So you have come across an injured creature
and you want to know what to do.
Although most humans have a deep
love of wildlife you must never risk your own life,
or place others at risk, to rescue wildlife.
Do not attempt to rescue injured wildlife from a road
if it puts you or other road users at risk.
Get help or report the incident to the police.
Be aware of injured birds near power lines. Make sure there
are no fallen, or broken, power lines.
Report such incidences immediately to the police or the state power
Do not climb power poles or pylons to rescue birds caught
up in power lines.
Again report such incidences immediately to the police or the state
Do not attempt to rescue injured wildlife on train lines.
Report to the police.
Do not attempt to rescue wildlife from fast flowing rivers
or the ocean.
Keep yourself safe at all times and be
aware of any risks or dangers before you decide to act.
Any injured creature is going to be terrified of humans and will
try to protect itself.
It will try to bite, scratch, or kick.
Do not put yourself at risk. You cannot help the creature if
you are injured too.
Be aware that serious diseases can be transmitted from wildlife
Seek medical attention immediately: If
you are bitten or scratched or come into contact with bodily fluids.
Before taking any
action make a long distance assessment of the situation.
Can you safely handle the animal alone?
Do you have something to wrap the animal in?
Are you a local, or are you passing through this area?
Do you know where you can take this animal for treatment and care?
Can you safely transport the animal to a carer or a veterinarian?
Answer these questions honestly and get help
if you need help.
to the creature.
Keep children and dogs away from the animal.
Keep noise to a minimum. Turn off your mobile phone, or leave
in the vehicle. Turn off your car engine.
Try not to shine bright lights directly in the creature's face.
Approach quietly and slowly, even if you think the animal is unconscious
- it might not be!
Aid at incident scene.
Injured wildlife do not make good patients. They do not know we
are trying to help them, and they will bite.
You are now in the danger zone -
do not put yourself at risk. Get help if you need help.
Visually assess injuries.
If the creature
appears uninjured and you think it is just stunned move it to
a place of safety (such as off a road, but only if it is safe to do
so) make sure it is placed in the shade, and try, if possible, to
protect it from passing predators until it recovers.
Do not interfere with any young in the pouch.
If it is a large animal or bird and there are obvious open fractures
do not move the animal.
Return to your car, or move away from the creature to minimise stress.
Do not attempt to move any large marsupial
or bird without professional help.
Kangaroos especially are susceptible to stress, and capture myopathy
is a real and very serious risk, often resulting in the animal dying.
Call for professional help to sedate and prepare the creature for
transport, or for someone to humanely destroy the creature at the
Stay where you can see the animal and protect it from predators,
if possible, until help arrives.
If it is a small animal or bird wrap tightly in something thick,
such as a coat or blanket, and try to prevent the injured limb or
wing from moving.
Then transport immediately, but quietly, to a veterinarian or to professional
Remember you can still get bitten and scratched
even when the creature is wrapped.
It is difficult
to stem severe bleeding in conscious wildlife without stressing the
creature or putting yourself at risk. If it is safe do so, wrap the
creature in a thick blanket or coat, and then apply pressure to the
bleeding from the outside.
It is inadvisable to perform mouth
to mouth resuscitation on any creature where the history is unknown.
You are at risk from disease, and of course
you are dangerously close to the biting end if it suddenly wakes up!
If the creature dies place
the body away from roads so carrion do not endanger themselves or
Check the area for any dependent young,
and report the incident and its location to a wildlife rescuer.
Check inside the pouch for any pouched
young that might have survived.
REMOVING A MARSUPIAL FROM THE POUCH
Please be aware that the kangaroo is one of the few marsupials
that, for obvious reasons, has a top opening pouch. Many marsupials
have a rear opening pouch. The entrance situated just above the cloaca
- the urogenital opening.
The Older Joey - This little animal will be terrified and will
show it. It will hiss at its rescuer and verbally protest.
It can also bite, scratch and kick.
