to do if you find an injured or orphaned animal

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 creature, to warn other road users, providing it does not endanger you or other road users.

Do move any dead creatures off the highway as they can attract other birds and animals to them as they will scavenge, which then places these other wildlife, and road users, at further 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, but do not over handle the animal or bird. Put it somewhere quiet, dark and warm. Wild creatures are not calmed by contact with humans. Talking to them and stroking them can only increase their stress.

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 birds 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.

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 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 who 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 it 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 (using gloved hands) if it can be located. If no nest is visible a makeshift nest should be fashioned form 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 to the nest. 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 interfere please contact us

For a specific question regarding the care of wildlife or a wildlife emergency please call our helpline on 09061 800132.

What to do in an emergency - Water Birds

(Please see separate FAQ for Herons)

General notes for waterbirds

Swans and geese often float or swim with a foot lying along their backs.  It looks extremely odd but it is quite normal and nothing to worry about.

There is a condition amongst geese called Aeroplane or Angel Wing.  This is where the bird has one wing stuck up at an angle, and looks as though it may be broken.  In fact they are born like this, and can swim, mate and feed perfectly well.  Please call The Wildlife Aid Foundation so that we assist you in identifying whether this is the case or not.

Water birds with broken legs can and do fly away so it’s worth trying to catch/get close to the injured bird before calling The Wildlife Aid Foundation for help.  Unfortunately we have limited resources and need to be sure that the bird will definitely be there before we send out a rescuer.

 

Ducklings

 

I have seen a Mother duck and ducklings somewhere that is not near water

Ducks often have their young away from their usual pond, sometimes quite a long way away, and often in what seem to be inappropriate places: in back gardens, up trees and on balconies etc.  Once the ducklings are a few days old the mother will sometimes try to lead them back to the water.  If this journey is impossible (e.g. nest inside a walled garden) or especially hazardous (due to busy roads, etc) she may need assistance.

If the duck and ducklings are safe where they are, then they will be able to fly off in about 16 – 18 weeks.  Please put down a shallow tray of water, with cut up grass floating on the surface, and also some chick crumb in a good quantity of water (from pet shops) for the ducklings to eat.   The parent duck will need corn – top up both as necessary. Make sure the water tray is no more than 1” deep as ducklings can drown in anything deeper.

If the ducklings are not safe where they are, then we may need to attempt to move them.  Members of the public are not encouraged to try this themselves, as often it will result in mum flying off and leaving the ducklings abandoned.  Please refer to us, or another centre, for the correct advice, and if a rescue is needed we will arrange it.

I have found some ducklings and there is no sign of the mother

Young ducklings (downy/fluffy, small enough to sit on your hand) NEED a parent.  They cannot regulate their own temperature properly which is why they huddle under mum’s wings to keep warm.  They do not swim well and may become waterlogged and drown in just a few minutes on water.  If they are left wet for more than 5 minutes in cold weather they risk death from hypothermia.   However the mother duck may vanish for periods of time, providing the ducklings don’t look waterlogged then there is no need to panic.  Only if she is gone after dark then they might need moving.  If the mother duck is most definitely gone, then call us or another centre for advice.

 

Waterbirds ‐ general

 

I have seen a young waterbird swimming alone

Sometimes one or two young birds get separated from the flock but will be accepted back if the main group can be found.  Watch for a while to see if the rest of the family group returns.  If the family don’t return and you are able to catch the bird it is best to place it in a box with a small bowl of river or pond water until the rest of the family reappears or is found.  If the bird is an orphan, or the family cannot be located, please bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation so we can take care of it.

There is an injured swan / waterbird on local pond / river etc

If you are able, please try and catch the bird.  The best way to do this is to get an old towel or jacket over the bird and bundle it up to prevent escape.   Please then bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation or contact us so we can arrange for someone to collect it. If the bird is on land, and completely collapsed, then please bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation.  If it is a collapsed swan, then please call a local swan rescue centre (numbers below).

I have seen a swan / waterbird with fishing line in its beak / tangled in fishing line / plastic

These birds tend to be very wary and difficult to catch, unless the line catches in branches or weeds.  Often, unless someone is watching the bird, it has disappeared by the time help arrives.  If there is nothing wrong with the wings, they will often fly away rather than be rescued. If this is not the case and the bird remains trapped please call The Wildlife Aid Foundation for assistance.

I have seen a waterbird that looks unwell

If you think a bird is unwell, please write down all the symptoms you have been able to observe and call The Wildlife Aid Foundation for advice. If the bird is refusing food and there are lots of people about with bags of bread, it may simply be full up!

I have found a dead swan

If the swan is ringed then the number of the ring can be called to report the death. Please call The Wildlife Aid Foundation for advice.

There is a duck caught in the netting on my pond

Please call The Wildlife Aid Foundation for advice.  We may send out a rescuer if you are unable to free the bird yourself.

Some useful telephone numbers:

The Swan Sanctuary (Shepperton): 01932 240790
Swan Rescue (Cobham): 01932 240790 / 07714 292744
Woking Swan Rescue: 07946 869933 / 01483 765108
Swans & Friends Bird Rescue (Redhill): 01737 773712 / 07712 753919
RSPB: 01767 693690

What to do in an emergency - Squirrels

There are squirrels running about in my loft, and I want them removed.

Try to identify where the squirrels are getting in. They have probably found a safe place to have their nest, and so there will most likely be young in the loft as well. Squirrels wean after about 6 weeks, so the only real option is to wait until they have gone, and then block up the hole.

I have found an injured squirrel, and I can’t get to you. Should I take it to my vet?

Grey squirrels are classed as vermin and only certain organisations will take them in.  The Wildlife Aid Foundation has a licence to release a small number of grey squirrels, so ideally try and get the squirrel in to us, where it can be treated and then released back to the wild.  A vet would be obliged to euthanize the squirrel.

I have found an adult squirrel on ground, injured/collapsed/attacked by dog or cat

The squirrel needs to be eased into a box or carrier but extreme caution is advised, as frightened squirrels will inflict a painful bite.  Ensure you are wearing gloves and cover it with an old towel, tuck the ends under the animal gently and ease it into a box or cat basket.  Keep fingers out of range of the teeth and do not attempt to pick it up by hand. Make sure that the carrier is secure ‐ having a miraculously revived squirrel running about in the car is not the most enjoyable experience!  Once you have the squirrel in a container bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation for treatment.

I have found a collapsed adult squirrel, but it is clearly still breathing.

Squirrels, both young and adult, often freeze in shock after being chased or traumatised.  They can stay on bird tables, trees or houses, unmoving and unblinking, for a long time.  The squirrel is best left alone to recover, but if it seems to be in danger, try touching it very gently on the rump with a long stick or garden cane.  This is usually enough to encourage it into movement.  If it does not move after 30 minutes, then you should try approaching again to see if it is still breathing.

I have found a nest of baby squirrels, and no adult is nearby

Please observe the nest for 60 minutes see if the mother returns.  If there is no sign of her, and the youngsters are becoming distressed (they will make a high‐pitched squeaking noise when they are hungry), then please carefully place the babies (still in the nest if possible), into a box.  Wrap a hot water bottle in a towel at the base of the box to keep them warm, and bring to The Wildlife Aid Foundation as soon as possible.

