Follow our guide to helping an injured animal
Rescuing wildlife is done so at your own risk. The information outlined on this website should only be used as a guide and where possible you should contact a wildlife rehabilitation centre for further advice. WA Wildlife assumes no responsibility for injuries as a result of attempts made to rescue sick, injured or orphaned native wildlife. Please assess the situation for your own safety when rescuing or containing the animal.
The steps below give you general advice on what to consider when rescuing, and what to be careful of:
You can bring sick or injured native animals to the WA Wildlife Hospital, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 8.30am to 7.00pm.
Animal first aid
Our first aid information is basic and simply covers important steps to maximise the animal’s chance of survival. Please read all of our information carefully and do not provide further care or keep the animal for an extended period of time without seeking help from and experienced rehabilitator or veterinarian.
Please do not try and look after a sick, injured or orphaned animal yourself. The faster they are passed onto an experienced rehabilitator the better chance they will have of surviving.
Your safety is important. If you think the situation is dangerous or unsafe, please contact Native ARC.
DO NOT attempt to handle the following animals under any circumstance:
- Snakes: Even dead snakes can result in envenomation if handled incorrectly.
- Bats: Can carry a wide range of potentially fatal zoonotic diseases.
- Adult Kangaroos: Can break bones and cause serious injuries if they feel threatened.
- Birds of prey: Talons can cause severe injuries and some have extremely strong, “Bone Crushing” beaks.
When handling any animal it is important to use proper forms of protection. Gloves, towels, bags or blankets can all be used to protect you from being bitten or scratched. You may wish to consider carrying a “rescue pack” in your car which consists of a box, towel, gloves, eye protection, hand sanitiser and a list of emergency contacts.
Approaching an animal
Always be careful when approaching an animal. Approach slowly and observe its body language and posture. Try not to make any sudden movements. Grabbing the animal suddenly can cause it to run off or attack.
If you feel an animal is sick or injured and needs medical help, there are a few methods of catching certain animals. For birds, a towel or blanket can be used to throw over them. If they are a large bird, putting the towel over their head and wings will minimise stress and escape.
The same approach can be used for lizards; however, a pair of gardening gloves to pick them up is easier. Small mammals can easily be caught with a towel or pillow case by placing it over their entire body and picking them up. For advice on catching larger animals, contact WA Wildlife or the Wildcare Helpline.
Stress can kill an animal so be aware to minimise stress by reducing handling and keeping the animal in a quiet dark container with no external noise. Do not attempt to feed or provide fluids.
If you see a dead animal on the road, safely pull over and assess the situation. If it is safe for you to remove the animal, drag it off the road. This will stop other prey animals from getting injured or killed by traffic as they feed on the carcass. If the animal is a marsupial (bandicoot, possum, kangaroo etc.) check to see if it has a pouch. If so, there could be a joey in the pouch. If you find a joey, please contact WA Wildlife.
Never handle deceased snakes or bats.
One of the best ways to maximise an animal’s chance of survival is to keep it warm and quiet from the outset. Hot water bottles wrapped in towels, heat packs or even body heat are great sources of heat until a rehabilitator or veterinarian can be contacted. Do not overheat and keep a constant check on the animal’s temperature.
Food and water
Do not give food or water to an animal unless instructed to by an experienced rehabilitator/veterinarian. Giving an animal food without proper hydration can lead to death especially in baby birds. Seek help from WA Wildlife or Wildcare immediately.
Cardboard boxes lined with newspapers and towels are a very efficient means of transporting animals. Other transportation methods are pet packs, shoe boxes, bird cages and plastic tubs with ventilation. Large animals such as water birds and kangaroos need to be transported with specialised equipment so please call WA Wildlife or Wildcare Helpline for assistance.
Found a baby bird?
Spring is ‘kidnapping’ season for many baby birds who are ‘rescued’ by well-meaning humans.
If a baby bird has fallen out of it’s nest and is not injured try and put it back. If the nest is too high an ice cream container with holes and a bit of leaf bedding placed as high as possible into the tree works. Then quietly wait around from a distance to see if the parents return. This may take a few hours.