I've found sick, injured or orphaned wildlife - what do
I do now?
Like any first aid situation involving humans, time is of
the essence and the steps that you take in the early stages
could mean the difference between life and death for the
animal. No doubt, finding an injured animal is stressful for
you and the animal, but your actions can make a big
Basic first aid, whether it is for native animals,
domestic animals or people is much the same. By applying
basic first aid treatment principles you might just be able
to save an animal's life.
Always remember though that usually a wild animal only
comes into physical contact with other species including
humans as a part of predator or prey relationship. Any
contact that a wild animal has with a human will be both
stressful and frightening. A simple gesture like stroking
the animal to comfort it or even talking to it is enough to
give it a heart attack.
You must give special consideration to how you are going
to transport the animal, what you are going to feed it and
even temporary housing for it until it moves into proper
First Aid Tips
- Take a look at the overall situation and remove any
immediate threat to the animal. If applicable, lock away pets such as dogs and cats
(to alleviate stress) until a trained rescuer arrives.
- If you are near a road, park safely well off to the
side - we don't want to see you as a casualty as well.
Ask for help - someone may need to stop or divert
traffic while you attend to the animal.
- If needed, apply basic first aid as listed below.
- Keep the animal warm and in a quiet, dark place such
as a cardboard box.
- After your initial first aid treatment, the animal
should be taken to your nearest veterinarian as quickly
as possible. Some vets even offer after hours service.
It is critical that a vet examines the animal as it may
have internal injuries that are not visible to you.
Airways & Breathing - Is the animal breathing?
- If not, open and inspect the mouth. Remove any
blood, vomit or other obstruction as these may be
preventing the animal from breathing freely.
- If the animal is breathing, roll the animal onto
their side to drain the airway. The mouth and nose
should be pointing downwards and ensure that the head
and neck are extended to allow a clear airway.
- Be cautious of teeth. Even injured animals can bite!
Consciousness - Check for a response by checking the
pulse and/or breath.
- Place unconscious animals in a position with their
head above the level of their stomach to prevent
Circulation - Control visible bleeding
- Major external bleeding can be stopped by applying a
pressure bandage but ensure that it is not too tight so
as to restrict the animal's breathing.
- Internal bleeding is difficult to diagnose and
to stop, however if the animal is kept quiet and
undisturbed, the normal clotting mechanism will take
care of minor problems.
- Gently restrain the animal as unnecessary struggling
will cause an increase in blood pressure and could
produce more bleeding.
Maintain Body Temperature - Keep the animal warm by
wrapping it in a soft towel or cloth
- Use fabric that does not have holes in it so as to
prevent the animal from becoming entangled.
- Gently place the animal in a box then place this box
in a dark, quiet room - away from pets, TV, radio etc.
- DO NOT DISTURB the animal as stress
associated with human contact can result in a sudden
- DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FEED! Wildlife diets are
highly specialized and the wrong foods can cause illness
or even death.
Get Help - If you live on the Atherton Tablelands, call
Tablelands Wildlife Rescue 07 4091 7767.
Our emergency helpline is manned by wildlife volunteers
24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you call us we will
assess the situation and depending on that assessment,
suggest that you take the animal to a vet or a volunteer
wildlife carer. All of our volunteer carers are highly
trained in the rehabilitation of native animals through
workshops, hands on experience, mentoring programmes and
constant feedback. You can rest assured that the animal will
go to the right person for the best chance of a speedy
By following the steps outlined above, you will give an
injured animal the best chance it has towards a speedy
rehabilitation and release back into the wild.
Orphaned wildlife babies are cute and cuddly, but please,
resist the temptation as they are not used to human contact.
DO NOT try to care for the animal yourself - All
Australian animals in care require a highly specialised and
intensive feeding programme.
- Orphaned wildlife have special dietary requirements.
Simple things humans eat can kill them. Specialized
diet, quantities and frequencies are required,
especially for "pinky" Joeys.
- Urgent veterinary attention, which may not be
immediately obvious may be needed.
- Many species have specialised housing requirements
such as exact heating, perching, bedding and sometimes
- ALL require a complex rehabilitation programme.
- Under Queensland law, orphaned wildlife must be
surrendered to an experienced wildlife rescue
organisation or DEHM within 72 hours of finding the
animal. It is illegal to keep a native animal without a rescue
permit. If you are interested in becoming a wildlife carer,
we would love to hear from you. Simply go to our
page to find out more.
If you find an orphaned, sick or injured native animal,
please contact our 24 Hour emergency helpline on 07 4091 7767 as soon as possible after you have stabilized the
animal (using the steps outlined in the First Aid Tips above). The faster the animal
gets to a carer, the
better the chances are for a full and successful recovery. Every
The fine print
They may be cute and they may be cuddly, but please remember -
- It is illegal in most cases (heavy penalties apply) to
hold native wildlife without a permit.
- Due to unique
territorial behaviour, specialised diet, housing, social
behaviour and often 'unsocial hours' wildlife basically make
- Check for Young - Always check the pouches and around the bodies of dead
females on the road. Most people are very surprised to learn
that despite the extensive injuries to female marsupials
killed on our roads, the joeys nestled safely
inside Mum's pouch very often survive the impact unharmed. In fact, they're so well insulated that joeys can survive
for up to 10 days in a dead mother's pouch. They can then go
on to suffer a slow, lingering death of starvation and
- Young marsupials, if old enough to leave the pouch,
frequently hang around Mum for many days, often watching
from just a few metres away in the undergrowth. If you've
taken the time to stop and check a mother, please take just
a couple of minutes more to check the immediate surrounding
area for the Joey.