This great article from The Wildlife Trusts describes when and when not to intervene and provides useful information on what to do if you do need to intervene.
If you have had to rescue an injured bird use this link to find someone who can care for it. Alternatively you can contact us if you are in the Cornwall/Devon area and we may be able to look after it, or pass it on to the relevant organisation if we are not equipped to help.
The first thing to do is call an expert for help – healthy bats can take off from the ground, so if you find one then it’s likely there is an underlying issue and it will need your help. In the first instance contact your local bat group, this is a direct link to all of the bat groups in the South West with contact details.
Please always use gloves when handling a bat and be as gentle as possible. Do not try to examine the bat for injuries yourself; it’s very easy to cause serious damage. If you need to pick one up it can often be easiest to use something like a tea towel to gently place over the bat and then slowly lift them up. You should, whilst waiting for help after contacting your local bat group, put the bat in a small box (shoe boxes are good) lined with either kitchen towel or soft cloth, some small holes for ventilation in the lid and a very small (milk bottle lids are good) container of water.
If you think you may have found a baby bat (it’s worth noting that adult pipistrelle bats are only around 4cm long!) then don’t include the water and if possible place the box on top of a warm hot water bottle as the baby bats need the extra warmth.
Bats are rightfully protected under UK law, it is an offence to interfere with a bat with the exception of immediate rescue unless you have a license.
You can find more advice on what to do if you find a bat here.
Thankfully hedgehogs are much easier to handle than bats, it’s worth being aware that hedgehogs can often carry a lot of parasites although the fleas they carry are specific to hedgehogs and won’t go for you or your pets.
If you find an injured hedgehog pick it up gently using gloves and place it into a box lined with newspaper or similar. Try to provide it with somewhere to hide by including a small towel or old clothing in one corner. Always provide fresh water in a bowl or other container that won’t tip over. You can feed the hedgehog with tinned cat or dog food and if it’s cold you can include a small hot water bottle or drinks bottle (with warm not hot water) to provide some warmth for it. Please note the location where you find the hedgehog as it will be important for when it is released.
You should check any injured hedgehog for fly strike – where flies lay there eggs on any open wounds. You can find out information on this and what to do if you find any here.
Once you have the hedgehog nice and safe you should contact someone who can care for it. If you are in Cornwall you can contact Prickles and Paws, or if you are elsewhere use this tool to find someone local to you.
You can alternatively get in contact with us here as we may be able to help if you are in the Cornwall/Devon area.
For larger mammals such as Deer, badgers etc contact the RSPCA here. It’s unfortunately worth noting that we have received some pretty lacklustre response from the RSPCA in the past, which is why for the above animals we have provided information and links to provide more direct help.
For smaller animals not covered above, the general advice is to wear gloves where possible, place the animal in a cardboard box lined with paper, provide water (if there is no risk of the animal drowning) and place the box somewhere quiet whilst seeking advice/help.