I have found a baby squirrel on the ground underneath a tree

Please observe the nest from a distance for no more than 20 minutes to see if the mother returns and carries the baby back to the nest.  If there is no sign of her, and the youngster is becoming distressed (it will make a high‐pitched squeaking noise when it is hungry), then please carefully place it into a box.  Wrap a hot water bottle in a towel at the base of the box to keep it warm, and bring to The Wildlife Aid Foundation as soon as possible.

I have just had some trees cut back and have disturbed a nest of squirrels

If the nest can be put back in the tree (please wear gloves so no scent gets onto babies), then please try and do this.  Observe the nest for the next 30 minutes see if the mother returns.  If there is no sign of her, and the youngsters are becoming distressed (they will make a high‐pitched squeaking noise when they are hungry), then please carefully place the babies (still in the nest if possible), into a box.  Wrap a hot water bottle in a towel at the base of the box to keep them warm, and bring to The Wildlife Aid Foundation as soon as possible.

I have found baby squirrel, and I want to bring it in to you, but I can’t get there for a few hours. Can I feed it anything in the meantime?

Please never feed squirrels with cow’s milk.  They cannot digest this at all and it can even kill them.  Cow’s milk is only designed for cows!  Please call The Wildlife Aid Foundation for advice, but here is what you can do 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.  DO NOT MICROWAVE THE ANIMAL!!

Once the baby is warm you can try to give it some fluids as follows:

 

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.
  • We will then start feeding a specially made squirrel milk formula.

What to do in an emergency - Snakes

General information about snakes

The most common snake in Britain is the grass snake.  They are non‐venomous, although can bite, so care should always be taken.  Grass snakes are protected by law, and should not be moved from their location.

Adders are venomous, but are very shy creatures, and unless injured will seldom be seen – they will hear people coming from a long distance away and be well hidden before they are spotted.

Smooth snakes – these are very rare.

Slow worms – these are in fact legless lizards, not snakes. They are harmless.

Sometimes escaped exotic pets are seen in the wild i.e. Corn snakes.  If possible, contain the snake without handling (place a box over it) and please call us for advice.  A picture would be helpful for identification.

There is a snake in my garden, and I don’t know what it is

Please call The Wildlife Aid Foundation for advice and we should be able to help you identify the snake.

A snake has come into my house and I am too scared to go near it

Please close all the doors and windows to keep the snake contained.  Call The Wildlife Aid Foundation and we will help you identify the snake and send someone to help you.

My cat has caught a snake, and it is bleeding

Please bring the snake to The Wildlife Aid Foundation or your nearest rescue centre.  Unfortunately cat bites can be dangerous as they carry bacteria in their mouths

For expert advice visit the Surrey Amphibian and Reptile Group website:

www.surrey-arg.org.uk

What to do in an emergency - Rabbits

I have found a rabbit and it has very messy eyes (gummy/white fluid)

This is a sign that the rabbit may have myxomatosis, which is a fatal disease for rabbits, and highly contagious to other rabbits.  Sadly there is no cure for it, and the rabbit will need to be put to sleep as soon as possible to prevent further suffering.  Please contact your local wildlife centre, or take to a local vet who should help.

Myxomatosis cannot be passed to humans, but is highly infectious to other rabbits.  If you have cause to handle a myxi rabbit and have pet rabbits at home please take all precautions (gloves, hygiene etc).

I have found a baby wild rabbit/hare. What do I do?

Rabbits hide their nests in plain sight, often putting them in the open; for example, in the middle of the lawn, as well as in brush piles and long grass.  If you find a nest that has been disturbed, please do all you can to restore and protect it rather than bring the infants inside. If a dog has discovered the nest, keep the dog away from the area and reconstruct the nest with grasses. If necessary you can move the nest a few feet away to somewhere safer.

Rabbit mothers nurse their babies for approximately 5 minutes at a time. They will be in the nest early in the morning and then again in the evening. The milk is very rich and the babies “fill up” to capacity within minutes. Mother rabbits do not “sit” on the babies to keep them warm as do some mammals and birds. They build a nest with fur and grasses which helps to keep the babies warm in between feedings.

So what should I do if I find wild baby rabbits?

The answer to this question is pretty simple: in most cases you should leave them where you found them. Wild rabbits do not need human help, unless the mother rabbit has been killed. Do not handle them unless absolutely necessary.

How can you tell if a baby rabbit is old enough to fend for itself?

Look for a white blaze on their foreheads. If they don’t have the blaze, they are old enough to be outside on their own. Just leave them alone.

If they do have a white blaze?

They are still under their mother’s care. Leave them in their nest or put them back (wearing gloves) if they’re outside of the nest.  Very young wild baby bunnies with eyes closed and ears back rarely survive in captivity, even given the most expert human care; and so it is very important to determine whether they really need help.

If you are concerned that the mother has abandoned the babies, try taking two twigs and lay them in an “X” over the nest.  When mother rabbit comes to feed them, she will disturb the twigs, so they can then monitor for this.

Wild female rabbits build shallow nests (called “forms”) and only visit the nest once or twice a day to nurse. The rest of the time, they will be out of sight but probably nearby.  A mother rabbit’s infrequent visitations are meant to keep the nest hidden ‐ more frequent visits would draw unwelcome attention from predators. Because the doe visits the nest typically just before dawn and just after dark, it can appear as if the babies were abandoned.
If the babies have full bellies, they are being cared for, and the best thing you can do is to leave them alone.
If you know the mother rabbit to be deceased (say, a dog catches her and you find the nest) or if the nest has been destroyed then it is ok to bring the baby rabbits in for care.

Some useful telephone numbers:

RSPCA: 0300 1234 999

What to do in an emergency - Pigeons and Doves

I have found a racing pigeon

Racing pigeons should be collected by their owner. Please bring the bird to us, and we will contact the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, who will contact the owner.

There is a pigeon caught in netting under a railway bridge / on a building site

Unfortunately we cannot rescue birds that are caught in netting on private property. The landlord (or British Rail) must be contacted to make arrangements to free the birds.  If no action is taken then the RSPCA should be informed, as they have stronger powers to pursue such cases.

I have a pigeon in my garden which cannot fly

If a pigeon becomes ill, it will become very weak, and will be unable to take off.  Please place the pigeon in a ventilated box and bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation so we can take care of it.

I have seen a pigeon with a crooked beak / damaged wing / deformed foot

Can the pigeon still fly? If so there’s very little we can do unless it can be caught somehow. If you are able to catch the bird then please place it in a ventilated box and bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation.

I have hit a pigeon with my car

If the bird is injured, please bring the pigeon to us for treatment as soon as possible.  If the only damage is shock and the bird seems to be mainly intact, without too many lost feathers, it is best to place it in a dark, ventilated box for at least a couple of hours, to get over the shock.  After 2‐3 hours, try opening the box in the garden and see if it will fly off. If it isn’t ready to fly off then try another hour of rest and offer it water in a small pot. If it still doesn’t fly, please bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation for treatment and feeding.

