The winter months can be a challenging time for our little furry wildlife. Harsh weather conditions and food shortages can make life even harder than it is the rest of the year. But they cope better with it than you might think.
Our small furry wildlife face different challenges all year round. In the spring many of them have to make nests for their young, in the summer they have to deal with water shortages, and in the autumn many of them have to find enough food to gain some extra weight for the winter.
If you see a little one out on their own, or young without their mother, it’s natural to want to step in and take care of them. But they might not need you to, and sometimes you can do more harm than good. So before you try to come to the assistance of a wild animal, you need to be sure that they need your help.
Signs of illness and distress vary from species to species, but there are a few situations where you can be sure that a wild animal needs help:
If you can’t see any of these signs, it’s usually best to just leave them alone. Interfering when an animal doesn’t need help can do more harm than good. If the animal is clearly ill or injured though, they do need your help.
What To Do Next
If an animal is showing one of these signs of needing help, it’s essential to make sure you help them in the right way. Caring for ill or injured wildlife is very complex, and each species has very different needs, so needs very different care. The only way to get them this care is to contact a wildlife rescue or rehabilitator. Even if you don’t have a local rescue, getting advice over the phone from any wildlife rescue is going to give the animal the best chance of survival.
If You Find A Nest
If you accidentally disturb a nest of baby animals, it’s best to interfere as little as possible and leave the nest alone. Just because you can’t see their mother around, doesn’t mean the babies aren’t being cared for. Haresfor example only feed their young a few times a day, for a few minutes at a time. They stay away from their nest the rest of the time so as not to attract predators. So if you come across a litter of leverets without their mother, this doesn’t mean they need rescued - for all you know she could be on her way right now.
If you know for sure that the mother isn’t coming back, because you know she’s been killed, you’ll need the help of a wildlife rescue or rehabilitator. It’s incredibly difficult to hand rear wildlife and unless you know exactly what you’re doing, they’re very unlikely to survive in your care.
There are times that a little one desperately needs help, and we shouldof course do whatever we can to give them that help. But it’s essential to keep in mind that they don’t always need us to intervene. So there’s a time to help, and a time to let them be.