Small mammals such as rats and mice are often considered vermin. Not that we take any notice of that – a life is a life and all animals have an equal right to live free of pain and suffering as far as we’re concerned. But you need to be aware that not all rescue organisations will be willing to treat these animals so it’s best to check first so as to avoid the animal being euthanased unnecessarily.
When to Help
|If the animal has been caught by a cat.|
|It must receive antibiotic treatment within a few hours or the bacteria on the cats teeth may cause it to develop fatal septicemia.|
|If an adult can be easily approached|
|These are naturally very wary animals so if it cannot or does not try to run away it’s in trouble.|
|An animal with an obvious injury|
|An animal of any age with a visible wound or injury such as a damaged limb will need help.|
|A lone baby out of its nest.|
|Observe for a couple of hours to see if the parents pick it up but it’s likely the baby is abandoned|
|An apparently abandoned nest of babies.|
|Mothers often spend time away from their young. Cover the nest and observe from a distance without touching the babies. Contact a wildlife rescue for advice if there is no sign of an adult after several hours.|
Capture, Containment and Care
Don’t be fooled by the small stature of these little guys. Even a tiny mouse can give you a surprisingly painful bite. Whilst the ability of rats and mice to carry and spread disease is grossly exaggerated, it is sensible to avoid being bitten by them, so handle with care using gloves or a thick towel. Cover the animal with a towel and try to “shuffle” it gently into a box turned on its side. That way you don’t need to actually pick the animal up. If this isn’t possible or the casualty has injuries which doing this may make worse, use the towel to ensure the animal cannot see your hand before picking it up.
Most small mammals can be successfully contained in a cardboard or shoe box. Make sure the lid is secured to prevent escape and there are sufficient air holes. A towel on the bottom will make the casualty more comfortable. Place the box somewhere warm and quiet and keep children and pets away.
If the casualty has been caught by a cat then you must seek urgent help. The animal will need to be given antibiotics within a few hours of being bitten or it may develop fatal septicaemia. Some wildlife rescues are available 24/7 for this sort of emergency and we try to give some indication of availability on our listings.
It is not generally necessary or advisable to provide food and water if you are getting the casualty to a rescue quickly. Never offer cow’s milk or alcohol.
It is likely that the animal will be shocked or weakened so supplementary heat can be very helpful here. You can put a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel at one end of the box, either inside, underneath or next to the box, ensuring the animal can get away from the heat if it wants to.
NB – this advice is designed to cover the first couple of hours. If you are not able to get the casualty to a wildlife rescue within this time, please at least speak to someone by phone for further advice about care beyond this period.