If you have an injured animal with you and need to contact RSPCA ACT please call us on (02) 6287 8100.
If at any time you are unsure how to proceed when confronted with a distressed native animal, please contact ACT Wildlife on 0432 300 033 or you can seek our guidance and support by calling (02) 6287 8100.
What Should I Do If I See An Injured Wild Animal?
If you find an injured animal or bird it is important that it is taken to your nearest veterinary clinic or to RSPCA ACT. The RSPCA ACT shelter has an on-site veterinary clinic and veterinary surgeons that are experienced with treating wildlife.
If you find the animal or bird after normal business hours you can contact ACT Wildlife on 0432 300 033 for advice and assistance.
Why Do Native Animals And Birds Become Orphaned Or Injured?
Often native animals and birds are injured or orphaned because of interaction with humans, vehicle strikes, housing development, newly erected office buildings (especially large windows), predators (such as domestic and wild cats, dogs, foxes and other native birds) and some invasive species such as Indian Myna birds.
What To Do If A Wild Animal Or Bird Has Been Attacked By A Predator (Cat, Dog Or Other Animal)
If the animal or bird has been attacked by a cat or dog immediate action needs to be taken. Cats have harmful bacteria in their mouth and on their claws. If a bird, small animal or reptile such as a bluetongue lizard has been caught it is likely to have puncture wounds and/or internal injuries and requires urgent veterinary attention.
The best thing to do is to put it in a box or under a laundry basket, in a quiet, warm place, and contact ACT Wildlife on 0432 300 033, or take to your nearest veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Early assessment of injuries and administration of antibiotics is vital to ensure the survival of the injured creature.
What To Do If A Bird Has Hit A Window And Is Stunned?
Put the bird in a warm, quiet, dark place for several hours and reassess it. Quite often the bird will recover and fly away. If not, take the bird to RSPCA ACT or contact us for advice.
Kangaroos, Wallabies Or Wallaroos
Most adult kangaroos or wallabies that are found are injured due to a vehicle strike.
To report any injured kangaroos, accidents involving kangaroos or carcasses on road sides you should contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81. Be sure to explain whether the animal is dead or alive, and its exact location.
Be very careful near an injured adult, they can be very frightened and have powerful legs which can kick and seriously injure you.
If there is a joey at foot or in the pouch, wrap it in cloth (whatever you have with you, even if it is up your jumper) to keep it warm and secure.
Joeys, depending on the time of year and their level of development, can survive in their dead mother's pouch for up to three days. If they are attached to the mother's teat under no circumstances should any force be used to remove them. In this instance they should be taken, inside their mother, to RSPCA ACT for specialist handling. If you find a joey that feels extremely cold and seems lethargic, wrap it and place near body heat if practicable - inside someone's shirt or jumper is best. Do not try and warm rapidly with hot water bottles as shock can kill quickly. Any cold orphaned joey should be taken as soon as possible to RSPCA ACT, or to any vet clinic.
Never feed cow's milk to any marsupial joey - it causes blindness.
For information concerning injured adult kangaroos and carcasses on road sides you should contact Canberra Connect on 13 22 81, or visit their website.
When you find a injured or sick bird the best way to catch it is to throw a towel or a rug over it and pick it up, making sure that you hold the wings close to its body. Be careful of large parrots such as cockatoos and galahs as they have powerful beaks and can inflict painful bites. Birds can also have very sharp claws and strong feet, particularly owls, hawks and eagles.
If you suspect the bird has a broken leg or wing, or other injury put it in a box lined with newspaper or an old towel, in a dark, quiet and warm place. Do not offer any food or water and contact RSPCA ACT on (02) 6287 8100 for guidance, or Wildlife ACT on 0432 300 033 for assistance.
What To Do If A Bird Has Hit A Window And Is Stunned
If you have witnessed a bird fly into a window or glass door, put the bird in a warm, quiet, dark place for several hours and reassess it. Quite often the bird will recover and fly away. If not, take the bird to RSPCA ACT or contact us on (02) 6187 8100 for advice.
Click here for more information on making windows safer for birds.
