Have you accidentally hit an animal while driving on the roads? I had my first horrifying experience last weekend when I tapped a possum with my car while driving at night. I stopped my car on the side of the road but I couldn’t find the possum and it lead me to worry he might be hiding in the bush, hurt.
At that moment I realised just how unprepared I was. Firstly, I really needed a torch in my car but that’s not all I was missing. I would have needed quite a few items should I have found the possum. I regularly check animals on the side of the road too and it’s really irresponsible of me not to be prepared. The experience prompted me to organise a wildlife rescue kit.
Here’s a list of wildlife rescue items everyone should have in their car in case of a finding sick or injured wildlife.
Wildlife Rescue Kit
Flourescent vest. The most important thing you need to remember, before you rescue any animal, is your safety. There’s been a couple of sad incidents lately where someone stopped to help a wild animal in need and ended up in hospital themselves. Please be careful around moving traffic. A fluro vest will ensure cars can see you so that you can safely rescue the animal.
Torch. Most animals are hit from dusk until dawn, so having a torch on hand is a must. It would have been easier to search for an injured possum hidden in the scrub with a torch rather than using my car headlights.
Gloves. Gloves will help to protect you from an animal you may have to handle. Any animal with a mouth can inflict an injury to you, so make sure you have these in your pack. You’ll thank me if you ever have to pick up parrot or sugar glider!
Towel. Once you find the injured animal, if it’s still mobile, you’ll need to catch it. A towel is not only another way to protect yourself from a frightened animal but it’s a good way to catch an animal too. Throw it over the animal and quickly grab it.
Pillow case. Pillow cases are an excellent way to restrain and transport small animals. Make sure you have some string or rubber bands to secure the pillow case too.
First aid Kit. Despite your best efforts to reduce the risk to yourself, wild animals can be very determined to get away by any means necessary. You may still get scratched or bitten. It’s always good to have a basic first aid kit on hand just in case. I made my own but this is a good little one to add to the kit.
Pliers. It’s good to have pliers handy should an animal be stuck on an object like barbed wire etc.
Box. Boxes are another great way to secure a sick or injured animal. They can also be used to gently scoop an animal into the box creating a good safety barrier between you and your patient. A word of warning though, make sure you secure that box VERY well. The last thing you want is an animal on the loose in your car while you’re driving them to a vet or hospital.
Important phone number list. Rather than having to search contact numbers on your phone, have a list of the important phone number you’ll require if you do pick up a sick or injured animal. It’s so much easier just to have them on hand. I stuck mine to the box.
Wildlife reference books. Another helpful addition can also be a local species reference book and a caring for wildlife book too.
A few important tips before rescuing a sick or injured animal
- Do not attempt a rescue an animal unless you are confident that you will not be harmed and your actions will save the animal.
- Wild animals become stressed when being chased or handled. Please seek expert advice before chasing or handling any injured animal.
- Please don’t pick up snakes. Always call an expert.
- Never touch bats. An expert, with the lyssavirus vaccination must attend this rescue. Learn more about this here.
- Try to keep the animal calm by minimising the noise and interaction with people. Only handle if absolutely necessary.
- Do not try to give the animal food and water. That’s the last thing the animal needs right now. It needs specialised care.
- Please don’t keep the animal and try to treat it yourself. You’re doing the animal a disservice by not handing it over to a hospital and specialised carer with the important knowledge and training.
- Always check dead animals too, as they may have surviving young with them (e.g. in a pouch) or near them.
Want to do more for wildlife?
Don’t just have a wildlife rescue kit in your car, learn how to become a wildlife carer for those orphaned and sick wildlife cases that come through vet and wildlife hospitals. There are never enough wildlife carers! Ask your local wildlife hospital for details on an organisation near you.
There’s plenty of wonderful wildlife carers out there with more experience on capturing and restraining wild animals than me. Did I miss anything? What else would you suggest we add to this basic wildlife rescue kit?