& Management / UK
Wildlife Casualty Management / Techniques:
information should be read in association with Wildlife Casualty Release 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: Coronella
austriaca - Smooth snake, Natrix
natrix - Grass snake, Vipera
berus - Common viper, Anguis
fragilis - Slow worm, Lacerta
agilis - Sand lizard, Lacerta
vivipara - Viviparous lizard.
These species are from the families Colubridae,
(Sea turtles are not commonly presented as wildlife casualties in the UK and their
requirements have not been included in this module. If a live turtle requires rescue
and rehabilitation, expert assistance should be sought from an organisation with
appropriate expertise and facilities: Sea
Life Centres, zoos (which may be contacted via the Federation
of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland) and large aquaria.))
- A period of acclimatisation in an outdoor enclosure may be advisable for animals which
have been in care for more than a short period.
- Must be able to recognise, catch, manipulate, consume and digest its natural diet.
- Must be capable of normal locomotion (movement) and have sufficient fitness for
- Must have adequate sensory ability (sight, smell, hearing, touch).
- Must be of an appropriate weight for the age, sex, and time of year for that
- Must show appropriate wariness of humans and domestic animals.
- Must have satisfactory scales.
- Release where found or in the nearest suitable habitat at a safe position.(B151,
- The habitat must contain appropriate prey, shelter etc. as required by the species. (P24.233.w11)
Timing of release:
- Release as soon as possible, particularly because reptiles frequently do not eat once
taken into care.
- Do not release in severe winter weather.
Type of release:
- Hard release is generally employed for these species.
|Appropriate Use (?)
- The individual animal must, at the the time of release, be healthy, have a reasonable
level of fitness and be able to fend for itself in the wild.
- Diurnal species should be released in the morning, giving them a full day to explore and
look for food and shelter before nightfall.
- Nocturnal species should be released at night.
- Release should preferably take place during a period of fine weather.
|Complications/ Limitations / Risk
- Released animals may be at risk of contracting disease if there is an ongoing disease
problem in the wild population at the time of release.
- The wild population may be at risk from novel pathogens (disease agents) carried by a
rehabilitated animal. These pathogens may pose the greatest threat to free-ranging
populations if the animal is to be released at a site distant from its original location
therefore increasing the likelihood of spread of disease. It is important to remember that
the casualty wild animal may have acquired disease from domestic animals, other wildlife
casualties or humans whilst in captivity.
|Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
|Expertise level / Ease of Use
- Knowledge of the natural history of the species concerned is required for correct
decision making regarding a suitable release site.
- Costs of appropriate health screening.
|Legal and Ethical Considerations
- The potential risks to the individual being released and to the wild population into
which it is being released (also to domestic animals) must be considered before release is
- The potential risk to humans and pets from habituated/tame individuals must be
- An offence may be committed under Section 1 of the Abandonment
of Animals Act 1960 if a released rehabilitated animal does not have a
reasonable chance of survival (i.e. a chance similar to its non-rehabilitated
- This may include release at an unsuitable site, in the wrong territory, unfit, not
having learned to hunt, at the wrong time of year etc.
||Becki Lawson and Suzanne Boardman