Emergency care and first aid advice for wildlife casualties

Call us on 01278 783250

Our phone advice service is available 24 hours, 365 days a year. We are here to offer help and advice on all types of wildlife casualties. Our Reception is staffed from 6am till midnight.

If we are not immediately available and you have a wild animal that is obviously sick or injured, then your first point of contact is your nearest veterinary surgery.

All veterinary surgeons are obliged by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to provide 24-hour emergency cover, including the provision of emergency first aid and pain relief, to all animals regardless of species.  A veterinary surgeon will be able to provide advice and emergency care, including where necessary euthanasia. Ideally phone the veterinary surgery first, rather than just turning up, so they can give appropriate advice and/or be prepared for your arrival.

Secret World Wildlife Rescue works closely with veterinary surgeons in the south west, and across the country, providing training and advice.  We also provide a full service for the ongoing treatment, rehabilitation and release of wildlife casualties and orphan animals after initial veterinary care.  Veterinary practices can contact us directly in order to transfer animals into our care once they have received emergency treatment.

Additional advice for dealing with specific casualty animals.


Please phone us directly regarding any sick, injured or orphaned badgers. If you are faced with an injured badger and can’t reach us by telephone, please phone a local veterinary surgeon for advice. In addition, many of the local Badger Trust groups are able to offer additional support, please search on Google for your nearest Badger Group contact number.

Badger Groups can then liaise with Secret World who will take on the ongoing care of the animal as appropriate. Badgers are sadly frequent the victims of road traffic accidents.


Please phone us directly regarding any sick, injured or orphaned birds. If you are faced with an injured birds and can’t reach us by telephone, please phone a local veterinary surgeon for advice. When handling birds, avoid any direct handling, use a towel wrapped around the wings to pick up the bird and place it into an appropriate container.

With seabirds, swans and birds of prey, ask for professional advice first. Further advice on dealing with injured birds and providing supportive are before the the bird goes to Secret World or the vets are given in the below link.


Please phone us directly regarding any sick, injured or orphaned small mammals (hedgehogs, squirrels, rodents, insectivores etc). If you can’t get through to us, please phone a local veterinary surgeon for advice. 

Please avoid directly handling small mammals as they might bite and can potentially carry infectious diseases. Instead, ‘scoop’ the animal up in a container or use a thick towel to pick it up. 

Bats carry a very low, real risk of rabies infection and should NOT be handled at all without professional advice.


Please phone us directly regarding any sick, injured or orphaned foxes. If you can’t get through to us, please phone a local veterinary surgeon for advice. Foxes can cause a serious injury so please avoid handling any animals you find; we’ll advise you if there’s anything you can do immediately to help.

Foxes are not uncommonly victims of road traffic accidents. If you are involved with a road accident with a fox, then please phone Secret World on 01278 783250.


Report injured deer to the police if causing any sort of obstruction at all to the road. The police will then be able to contact the appropriate people to help the deer. If the deer is injured but not obstructing the road, then please contact Secret World for advice. Do not try to handle deer as they are very easily stressed; any attempts to intervene may result in the deer bolting, worsening any injuries or causing an accident. Please observe the animal from a safe distance, and look out for adults if you have found an injured fawn.

“Caring for wildlife obviously doesn’t just involve dealing with sick, injured or abandoned animals. There are lots of other things you can do to help wild animals in your local area and be a Wildlife Saver.

General advice on caring for wildlife

I’ve found an injured bird – what do I do?

Avoid moving an injured bird if possible – unless they are in immediate danger, or you are advised to by a professional.

An animal doesn’t show pain in the same way that a human does. Some don’t even make a noise. You may not be able to tell if an animal is in pain, so avoid moving an animal who is obviously injured, if possible.

Get any pets away from the area. Call Secret World, or your local wildlife rescue centre or vet. They will know what to do.

Be a WildLife Saver: know when and who to ask for help.
You can speak to one of our response team 24 hours a day on 01278 783 250.

If the bird has been caught by a cat it will almost certainly need rescuing and treatment. Please call your local vet or wildlife rescue centre straight away.

What if I find a baby bird on the ground?

Babies don’t always need our help. Mum might be nearby. Well-meaning rescuers sometimes bring fledgling birds to us who may not have needed rescuing.

“Be a WildLife Saver: know when to help and when to leave wildlife alone.”

First check whether the baby bird is obviously injured. You can usually do this without picking it up. It’s best not to touch the young bird if possible. There are some species which we would particularly advise against touching, like baby jackdaws who will be fledglings for a while and stay with their parents for some time.