A pigeon has fallen down my chimney

Firstly, is there a fire at the bottom of the chimney?  If there is a gas fire, then unfortunately we cannot attend until the fire has been disconnected by an authorised person. If you are able to clear the fireplace then you should leave the room dark and quiet for a couple of hours to see if the bird makes its way out of its own accord. If it is still stuck after this then please contact The Wildlife Aid Foundation and we will try and come out to rescue the bird.

I have found a pigeon/dove whose head keeps falling backwards, and he’s walking round in circles

This could be due to any number of reasons, including bacterial infection, or more seriously a virus called paramyxovirus. Whatever the cause, we need to see the bird as soon as possible, to give him the best chance we can to survive.

If the cause is bacterial we can cure him if we treat him quickly.  If it is viral, it is contagious to other birds and there is no cure, he will not be able to eat properly and will probably die either from starvation or from a predator getting him while he can’t fly.

We recommend that you bring the bird in to us or your closest wildlife hospital for diagnosis and possible treatment. We also recommend that you clean your bird tables and bird water areas with disinfectant and rinse before re-use to help prevent other birds possibly catching it.

Some useful telephone numbers:

 

Royal Pigeon Racing Association : 01452 713529
National Pigeon Association : 01458 851617

What to do in an emergency - Owls

I have found an adult owl by the side of the road

There is a chance that it may have been hit by a car.  Carefully pick up the owl, being careful to avoid the talons.  The easiest and safest way to do this is by wrapping a towel around the body.  Then the bird and towel can be placed in a box or cat carrier.  Keep the owl in a dark and quiet place and bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation as soon as possible. .

I have found an adult owl on the ground near a window

The owl has probably flown into the glass and may be concussed.  Carefully pick up the owl, being careful to avoid the talons.  The easiest and safest way to do this is by wrapping a towel around the body.  Place it in a dark, ventilated box and keep it quiet for at least 2 hours.  After 2 hours check on the owl. If it seems to be improved try opening the box in your garden.  If the bird is not quite ready to fly, try keeping it dark for another two hours but do not try to release it if it is almost dusk. If the owl is not able to be released contact The Wildlife Aid Foundation and we will advise you what to do next. We may need to admit the owl for a short period before it can be released.

I have found an injured owl in my garden

Carefully pick up the owl, being careful to avoid the talons.  The easiest and safest way to do this is by wrapping a towel around the body.  Then the bird and towel can be placed in a box or cat carrier.  Keep the owl in a dark and quiet place and bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation as soon as possible.

I have found an owl caught in netting/barbed wire

Please try and gently wrap the bird in a small towel or cloth to keep it calm. Call The Wildlife Aid Foundation and we will send someone out to help. If you feel you are happy to try and release the owl yourself do take care to try and stay clear of the sharp talons and the beak. Once it is free carefully pick up the owl.  The easiest and safest way to do this is by wrapping a towel around the body.  Then the bird and towel can be placed in a box or cat carrier.  Keep the owl in a dark and quiet place and bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation as soon as possible.

I have found a young owl on the ground

If the owl is lively and uninjured, it may have come from a nest.  Try and identify what type of owl it is. It is possible that it may be a species of owl called a Little Owl.  These often nest on or near the ground in tree stumps and burrows and it may be a youngster who has wandered away a little too far from home.  Also note that Tawny Owls can also nest on the ground, so check that no parents are nearby.

If you have found a tawny owl or barn owl you can try lifting the bird up to as high a branch as you can reach and observe it from a distance.  Use thick gloves when you pick the owl up as they have very sharp talons! The best time to check on the owl is near dusk, when the parents should arrive to feed it.   If the parents do not visit it with food, please contact The Wildlife Aid Foundation. It is likely that the owl will need to come in to be fed.

If the owl is very wobbly and seems unwell, please keep it warm and quiet and bring it to us as soon as possible. Pick the bird up in a towel or with gloves as the talons and beak can cause injury and place it in a ventilated box or pet carrier.

Want to Adopt an Owl at Wildlife Aid?

Click Here to adopt an Owl!

 

Some useful telephone numbers:

 

Raptor Rescue: 0870 241 0609
RSPB: 01767 693690
Sandy Horvath: 07766 302242

What to do in an emergency - Mice

My cat has brought a mouse in. It seems uninjured, what should I do?

Place the mouse into a small ventilated box for an hour or so to allow it to recover from the stress.  If it appears bright enough then you can release it somewhere away from cats.

If the mouse is injured, it’s best to bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation or to a local rescue centre.  Unfortunately cats’ mouths carry harmful bacteria, so it will probably need some antibiotics.

I have found a nest of tiny mice, should I bring them to you?

Please don’t touch the nest or mice but observe the nest from a distance for a while to see if a parent returns.  If no parent returns, or the nest is in danger from cats, then please bring the whole nest in a box to The Wildlife Aid Foundation, or a local centre.

I have found a sleeping dormouse

Dormice are protected by law, and should not be moved.  Additionally if a dormouse is hibernating, and is wakened too quickly it can die.  Please leave the mouse where it is, unless it is in danger from a cat or other predator.  If you do have to move the mouse then it should be very carefully brought in a box to The Wildlife Aid Foundation, making every effort not to disturb it.

There are mice in my kitchen, how do I get rid of them?

The Wildlife Aid Foundation does not get involved in pest control, so it is best to contact a local commercial company who can usually offer a humane removal service.

Some useful telephone numbers:

RSPCA: 0300 1234 999

What to do in an emergency - Insects

There is a swarm of bees in my garden, what do I do?

Bee swarms must be reported to your local police station.  They should be able to advise you of the best course of action.

I have a wasp’s nest in my loft

Unfortunately The Wildlife Aid Foundation does not get involved in wasp removal.  If you contact a specialist company they should be able to deal with this for you.

I have found some large white grubs in a pile of logs in my garden. What could they be?

They could quite possibly be stag beetle larvae.  Please try and leave them alone, as they are endangered and need certain conditions to be able to hatch.  For more information about stag beetles and all insects please visit the Amateur Entomologists’ Society website (www.amentsoc.org)

Some useful telephone numbers:

 

AES: www.amentsoc.org (no phone number listed)
RSPCA: 0300 1234 999

What to do in an emergency - Herons

General Information

Important – Herons can be very dangerous so please take care when approaching them.  When frightened a heron may strike out with its beak which could cause a serious injury.  Ideally the rescue of injured herons should be left to those who are experienced in dealing with them so if you are in any doubt please do not approach the heron.  If you do approach the bird make sure you are wearing protective goggles.

I have found a young heron which has fallen from its nest

Fortunately, this is a very rare situation. However, unfortunately it is usually impossible to return young herons to the nest.  Please call The Wildlife Aid Foundation so a person who is experienced in dealing with herons can come and assess the situation.

I have seen an adult heron caught in pond netting

Firstly please get everyone away from the heron so it can be kept as quiet as possible to minimise stress and struggling.  Then contact The Wildlife Aid Foundation and we will send someone experienced out who will be able to cut the bird free.  With any luck the heron may not need any treatment unless the netting has caused damage.  If it is unhurt then it should be able to be released immediately

I have found a thin / weak / collapsed heron

We do not advise that anyone inexperienced deals with injured herons, as they can be extremely dangerous, even in a weakened state.  Please call us and we will send someone out to deal with the heron.

