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Wildlife in Spring

Written By: Jane Davidson RVN

As the seasons change, so does the veterinary case load! You may not have thought about it, but now it’s spring we see an increase in cases of stray animals and wildlife. With wildlife this is mainly for two reasons. Firstly as the weather gets better people are outside more and so see more wildlife that may be having an issue - and as it’s spring much of that wildlife is young and finding their own way around, which can lead to us humans thinking they need help.

While vets do see wildlife casualties, we aren’t generally set up to rehabilitate them back to their healthy state to be returned to the wild. Therefore we often work with rescues and charities, both locally and nationally, to ensure we give the best care to wild animals when they are in our care. I’ve met many grateful clients who have been amazed at staff driving wildlife to rehab centres after work or at weekends to ensure they get good care. I’ve even had some clients take their foundlings themselves to wildlife centres. Working with the public to get wildlife well again is a really great feeling!

Yet, we see each year the campaigns about how to handle wildlife - if at all. For example, what to feed hedgehogs and what should you do with the juvenile seagull that has two adults flying around it? Well, read on to find out more!



Baby birds cause more than their fair share of worry in spring! They seem so tiny and helpless that it’s easy to see why people pick them up and bring them to the vets. Yet in many cases this is the worst thing to do. As the RSPB says ‘it’s perfectly normal to see a baby bird on its own’ so that is not a cause for concern in itself. There are also different stages of development that alter what you should do if you see a bird, so it’s worth reading more from the RSPB – click here to read more. If you’re looking for an easy visual way to help then the RSPCA flowchart helps a lot too – click here to read it.

The RSPCA also has advice on ducklings and these are commonly seen in urban areas. Ducks aren’t the best at choosing a safe nesting site, so it’s not unusual to find them nesting on roundabouts or balconies and when the ducklings hatch these can be quite dangerous places – read more here


Other wildlife

If you see other wildlife injured, or in a dangerous situation, then the RSPCA has some good common sense information. This includes guidelines and their phone number to call to see if they can help (0300 1234 999) so read more here. If you find baby wild animals that appear to be orphans, it’s worth reading about what to do with specific species. Baby deer (fawns) and baby hares (leverets) are often left alone so observing from afar to see if the mother returns is the best first course of action.  


Marine wildlife

Seals and seal pups both spend a significant period of their time on beaches or rocks. It isn’t unusual to find them and they are much more dangerous to try and handle. The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) work across the UK to rescue marine mammals so they are worth a call to get some good advice - read their information here - and if you spend time around the beach, storing their phone numbers in your phone is a good idea! I’ve got them stored in mine for any marine emergency!

BDMLR rescue hotlines:

See their website for details
01825 765546 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
07787 433412 Out of office hours and Bank Holidays



Finally onto the gardeners favourite… hedgehogs! Hoglets are very cute! Feeding them at any time of year is welcome, but bread and milk is not the right diet - it’s a dangerous myth, and I’ve no idea where it started! Hedgehogs need a protein based diet, so dog or cat food - either tinned or crushed up biscuits - are both suitable diets. They need to not be a fish based food as this causes diarrhoea that can be fatally dehydrating. There is specialist hedgehog food available if you are keen to provide the best for them.

If you find a hoglet then do read about how to monitor them and handle them safely if you need to. There’s also good info on caring for hedgehogs all year round, as their numbers are declining and they need all the help they can get -  read more here.


We are truly lucky that in the UK we have a wide variety of wildlife that lives happily with us in rural and urban areas. Living in close proximity to wildlife that we don’t always see means we don’t always know the best ways to help but hopefully you will be inspired to help – even if it means leaving them alone!

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