Good practice examples

Below are examples of good practice.  These examples are contributed by experts involved in the veterinary care of wildlife in Scotland which could be adopted and followed where practical:

Protocols have been put in place and are followed strictly:



  • In wildlife rehabilitation the term ‘triage’ is used to mean the process by which a decision is made to treat or to euthanase a wild animal.
  • Wild animals should be isolated until they can be properly examined and triaged.
  • Efficient triage will frequently result in euthanasia, which may be the most appropriate welfare option for animals that are not suited for treatment and eventual release to the wild.
  • Effective triage also helps to prevent extended periods in captivity and prolonged antibiotic use, both of which are inappropriate for individual animals and risk promotion of AMR.
  • Triage should help to prevent spread of infectious diseases, including those which must be notified to Defra e.g. avian ‘flu, paramxyovirus infection in feral pigeons.



  • Hygiene and general disinfection measures should be in place to avoid transmission of infections between animals and between animals and staff. This should include, for example, use of dedicated appropriate PPE, footbaths, hand washing and written SOPs for handling different species.
  • Where possible as much species segregation as possible should be in place to reduce the risk of disease transmission and separate predator and prey species. This is best achieved by using dedicated wards for different species and ages of mammals and different classes of birds (for example, raptors, passerines and pigeons).
  • Each animal or group of animals should have its own dedicated pen or enclosure for which there is separate equipment for feeding, handling and cleaning.


Antibiotic stewardship

Efforts must be made to reduce unnecessary antimicrobial usage in all animals including wildlife. As well as adhering to general principles of good antimicrobial stewardship the following points are good practice. 

  • Antimicrobials should only be used following carefully written veterinary SOPs or under direct veterinary supervision.
  • Where written SOPs are in place these must include specific details of the appropriate antimicrobial, at the correct dosage regimen (dose, administration intervals and duration) and must be strictly adhered to.
  • All animals should be weighed to allow accurate dosing.
  • Staff administering antibiotics should be properly trained.
  • The route of administration should be chosen to ensure practicality and ease of administration. Injections that can be given every other day or oral products that can easily be ‘hidden’ in food may be useful.
  • Antibiotics should be used only where absolutely necessary.
  • The choice of antibiotic should ideally be based on culture and sensitivity testing or other microbiological or pathological investigation. Where testing is not possible, empirical first line treatments (for example, penicillin or tetracycline) will usually be appropriate but culture and sensitivity can support the efficacy of the chosen antibiotic and indicate a suitable alternative if required.
  • Antibiotics that are critically important for human health should be avoided in all wildlife.
  • The Cascade must be followed closely when prescribing antibiotics (and all other medicines) for these animals. When prescribing for animals that may enter the food chain, for example deer, game birds and rabbits, special consideration should be given around prescribing and where possible ’do not eat’ tags should be used.

Other Guidance