Rats and mice are often referred to as vermin but in our view all wild animals have an equal right to help when things go wrong. It's important to note, there are no legal obstacles to rescuing and rehabilitating these animals, though not every rescue will be willing to treat them. 


Rodents most often need help when attacked by cats or when their nests are disturbed, for example during gardening work. 


When to rescue

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Any animal caught by a cat

They must receive antibiotic treatment within a few hours or the bacteria on the cats teeth may cause fatal septicaemia.


An animal that can be easily approached

These are naturally very wary animals so if they cannot or do not try to run away they're 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. 


When to take other action

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A lone baby out of the nest

This is a dangerous situation for the baby but it may be that Mum has dropped them while moving nests. Observe from a distance (ideally indoors) for an hour and contact a rescue for help if Mum doesn't return. 


A nest of babies with no Mum

Mothers often spend time away from their young and will flee if the nest is disturbed. Cover the nest and leave the area so Mum feels safe to return. 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 little rodents. 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 either pick them up in it so they can't see your hand, or try to “shuffle” them gently into a box turned on its side. 


Most small mammals can be successfully contained in a cardboard or shoe box. Make sure the lid is secured to prevent escape and that there are sufficient air holes. A towel or cloth on the bottom of the box will make the animal 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 they want to.


NB: this advice is designed to cover the first couple of hours or overnight. If you are not able to get the animal to a wildlife rescue promptly, please at least speak to someone by phone for further advice about care beyond this period. If you want to care for the casualty yourself rather than taking it to a rescue, please read the information here.


You can find rescues in your area by putting your location into the search facility at directory.helpwildlife.co.uk. If you are unsure whether to intervene or you have difficulty finding a rescue who can help, you can contact us via helpwildlife.co.uk/helpdesk and our volunteers will give you advice and support.