If you are certain that you can contain the bird then it may be caught and brought to The Wildlife Aid Foundation in a secure pet carrier, rather than a cardboard box.  If you do plan to do this then it is very important to wear goggles and gloves.  To catch it you should grasp the bird round the neck, just behind the head, keeping it at arm’s length the whole time.  It should then be brought in to us as soon as possible.  However if you are in any doubt then please call us and don’t attempt to catch the heron yourself.

Some useful telephone numbers:

The Swan Sanctuary (Shepperton): 01932 240790
Swan Rescue (Cobham): 01932 240790 / 07714 292744
Woking Swan Rescue: 07946 869933 / 01483 765108
Swans & Friends Bird Rescue (Redhill) : 01737 773712 / 07712 753919
RSPB: 01767 693690

What to do in an emergency - Birds of Prey

I have found an adult bird of prey by the side of the road

There is a chance that it may have been hit by a car.  Carefully pick up the bird, being careful to avoid the talons.  The easiest and safest way to do this is by wrapping a towel around the body.  Then the bird and towel can be placed in a box or cat carrier.  Keep the bird in a dark and quiet place and bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation as soon as possible.

I have found an adult bird of prey on the ground near a window

The bird has probably flown into the glass and may be concussed.  Carefully pick up the bird, being careful to avoid the talons.  The easiest and safest way to do this is by wrapping a towel around the body.  Place it in a dark, ventilated box and keep it quiet for at least 2 hours.  After 2 hours check on the bird. If it seems to be improved try opening the box in your garden.  If the bird is not quite ready to fly, try keeping it dark for another two hours but do not try to release it if it is almost dusk. If the bird is not able to be released contact The Wildlife Aid Foundation and we will advise you what to do next. We may need to admit the bird for a short period before it can be released.

I have found an injured bird of prey in my garden

Carefully pick up the bird, being careful to avoid the talons.  The easiest and safest way to do this is by wrapping a towel around the body.  Then the bird and towel can be placed in a box or cat carrier.  Keep the bird in a dark and quiet place and bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation as soon as possible.

I have found a bird of prey caught in netting/barbed wire

Please try and gently wrap the bird in a small towel or cloth to keep it calm. Call The Wildlife Aid Foundation and we will send someone out to help. If you feel you are happy to try and release the bird yourself do take care to try and stay clear of the sharp talons and the beak. Once it is free carefully pick up the bird.  The easiest and safest way to do this is by wrapping a towel around the body.  Then the bird and towel can be placed in a box or cat carrier.  Keep the bird in a dark and quiet place and bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation as soon as possible.

I have found a bird of prey with a ring on its leg

Please bring the bird in to us. We will then contact the IBR (Independent Bird Register) to find out the owner’s details.  Alternatively, if you cannot get the bird to us, you can call the IBR yourself (number below).

Note: if a dead bird has a BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ring, please remove the ring and return it to the BTO for tracking (see website address below)

I have found a young bird of prey on the ground

If possible, you should try lifting the bird up to as high a branch as you can reach and observe it from a distance.  Use thick gloves when you pick the bird up as they have very sharp talons! The best time to check on the bird is near dusk, when the parents should arrive to feed it.   If the parents do not visit it with food, please contact The Wildlife Aid Foundation. It is likely that the bird will need to come in to be fed.

If the bird is very wobbly and seems unwell, please keep it warm and quiet and bring it to us as soon as possible. Pick the bird up in a towel or with gloves as the talons and beak can cause injury and place it in a ventilated box or pet carrier.

Some useful telephone numbers:

I.B.R. (Independent Bird Register): 01748 830112
Raptor Rescue: 0870 241 0609
BTO: www.bto.org
Sandy Horvath: 07766 302242

What to do in an emergency - Amphibians

My cat has brought in a toad/frog, but it doesn’t seem to be injured

If you are sure that the toad or frog is unharmed the best thing to do is to find a safe place to release it.  Ideally away from roads and where it can hide from predators.

My cat has brought in a toad/frog, and it is bleeding

Unfortunately cats do carry some nasty germs in their mouths so it’s possible the bites may become infected.  Please bring the toad or frog to The Wildlife Aid Foundation or to another rescue centre so the wounds can be treated.

I have found a toad/frog caught up in pond netting

Please gently release the toad or frog from the pond netting.  Unfortunately to minimise possible injuries to it you may need to cut the netting.  Once it is free check to see if there are any injuries.  If it appears unharmed please release it in a safe place.  If the toad or frog has injuries then please bring it to The Wildlife Aid Foundation for treatment or take it to another rescue centre.

For expert advice visit the Surrey Amphibian and Reptile Group website:

www.surrey-arg.org.uk

What's wrong with my fox?

Many people are noticing foxes in and around their gardens, and we often receive calls from members of the public regarding the foxes seeming ill-health.  Hopefully we can answer some of the most frequently asked questions here, and can provide a solution to the most common ailment in foxes – sarcoptic mange.

Mange (explained simply) is a skin mite which causes the fox to scratch, and this leads to fur loss and crusty or flaky skin.  Often the first place to lose hair is on the haunches – the hip joints – and then along the back and tail.

Another typical sign of the onset of mange is a limp.  Mange can cause the joints in the feet to swell; making it very painful for the fox to put weight on the affected foot and it will therefore either limp or stop using the foot entirely.

We see many cases of mange at Wildlife Aid, and the good news is that we treat the majority of them successfully, with the foxes recovering and returning to the wild in a much healthier state.

Mange is especially prevelent over the winter and during the spring as foxes may be somewhat run down; they have had a few months, probably with a shortage of food, and many may be under- nourished.  Their immune system is not as strong as it should be, and it will therefore be compromised more easily.  Mange is very infectious, and of course foxes are coming together at this time of year to mate, so the chances of the infection being passed between foxes is much increased.

Wildlife Aid sell a homeopathic mange treatment, which is delivered in liquid form into the fox’s food.  It takes a couple of weeks to kick in, but in many cases a marked improvement will be seen after 4 or 5 weeks.  Click here to order mange treatment.

Click here to read a more detailed account of Sarcoptic mange in foxes (external content: Wildlife Online)

Feeding Foxes WA Article

Mange

How to feed an orphaned mammal in an emergency

Orphan small mammals

Please never feed with cow’s milk. They cannot digest this at all and it can even kill them. Cow’s milk is only designed for cows!!!

Call us for advice, but here is what you can do 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 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.

We will then start feeding a specially made wildlife milk formula.

How to feed an orphaned bird in an emergency

Call us for advice, but here is what you can do if you cannot get the baby to us immediately:

Warm the baby before attempting to feed it. You can do this by putting it in a box resting on top of a hot water bottle or microwaving a sock filled with rice

Once the baby is warm you can try to give it some fluids.

Note: bird of prey chicks have very sharp claws; be extremely careful if handling them.

To give baby birds 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.

Do not put water in the box/cage with small barden birds as they can drown

Use a small paintbrush or makeup brush to either brush fluid onto the bird’s beak, avoiding the nostrils or, if the baby is gaping (opening its mouth by itself), insert the brush to the back of the mouth and it will swallow the fluids.

