We have many calls from concerned members of the public asking for advice on how to deal with wildlife that they are concerned about. Whilst we can’t hope to answer all of your questions, here is some general, albeit limited, advice.
Most importantly, don’t panic if you see a young wild animal on its own. If you really want to help, leave it alone and come back later to check all is well. Very often, mum is close by and the animal is just taking its first few tentative steps into the big wide world on its own. However hard you may try, you cannot look after a young animal as well as its parents.
If you see a young bird out of the nest it will most likely be a fledgling, they will have most of their feathers and be very mobile and lively. Never return the bird to the nest as this may disturb other young birds and indeed may be illegal. There is often a parent not far away keeping an eye out for their baby. Of course, if a young bird is in immediate danger of traffic or a predator then move it a small distance away out of harms way.
If after monitoring, you think a fledgling is orphaned or sick, or if you find an unfeathered baby bird, put it in a warm, dark, well-ventilated cardboard box (do not give water, milk or food) and take to your nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre. Sick or injured birds should be taken to your nearest vet or RSPCA wildlife centre - see the RSPCA website for details. They need specialist care!
If you find a young deer alone it is probably waiting for its mother to return - they are often left along for long periods. Please don't touch the fawn as any unfamiliar scents on the baby may cause the mother to abandon it. Above all else if you have a dog, keep it on a lead in any areas that deer are know to frequent. Deer are very resilient in the wild but are notoriously difficult to rehabilitate in captivity so this should only be attempted by experts. If the baby is sick, injured or distressed then call the RSPCA for advice on 0300 1234 999.
It is usual to see four week old fox cubs out and about on their own, mum or dad or a close relative are usually close by. At this age, their eyes are open and being out on their own helps them to hone their hunting and survival skills. By all means, leave some dog food and water nearby and check on the animal after 24 hours.
If a cub is in immediate danger on a road or somewhere very exposed, move it to a sheltered/safe spot nearby, handling it as little as possible. In all other circumstances, intervention is likely to do more harm than good, however if the cub is obviously injured or sick, take it to your nearest vet or RSPCA wildlife centre, but remember to handle it as little as possible and be sure to make a note of the exact location where you found it. Foxes that become used to humans do not tend to survive well in the wild.
If you are concerned about an uninjured fox cub or you have found a fox cub and its eyes are closed, please contact the RSPCA for advice on 0300 1234 999.
Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal, so if you see a young hog out during daytime hours it may be unwell or in trouble so please phone the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.
Juvenile hedgehogs weighing less than 500 grams during late autumn will need help to survive the winter. Very young orphaned hedgehogs need specialist care and these should be passed onto an experienced wildlife rehabilitator.
For more specific tips, have a look how you can be a hedgehog hero.
Most young animals found on their own are exploring their surroundings and will be under the watch full eye of mum or dad
Make sure there is a fresh, clean supply of water for all the wildlife in your garden
It is possible to help young garden birds by providing ready supplies of extra protein foods like mealworms or waxworms
If an animal is sick or injured, please take to your nearest vet or wildlife rehabilitation centre
If you need further advice or are still concerned about an orphaned or abandoned animal, please call the RSPCA 24-hour advice line on 0300 1234 999
Communications & Volunteer Manager