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Caring for wildlife

Animals in the wild can catch diseases, become injured or orphaned. When animals live near urban areas they may be at risk of being run over, attacked by dogs and cats, or trapped in barbed wire, fruit tree netting or rubbish.

A wild animal that is unwell may require special treatment and rehabilitation from a trained wildlife carer or a vet.

If you find a wild animal in trouble, there are things you can do to help.

First aid

  • Make sure you are safe.
  • Only handle an injured animal if you know how to. Read about animal handling below.   
  • Do not handle any bat (flying foxes or microbats) unless 
    • you have been trained
    • you have a current vaccination against Australian bat lyssavirus (ABL).

Contact the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) for advice, or to have the animal rescued.

Contact us if your enquiry relates to:

  • crocodile sightings
  • injured, sick or orphaned cassowaries
  • C3 bats (a bat that has bitten or scratched a person, or the person has had exposure to the bat’s saliva or neural tissue through their mucous membranes, e.g. eye).

Your local vet may also be able to help.

Handling injured wild animals

Injured wild animals won't want to be handled. They are likely to defend themselves and may try to escape. Handle them so that they won't struggle and worsen their injury.

  • If possible, remove the animal from the threat (e.g. take it off a road or out of a swimming pool).
  • Wear gloves or use a thick towel (or jumper) to restrain the animal. This will protect you from scratches or bites.
  • Put the animal in a warm, quiet, enclosed space as quickly as possible (e.g. wrap it in a towel and place it in a secure cardboard box). Make sure the container has adequate ventilation.

The animal’s survival may depend on being kept warm and quiet. Avoid opening the container to look at the animal or to show it to others.

If you are unsure about handling an animal just keep it safe until help arrives.

Transporting injured animals

When transporting an injured animal, restrain the container inside a vehicle and cover it so that the animal can't escape.

Make sure the wildlife carer or vet receiving the animal is prepared to care for it when you arrive. Tell them where you found the animal, so it can be released back to the same area when it has recovered. This information helps to identify and manage 'black spots'—where significant numbers of sick or injured wild animals are being found.

Caring for injured wildlife

You can care for injured wildlife only if you have a rehabilitation permit.

As a wildlife carer:

If you are caring for native animals, be prepared to treat them as wild animals. It is important reduce human contact, so that the animals can fend for themselves when reintroduced to the wild. Releasing them back into their natural environment is a requirement under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Sick and injured wild animals that cannot be rehabilitated have to be euthanised by a vet or wildlife carer. This may be the only option when an animal is in pain or cannot survive as a wild animal.

To become involved in wildlife rehabilitation, contact your nearest wildlife care group (call 1300 ANIMAL) or the Queensland Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (QWRC).

Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
13 May 2016

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