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Emergency Care

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 difference!

Response Guide

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 care.

First Aid Tips


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. If needed, apply basic first aid as listed below.
  4. Keep the animal warm and in a quiet, dark place such as a cardboard box.
  5. 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?

  1. If not, open and inspect the mouth. Remove any blood, vomit or other obstruction as these may be preventing the animal from breathing freely.
  2. 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.
  3. Be cautious of teeth. Even injured animals can bite!

Consciousness - Check for a response by checking the pulse and/or breath.

  1. Place unconscious animals in a position with their head above the level of their stomach to prevent choking.

Circulation - Control visible bleeding

  1. 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.
  2.  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.
  3. 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

  1. Use fabric that does not have holes in it so as to prevent the animal from becoming entangled.
  2. Gently place the animal in a box then place this box in a dark, quiet room - away from pets, TV, radio etc.
  3. DO NOT DISTURB the animal as stress associated with human contact can result in a sudden death.
  4. 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 recovery.

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

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.

  1. Orphaned wildlife have special dietary requirements. Simple things humans eat can kill them. Specialized diet, quantities and frequencies are required, especially for "pinky" Joeys.
  2. Urgent veterinary attention, which may not be immediately obvious may be needed.
  3. Many species have specialised housing requirements such as exact heating, perching, bedding and sometimes humidity.
  4. ALL require a complex rehabilitation programme.
  5. 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 Contact 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 minute counts.

The fine print

They may be cute and they may be cuddly, but please remember -

  1. It is illegal in most cases (heavy penalties apply) to hold native wildlife without a permit.
  2. Due to unique territorial behaviour, specialised diet, housing, social behaviour and often 'unsocial hours' wildlife basically make poor pets.
  3. 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 dehydration.
  4. 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.

©2013 Copyright Tablelands Wildlife Rescue Incorporated
Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland
PO Box 935 Tolga QLD 4882
ABN 78 824 027 615
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