Wildlife Rescue Trust
Caring for Scotland's injured and orphaned wildlife  


These notes are produced for people who have attended our training days. They may give anyone with a casualty some help with the initial care, but please contact us as soon as possible for more advice.


Wild birds and animals are nervous of people and strange surroundings. Reduce stress by avoiding unnecessary handling and providing accommodation that allows the bird/animal some privacy. Keep casualties quiet and away from pets.


Provide heat for the casualty by overhead heat lamp (preferably ceramic), heat pads or hot water bottle. Provide appropriate bedding; most mammals will use the bedding for cover.


Many wildlife casualties will be dehydrated when rescued. Care should be taken when administering fluids to birds. Never give fluids from a spoon, be very careful if using a syringe or dropper. Use a crop tube for preference. Ensure that the tube bypasses the windpipe. Never give a bird milk.


Test for dehydration by raising the skin. If it remains tented, the animal is dehydrated. Try to get the animal to drink lectade from a bowl; if this fails try using a dropper or syringe. In severe cases the animal may need sub-cutaneous fluids-see a vet.

Never give food to a casualty until its body temperature is normal and it has been re-hydrated.

Feather care

When handling, transporting and housing birds, be aware that damaged feathers can cause additional problems. If flight feathers are broken, they will not be replaced till the bird moults, which may be in several months time. Never keep a bird in a budgie cage without covering three sides with a towel or similar. Aviaries should be similarly screened.

All birds capable of doing so should be allowed to perch. Ensure perches are high enough to keep tail feathers off the bottom of the cage. A variety of different sized perches is best, and they should be wide enough to prevent hind claws puncturing the ball of the foot. Birds will use the highest perch they can reach for roosting. Make sure food and water dishes are not under perches, and that lower perches are not directly under higher ones.


Many seed and insectivorous mixtures are available. Emp is a useful hand rearing food. Owls, raptors and most corvids will eat day old chicks, mince or other raw meat. Soaked complete meal dog biscuits are good for crows/gulls. Some raptors, especially sparrowhawks, may need natural food before they will feed themselves. Never leave birds too long without food. Hand feed for a few days, then try again. Pigeon peas (soaked) are best for hand feeding young pigeons. For pigeon chicks less than one week old, and young collared doves, soaked emp, rolled into a little sausage, is best. Pigeons will drink from a bowl by sucking up the liquid. Other birds are unable to do this and will have to take a mouthful of water, then tip their head back to drink.


The most common mammal to come into care, and susceptible to a wide range of diseases and injuries. Most injured hedgehogs will require a source of heat, and must be covered with light bedding, e.g. fleece.


Flaky or scaly skin, loss of spines, scabby faces and thickened ears are signs of ringworm. Mange is often present too. Consult a vet for treatment. Many homeopathic/alternative skin products help promote a full recovery, e.g. Bach flower remedies, one drop each of crab apple and agrimony in water, tea tree oil, aloe vera. Wash hands to avoid catching ringworm.


During hot weather sick and injured hedgehogs are likely to suffer from fly strike. Examine hogs carefully and remove all fly eggs (they resemble sawdust). Maggots quickly burrow beneath the skin and into body orifices. All must be removed. The best method is to remove using tweezers. Contact us or seek veterinary treatment at an early stage. Hedgehogs with large maggots will need to be PTS.


A common hedgehog ailment causing coughing and weight loss. Needs vet treatment.


Strimmer injuries are often serious and irreparable. Abscesses are often associated with leg fractures and will usually have caused such damage that bones will not heal. Eye problems are common. A blind hedgehog can survive in the wild but may lose track of night and day.