& Management / UK
Wildlife Casualty Management/ Techniques:
This information should be read in association with Wildlife Casualty Accommodation
which contains background information together with links to the Electronic Library and
Organisations (UK Contacts). The related Species pages contain similar linkages.
||This page has been prepared for the "UK
Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is designed for the
needs of the following species: Halichoerus
grypus - Grey seal, Phoca
vitulina - Common seal.
These species are within the family Phocidae.
- Heavy-duty plastic transport kennel (e.g. Vari Kennel, Sky Kennel) or wooden
- Specially built aluminium cages may be required for larger individuals. These may be
top-opening or have vertically sliding doors, and should be designed with lift points
suitable for attachment of a winch (D60).
- Should be sufficiently large to allow the animal to lie down stretched out, raise its
head, and turn around. (D60)
- Top opening containers are preferred. (D14)
- Strong wire cage may be used for pups. (D14)
- Good provision of ventilation (essential as seals are prone to hyperthermia
- Ideally ventilation openings should be small enough to prevent the occupant from biting
at the container (risking tooth/mouth injury). (D60)
- Ventilation openings should be large enough to allow the carers to wet the animal
periodically if required.(D60)
- Towels for bedding.
- Strong external handles/grips for carrying.
- Door/lid should be securely fastened to prevent escape.
- For transportation on water, a seal may be placed in a stretcher with long poles and the
poles suspended between the tubes (sides) of an inflatable boat (RIB). (D14)
Short term (Immediate/Emergency) Accommodation:
- Quiet, dimly lit area.
- Good ventilation but free from draughts.
- Cleanable surfaces.
- Floor insulation provided by rubber matting or layers or towels/blankets.
- Heat source should be available; this is most likely to be needed for very young or
- It is important when choosing emergency accommodation to give proper consideration to
the safe handling and later removal of the animal from the area.
Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation:
Individual intensive care pens / pens for orphaned seals:
- Strong construction.
- Able to be flooded to about 0.2-0.4m
- 1.5 by 1.8m approximate dimensions, walls solid, 1.0m high.
- 2 metre by 2 metre fibreglass pens, walls 0.6m high. (J23.28.w3)
- All surfaces finished with glazed ceramic tiles.
- Floor covered with a pallet of smooth moulded plastic slats.
- Cleaned daily by thorough rinsing using a pressure hose
- Good ventilation without draughts.
- Localised heat source (e.g. infra red lamp) should be available if the pup's temperature
is low. Alternatively the room should be heated up to approximately 15 degrees centigrade.
- Seal pups are prone to hyperthermia and should not be exposed to excessive heat.
Larger pens for providing access to water and teaching self-feeding:
- 3.4 by 2.1m approximate dimensions (J3.134.w3)
(pool area at least 5 square metres surface area). (D28)
- Enclosure walls must be robust: steel or robust wood (D28);
all surfaces finished with glazed ceramic tiles. (J3.134.w3)
- Able to be filled to a depth of at least 0.5m with water.
- Sloping to dry haul-out area. (D28)
- Suitable for group housing of small numbers of pups
- (J3.134.w3, D28)
Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent)
- Large pen, with pool area at least 16 square metres surface area, plus haul-out area or
- Water depth of at least 1.4m to allow seals to float hanging vertically.
- Visual barrier to protect from the sight of humans walking past
- Pinnipeds can be kept in fresh water in the short term, although in the longer term
increased incidence of eye and skins lesions has been reported. Provision of sea (salt)
water is preferred for longer term care. (J23.28.w3,
- Whilst seals can tolerate a variation of water quality in the short term, in the longer
term poor quality water can lead to health problems (skin and eye lesions) and increased
skin and eye lesions has been
|Appropriate Use (?)
Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation is designed for the
short-term care of individual animals or groups of animals, particularly during treatment
- Short-term (Immediate / Emergency) Accommodation is designed to be used
for a short period of time only, e.g. prior to examination, to allow basic first-aid to be
carried out, while an animal requires intensive care, or while specialist accommodation is
- The most important requirements are warmth, quiet and dark or dim lighting.
Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation facilities for
wildlife are generally larger and more complex than accommodation designed only for
- Hospital accommodation is commonly constructed with hygiene and easy cleaning as the
main considerations, but the specific needs of the patients, including behavioural needs,
should also be considered.
- In general this type of accommodation is not suitable for animals which require daily
- A period in rehabilitation accommodation is important when an animal has been
hospitalised for some time.
- Outdoor enclosures must be constructed to be safe for the occupant, escape-proof and
provide shelter from inclement weather and excessive sunshine.
- Sufficient space must be provided in group-housing accommodation for animals to maintain
normal distances between one another.
- Clean out individual enclosures daily.
- Pens should be disinfected on a regular basis (not whilst the seal is present) and
between changes of occupant. (J23.28.w3,
- If an animal is maintained in long-term care accommodation for a substantial period of
time, the animal must have some form of environmental enrichment to encourage natural
behaviours (possibly through food presentation techniques, cage furniture that encourages
activity, or play items that would be found in its native environment). This is to reduce
the risk of boredom as the animal becomes accustomed to its enclosure and the possible
development of behavioural problems. (V.w6)
|Complications/ Limitations / Risk
- Seals are strong and good at escaping if the construction of transport containers or
accommodation is not sufficiently robust and doors/gates appropriately fastened.
- Seals are prone to hyperthermia if ventilation is inadequate; this is particularly
likely to occur in transport containers
- Emaciated individuals and very young pups may become hypothermic if heating is not
- Large quantities of water are required for housing other than emergency/intensive care
housing and initial individual enclosures for hand-reared pups.
|Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
- Sufficient water supply, preferably sea water.
|Expertise level / Ease of Use
- Construction expertise is required for all except emergency accommodation.
- Construction of facilities suitable for the care, hand-rearing and rehabilitation of
seals is expensive.
|Legal and Ethical Considerations
- Accommodation for casualty wild animals should be designed to minimise the stress on the
animal and to minimise the risk of injury to that animal.
- A wild animal in captivity is protected under the same welfare legislation as domestic
animals, e.g. Protection
of Animals Acts 1911-2000; under this legislation it is an offence to treat
a captive animal cruelly or to cause it unnecessary suffering.
- This includes an obligation to provide proper attention and care.
- The keeper has a duty to keep all wildlife casualties in a fit manner, in accommodation
of a size which allows reasonable movement and with an environment suitable for its normal
way of life.
- Accommodation which does not fulfil the physiological and psychological requirements of
the animal and results in an inadequate level of fitness at the time of release may
seriously compromise the survival ability of that animal. Release of an animal which is
unfit may be an offence under the Abandonment
of Animals Act 1960. (J35.147.w1,
- Risks to human health, both physical and risk of zoonotic illness must be minimised: Health
and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974.
- See: Legislation
relating to Wildlife Casualties.
||Becki Lawson and Suzanne Boardman
- J3.134.w3, J23.28.w3,