Code of Practice

Housing | back

  1. Housing
    1. Objective
      1. To ensure that wildlife undergoing rehabilitation are housed in a way that prevents injury or escape, minimises stress, maintains safe levels of hygiene and allows natural behaviours.
    2. Standards
      1. Enclosures must be constructed and maintained in such a way to prevent injury and escape and exclude predators and pests.
      2. Enclosures must be appropriate for the species, and the types of injuries, stage of development and/or stage of rehabilitation of the animal being housed.
      3. Enclosures must maintain habitat elements appropriate to the species and the condition of the animal (e.g. perching, nest boxes, resting forks, wading pools, suitable substrate).
      4. Enclosures housing wildlife not subject to critical care must allow for the display of natural behaviour and support rehabilitation for survival in the wild.
      5. All enclosures must meet the dimensions (relevant to the species in care) described in Appendix A of the code. These dimensions are regarded as the minimum standards that must be met.
      6. All housing, including enclosures, nest boxes, bedding, substrate, perching, food and water bowls must be kept in a clean and hygienic condition.
      7. Cleaning and disinfection regimes must be appropriate for the species and excreta must not be allowed to accumulate excessively in any enclosure, substrate or bedding.
      8. Species that are dangerous to humans, venomous or those known to carry life threatening zoonoses must be securely contained to prevent unauthorised human contact and exposure to domestic animals.
      9. Animals showing signs of infection or disease must be quarantined from other wildlife in care. Animals subject to quarantine must be housed in such a way as to prevent transmission of disease or infection to other animals.
      10. Wildlife in care must not be exposed to other native or domestic animals where the exposure is likely to result in unnecessary familiarisation or stress.
        For example: native wildlife and a domestic dog, cat or recognised predator sharing the same space or having contact.
      11. Wildlife in care must not be exposed to odours or noises that are likely to result in unnecessary familiarisation, stress or illness. Use of certain aerosols and insect repellents can be toxic to animals in care and should be avoided.
        For example: cigarette smoke in an enclosed area or loud music.
      12. Incompatible species or individuals must not be housed in the same enclosure, or within sight of each other.
    3. Guidelines
      1. Enclosures should be designed to allow easy cleaning, easy access and minimise handling of wildlife.
      2. Faeces and uneaten food should be removed daily (more frequently if needed) and disposed of in such a way as to limit access by other animals and the potential spread of disease.
      3. Food and water containers should be cleaned with a suitable (non-toxic to wildlife) disinfectant daily.
      4. Household and animal-related cleaning implements and products should be kept separate to avoid cross contamination.
      5. Wildlife husbandry items should be cleaned in areas separate to those used to wash domestic or household items.
      6. Rehabilitators should avoid mixed-species housing whenever possible and, when mixed-species housing is necessary (such as in pre-release bird aviaries), ensure that only compatible species are housed together. Any new additions to an existing aviary, colony or mob should be monitored closely for the first few days to ensure their safety and the safety of other individuals.
      7. Animals that naturally form social groups in the wild should be housed with animals of an appropriate age and gender of the same species where possible. When animals are housed collectively, they should be individually identifiable.
      8. Potential stressors that could have a detrimental health effect on an animal should be identified and removed from an enclosure. Ongoing or prolonged stress can result in reduced growth rates, weight loss, abnormal behaviour (e.g. self-mutilation), inhibited recovery and increased mortalities. More subtle and psychological signs of stress could be repetitive stress-related behaviour (stereotypical behaviour) such as pacing.

        Note: If carers are in any doubt of an animal’s capacity to deal with the unavoidable stresses of coming into care, or there are unknown causes for unusual behaviour, they should consult experienced carers for that species. Unmanaged issues relating to ongoing or prolonged stress while in care will compound the original health problems, making a full recovery less likely. Similarly, communication and cooperation between wildlife rehabilitators and rehabilitation organisations are encouraged to maximise the use of available appropriate housing and facilitate the housing of social species into groups at an appropriate stage and/or age prior to release, where possible.

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