One thing nearly all Australians share is a love for our native birds and animals. But as we face increasing threats from climate damage, our wildlife suffers. There is often less water, habitat destruction, and more heat stress and injuries. 

You can be a wildlife hero. This guide shows you how to support wildlife after bushfires and in heatwaves. You can also read our guide on supporting animals through floods and storms. 

How to spot injured wildlife after a bushfire

Even months after a fire, injured animals can still be found. They may have burns to their paws or tails that are not immediately obvious. They could also be suffering from infection, smoke inhalation, dehydration or starvation. 

Signs to look for:

  1. Animals are easier to approach than normal. 
  2. They appear lethargic, lazy and tired.
  3. They move slowly or appear to be in pain (salivating/panting).
  4. Kangaroos  not moving away when approached. 
  5. Koalas, flying-foxes and other wildlife commonly seen in trees staying on the ground. 
  6. Possums or wombats out during daylight. 

A kangaroo standing in front of a burned landscapeBushfire aftermath. Photo credit: Annette Ruzicka. 

How to help injured or sick wildlife:

  1. Check the area for other threats to you and the animal. Don't put yourself or wildlife in further danger. 
  2. Do not approach wildlife. Assess the animal from a distance to help keep them calm and safe. Unless you are trained and confident in handling injured or sick wildlife you can harm them further. 
  3. Secure the scene without approaching the animal. For example, lock up pets and place cones near the roadway. 
  4. If it is a flying fox or bat, call a vaccinated bat carer right away. Your state or territory animal rescue will have contact details. 
  5. Call your regional wildlife rescue hotline to provide assistance and additional rescue advice.

If you spot a deceased animal on the road and it hasn't been spray painted with a marking, this means its pouch has unlikely been checked for joeys. Please call your local wildlife carer for assistance. 

Tips for helping wildlife survive extreme heat and drought

There are key signs an animal may be suffering from heat stress. They might be seeking shade, and appear lethargic, unresponsive and open mouthed (salivating or panting). 

How to help heat-stressed wildlife:

  1. Secure your pets (dogs on lead when outdoors and keep cats indoors, especially at night).
  2. Put water out. If an animal is showing signs of heat stress, place water nearby and consider leaving a sprinkler or mister on.
  3. Do not approach wildlife. This can stress them further.
  4. Monitor recovery from a safe distance. 
  5. If recovery signs are not evident within a few hours call for wildlife rescue and advice.

Possums are particularly vulnerable to heat stress. If they are struggling, they may come out from their hollows or roof cavities and appear lethargic or unresponsive. 

If you see possums out during the day, they could be heat stressed, injuring or orphaned. Monitor the possum from a safe distance and call your local wildlife rescue hotline for advice or rescue. 

Close-up photo of a possum

Need to call for help? 

Save your local wildlife rescue hotline number in your phone: 


1300 094 737

VIC Wildlife Victoria

1300 094 535


1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)

Wildcare Aust

(07) 5527 2444


(02) 6287 8100

WA Wildcare Helpline

(08) 9474 9055


1300 477 722

Fauna Rescue SA

(08) 8289 0896

TAS Wildlife Management Branch

1300 827 727

NT Wildcare

(08) 8988 6121

Many rescue organisations encourage people to carry a torch, hand sanitiser, gloves, towel, pillow cases and cardboard boxes in their car in case you need to help injured wildlife and rescue responders. 

A close up photo of an echidnaPhoto credit: Annette Ruzicka.

Brendan Sydes

National Biodiversity Policy Adviser