If you feel you cannot remove it from the pouch then please find someone
who can, because it will face a long lingering death, from the cold,
or the heat, or die from slow starvation, inside its dead mother's
Either that or suffer a cruel death from a passing predator.
Young possums, bandicoots and many other
marsupials are notorious biters, but surprisingly very few Western
Grey kangaroo joeys bite - however the one you rescue could be the
exception to the rule, and sink its teeth, so take care!
Older joeys fit tightly inside the pouch,
and we had to remove one young Tammar wallaby by cutting open his
dead mother's pouch with a pair of scissors. But usually the mother's
pouch muscles go slack during the act of dying and the joey can be
removed by gently slipping your hand inside and underneath the joey,
and then easing the youngster out. Keep a good hold of the joey though,
because if it gets the chance it will wriggle free and run. Please
do not think because it can run away that it will survive. If it is
a pouched joey it will not. It will
Wrap the joey immediately in something
warm. There are many dos and don'ts with joey pouches but in an emergency
anything will do as long as the joey is warm, quiet, dark and held
tightly. Hold it close to you, and get it to a carer as soon as possible.
They will make sure it goes inside the correct
pouch. For now it needs rescuing.
The Younger Joey - Because of its
smaller size it might appear easier to remove this joey, but there
are other problems. For
at least one third of its pouch life a joey is attached to the teat.
Apart from a small circular opening in the front of the mouth where
the teat enters, the lips are sealed with skin that has yet to break,
and it cannot fully open its mouth. Pulling the younger joey off the
teat will rip the sides of the mouth and cause more problems for carer
and joey. Therefore the
first thing the rescuer needs to do is look at the joey's mouth. If
the sides of the mouth are sealed cut the teat as close to the mother's
stomach as possible, and leave it in the joey's mouth. Pin the teat
to the artificial pouch. In a few hours the mother's teat will shrink
and can then be pulled out gently without causing any damage.
If the joey's eyes are open it is able open its mouth and can release
the teat. Therefore by gently pulling on the mother's teat it will
If the injured animal is a female marsupial
around to make sure any pouched young have not been thrown from
the pouch. Look and listen for any young at foot that
might be hiding, or lying injured near by.
If the injured wildlife is an emu assess its age. If it is
a young emu there may be other injured emus near by. Young emus
tend to cross roads in groups. Although it is the father that cares
for the chicks you will not be able to sex the emu, so check around
for chicks if it is an older emu that is injured.
If you are local take
a mental note of the exact location of the incident. If the creature
can be treated successfully it will need to be released back into
its own territory. Also it could have dependent young near by.
Echidnas, especially, must be returned to their territory within
days if they have suckling young in a hollow log.
Birds also could be caring for young, and some wildlife, including
many species of lizards, form mating partnerships that last for
life and therefore need to be reunited.
If you are passing through an area make
a rough note of the location and leave a marker, such as something
tied to a tree so you can return with a wildlife rescuer.
And of course before you leave the scene, especially if it is a
road accident, make sure you check the nearby bush for any vehicles
or injured humans.
Make sure the creature is securely wrapped before and during transportation,
especially if you are driving alone. Unsecured wildlife will panic
if it suddenly regains consciousness inside your vehicle, and can
be a danger to you and other road users.
Keep the creature WARM, QUIET AND DARK throughout transportation.
Use your heater or turn on your air con, depending on the temperature.
Turn off your radio or CD player.
Drive immediately to help, or somewhere were you can ring for help.
Do not stop off en route to finish the shopping!
Do not unwrap the creature until the carer or veterinarian is
Give the carer or the veterinarian a complete history of the incident,
any obvious injuries and the location.
Leave your name, address and phone number so you can be contacted
for any follow up.
- After the Event.
Check yourself, your car and any bedding, or clothing, used for ticks.
Shower and wash your hair, checking for any scratches or open wounds
that could become infected.
Seek medical attention immediately if you find
any scratches, or if you feel ill within the next few weeks.
If you do inform your doctor you have been dealing with wildlife.