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What to do if you find a wild animal that is sick or injured

What to do with injured wild animals

Now we are getting out and about a bit more, we may come across more wildlife. But what is the best thing to do if you see wildlife that is sick or injured? If you are unfortunate enough to come across injured wildlife please ensure to follow these important guidelines from the National RSPCA below.

If you find an injured wild animal, watch it first to see how badly hurt it is. Then if possible take it to a nearby vet or wildlife rehabilitator (call first to make sure they can take and treat the animal).

It’s often faster to take an animal to a vet or wildlife rehabilitator yourself the nearest RSPCA officer may be out of the area attending other calls.

If you’re unable to transport the animal and cannot find a wildlife rehabilitator who is able to help, contact the National RSPCA about an animal in distress. If possible, contain the animal before calling.

Be careful when approaching wild animals, they can scratch and bite when frightened, particularly if they’re injured. If in doubt, keep a safe distance and call the National RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

Who to call for certain animals

The following animals can’t be handled or transported by the public:

  • an injured deer
  • seal
  • wild boar
  • otter
  • badger
  • fox
  • snake
  • bird of prey (including owls)
  • swan
  • goose
  • heron
  • gull.

If you see one, keep a safe distance and call the National RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.





Kestrel (bird of prey)

Muntjac deer

Adder (snake)



Wild boar





Found a whale, dolphin or porpoise

If you find a whale, dolphin or porpoise on a beach call the National RSPCA or the BDMLR (British Divers Marine Rescue) immediately. Keep a safe distance and don’t touch the animal.

Animals in traps

Never try to free an animal from a snare or trap – you risk hurting yourself and the animal and it could be an offence if the animal was legally caught. Stay back to avoid stressing the animal and call the National RSPCA with the location.

Found a dead bird

If you see a dead bird, please report it to the Garden Wildlife Health Project.

Garden Wildlife Health has produced fact sheets on diseases affecting British birds such as Trichomonosis, Avian pox and Salmonellosis.

If you need to handle an injured animal

Only lift a wild animal if you’re sure that you can do so without risk to yourself or others. Make sure you also keep the animal away from your face. Wear gloves when handling all wild animals, especially oiled wildlife – pollutants like oil can be hazardous. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling an animal as well. Take care in dangerous locations, such as a busy road. Watch from a distance first to see whether the animal is still alive, call for help if you can’t reach it safely.

Found a sick or injured grey squirrel 

How you should help

If they’re trapped, for example in your house or caught in a bird feeder, the law still permits freeing the animal and releasing where found. For animals with only minor injuries, it’s best to leave them in the wild.

If you find an injured or sick squirrel contact your local vet. This is usually the quickest way to get help the RSPCA officers may be out attending other calls. If they’re unavailable, please contact National and they will do their best to help.

Be careful handling squirrels

Squirrels have sharp teeth and can be extremely fast, therefore caution should be taken in attempting to confine a squirrel. If you’re advised to confine an injured or sick squirrel, this should be done wearing suitable thick gloves, and by quickly placing the squirrel into a secure metal or plastic pet carrier with ventilation holes, lined with a towel or newspaper.

Capture and boxing injured wildlife

If it’s safe to catch and handle the animal, then, wearing suitable gloves, quickly place it into a secure cardboard box with ventilation holes, lined with a towel or newspaper.

Keep the animal quiet and take it to a vet (call first to make sure they can take and treat the animal), one of the RSPCA wildlife centres or your local wildlife rehabilitator, (but note not all have been inspected by the National RSPCA). If you are unable to transport the animal, call National on 0300 1234 999.

Click here to visit the National RSPCA website for more information and tips.


EmmaWhat to do if you find a wild animal that is sick or injured