& 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: Crocidura
russula - Greater white-toothed shrew, Crocidura
suaveolus - Lesser white-toothed shrew, Neomys
fodiens - Eurasian water shrew, Sorex
araneus - Eurasian common shrew, Sorex
coronatus - French shrew, Sorex
minutus - Eurasian pygmy shrew
These species are within the family Soricidae.
- A secure container is required.
- e.g. a small plastic aquarium with a mesh-ventilated lid incorporating a trap-door.
- Plastic ice cream tub or margarine container with small holes in the lid for
- Biscuit tin, with small holes in the lid for ventilation.
- Jam-jar, with small holes in the lid for ventilation.
- One or two pieces of kitchen roll to line the floor of the container
- N.B. Cardboard boxes are not suitable due to the high risk of
escape through holes gnawed in the box.
Short term (Immediate/Emergency) Accommodation:
- Adequate ventilation is required but it is
important to ensure that shrews cannot extend the holes by gnawing and escape.
- Escape-proof box such as a small plastic aquarium with a plastic mesh
lid, preferably with a trapdoor in the lid for ease of changing food and water with
minimal risk of the occupant escaping.
- Sand or shavings are suitable as a substrate.
- Absorbent substrate to soak up urine.
- Provide bedding/burrowing material of sufficient depth for the shrew to burrow through.
- Nest box or other hideaway is essential, just big enough for the shrew to curl up in (B10.39.w28)
- Cardboard tubes e.g. from kitchen roll provides a hiding place and, with both ends
blocked, facilitates transfer from one container to another (B151).
Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation:
- Escape-proof well ventilated container:
- e.g. glass aquarium or small plastic aquarium with a plastic mesh lid, preferably with a
trapdoor in the lid for ease of changing food and water with minimal risk of the occupant
- Provide sufficient suitable substrate for burrowing e.g. sand or shavings.
- Nest box or other hideaway is essential
- Cardboard tubes e.g. from kitchen roll provide a hiding place.
- Objects such as rocks may be provided for hiding under.
Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent)
- Commercially available rack-mounted rodent cages with solid bottoms and
sides, aquaria with a wire top, topless tins, wooden boxes etc. may be used.
- Substrate should be provided with sufficient depth for the shrew to
burrow through. Suitable litters include softwood wood chips, crumbled moss, forest floor
litter, loose earth, dried leaves or mixtures of these; sand several centimetres deep with
moss/dry leaf litter over this has also been used successfully.
- Nestbox or other hideaway is essential. Nestbox should be just large
enough for the shrew to curl up in. This may be e.g.:
- a wooden box with a single entrance hole near the bottom;
- an inverted flower pot;
- a glass jar (open end down);
- a tin.
- Provide soft hay or freshly cut grass for lining the nest box.
- Place food and water containers, and nestbox in corners rather than the centre of the
- 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 stereotypies (abnormal repetitive movements such as pacing etc.) indicative
of behavioural problems. (V.w6)
|Appropriate Use (?)
- 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.
- Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation is designed for the
short-term care of individual animals or groups of animals, particularly during treatment
- 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.
- Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation facilities for
wildlife are generally larger and more complex than accommodation designed only for
- 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.
- Good ventilation is important for maintenance of coat condition (J23.15.w1).
- Food and water containers and the nest box preferentially should be
placed in corners or along the sides, not in the middle of the cage, as shrews generally
tend to avoid going into the centre of the cage unless forced to do so. (J23.15.w1).
- Substrate should be provided with sufficient depth for the shrew to
- A nestbox retreat, just big enough for the shrew to curl up in, is
- Cardboard tubes e.g. from kitchen roll not only provide a hiding place but also, with
both ends blocked, facilitate transfer from one container to another (B151).
|Complications/ Limitations / Risk
- Shrews kept in covered containers with poor ventilation rapidly become
wet/oily and unkempt (J23.15.w1).
- Shredded wool and cotton are not appropriate as substrates as they may
become tangled around shrews.
- Shredded paper is not suitable as a substrate because its rustling
appears to frighten shrews.
- Adequate ventilation is essential.
- Ventilation holes must be designed to prevent shrews being able to
enlarge them through gnawing and escape.
|Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
- Small plastic aquaria and glass aquaria are widely available from pet stores.
|Expertise level / Ease of Use
- No particular expertise is required for accommodation construction.
- Materials required are readily available and not particularly 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.
- An offence may be committed under article 14 of the Wildlife
and Countryside Act 1981 if a species on Schedule 9 of that Act, or a species
not ordinarily resident in the UK is allowed to escape from accommodation in which it is
- See: Legislation
relating to Wildlife Casualties.
||Becki Lawson and Suzanne Boardman