I was driving to a friend’s place late one evening, enjoying the empty roads that night driving brings when from the corner of my eye I notice a possum running full speed toward my car. He was so close that I didn’t have time to slow down. After feeling a slight tap on the wheels I stopped my car on the side of the road. My mind was screaming “no!” and I burst into tears.
I turned the car around and used my headlights to look for the horrid scene flashing in my mind. I searched everywhere with my headlights and then got out at what I thought was the exact location. Nothing. He was nowhere to be seen. Not finding him was both positive, he may be fine because I just clipped him and negative, he may be wondering in the bush injured.
At that moment I realised just how unprepared I was. I kept wishing I had 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 and it’s really irresponsible of me not to have had one of these packs.
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. There’s been a couple of sad incidents lately where someone stopped to help a wild animal and ended up in hospital themselves. Please be careful around moving traffic. A fluro vest will make sure cars can see you so that you can safety rescue the animal. I’ve just ordered this one.
Torch. A torch is a must because most animals are hit from dusk until dawn. It would have been much easier to search for a possum hidden in the scrub with a torch in hand.
Gloves. Gloves will help to protect yourself from an animal you may have to pick up. 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 the 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 always good to have these 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 up 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 unless you are confident that you will not be harmed and your actions will save the animal.
- Wild animals become stressed by handling, so you should seek expert advice before handling an injured animal.
- Never 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 need 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?
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?