If the baby bird has obvious injuries then please call Secret World, or your local wildlife rescue centre or vet, as they may want to take it in for treatment. If you’re concerned about its immediate safety (perhaps your cat is watching close by) then get pets away or cover the bird with a box or plant pot while you’re calling for help.

Be a WildLife Saver: remove immediate dangers, but avoid moving injured or baby birds if possible
If the bird is featherless then it may have come out of the nest too early for some reason. If you can see the nest and there’s no immediate danger, pick the bird up carefully using a cloth or towel and place it back in the nest.

Keep an eye on it, and if the parents don’t return within an hour or two please call Secret World, or your local wildlife rescue centre or vet, for advice.

If the bird is a fledgling it is unlikely to have been abandoned. Fledglings may spend a couple of days hopping around on the ground after leaving the nest, before flying. We get a great number of ‘rescued’ fledgling birds who would have been better left where they were.

The little bird’s parents might be right nearby. If it’s in danger, move it to safety if needed, and try to keep pets away for a few days while the youngster learns to use its wings. If it’s injured, call for advice.

Be a WildLifesaver: call for advice when you need to
We are here 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. You can speak to one of our response team on 01278 783 250.

If you need to contain the injured or baby bird, and you’re waiting for help to arrive, there are a few steps you can then take to make the bird comfortable.

I’m waiting for help to arrive.

You may be advised to contain a wildlife casualty (such as a bird or small mammal) while you’re waiting for help to arrive. There are a few steps you can then take to make your casualty comfortable.

Carefully place the animal in a box with non-slip bedding like a clean towel, which will help it stay warm. Use a box with a lid so it can’t escape – and remember to put holes in the top to allow your casualty to breathe!

Keep your casualty somewhere warm, dark and quiet. If the container is clear, cover it with a towel or blanket as this will help keep the animal calm. Remember this is going to be a stressful experience for him/her!

Don’t worry about feeding your casualty. You may be advised to leave a small shallow dish of water in the box/container, but this may depend on the condition of the animal and whether help is going to arrive quickly.

Be a WildLife Saver: if you need to contain an injured animal, remember – warmth, dark, quiet

An animal’s been injured on the road.

Sadly most motorists at some point will come across a road traffic casualty. What should you do?

Your own safety is the most important consideration. Do not stop or get out of your car unless it is truly safe to do so.

If it is safe to do so, pull over and stop the car. It can be very shocking to hit an animal or be involved in an accident. Take a few minutes to ensure you are calm. If you or other people have been injured in any way then concentrate on helping them first.

If possible, park behind the casualty, shielding them from oncoming traffic and ensure your hazard lights are on. If you have a warning triangle, place it at least 45 metres behind your vehicle (but don’t use warning triangles on motorways).

Be a WildLife Saver: don’t put yourself or other people in danger
Is the animal alive? Observe quietly from a distance to see if the animal is moving or breathing. Approaching the animal too quickly will cause it unnecessary stress and it may try to run away – possibly into the path of another vehicle.

Be very careful with badgers, foxes or deer or as they can bite or kick if trying to protect themselves. Don’t touch these animals or get too close without phoning for advice first.

Be a WildLife Saver: call for advice before touching an animal injured on the road
Record the exact location of the casualty. So often we have incomplete information about where an injured animal has been found. If the animal recovers it will need to be released back to that location (this is especially important for adult species returning to their territories). Use your phone, GPS and local landmarks.

Be a WildLife Saver: record exactly where the road casualty was found
Ring for help. Call Secret World (01278 783 250) 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, at other times please call your nearest veterinary surgeon. If the animal is blocking the road you may also need to call the police for assistance to redirect traffic.

Be a WildLife Saver: call for help if you’re dealing with an animal injured on the road
Stay with the casualty until help arrives, and be as visible as possible. If you are unable to stay, leave a marker on the side of the road – something that may look out of place like an item of clothing or a carrier bag tied to a tree, fence or hedge.

If you have contacted someone to respond and the situation changes, please let them know. For example if the animal recovers and runs away, or is treated by a passing vet, let the person know they are no longer needed!

Be a WildLife Saver: keep rescuers informed if the situation changes
Don’t put yourself or others in harm’s way

Don’t under any circumstances pick up a road traffic casualty and put it in your car or boot, even if the animal appears to be unconscious

Remember: wildlife can carry diseases that are transferable to humans. Avoid direct contact by using a coat, blanket or towel, or wear gloves if you have them. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling animals.

If you ever need further advice on what to do with a wild animal, give us a call. We have a great deal of experience in rescuing and caring for wildlife.

We offer a wildlife rescue service helping animals across the South West. You can speak to one of our response team on 01278 783 250 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.