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.

What to do in an emergency - Hedgehogs

There’s a hedgehog out in the garden during the day. I thought they were nocturnal?

They are – so a hedgehog out during the day is a sign there is almost certainly something wrong. If the hog is a healthy looking adult and is busy carrying grass and leaves to a dry space, then leave it alone – its nest has been disturbed and it is building another one.

If it is asleep in the sun, staggering or walking in circles, it needs to get to a centre as soon as possible. Try and pick it up and put it in a cardboard box or pet carrier lined with newspaper or an old towel. If you haven’t got anything to put it in, ask a neighbour for help, or wrap the animal up in an old towel and put it into a shed or garage to save it wandering off while you make arrangements for its transportation to the nearest wildlife hospital.

I can hear young hedgehogs piping loudly in their nest. Are they ok?

Probably! Do not be tempted to handle the babies as the mother is likely to eat them if they are contaminated with human scent. Wait and see if the mother returns to the nest in a reasonable time. The babies have a penetrating cry but she may be a few gardens away and even hurrying back will still take some time. Often people interfere far too quickly because they think an animal has been abandoned, but this is rarely the case, and you should always be absolutely sure before getting involved in any way. If, after several hours, the mother has still not returned, contact your local rescue centre who will tell you what to do next.

It’s very late in the autumn and a nest of baby hedgehogs has just been born in my garden. Will they survive the winter?

A hedgehog needs to be 600g or over to survive hibernation.  The best course of action is to leave them alone, but if the babies have been abandoned by their mother, it is possible for local experts to hand rear them.  Any hedgehogs under 600g at the end of November (or prior to this, if the weather is particularly cold) will not survive hibernation.  Please contact your local centre to ask their advice.

There’s a hedgehog in my garden making a terrible wheezing and coughing noise and its nose is streaming. What’s wrong with it?

Hedgehogs are prone to lung worms and respiratory diseases and most centres will willingly examine a hog if someone is worried about it. Pick it up carefully, using stout gloves and place it in a stout box, lined with towels or newspapers to take to the centre once they have agreed to see it.

Lots of people feed hedgehogs with bread and milk, but I’ve heard this isn’t good for them. What’s the real story?

You are right – milk and bread is not a good or healthy diet for a mammal that is carnivorous and can be fatal to young hedgehogs! The fact that your hedgehog laps up any bread and milk left out for it doesn’t mean it is a good thing to feed it, any more than sweets are good for us, no mater how much we like them! Cat food (non-fish varieties only) and water is a far better way to keep the hedgehogs in your garden fit and healthy.

I have just noticed a hedgehog in my garden. Should I put food out for it, and if so, what?

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, and so feed during the night.  If you want to feed your hog, then a plate of dog or cat food (no fish flavours as it upsets their digestion) and a saucer of water will be very welcome!  Do not give hedgehogs milk, as they cannot digest it.

I have seen a hedgehog swimming in my pond, will it be OK?

Like many mammals, hedgehogs can swim if they have to, but it is not a natural activity for them.  Try and rescue the hedgehog using gloves as they can be very prickly!  Once you have rescued the hedgehog it is sensible to either put netting over the pond, or provide a slope or ramp so that any future hogs can get out easily.

My dog found a hedgehog in our garden, and has attacked it. It is curled up, so I can’t see if it is injured. What should I do?

Please pick up the hog, wearing gloves to avoid prickles and place it in a ventilated box.  Please then bring it to the hospital as soon as possible to be checked over.

A hedgehog has got caught up in netting in my garden

Please cut the netting free around the hog, and then bring it in to us.  We will anaesthetise the hog so that it will unroll, and we will be able to remove the rest of the netting.

I have found a hedgehog inside my bonfire, it is still alive, but the fire has been burning for a while

Please bring the hedgehog to us as soon as possible so we can try and help it.

I have found an extremely large, round hedgehog

Hedgehogs can suffer from a condition called Ballooning, which causes them to bloat up to an unnatural size.  It is caused by air getting trapped under their skin, and can hinder the hedgehogs ability to rollup, and to move easily.  It is treatable, so please pick up the hedgehog, place it in a box and bring it to us, and we will treat the condition.

I have found a hedgehog with lots of small grey balls attached to its spines

These are ticks, which need to be removed.  You can attempt to do this, but it is probably safer to bring the hog in to us to remove them.  Make sure you wear gloves to pick up the hog as they can be quite prickly!

I have found a hedgehog with lots of blow flies around it

The presence of blow flies, or their eggs/larvae (small yellow clusters of eggs/grubs) means that the hedgehog has an open wound.  Please bring the hedgehog to The Wildlife Aid Foundation for treatment.

Don’t forget: Hedgehogs can sleep inside sheds, garages, bags of rubbish etc.  Please check before clearing out these areas that there are no sleeping hogs inside!

Some useful telephone numbers:

British Hedgehog Preservation Society: 01584 890801
Sue Kidger: 020 8894 3712 / 07776 153633

Hedgehog Fact Sheet –  see attachment below

Hedgehog fact sheet

What to do in an emergency - Foxes

There’s a fox in my garden with bald patches. What’s wrong with it and can I help?

Mange is a common problem with foxes and if left untreated, can cause sores which get infected and can lead to its eventual death. Mange is caused by a skin mite and can be easily treated using a homeopathic remedy that can be put into food for the fox. Contact us and we can send you some medication that will help.

There’s an injured fox in my garden. What shall I do?

If the fox can still run, then they nearly are impossible to catch to treat. You can try feeding the fox for a short while (we do not recommend feeding foxes regularly as their hunting skills diminish if food is too easy to come by) as good, regular food, will help the wound to heal more quickly and efficiently. Added cod liver oil and vitamins will help as well. If you can get close enough to touch the fox gently with, for example, a broomstick, then it probably needs more help, so contact your local rescue centre and ask them to come and collect it.

I keep seeing a fox lying in on my shed roof. What’s wrong with it?

The answer is, probably nothing! Like most of us, foxes enjoy sunbathing and can spend a whole day basking like cats in a warm, sheltered, quiet place. Keep an eye open for any injuries or signs of distress, but if all seems well, leave the fox to enjoy the sun!

I don’t want foxes in my garden. How can I keep them away?

You could try using products such as Reynardine, Pepper Dust, etc. or even a scarecrow, since people are the main deterrent to most wildlife. However, why worry about them? Foxes are unlikely to do any damage to your garden, as long as you keep the lid firmly on your dustbin. There are very few places for wild mammals to live these days and a fox is not necessarily such a bad neighbour – it would certainly keep away rats!

I can see a small puppy-like animal sounding like a kitten! What is it?

Probably a fox cub – which doesn’t look at all like a fox when they are very young. Fox cubs are very dark brown in colour and do look like puppies. Vixens often move their cubs from site to site. If a cub seems to have been abandoned on your lawn, the chances are high that it hasn’t been, simply that their mother is moving the whole litter somewhere else. Keep an eye on the cub and the chances are high the mother will return within a few hours. If not, and the cub is becoming distressed, call your local rescue centre for advice on how to pick it up safely to take to the centre.

