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Advice & Information

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When should I intervene to rescue wildlife?

This is a question many people ask themselves, particularly in the light of a good deal of recent publicity implying that wildlife which appears to be in trouble, in particular wild babies or juveniles should be ‘left alone’.
 
Well, they shouldn’t. Or, at least, they very frequently shouldn’t. The advice to leave alone, if followed to the letter, will result in countless unnecessary deaths.

These are the basic guidelines to follow if you see baby birds or mammals which you think may need rescuing:

Esme, an orphaned fox cub

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Fox cubs: Bright, healthy cubs spotted playing in a field/wood/garden are almost certainly fine and the parents are looking after them.  If you find a fox cub with its eyes still closed, it could well need rescuing as it should still be in the earth at this stage – however, remove yourself from the scene and watch from a distance for a while to see if an adult fox comes and removes the cub before you rescue it, as foxes move their young to an alternative earth if they feel in danger, and you may have interrupted this procedure.  If you see a fox cub all alone in the middle of a field, or in a garden where it has not been seen before, and if it is dull-eyed, depressed looking, constantly calling in a high pitched whine, limping or marked with blood, if it is coughing or sneezing or has runny eyes, it needs rescuing.

Baby birds:  Nestlings that have fallen out of the nest must either be returned to the nest (make sure it is the right nest or the baby will be rejected) or be rescued.  Fledglings (just out of the nest) that are in the care of their parents should be left alone.  All birds caught by cats will need an antibiotic to avoid the high danger of septicaemia and should be rescued.  All injured birds should be rescued.

NB: Although juvenile, semi-feathered owls which fall out of the nest can often claw their way back, very young ones will not be able to and will be taken by predators if left unrescued.

Baby robin

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Leveret

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Leverets:   Mothers leave their tiny infants alone for long periods between feeds.  This is to minimise the danger of predators’ attention being drawn to the young.  If you see a leveret (baby hare) all alone, if it is crouching in the long grass, looking clear-eyed and breathing normally, leave the animal completely alone and leave the area at once. If however it is lying flat, looking dull-eyed, breathing with difficulty, and/or if it is in an exposed place, or beside the road, or has any blood on it, it needs rescuing.

Baby deer:   Mothers leave their tiny infants alone for long periods between feeds.  This is to minimise the danger of predators’ attention being drawn to the young.  If you see a baby deer all alone, if it is curled up in the long grass, looking clear-eyed and breathing normally, leave the animal completely alone and leave the area at once. If however it is lying flat, looking dull eyed, breathing with difficulty, and/or if it is in an exposed place, or beside the road, or has any blood on it, it needs rescuing.

Baby deer

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Badger cubs

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Badger cubs:  Bright, healthy cubs spotted playing in a field/wood near to a sett are almost certainly fine and the mother is looking after them.  If you find a baby badger with it’s eyes still closed, it is certainly in trouble as it should still be underground at this stage.  If you find a badger cub that is far from a sett, calling, and with any of the features listed above as in fox cubs, it needs rescuing.

Baby rabbits:  Babies with their eyes closed found out of the nursery burrow must be rescued. Little rabbits that do not run away when approached need rescuing.  Any baby rabbit mauled by a cat or dog must be rescued.

Baby rabbits

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Baby hedgehogs

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Baby hedgehogs:  If a nest is disturbed, the mother hedgehog will often  (but not always) desert her young.  Very young babies are further endangered because the mother may even attack and kill her young if her nest is disturbed.  If you have accidentally slightly disturbed a nest, watch from a distance to see what the mother does, and be ready to intervene.  Hedgehog babies with eyes still closed and out of the nest must be recued.  Babies out during the day need to be rescued.

This list is not of course definitive, and the best thing to do is to ring for advice if you have any doubt about the right course of action.

IF IN DOUBT, RING LITTLE FOXES FOR ADVICE – 01844 279469

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From the wise to the wacky, to the weird...

The phone line to Little Foxes is of course very busy, often with fairly standard enquiries which we deal with every day. However, some calls are strange, some are sad, and some are downright rude!

Here are some examples:

Caller: I have foxes in the garden and am quite happy to have them, but recently some of my plants have turned brown and I wonder if it's the foxes....could you tell me please, do foxes cock their legs when they pee, as the damage would be at just that sort of height?

(This was left as a message, and the caller left no number and said they would call again later. Sadly, they didn't, because this was one of our favourite queries this year. The lady caller was charming and very polite, and I would have liked to be able to answer her - some male foxes do cock their legs, many do not, just squatting in the same way a vixen does. Some dog foxes sometimes do and sometimes don't, according to how the mood takes them...but I am pretty sure the dead plants have not died of fox-pee poisoning, as male urine in canids is less acidic than female urine, and so a leg-cocker would do no harm. And if they did, you can be sure the Daily Mail would have had a full-page article on the subject, with a headline screaming "TOXIC FOXES KILLING GARDEN PLANTS!!!")

                               .........................................

 Caller: (8.20am) Can we come to the sanctuary in a few days and visit the little bird that our cat caught?

 LF: No I'm sorry, we cannot have visitors to the sanctuary as it is too frightening for the animals. The bird would not appreciate your visiting him, he would just be scared of you.

 Caller: You are very rude. Just because my cat caught the bird. If you love animals you should love cats too, you are very rude indeed… (and lots more in this vein)

 (This caller had rung late the previous night, refused to bring the casualty to us, and was asked therefore to drop it to our vets for us to collect. In fact, we had spoken to this caller at length the previous night, and given the best advice we could. The only reference to the cat was in the context of the bird needing an antibiotic injection to counter the danger of infection from the cat bite. This call definitely falls into the category of gratuitously rude and in fact upsetting.)

                              .........................................

 Caller: Oh hello, could you settle an argument please? If a badger and a ferret had a fight, which would win?

 LF: (A moment's pause while the question sank in) Absolutely the badger would win. I hope you are not planning to experiment?

 Caller: Oh, no, no, just a silly argument. Thank you very much. 'Bye.

                               .........................................

 Caller: (2.15am) Hello? Is that Little Foxes? Right, I've got a wild animal in my garden.

 LF: (sleepily, with images of a wild panther or something similar) Oh, right. Have you?

 Caller: Yes, it's a ferret. Will you come and get it please?

 LF: (now incredulous) A ferret? Have you got it contained?

 Caller: Yes I have, and it has bitten me. I want it taken away.

 LF: It's 2 o'clock in the morning! We can take it tomorrow, but certainly not tonight. It's safely contained, just give it some food and water if you can, and ring again in the morning, when we will happily take it on.

 Caller: I've got guinea pigs and I want it removed now.

 LF: (now annoyed and, ok, being a bit sarcastic) You've not put it in with the guinea pigs have you?

 Caller: No of course not! Are you coming or aren't you?

 LF: We will take the ferret in the morning.

 Click. Brrrrrrr.......

 (This one was extremely annoying at the time, but has provided much amusement since)

                              .........................................

 It would be really nice if people ringing the sanctuary would please remember that we are very, very busy, and we only ask for a little politeness, a pen and paper at the ready so we don't have to sit and wait while one is found, and recognition that we can only collect casualties if there genuinely is absolutely no way the rescuer can bring them to the sanctuary.

 

 
   

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