What to Do if You Find a Sick or Injured Animal
Queensland, Australia has its fair share of wild animals. These wild animals can be dangerous, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t face danger themselves. In the wild, animals can be orphaned or become sick and injured. If you encounter a sick or injured animal, you must proceed with caution, as wild animals can be unpredictable and many sick animals may require rehabilitation and special treatment from a wildlife specialist or veterinarian. However, there are some things you can do if you encounter a hurt or diseased animal, including:
Secure the animal and ensure its safety
Contact the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) for advice or a rescue
Only handle an injured animal if you’ve learned the handling guidelines
Only handle microbats, flying foxes or other bats if you have proper training and have been vaccinated against Australian Bay Lyssavirus (ABL)
Contact the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection if you see a crocodile, a bat that has scratched or bitten a person (C3 bats) or orphaned, injured or sick cassowaries.
Contact a local vet
But, before doing any of this, it’s best to educate yourself on the proper way to handle, transport and care for an injured or sick animal.
How to Handle Injured or Sick Animals
Injured or sick animals can be dangerous to handle, because they really don’t want to be handled while experiencing pain. They may lash out in an attempt to defend themselves or try to escape. But, they must be handled with care. The proper techniques for handling sick or injured animals include:
Avoiding the struggle: Fighting with an injured animal could worsen their pain or injury
Using a thick towel (or jumper) or gloves to protect yourself from scratches and bites as you attempt to restrain the animal
Removing the animal from the immediate threat (if possible)
Placing the animal in a quiet, warm enclosed space as quickly as possible. For example, wrapping the animal in a towel and placing it in a ventilated cardboard box
Keeping the animal quiet and warm space, secure and closed always
If you’re unable to restrain it, then keeping the injured or sick animal safe until rescue arrives
How to Transport Injured or Sick Animals
Once you have the animal in a secure box, your next step is to transport it to the nearest animal rehabilitation centre. First, call the centre to let them know you’re coming with a hurt animal so that they can prepare for your arrival. Next, give them all the information you can, such as a description of the animal (if you can’t identify it) and where you found it. The centre will use this information to prepare an emergency care plan and to figure out where to release the animal once its healed. Additionally, this information will help with the identification and management of ‘black spots’ – areas where large numbers of injured or sick animals are found.
Secure the box (where the animal is being stored) inside your vehicle and cover it to prevent escape. Finally, transport the animal to the nearest rehabilitation facility, such as the onsite wildlife hospital at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
How Rehabilitation Facilities Take Care of Injured and Sick Wildlife
First and foremost, only licensed and permitted individuals and facilities can care for sick and injured wildlife. Places like, the Currumbin Sanctuary have extensive experience in veterinary practices and taking care of wildlife. In fact, the Wildlife Hospital admits more than 8,000 orphaned, sick and injured animals every year.
Sick and injured animals are given around the clock care when necessary, but they’re treated as wild animals. This means limited human contact, which ensures they’ll be able to continue to care for themselves in the wild. Animals receive the proper care they need and after a full recovery, they’re released back into their natural habitat.