Helpful Tips

Below are some helpful tips and suggestions that will help you in accomplishing your tasks with much more ease.

Refrain from excessive contact in the first couple of days

Refrain from excessive proximity and contact in the first couple of days of admitting an orphaned animal. The animal will be scared and your presence will only add to its fear and uneasiness. Only do the needful. Let the young one settle down and ask for more of your time before you increase contact.

Approach gently, confidently and reassuringly

Animals are extremely sensitive to non-verbal body language – voice, body posture, gestures, movements, etc. They also pick up and respond to subconscious vibes. If you approach them with a confident and reassuring aura, they are likely to respond to you much faster than if you approach them when feeling scared or hesitant.

House fresh rescues in a quiet dark place

Our natural instincts guide us to hide when we are scared, injured or unwell. This instinct is essential for the survival of wild animals as they are twice as likely to fall prey when they are vulnerable, and hence the need to hide. Being in a quiet and dark place gives them the sense of reassurance that they are safe and secure. This is extremely important for fresh rescues as they are not only weakened but would have been extensively handled and are now in an alien place – this is all very frightening. Ensure they have adequate peace and quiet to feel safe and secure – it is vital for their wellbeing.

Stroke the young one simulating the mother’s licks

All young mammals, especially neonates, settle down much faster if you talk to them in a soft and reassuring voice and stoke them in the manner the mother would lick them. Mothers will often lick their young against the gradient of the fur to clean the young thoroughly. Stroking them in a similar manner will comfort them and encourage them to respond faster to you.

Provide a hide

Every enclosure must have a hide – a nesting box or den of some kind for the animals to hide in. Most animals, especially when in a new surrounding or when unsure, prefer to have access to a place they can hide in. Animals that are allowed to retreat when they need to will feel more secure and will generally be happier and a lot less nervous. This is particularly important for animals that have been rescued as adults.

Handling shy and nervous animals

Shy and nervous animals must always have a hide and must preferably be housed in the quitter and more isolated enclosures. They must be approached and handled minimally. Rather than approaching such animals suddenly or startling them, it often helps to slow down, gently talk to the animal from a distance to let it know that you will be approaching it.

Wearing wooly gloves to handle animals

Injured animals or babies being hand-raised often need to be handled intensively. I’ve had animals in the past that have just refused to be held, even to be fed, and have just bit and run away. This may often be due to a traumatic rescue or because they have somehow built a negative association with the human hands. I found it very helpful to handle such animals with woolly gloves and they too have allowed handling with much less protest. This is particularly helpful with small mammals and birds. Another advantage of woolly gloves is that it feels natural to touch and retains the dexterity (esp. in comparison with leather gloves for example) of your fingers.

Feisty kittens may settle down after a bath

I’m not sure if this can be recommended but I have had feisty kittens that would just hiss and scratch, settle down beautifully (and turn into the tamest, sweetest, most loving things) after a warm sponge/bath!


A lot more can be accomplished by having patience and giving the animal the time and the space to do what you need for it to do. Simply guide it into what you need of it rather than being forceful and expecting instant results. Being forceful not only stresses the animal and makes handling twice as difficult but also increases the chances of accidents.

Have a PLAN

Gather as much information and prepare yourself accordingly before heading in for the task. Work out a fool-proof plan before jumping into action. Your actions must involve maximum amount of time planning and preparing for the animal, minimal time with the animal and the least amount of time chasing it.

Finding a lone youngster

If you find a young one alone, be on the lookout for other young ones. If there is a genuine problem, its siblings would be in distress as well.

Adult female in breeding season

If ever you take in an adult female into captivity in the breeding season, ensure she is not lactating. She may have young ones that are completely dependent on her and will perish without her.