Wild Animals

What to do with injured wild animals

If you find an injured wild animal, watch it for a short while to find out how badly hurt it really is.

If possible, contain the animal – see our capture and boxing advice below. It is often quicker and better for the animal for them to be taken straight to the nearest vet as they then will then get immediate treatment.

Read on for more advice about what to do in specific circumstances. The ManxSPCA will cover the veterinary costs of injured wildlife.

Please remember that most seal pups do not require rescuing unless they clearly injured, and it is essential that their mothers are not put off returning to fed them by your presence or that of a dog.


Capture and boxing

If it’s safe to catch and contain the animal this should be done very carefully. Make sure you use gloves and keep the animal away from your face. A secure cardboard box with ventilation holes and lined with a towel or newspaper is ideal. Keep the contained animal as quiet as possible and either take it to a vet or the ManxSPCA. If you don not have a box available you can use a blanket or coat to wrap the animal in, making it feel secure.

Handling any animal – whether it is domestic, wild, dead or alive – is potentially hazardous. Obvious dangers include bites, scratches and general hygiene issues such as disease transmission.

Whenever handling wild animals you should wear gloves and hold the animal away from your face and those of others.

Always use common sense and, if unsure, seek additional advice or assistance. Personal hygiene should be taken into consideration after handling any animal.


I have found an injured…

animal by the side of the road

This can be a very dangerous situation. Don’t do anything that will put you or anyone else at risk. If you can, watch the animal from a distance. Try to see whether it’s still alive. If the animal moves away, watch where it goes. Don’t try and stop it – it will be very stressed and might cause you or itself further injury. If safe to do so, pick the animal up and contain it as described above. If the animal is alive but you can’t contain it, call us to report your location.

animal on the beach

If you find an oiled bird and it is safe to pick it up, make sure you’re wearing gloves – not only can the bird injure you but the oil could be hazardous to your health. See our capture and boxing advice above.

If the animal is a dead seal, dolphin or whale please contact Manx Wildlife Trust on 01624 844432 (they will make a record of the siting).

animal in a snare or trap

Upsetting as this situation is never try and free the animal yourself. You might hurt yourself or the animal even more, and may actually commit an offence if the snare has been legally set. Stay well back to avoid stressing the animal further and call us or the Police to report the animal’s location. If you have a camera with you it would also be useful to take some photographs of the scene.

animal tangled up in fishing line

If there are harbour masters or wardens responsible for the area, let them know. Otherwise please call us.

bird in my garden

Unfortunately cats kill many wild animals every year, especially young birds. Birds that have been caught by cats are often found on the ground and may not show any obvious injuries. However, wounds can become infected so the bird will need veterinary treatment. See our capture and boxing advice above.

If you think chicks have been orphaned, see our advice on orphaned and abandoned animals.

Another common cause of injuries is birds flying into windows. Unfortunately they don’t always see panes of glass but you can help by putting bird of prey silhouettes on the windows. If you find a bird that you think has hit a window, it might need veterinary treatment. Sometimes though, they are just stunned and can recover on their own, given time. If there’s no sign of recovery in a couple of hours or so, then you need to seek help. See our capture and boxing advice above.


Other causes of injury


Some birds, like swans, can hit power lines because they don’t see them. Any bird that has hit a power line will need immediate treatment from a vet. Other animals, such as sheep, can get trapped on wire fences. Please make every effort to inform the farmer and if this is not possible, call us..


Litter can pose a significant problem to wild animals that can get trapped or entangled. Sometimes it is a matter of freeing the individual and letting it go back to the wild but in some cases treatment and care is required. If this is the case, read our capture and boxing section above.


What to do with orphaned wild animals

Many young animals are handed in to us as ‘orphans’ but many actually haven’t been abandoned at all! If you’re worried about a baby animal that seems to be alone read our advice below.


I’ve found a …


People often think they have found a baby bat because they don’t realise how small adult bats can be! Please do not handle the bat if at all possible, and call the Manx Bat Group on 612067, or us.


If the bird is under a possible nest site, watch it from a distance to see if the parents are still feeding it. Cats and other predators catch young birds and drop them. If you know this has happened, the bird should be taken to a vet.


Leverets (baby hares) are left alone as soon as they’re born, which is another type of survival strategy, so that the mother hare doesn’t put all her eggs in one basket! She’ll return to feed her babies once a day at dusk, so don’t disturb them. If you’re worried, watch them from a distance to see if the mum comes back.


Hoglets are often found in the autumn, when they’re eating lots and trying to put on weight before hibernating. Young hedgehogs need to weigh about 500g to survive hibernation, so you might be able to help by just giving them some food – meat (not fish) flavoured cat food and water.

If the young hedgehog is smaller than 500g and the weather is turning cold, it may be better in care. The ManxSPCA succesfully hand rears lots of baby hedgehogs every year, as do local hedgehog rehabilitation experts.


As with hares, it’s not unusual for a mother rabbit to be away from her babies. She will close her kittens into a burrow, returning to nurse about once a day, usually at night. Kittens found above ground are either old enough to explore (usually at 18 to 25 days) and should be left alone, or something has dug them out of the burrow. If this is the case, the babies will be too young to survive. It’s not easy to tell the difference between the two scenarios unless there is evidence of a disturbed nest.

If you’re worried that the kittens have been abandoned and they are not in immediate danger, watch from a distance to see whether the mum comes back. This may mean watching them overnight. It’s important not to disturb a rabbit’s nest as this makes the mother more likely to abandon her young.


Seal mums leave their pups very early on in life to hunt for fish, so it’s not unusual to see one by itself for prolonged periods of time. A seal pup should be observed in situ for at least one turn of the tide before any action is taken to interfere with it, unless it is obviously ill or injured.