How to nurse wildlife patients
This article provides a basic outline of nursing of wildlife patients, from initial contact and triage through to kennelling and rehabilitation. Most wildlife presentations are debilitated or injured and require immediate veterinary attention and nursing care.
Wildlife patients are commonly presented to first opinion veterinary practices throughout the country, with an estimated 131 000 wildlife patients presented to UK veterinary clinics each year (Barnes and Farnworth, 2017). It is likely that veterinary nurses will be required to nurse wildlife patients in clinical practice, and their nursing requirements can be vastly different from those of companion animals.
The initial contact usually comes in the form of a telephone call from a member of the public or a wildlife rescue, or from a member of the public bringing a wildlife patient directly to the veterinary clinic. This is an excellent time to gain as much information as possible. Unfortunately, wildlife patients do not come with much history unless they have been in captivity for some time, but this is an excellent opportunity to find out what species the patient is, where it was found or if the patient is injured or distressed. It is important to ascertain from the caller if they are in a safe place and if the patient is accessible. Accessibility may be difficult, and a member of the public should not be instructed to trespass on private land to access injured wildlife.