Sometimes I encounter animals which are obvisouly wounded or sick (either visible open wounds, broken bones or else because they miss the typical flee reaction for the species or hardly move at all). Let's take a concrete example: in grass when toads feel threatened they tend to crawl as deep as possible into the grass making it hard to spot them. So when I'm mowing it has happened I accidentally cut off part of the skin of their back, or part of a leg etc. I only have some basic medical knowledge, so in case of more severe wounds usually I can only guess what would cause the least suffering: killing the toad immediately or let it be. Assuming it's not practical/possible to take the animal to a veterinarian, and a proper way of killing the animal immediately is available.

Are there some general guidelines which can be used to decide what to do? I realize this might be a pretty general question and hard to answer, but I'm also interested in particular cases/examples, no matter what species.

  • I'm not really qualified to answer, but reptiles are often able to surive wounds that would be very bad news for mammals, like limbs bitten off. Sep 24, 2020 at 15:53

3 Answers 3


If you are not trained in animal care, there are not going to be any useful guidelines. The only thing to advise would be to take the injured animal to an animal protection centre (if you can do that safely) where they will have qualified specialists who will be able to make that call.

  • 2
    While that's clearly the ideal response I think it would be fair to consider the case where you can't transport it at all, in a reasonable timescale, or without causing further suffering (and equally can't fetch help).
    – Chris H
    Sep 21, 2020 at 18:02

The simplest general rule is, get yourself acquainted with the laws and regulations concerning killing wildlife where you live and follow them. The fact an animal seems mortally injured (it might or not be so) does not automatically give anyone the legal right to 'end its suffering'.

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    For the specific toad example, it is perfectly possible that, while accidentally wounding the toad (a native species, I assume) has no legal consequences, killing it would be illegal no matter what. Oct 12, 2020 at 20:49

All animals have different needs in order to survive so it's almost impossible to give general guidelines. Nobody would put down a human for having a broken leg, but for animals that always have to walk to survive a broken leg is a death sentence, even stud horses that no longer race, you would think they would have come up with a way for a horse to recover in that situation, but I don't believe they have

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