What To Do If You Have Found Orphaned Birds
Are you sure it really is an orphan? Baby birds are not often far away from their nests. Some birds, such as magpies, leave the nest and then spend a few days on the ground, being cared for by the parents, before they can fly competently.
Of course, if a cat or dog is watching the baby bird, remove the dog or cat rather than the bird.
If you find a baby bird, try to find the nest and return it to the nest.
If the parents are still around and it is impossible to get the bird into the nest, nail an ice cream container on the side of the tree. Make sure you have holes in the bottom so it doesn't fill up with water when it rains, add some soft material or straw, and put the bird into the new "nest". Keep a lookout and make sure the parents are feeding the bird.
With regard to ducklings, if the parents are seen, try and identify the type of duck. Some ducks are grass and grain eaters and others are insect eaters. Wild ducklings are cute but are not pets. Without the correct diet and care, native ducklings die very quickly. It is very important to get them to the RSPCA Wildlife Clinic or to the nearest Vet Surgery for attention.
The Canberra area has several native species of "microbats". These small bats are nocturnal and insectivorous. If they are hibernating or sleeping (usually under the bark of trees, or in sheds or barns) and get disturbed they must be kept quiet and cool. Under no circumstances should a sleeping bat be warmed as they will die very quickly.
Larger Fruit Bats such as Grey Headed Flying Foxes are also seen in the Canberra area. If they are injured or sick please contact ACT Wildlife on 0432 300 033 for assistance.
Be aware that all bats can carry Lyssavirus, which is related to rabies. They should only be handled by trained personnel and people who have been vaccinated against this disease. Under no circumstances should you handle a bat.
An adult possum must be very sick or injured to be found out during the day. This may be a result of a territorial dispute, where an old male is displaced by a younger male; the result of an illness, a vehicle strike, or previous animal attack the night before. Possums can also suffer the effects of poisoning from eating garden poisons such as snail or rodent bait. This manifests as severe lethargy coupled with excessive salivation, incontinence and possible convulsions. These possums require urgent medical attention at RSPCA ACT or a vet clinic.
Put the possum in a box with a towel so that it can hide underneath it if it wants. Any contained possum should be conveyed urgently to RSPCA ACT or to a vet. Please do not provide food or water prior to a medical assessment unless otherwise advised by RSPCA or veterinary staff.
Young joeys may be located in the pouch of mothers killed or injured in road accidents or dog/cat attacks. Like macropods they may survive in the pouch for some time. If they are attached to their mother's teat under no circumstances should any force be used to remove them from the teat or the pouch. They should be brought, inside the mother, to RSPCA ACT for specialist treatment and handling. If the possum is a young joey and it has lost or you cannot find its mother, wrap in a towel and immediately contact RSPCA on (02) 6287 8100.
Keep it warm and snug - inside someone's shirt is ideal as they cannot maintain their body temperature alone and will be in a state of shock. Do not attempt to feed them.
Echidnas like to walk around and not worry anyone. Most echidnas that are brought in have been found in a back yard or crossing a road. The best thing to do is:
- If it is crossing a road, try and alert traffic to its presence (bearing in mind your own and other road user's safety) until it completes its crossing.
- If traffic is heavy and you fear for the animal's safety, pick it up (with a thick towel or cloth) and take it to the side of the road more than 10 metres away from the roadside. Make sure you take it to the side of the road where it was headed, and not back the way it came.
- If it has been injured by a car, a dog or similar, call ACT Wildlife on 0432 300 033, bring it to RSPCA ACT or a vet clinic near you.
- If it is an abandoned "puggle" (echidna baby), wrap it securely and keep the puggle cool, but not cold. Contact RSPCA ACT or ACT Wildlife urgently.
Echidnas may "dig in", facing their spines outwards for protection when frightened, disturbed, or approached, and can be quite impossible to move. Contact RSPCA, ACT Wildlife, or for specialist handling to avoid further injury or stress to the echidna.
Keep in mind at all times that echidnas are escape artists and climb extremely well. Therefore, echidnas should be contained in a tall plastic container with a secure lid (holes must be drilled into the lid for ventilation). Layers of towels should be placed on the base and in hot weather, covered ice packs may also be placed alongside the container to keep the temperature below 25°C to avoid overheating.