Can I just pick a fox cub up to take it to a centre?

No! Never, never pick up a fox cub with your bare hands – apart from running the risk of a nasty nip, the smell of humans on a cub will lead the mother to abandon it immediately.

I love feeding the foxes in my garden? Surely this is good?

This is a tricky one; we know that many people like to feed foxes. However, unless you are treating an ill or injured fox, we would suggest that feeding any large wild mammal is not a good idea, for two reasons. First, you may adore your foxes, but your next door neighbour may not be so keen and we have had incidences where one household have fed foxes, only for the next door household to kill or injure them. Secondly, by regularly feeding foxes, they can become lazy and lose their hunting skills. This is never a good thing for a wild animal, and what would happen if you move house or go away for a long spell? So, long term, it’s probably best to let the fox do what comes naturally and forage for its own food.

For further infomation about foxes here are some useful links:

www.foxproject.org.uk

www.fox-a-gon.co.uk (Non lethal fox management)

Additionally there are some Fact Sheets from The Fox Project attached at the bottom of this article.

FP – Deterrence FP – Diet FP – Disease FP – Habitat FP – Mange

What to do in an emergency - Deer

I have found an injured adult deer by the side of the road / I’ve hit a deer with my car

If the deer is causing a hazard on the road, please put your hazard lights on to protect both you and the deer.  Never try to pick up an injured deer without expert help.  The main aim is to try to keep the animal calm until help arrives.  Cover its head with a blanket or coat, keeping well away from antlers and hooves, both of which can inflict a serious injury. Please call The Wildlife Aid Foundation and we will send help as soon as possible.

I have seen an adult deer with an injured leg

Unfortunately if it is at all mobile, we will not be able to catch it. A mobile deer, even on 3 legs, can still run faster and further than a would‐be rescuer.   Please approach the deer carefully with a broom, and attempt to give it a gentle shove with the prickly end of the broom.  If the deer does not run away, but remains on the ground then a centre should be able to come and attempt a rescue.

I have found a fawn lying in undergrowth, with no sign of an adult deer

Do not touch the fawn!  If the fawn is lying down but with its head up and eyes bright and alert it has almost certainly just been left by its mother while she moves away to feed and should not be disturbed or picked up unless in imminent danger from dogs or machinery. Do not stroke it or touch it in any way as human scent will almost certainly cause its mother to abandon it. Watch the fawn from a distance, preferably by using binoculars, to see if the mother returns. Young deer are often left alone for several hours at a time so you can check it again later. If the mother does not return by dusk, call The Wildlife Aid Foundation for help and advice.

I have found a fawn, and it is injured / cold / crying.

Do not touch the fawn! Observe the fawn for a couple of hours in case the mother is close by.  However, if the mother does not return then have she may been killed in a road accident, or disturbed by dogs and abandoned the fawn.  It is also possible that the mother has abandoned the fawn because she knows it is sick.  Call The Wildlife Aid Foundation for advice.  If you are asked to bring the fawn in it should be wrapped up warmly.  If possible some else should drive so the fawn can be held securely.

There is an adult deer in my garden, and it cannot get out.

If the deer can get in, it can almost certainly get out!! A deer can easily jump a 2 metre fence and will usually find its way out when it gets bored.  Often deer choose back gardens and secluded spots to rest up during the day, and will usually move away under the cover of darkness. Do not approach it as it will cause it stress.  Open all available gates and leave the deer until the next morning, and you’ll probably find it’s moved on.

Some useful telephone numbers:

 

RSPCA: 0300 1234 999
British Deer Society: 01425 655434

What to do in an emergency - Garden Birds

LEGAL WARNING: The felling of trees with nesting birds is only legally permissible between November and January, and violations can result in hefty fines for disturbing nests – £1,000 per nest and an additional £1,000 per bird or egg. Our plea to everyone is NOT to cut down trees or hedges at all during spring months but if you really do need to remove a tree please make sure you get a survey done first and that you have permission from the local council to do so, and do so at the right time of year. This is all subject to very strict regulations – and those regulations are there for a good reason.

 

A young, bare looking bird has fallen out of its nest. What should I do?

Baby birds can often be placed back in a nest (using gloved hands) if it can be located.  If no nest is visible a makeshift nest should be fashioned form 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, you should probably intervene.

Keep the bird warm and quiet and take it in to your local wildlife centre as soon as possible for feeding.  Do not try to feed it yourself as – it is easy to suffocate young birds with chunks of food that are too big for it to handle.  Please do not wait for too long before seeking help as a couple of hours could make the difference to a small bird’s survival.

There is a fledged youngster on the ground – but it looks too young to fly. Can I help it?

It will depend on the type of bird. If you are having trouble identifying it, call local experts for help.

Finches and Dunnocks

Should be left alone and observed from a distance. The parents should visit them at least every hour or so. They should only be brought in if orphaned or abandoned with no parental contact for 3-4 hours or in imminent danger from a cat.

Small & Speckled

Robins separate their young, park them under bushes and feed them regularly. If there is no danger from cats, leave them alone and observe from a distance, to make sure the parents are still around. It may take some time to see if all is well, as the youngsters are well camouflaged.

Blue Tits & Great-tits

Are sometimes seen alone in bushes. Parents separate broods for safety once fledged, and make the rounds, feeding them in turn. If found on the ground, put in a dense bush or hedge nearby and watch from a distance to see if the parents come with food.

Blackbird / Thrush

Youngsters may have fallen from a perch or not be good enough at flying to get back into a tree. They spend a lot of time on the ground as they feed on worms, snails and bugs so need to be observed to make sure they can escape a predator and are being looked after by a parent.

Corvids – Crow/Jackdaw/Jay/Magpie Family

Youngsters leave the nest when fledged and are looked after on the ground by attentive parents for several days, until able to fly properly. They should not be “rescued” if the parents are still around. A lot of their time is spent on the ground, learning to find food and they can hop up into bushes to get away from predators. They have to spend time on the ground to enable space to practice flying and building the strength in their wing muscles, this is perfectly natural and normal as they cannot do this in the confines of their nest.

If you really feel that the corvid could be in danger from cats or other predators, then pick up gently with a tea towel or gardening gloves, and place into a cardboard box with the lid open which can then be hung from a tree/washing line etc (out of the reach of cats). Advise people to keep their cats in until they have moved on, which is usually only a couple of days maximum.

Monitor from a distance to see that the parent birds return.  Juvenile corvids are fed pretty constantly throughout daylight hours, so if a parent bird does not return within a few hours; contact your local rescue centre for help.

Seeing blood on a young corvids mouth is not a reason to worry, as these birds often eat pieces of meat brought to them from their parents, and this could be the blood you can see. As long as the bird is active, lively, and has no obvious other signs of injury, it is far better to leave them alone.

Most years we get approximately 30 – 40 juvenile corvids of all species brought in to us that simply did not need to come in due to the reasons stated above.

My cat has brought in a bird. What should I do?

