Wildlife FAQs

Do you have a question about a wild animal in your garden or area? Check out the most frequently asked questions about wildlife below or if you'd rather speak to someone, our animal helpline team can advise on 03000 999 999.

In the vast majority of cases the birds are able to free themselves as swans are incredibly powerful and more than capable of breaking any ice that forms around them. Occasionally, if temperatures are unusually low and the water is very still, like that found in a pond, they may become stuck. However, this is very rare and normally the birds will simply break the ice themselves and fly off when they are ready to.

If you are worried about a swan, or any waterfowl, during icy weather please monitor the bird from a distance. If the bird is there for a number of hours without moving, or appears sick or injured in any way, then please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 in the first instance.

Please do not attempt to free the bird yourself by venturing on to frozen waterways or by throwing objects in an attempt to break up the ice. This could cause serious injury to the bird and put your own safety at risk.

If there is a real concern we will contact the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for assistance. We work very closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and our trained animal rescue officers are able to assess the severity of each situation and if we need any support from other agencies.


We often find that birds who are on the ground and can’t fly are fledglings. These are young birds who are still learning to fly and shouldn’t be disturbed.

You will see a lot of fledglings in the spring and summer months, as this is when most birds breed, don’t be alarmed as they are still being cared for by their parents.

Our animal helpline operators will be able to determine if a bird is in fact a fledgling who is learning to fly. We advise that fledglings are left alone unless they appear to be injured or are in danger. If you are unsure call us on 03000 999 999.

Should a bird be injured we will be able to send an animal rescue officer out to help. The officer will be able to assess the injury and determine if we can rehabilitate the bird. If a bird is severely injured sometimes the kindest option is to put the bird to sleep to prevent further suffering.

Birds that we rescue are taken to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross to be rehabilitated before being released back into the wild once they are fit and healthy.

It can be tempting to want to help a young bird who may look helpless and we know people have the best intentions at heart but this is natural and their parents will be looking over them nearby. Most young birds will leave the nest once fully feathered, but unable to fly.

If a bird is in a potentially dangerous place such as a busy path or near a road then we would suggest moving it to a safe place nearby, where the parents can still hear their young.

If, after watching from a safe distance, you still believe the fledgling has been abandoned then please contact our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 for advice.

We receive many calls each year about ducklings and are often able to return them to their natural habitat.

Although ducklings are taught from a young age to fend for themselves, their mothers are very maternal and usually stay with them until they are fully feathered and can fend for themselves.

If the ducklings don’t appear to be with their mother or are in danger, then please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 as we will be able to take them to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre to be care for until they are ready to be released back into the wild.

It is illegal to remove a bird nest that is in use or under construction. You will be able to remove the nest once the nesting season is over. However the length of this season will depend on the species of bird. Birds nest throughout Spring and Summer and some birds will nest more than once during that time.

An artificial nesting box will help you control where birds nest the following year. You can find online guides on how to make these, or buy them from the RSPB or many garden centres.

If you’re unsure please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

We are aware that seagulls often become aggressive when trying to protect their young or nests. All species of gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act which prevents anyone from injuring or killing them and damaging or destroying an active nest. Once nesting season is finished the gulls will move on.

However should the birds pose a risk to public safety or health you should contact your local council as they can deal with each case on an individual basis to determine if the gulls need to be removed or humanely destroyed.

As a temporary measure we would suggest using an open umbrella as a deterrent when leaving your property if they are nesting near your home.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, if you do find one out during the day it is most likely unwell or struggling to find food. You should give us a call as we’ll be able to assess whether it needs to be taken to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre to be rehabilitated.

If you find a hedgehog at any point during the winter months give our animal helpline a call on 03000 999 999 as hedgehogs should be in hibernation at this time of year. Our National Wildlife Rescue Centre cares for lots of hedgehogs every year who were discovered outside during the cold weather.

Rescued hedgehogs are released once they have reached a suitable weight of over 600g and the weather has warmed up to a consistent night time temperature of over four degrees centigrade.

Our advice is to leave fawns (baby deer) alone, unless they are showing signs of distress and calling out, and return in 24 hours as the mother will likely have moved it. If the fawn has not been moved at this stage but is still not calling or showing any signs of distress, the mother has probably come back and fed it.

To be sure a fawn has been abandoned it must be observed from a distance for at least 12 hours. A fawn that has been truly abandoned will get up from its hiding place and start calling for its mother. If you believe it has been abandoned please give our animal helpline a call on 03000 999 999.

Fawns are left alone from a very early age as their mothers go off foraging. They are left curled up under bushes or in long grasses to keep hidden from potential predators but are often disturbed by dogs and humans.

Deer can usually get away from built up areas and quite often just need a gate left open in the evening for them to slip out. In busier areas you have to be very careful not to chase a deer out onto a road as it could cause an accident.

If you’re concerned that the deer might run onto a busy road please give our animal helpline a call on 03000 999 999.

Each year we urge the public to be aware of injured seals and orphaned pups who might need our assistance.

We are often contacted about seal pups that are healthy but have been abandoned by their mothers because someone has disturbed them.

Our National Wildlife Rescue Centre typically cares for over 100 injured or orphaned seal pups each year.

Anyone concerned about a seal pup, including any who appear injured, are found on public beaches or are spotted in unusual places such as non-breeding areas, should call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 before approaching them.

It is very important not to touch any seals that you find on a beach.

Please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 if you find a grounded bat as healthy bats can usually take off from the ground so it’s possible that it needs a little help.

Injured bats are taken to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

It’s not unusual for a pet to bring an unwanted visitor into your home. Quite often the animal will be unharmed however you should always give us a call as there may be puncture wounds that you cannot see. It’s always safer for us to give the animal a once over to be sure there is no hidden injury before it gets on its way. 

If you discover an injured wild rabbit or hare then please phone our animal helpline on 03000 999 999. If it appears uninjured please leave it alone and treat it like any other wild animal.

Foxes should be deterred safely using sonic devices which give out a noise that is inaudible to humans but unpleasant for foxes and can be purchased online or from some garden centres.

We would also discourage anyone from leaving out food for foxes.

Foxes are scavengers and are more active at night, that’s why you will rarely see them out during the day.

If you are looking for advice on bees or would like to contact a beekeeper you should visit