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Emergency Care First Aid Guide
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24Hr Emergency Help Line

Approach injured wildlife with care.

Safety First

What do I do if I find sick, injured or orphaned wildlife?


Finding a sick, injured or orphaned native animal is very stressful for BOTH the animal and you! There are a few simple things that you can do to immediately minimise stress and increase the animal's chance of recovery.

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 little 'joeys' cocooned 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, and can then go on to suffer a slow, lingering death of starvation and dehydration.

Also, 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. So 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.

Injured Curlew

First Aid Guide for Wildlife

The basic first aid for native animals is very similar to domestic animals or people. By applying basic first treatment you might be able to save an animal's life. The major differences are that a wild animal only comes into physical contact with other species, which includes humans, as a part of predator or prey association.

Therefore, any contact with humans will be very stressful and frightening. Trying to comfort the animal by stroking it or talking to it might even stop the heartbeat. You'll need to give special consideration to tansportation of the animal. You may even have to feed the animal and supply temporary housing for it until it gets into proper care.

The animal should be kept warm depending on the season, in a quiet and dark place such as a cardboard box. After the first aid treatment, the animal should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible. There may be internal injuries that are not visible to the untrained eye.

Safety - Your own safety is most important, especially whilst checking the injured animal on the road.

  1. Evaluate the situation and remove any immediate threat to the animal.
  2. Make sure that your car is parked safely well off the road. It's not good saving an animal hit by a car if YOU get hit by another car!
  3. If necessary, lock away dogs and cats (to alleviate stress) until a trained rescuer arrives.
  4. You may need to ask someone to stop or divert traffic if the animal is on the road.

Airways & Breathing - Check that the animal is breathing.

  1. If not breathing, open and inspect the mouth, remove any blood, vomitus 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, making sure that the head and neck are extended to allow a clear airway.
  3. Be cautious of teeth. Even injured animals can bite!

Consciousness - Check responses by checking pulse or breath.

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

Circulation - Stop external bleeding.

  1. Major arterial bleeding can be stopped by applying a pressure bandage. Make sure that it is not too tight so as to restrict the animal's breathing.
  2. Internal bleeding is hard to stop, but if the animal is kept quiet and undisturbed, the normal clotting mechanism will take care of minor problems.
  3. A needlessly struggling animal will have an increased blood pressure, producing more bleeding.

Maintain Body Temperature - Place the animal in a soft towel or cloth to keep it warm.

  1. The fabric should be without holes as the animal may become 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. PLEASE - DO NOT DISTURB 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.

Seek Advice - If you live in Tropical North Queensland, call FNQ Wildlife Rescue on (07) 4053 4467.

  1. The Wildlife Rescue emergency number is manned by volunteers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will assess the animal and, depending on that assessment, take the animal to a vet or a wildlife foster carer.
  2. All of our carers are trained in the rehabilitation of native animals through workshops, hands on experience, mentoring programmes and constant feedback. Rest assured the animal will go to the right person for the best chance of a speedy recovery.

If you have followed the steps outlined above, you have given the animal the best chance it has towards a speedy rehabilitation and release back into the wild.

Orphaned Spectacled Flying FoxOrphaned Wildlife

Resist the temptation to cuddle the animal - 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. Specialized diet, quantities and frequencies are required, especially for "pinky" Joeys.
  2. A lot need urgent veterinary attention (that may not be immediately obvious).
  3. Many need specialised housing requirements such as exact heating, perching, bedding and sometimes humidity.
  4. ALL require a complex rehabilitation programme.

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 Us page and complete an online enquiry form.

If you find an orphaned, sick or injured native animal, please contact our 24 Hour emergency hotline on (07) 4053 4467 as soon as possible after you have stabilized the animal (using the steps outlined in the First Aid Guide for Wildlife above). The faster the animal comes into care, the better the chances of a full and successful recovery. Every minute counts.

One final note.....

Yes, they are cute, helpless and 'different', with a few exceptions of course, 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.