Keep the bird quiet and dark and get it to your local rescue centre as soon as possible if there is any skin damage and/or a visible puncture wound. It will need antibiotics, as infection is very quick to spread. If the only damage is shock and the bird seems to be mainly intact, without too many lost feathers, place it in a dark, ventilated box for at least a couple of hours, to get over the shock. It is important to get it into a dark, quiet place, so that it can rest properly and have a chance of recovery. After 2-3 hours, open the box in the garden and see if it will fly off. If nearly ready, try another hour of rest and offer it water in a small pot. If it still doesn’t fly, take it to your local rescue centre for a check-up and feeding.

A bird has flown into my window and seems stunned / there is an injured bird on the ground near a window. Should I just leave it?

The bird is probably concussed. Place it in a dark, ventilated box, such as shoe box with holes punched in it, and keep it quiet for at least 2 hours. Check on its progress and if it seems to be improved, try opening the box in their garden. If the bird is not quite ready to fly, try keeping it dark for another two hours but do not try to release it if it is almost dusk. If the bird does not improve then contact The Wildlife Aid Foundation for advice.

I have found a bird with a broken wing

Please bring the bird to us in a ventilated box.  Occasionally broken wings can be mended, but if not we will euthanise the bird to prevent further suffering.

A bird has fallen down my chimney

Firstly, is there a fire at the bottom of the chimney?  If there is a gas fire, then unfortunately we cannot attend until the fire has been disconnected by an authorised person.  If you are able to clear the fireplace then you should leave the room dark and quiet for a couple of hours to see if the bird makes its way out of its own accord.  If it is still stuck after this then please contact The Wildlife Aid Foundation and we will try and come out to rescue the bird.

I have found a nest of newly hatched chicks when cutting back my tree

Please try and put the nest back in a suitable tree and observe for a couple of hours to see if the parents return.  If they do not, then please bring the nest into The Wildlife Aid Foundation so that we can get it into an incubator.

I have found a nest of eggs when cutting back my tree

Please try and put the nest back in a suitable tree and observe for a couple of hours to see if the parents return.  We are not able to help as it is illegal to take, possess or control any wild birds’ eggs, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Sadly, the eggs must therefore be left to go cold.

I have hit a pheasant / grouse with my car, and can’t tell how badly it is injured

Please stay with the bird for about 20 minutes.  It may just be stunned, and will move off once it has recovered.  If it doesn’t, then please cover the bird with a towel, and bring it into us or to your nearest rescue centre.

Some useful telephone numbers:

RSPB: 01767 693690

What to do in an emergency - Bats

I have a bat flying inside my house

Bats have a very sophisticated system for finding their way around in the dark, but despite this, some do end up getting trapped inside buildings. This happens most often between mid-July and mid-August when baby bats are learning to fly, and they are inexperienced in using their newly developed echolocation skills. This means that when they are finding their way back to the roost after hunting they might crawl through the wrong gap or through an open window, especially if this window is beneath the roost entrance; they will then find themselves inside the house rather than in the roof. Bats are very small and need only a very small space in order to gain access, so sometimes it can be very hard to tell how a bat got in.

NEVER try to catch a flying bat – you are likely to injure it severely and it may even bite in self-defence

So what do you do? If it’s a warm evening, the best course of action is to close the door to the room, and to open the windows to the outside as widely as possible, dim the lights and give the bat the chance to find its own way out. Bats navigate by sending out high-pitched sounds and listening for the echoes so the bat should soon detect any opening that leads out of the room. If it does not find its way out it will roost somewhere in the room when it becomes light, and will appear again the following evening at dusk. If you wish to search the room to ensure the bat has gone, the best places to look are in the folds of curtains and behind picture frames and other places that are high up and where the bat can roost out of the light. However, bats have been found hanging from the tassels at the bottom of an arm chair, so do check at a lower level as well.

At all other times, such as during daylight hours or during the winter. Wait until the bat lands. Sometimes young bats, which are inexperienced flyers, will become exhausted before finding the way out. They may try to land on a wall or curtains, or they may crash land on furniture or the floor. In this case, you should contain the bat and then release it in the evening.

To contain a bat

Place a box (which should be shoe box or ice cream tub sized) over the bat and slide a piece of cardboard under the box to make the floor of the container. If this is not practical then put on a pair of thick protective gloves and pick up the bat and put it in the box. It is recommended that people wear thick gloves to handle bats because there is a tiny risk of some bats in Britain carrying a rabies related virus, which could be transmitted through a bite or a scratch. Bats are not vicious, but a frightened wild animal may become distressed and bite. 

Put a piece of cloth such as an old tea towel loosely crumpled in one corner of the box. The bat will feel safer if it has something to crawl into and hide. Put a few small air holes into the lid and a very shallow container (such as a foil milk bottle top) of water in one corner so the bat can have a drink.

To release a bat

When releasing the bat, you should wait until dusk, or as near to that time as possible. It should be a warm, dry night. Place the box on its side, so the bat can crawl straight out. Bats need to drop and swoop to become airborne so the box should be on the top of a wall or on a shed roof, at least five feet off the ground, as near as possible to where the bat was found. It should be placed somewhere safe from predators. The bat can then crawl out of the box and fly away when it is ready.

If the bat does not fly away within about fifteen minutes it might need further attention, so take it back inside as we will need to pass it on to a bat rehabilitator. If you pass the bat on to a bat rehabilitator it is important also to pass on details of who found the bat, where and in what circumstances it was found.

I’ve found a baby bat

Baby bats are usually born in June. They are very small and have little fur. When their mothers go out to feed in the evening, the unsupervised babies sometimes end up in strange places in the house such as the kitchen sink or shower, as they are small enough to fall down tiny cracks next to pipes or between floorboards. If you do find a baby bat, you must get expert help as quickly as possible. There may be a bat rehabilitator near you who can assist. Please call for advice.

I have found a bat on the ground

A bat found on the ground during daylight hours is likely to be in trouble already. Wearing thick gloves and using a soft cloth, pick the bat up gently. Put the bat into a small ventilated box, and bring it to Wildlife Aid for examination. Please make a note of exactly where you found it so that we can release it back to the exact location when it is fully fit.

Bats are gentle creatures and seldom show any aggression but they are wild animals and may be frightened or in pain. You must take care not to be bitten so wear thick protective gloves and handle the bat as little as possible. Most of the UK’s bats have such small teeth that a bite will not break the skin. However, a strain of the rabies virus has been found in a small number of British bats, so although the risk is very small, you must take precautions to avoid being bitten or scratched.

There’s a bat hanging on my wall

If the bat is out of the way of passers by and cats, then it is best to leave it where it is. Sometimes bats do roost in the open air, especially in the mating season during the autumn. However, if the bat is somewhere where it could be in danger, please call for advice. It may also be in need of assistance by an experienced bat carer, in which case it will need to be contained. Bats do sometimes die hanging on walls. Their legs are constructed in such a way that they will not lose their grip when they are relaxed – so if it has been there for a number of days this might be what has happened. Again, please call for advice.

What should I do if I’m bitten by a bat?

