Wildlife Unit FAQ’s

Q. Do you take in wildlife from the general public?

A. Yes. We take in a variety of wildlife, mainly birds and small mammals.

Q. What types of wildlife do you admit?

A. We admit wildlife such as small garden birds (black birds, robins, starlings, etc.) doves, crows, magpies, pigeons, hedgehogs, gulls, waterfowl and small mammals like stoats, weasels, and moles etc.

Q. Why are they brought in to you?

A. There are various reasons. Birds are usually brought in with injured wings or legs due to the fact they have flown into windows, or been hit by cars, or attacked by cats or sparrow hawks. They have sometimes been stuck down chimneys, and there are also orphaned birds. Hedgehogs are brought to us as they have been found out during the day, or are too small to hibernate. Some have fallen into ponds, have had their nests disturbed, been attacked by dogs, cut with strimmers, or caught in netting.

Q. How many animals do you have in your unit?

A. The wildlife unit has between 70 – 150 animals at any one time. Winter is the quiet time of year for us but in the spring and summer months it is very busy with lots of baby birds and hedgehogs.

Q. Can we look around the wildlife unit?

A. Sorry but we do not allow the public to look around this unit. They are wild animals after all; we have to keep their surroundings as quiet as possible and keep human contact to a minimum. This will prevent unnecessary stress, and imprinting which is when the animal that is being looked after forms a bond of trust with the person caring for it.

Q. I’ve found a hedgehog out during the day, what should I do?

A. Hedgehogs are nocturnal so they should not be out during the day. If you find one out in the daytime, you should put it in a box with a towel and phone a rescue centre for advice. Secure the hedgehog before it wanders off because in most cases there is a reason for it being out during the day; usually because it's poorly.

Q. What do you do with birds when you admit them?

A. Firstly we take details from the person who found it, the reason the animal has been brought in and where it was found. Then we check the bird for any obvious injuries which may need immediate veterinary treatment. If we can't see anything obvious we will observe the bird and check it’s progress. Once the bird has had any necessary treatment and/or is eating and feeding well, then it will go into a pre release aviary to check it is flying OK. It can then be released.

Q. Can we adopt a hedgehog from you?

A. Most of our hedgehogs go back to the place they were found. Occasionally we will relocate hogs that can’t go back for safety reasons, but we tend to put them in hog friendly places. Sometimes we do get a hog that needs to go to a secure garden (if they are disabled in some way it means that they will not cope alone in the wild), but the garden does have to be a fully secure, walled, hog friendly garden.

Q. How many animals and birds do you admit in a year?

A. We are only a small unit but we are busy! We admit approximately 500 animals and birds a year. We can admit as many as 40 animals a week, but this is during our busy time of year - the spring and summer.

Q. Why is it busier in the spring and summer?

A. It is very busy in the spring and summer because we get lots of baby birds and animals. Some baby birds need feeding every 20 minutes from dawn until dusk, and their pens need cleaning many times. We also get lots of ducklings in; they are very cute but are very messy too, so they need cleaning out multiple times a day. Baby hedgehogs (hoglets) need feeding every 2 hours, even through the night when they are very young.

Q. What do you do when an animal is brought in to you?

A. Firstly we get the details from the finder, where the animal was found, how it was found. We need this information for our records, as every animal has its own record card with a record card number. We then check the animal for any injuries that may need veterinary treatment. If nothing obvious is found then the animal is settled into the appropriate caging and monitored. Some animals may need vet treatment for injury or illness, some just need rest and recuperation. Once the animal has recovered and is feeding well it is then placed in a pre release pen and its progress monitored before it is released.

Q. Are animals and birds with you for a long time?

A. This all depends on what is wrong with them. The shorter the time they spend with us the better as it is very stressful for a wild animal to be in captivity. We tend to have hedgehogs for the longest time; when they come in as babies in late autumn, we keep them over the winter ('overwinter' them), and then release them in the spring.

Q. Do you release all your wildlife?

A. Yes, we do release all wildlife once recovered. Most wildlife goes back to where it was found, but occasionally we have to relocate the animals to a different place if the area of origin is not safe.

Q. If I bring injured wildlife to you, will it be put to sleep?

A. When any animal or bird is brought in to us we always do our best to help it. Unfortunately the fact that the wild animal or bird has allowed you to pick it up and bring it to us is a clear sign that it is very poorly - you should not be able to handle a healthy wild animal. In some case by the time the animal is found and is brought to us, it is too late to be saved - no matter what help we can offer it. We do always give every animal a chance, but if the animal is suffering we do sometimes have to make the sad decision to end it’s suffering.   

Q. What should I do if I find an injured bird?

A. If you find an injured bird, pick it up and put it in a secure box, and then phone a rescue for advice.

Q. What do I do if I find a young bird in the garden?

A. Many birds fledge but can’t actually fly properly for a few weeks. If the bird is alert and active, and parent birds are around then leave it alone (parents will not be around if you are near the fledgling so watch from a distance). If the bird is very quiet, not alert and easy to pick up, that’s when you need to help it. Put it in a box and call a rescue for advice.

Q. What is the correct food for hedgehogs?

A. Hedgehogs can be fed on mealworm, cat or dog food, hedgehog biscuits, hedgehog muesli and cat biscuits. Hedgehogs should never be fed on bread or milk as this is harmful to their digestive system, and can make them very ill.

Q. What is the correct food to feed to ducks in the park?

A. Most people feed ducks bread and although they do like it, it isn’t very good for them. Ducks should be fed on corn and or duck pellets. If they do get bread it is best to give them wholemeal bread as this has more nutrients in it than white bread.

Q. What do you feed the birds that come in to you?

A. That depends on the type of bird it is. Some birds are seed eaters, some eat meat, some eat fish and some eat insects. We always have a variety of foods in stock so we are prepared for any type of bird that's admitted. If you do find a bird but cannot take it to a rescue for a day or so, find out what type of bird it is so you can make sure you feed it the correct food.