Caring for Injured or Orphaned Wildlife

​​​​​​​​Most injured or orphaned native animals found by members of the public are victims of vehicle or window collisions, dog or cat attack, trapping, shooting or electrocution.

​​The Department oversees the Injured and Orphaned Wildlife Program, which has many experienced volunteer wildlife rehabilitators around the State.  The Program objective is to relieve the stress of these unfortunate animals and where possible, rehabilitate them back into the wild in a fit condition.

These notes are provided to assist with short term emergency care to give the animal a better chance of survival before being transported to an experienced volunteer.

Long term rehabilitation requires greater knowledge of an animal's requirements.  Please contact the Wildlife Management Branch on 6165 4305 for more information.

For Assistance

If an injured or orphaned animal is found, please contact the Injured and Orphaned Wildlife Program on 6165 4305 (business hours) or Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary on 0447 264 625 (all hours).

Capture and Transport

If you need to contain an injured or orphaned animal, there are several important steps to follow that will reduce the stress of capture, help prevent further injury to the animal and assist with its rehabilitation.

Before attempting capture, observe the animal for any signs of illness or injury, for example:  a broken wing will hang; and an inclined head may suggest concussion or a damaged ear.  Also look for wounds, unusual behaviour, movements or posture such as lopsidedness.  This information can then be passed on to an expert to help identify the animal's problem.

Prepare a suitable transport box for the animal before attempting to capture it.  Line the bottom of the box with newspaper (which can be too slippery for some birds), old towels or an old blanket and punch a number of air holes into the box.

Capturing and handling wild animals can be very stressful for both the animal and the handler.  Wear protective gloves, as animals can become aggressive and difficult to handle when scared or injured.  They may try to defend themselves with wings, teeth, beak or claws.

A confident but gentle approach is best.  Most animals can be captured by throwing an old towel or blanket over them.  Nets can cause further injury.  Wrap the animal securely or place it in a clean hessian sack or pillowslip and tie off the open end.  Do not try to comfort it.  Place the animal and bag into the prepared box or Pet Pak.  At least two people are needed for the capture of larger animals, such as an adult wallaby.  There is usually something wrong with an animal that can be caught.

Reptiles and echidnas are best scooped into and transported in large plastic tubs. 

Keep the animal in a warm, dark and quiet place until you arrive home or obtain advice on what to do next.

Keep the animal in a stress-free environment away from young children and other pets and do not allow it to be continually disturbed by people wishing to look at it.

Do not attempt to feed the animal without first seeking advice as this can do the animal more harm than good.

Your Health

People coming into contact with animals or animal environments are exposed to the ever present, hidden hazards of zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses.  These are diseases and infections that are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and man.

Always wash hands before and after handling wildlife, preferably with an anti-bacterial soap, and wear gloves wherever possible.

Wear long clothing and enclosed shoes to protect against bites and scratches.  If injuries occur, contact your local GP or after hours clinic for advice.

Concussion in Birds

Birds will often suffer concussion after a collision.  Place the bird in a dark, non-stressful environment such as a box.  Do not supply heat.

Check the bird after two to four hours.  Its flying ability can be tested in an uncluttered room with the blinds drawn and the light on, or in a large aviary.  If the bird has recovered it should be released by placing it on a branch in a tree with plenty of vegetative cover, away from pets.

Birds can take up to 24 hours to recover from concussion.  If in doubt, contact an expert.

Orphaned Birds​​

Most 'orphan' birds are not really orphans at all, but fledglings that have crash landed on their first flight.  They should be left alone or put in a safer place off the ground. Genuine orphans are rare, and usually result from a destroyed nest.

If possible, these orphans should be placed in another nest of the same species, as birds readily foster such young.  They could also be placed an artificial nest placed near the original nest.


Sometimes, despite efforts to assist them, the animal is still suffering and beyond recovery.  If unable to get professional assistance and it looks as though the animal might die, please allow it to do so quietly and with dignity.

If the animal is an unusual species it may be of scientific interest, even if it is dead.  Place the dead animal in a labelled plastic bag and freeze it.  The label should note who found it, where, when and what happened to it.  If you feel that the animal died from unnatural causes such as poisoning, refrigeration is preferable to freezing.  Please contact the Wildlife Management Brant  to arrange for the animal to be collected.

Ongoing Rehabilitation

Some orphaned or injured animals may require an extended period of rehabilitation.  The facilities, equipment and food required vary greatly between species and the animal’s developmental stage.  This is best undertaken by someone with experience in rehabilitating wildlife.

If this is something you may be interested in, please contact the Wildlife Management Branch for more information.  Wild animals undergoing rehabilitation are not pets and must be looked after in a way that facilitates their eventual release back into the wild.


Please remember that most of Tasmania’s wildlife is wholly protected and  a permit is required by persons attempting to rehabilitate an injured or orphaned animal.  Failure to have a permit carries a heavy fine.


Wildlife Management Branch
134 Macquarie Street
GPO Box 44
Phone: 03 6165 4305
Fax: 03 6173 0253

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