Please do not attempt to feed any echidna.
Most wombats that are found are generally joeys or young wombats whose mothers have been killed, usually by a vehicle strike. Larger joeys or adolescents will be driven off by territorial neighbouring adults and may be injured, lost and bewildered as a result.
Larger adult wombats may be found injured by vehicle strike or dog attack. If a wombat is attacked by a dog, or otherwise out and about in daylight, there is usually a contributing factor such as illness or injury. Caution should be exercised as adult wombats are powerful creatures and can be aggressive, particularly if injured or frightened. Please contact RSPCA ACT on (02) 6287 8100, ACT Wildlife on 0432 300 033, or Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
If you find a joey with a dead mother wrap the joey securely but do not keep wombat joeys too warm. Please, do not feed them anything. Wombat joeys should be conveyed urgently to RSPCA ACT or to the nearest vet clinic for attention.
It is quite common for Dainty Tree Frogs (Banana Box Frogs) as well as other sub-tropical tree frogs to accompany bananas and other fruit in boxes from the sub-tropics to supermarkets around Australia. Dainties are small frogs, and are a distinct vivid bright green with a yellow underside. These frogs are native to North Queensland and not to the Canberra region. It is important that they are not released in the local environment as they may harbour diseases that the local frog population does not have resistance to. In addition, the climate in the ACT is too cold for them to survive in. RSPCA ACT has a program in place for these frogs to be adopted by appropriately licensed and knowledgeable owners and maintained in captivity.
Any frog found inside fruit boxes should be contained and taken to RSPCA ACT.
Canberra has numerous species of native frogs, of varying sizes. These include tree frogs and burrowing frogs which can be disturbed or injured during gardening or construction.
Please keep handling of any frogs to a minimum as they can absorb salt and other substances from human hands through their skin which can make them ill. They can be contained in small boxes such as clean Chinese food containers (with small air holes in the lid). Any injured or displaced frogs should be brought to RSPCA ACT.
Reptiles - Snakes, Lizards, or Turtles
Assume that all snakes found within the ACT are venomous. Under no circumstances should anyone chase or attempt to injure or kill a snake. All reptiles are protected and it is against the law to kill or injure them. The vast majority of snakebites in Australia (over 95%) occur when people attempt to kill a snake and the snake defends itself.
Most snakes are just passing through and will not hurt you if you leave them alone. You are more likely to see snakes in late spring and summer. Clear the area of children and pets and wait until the snake goes away. If it stays then please contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81 for advice.
Large lizards such as bluetongues are very common in suburban Canberra, and most suburban gardens will either have resident lizards or frequent visits. They are non-venomous and not dangerous. They are particularly vulnerable to dog attack, or mishandling by children or adults resulting in their injury.
Reptiles enjoy basking and are often seen on the roadways. Lizards such as bluetongues and shinglebacks may be moved off the roadway if in danger, but please do not move them further than 10 metres as they are fiercely territorial and being displaced from their territory will result in their death.
Injured lizards such as skinks (including bluetongues and shinglebacks) or turtles can be contained by placing a cardboard box or similar over them. Injured or frightened turtles may excrete a bad smelling liquid when picked up but are not dangerous. They should not be turned upside down as it can adversely affect their circulation and breathing.
Injured snakes may pose a serious danger to humans as they can be aggressive and may be venomous. Contact Canberra Nature Park Rangers on 13 22 81 for advice.
RSPCA ACT is not able to offer some medical services to injured snakes. For urgent matters and relocation, contact Canberra Snake Rescue and Relocation on 0405 405 604.
Any large coloured snakes such as non-native or non-local pythons may be exotic introduced or escaped captive animals. They need to be caught and maintained in captivity so they don't introduce diseases to the local reptile population. Please contact RSPCA or Access Canberra (13 22 81) urgently if they are sighted.
Reptiles can accidently be dug up during gardening, construction or by animals such as dogs during their hibernation from about May to September/October. These animals need to be contained and kept cool. Under no circumstances should they be warmed as it will result in their death.