A small number of bats in the UK have been found to carry EBLV, a rabies-like virus. If you have been bitten or scratched, wash the wound immediately with soap and water for at least five minutes. Additional cleansing of the wound site with an alcohol base or other disinfectant is also recommended. Seek immediate medical advice from your GP. You can also call the NHS Direct Helpline on 0845 4647. Contain the bat so that it may be collected and assessed by a bat worker. Bats can squeeze through very small spaces, so keep it in a well-sealed container with adequate ventilation holes, a piece of cloth to hide in, and a shallow container of water for the bat to drink from. Make sure you avoid getting bitten again by wearing gloves or using a cloth to handle the bat. Contact the Bat Helpline on 0845 1300 228 so that we can arrange for the nearest bat worker to collect and identify the bat. If there is no bat worker in your area the bat may need to be taken to a local vet for assistance.

I have bats in my roof and want to get rid of them

All bats are a protected species by law and it is illegal to kill, injure or take a wild bat, or intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to a bat roost.  Just think of all the insects they eat every night and how many more mosquito bites you would suffer if your bats weren’t there!

If you are worried about having bats or want to know if they you move them on, it’s best to get in touch with your local bat group (Surrey Bat Group in our case) or the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) 0845 1300 228, who will send out a licensed bat handler to assess the situation. Although bats do have legal protection, the law does not expect people to co-exist with bats in the living area (i.e. bedrooms, sitting room, etc.). Please don’t be afraid to contact a bat group or BCT for fear of their putting the rights of bats above those of humans. BCT works to ensure people and bats can live together in harmony, and are there to provide advice, guidance and information.

I’ve seen a bat flying during the day

Although bats are nocturnal creatures they do sometimes emerge to hunt for insects during the day. This is more common on mild winter days or during the early spring when bats wake naturally from hibernation and come out to stock up their reserves and hunt insects that may also have emerged because of the mild weather. After this they go back to their hibernation site to sleep until the next mild spell. If the weather is very bad then bats will not go out at night to feed; so if there has been a period of bad weather, bats will sometimes risk hunting during the day in order to get enough food.

I have found a bat during building works

Bats and their roosts are protected by law. This means if work needs to be done to any building that is known to contain a bat roost, or that may contain a bat roost, the relevant statutory nature conservation organisation (SNCO) must be contacted in advance for advice. If bats are discovered during work then the work must stop immediately until the relevant SNCO has been contacted and advice given. It is also important to seek advice if you need to treat timber in the roof of a known bat roost.

I want to know more about bats

You can visit the Bat Conservation website at www.bats.org.uk 

Some useful telephone numbers:

Surrey Bat Group: 01276 22574
Bat Conservation Trust (local): 01932 842636
Bat Conservation Trust (national) : 0845 130 0228

 

What to do in an emergency - Badgers

I have hit an adult badger with my car. Help!

Despite their cuddly appearance, badgers are dangerous animals and have a powerful bite. All you can do is call your local rescue centre and keep an eye on it, especially if it starts to crawl away. Do not try to pick it up! If it seems stunned, then please approach very carefully with a broom and give a gentle shove with the prickly end of the broom.  This will establish the mobility of the badger and allow us to judge if it needs rescuing.

I hit a badger cub with my car. What can I do?

Even the smallest badger cub can have a powerful bite, so keep clear from the dangerous end! If you can, cover it with a blanket, contain it in some way and stay there until help arrives.

I have seen a badger cub wandering about on its own. Should I help it?

If it is very small, it is possible that the cub may have been orphaned – they do not usually stray far from their sett unless something is wrong. Put down some water and cat food (not a fish variety) if possible – it may be very hungry and desperate for food. If the cub is big enough to have been weaned, there may be nothing to worry about but please watch to see if a parent comes looking for it. In either event, call your local rescue centre who will be able to advise you as to the best course of action.

I have seen a badger cub that has been injured or looks ill. Should I bring it to you?

Unless very small, even cubs can give a very nasty bite if they feel threatened. Only attempt to pick it up if you can wrap it up in a blanket and put it into a strong cat carrier. Extreme caution and thick gloves will be needed! The best course of action is to wait for an expert to come and collect the cub for you. Always call The Wildlife Aid Foundation or another centre for advice first.

I have found a Badger Cub, can I touch it?

No!!  Once your scent is on the cub it will have very little chance of being accepted back into the sett.  Please leave it alone and observe for a couple of hours.  Mum will most likely return for it, she will hear its cries.  However, if the cub is still in the same place after a couple of hours, and no sign of mum, please call us for further advice.

I have found a Badger caught in wire/fencing

Do not attempt to free the badger yourself, they are very dangerous.  Also, do not go too close to the badger as it can cause it to become very stressed and possibly do itself more damage.  Please call us or a local badger group for advice.

Do I have a Badger sett in my garden?

Badgers are diggers, so usually the presence of big holes in flowerbeds/lawns is a sign.  Please call a local badger group (numbers below) who will give you more advice/check the area for you.

There are badgers in my garden and I want to get rid of them

Badgers are protected under law, and cannot be moved.  You can contact your local badger group (numbers below) who will give you more advice, and may assess the situation for you.

I have found a dead badger by the side of the road

Please contact your local council, who will advise you how to dispose of it, as some councils may come and collect.  Otherwise, you can put it into an overgrown area, and let nature take its course.

If the badger is found during the period January – April, please check if the teats to see if it is a female and to see if there are any signs that she may have young – heavy, drooping nipples or milk escaping (lactating).  If you see any of these signs there may well be young nearby.  Please contact The Wildlife Aid Foundation, your local wildlife centre or your local badger group.

Some useful telephone numbers:

West Surrey Badger Group: 07802 575294
East Surrey Badger Protection Society: 07736 520332 / 020 8688 9905.

General Queries

There is a peacock in my garden / the road etc

Peacocks are generally owned by stately homes / private collections.  We cannot admit any peacocks at The Wildlife Aid Foundation, so the best course of action is to see if you can think of any big houses / National Trust properties etc in the area, and to call them to see if it belongs to them.  If you have no luck with this, then you should call the RSPCA

I have found a parrot

We cannot admit parrots to The Wildlife Aid Foundation, so please call Birdline (number below)

I have some terrapins / snake / other exotic that I don’t want anymore.  What can I do with them?

The Wildlife Aid Foundation does not take in these kinds of animals.  Call Jungle Fortress (number below) if you are in this area or look for other centres online

I have found a ferret, what should I do?

There are many places which take in ferrets, including the RSPCA; an internet search will show those in your area. For the Surrey area, please see the number below.

Wildlife habitat is being destroyed in my area for building/roads etc.  Can you help?

We suggest that you contact local media – press, radio etc, and tell them what is happening.  You could also check with local wildlife groups to see if protected species might be affected (badgers, bats etc)

Some useful telephone numbers:

Birdline: 08456 431785
Ferret rescue and rehoming: 07904 717795
RSPCA: 0300 1234 999
Jungle Fortress: 01932 226609

Is Wildlife Aid open to the public?

Wildlife Aid is not open to the public (except on our annual Open Day), due to the nature of the work that goes on here. The animals which are admitted to the hospital are sick, injured or orphaned, and therefore need to be kept in quiet and peaceful surroundings.

However, each year we hold an Open Day at the centre to enable the public to get a glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ at the hospital, and on this day you can see inside the hospital, the intensive care unit, and around the cages and pens. Rest assured all very sick animals are removed to somewhere more quiet for the day, but there are always a good number of more healthy animals to be seen.