It is always disappointing to receive for care species that have been in illegal or poor care
before being surrendered.
Since December of last year we have taken in three kangaroo
joeys; a furred, stunted, ringtail possum, a brushtail possum and several birds. I hope these
incoming don’t indicate 2015 is to be a bad year for the ‘illegals.’
The above-mentioned ringtail was very seriously dehydrated.
On arrival her core temperature was down and it was obvious her nutritional requirements had not been met. Weighing 60gm, it was estimated she was probably not much more than half of what she
should have been. For such a young ringtail her condition was critical and despite large
amounts of fluids and managing to get her core temperature to somewhere near normal we
were unable to save her. She had been picked up in January [no specific date] and handed
over on 10th February, I was told she was beginning to lap but preferred to walk through her
formula. From the emaciated body size – all bones of the vertebrate were clearly visible.
Her fur was matted and sticky over the entire body. It was obvious very little of any liquid
offered had been ingested. Her skin was also dry and infected from the dried milk residue.
The brushtail, a 165gm male, was also very thin and very underweight, suffering
hypothermia and unable to stand, the vet thought perhaps head trauma could be causing the
inability to stand although it was also considered maybe due to lack of nutrition, fluids and
warmth. This proved to be the case as after fluids given under the skin and several hours on
a heat pad his body had warmed to much closer to normal and he was able to suckle
formula slowly. After 24hrs he was suckling eagerly. The following day he was able to stand
without falling or trembling and shortly after a feed cautiously and very slowly walked a short
distance along my arm. Fluids were given under the skin for 3 days. His eyes were sunken,
also very dry and sore, they were treated with Lacri Lube and after 24hrs were bright and
One of the kangaroo joeys was in a reasonable condition although stunted and a little thin
and ‘untidy’ looking. He had been handed to the family who had brought him to us only
24hrs earlier as the original finders no longer wanted him. The new carers’ didn’t really want
him and had decided to release him with the mob that lived in the forest near their property
but after talking to WRIN member Tony decided to take his advice and ring for information
first. After a long phone conversation they began to realise releasing as they had planned
was not an option. I was told he had been picked up 6-8 months earlier by a relative. I
offered to take him adding I had several other joeys who would become his mates. Their
response was to say they would think about it.
The phone rang a few hours later with the news they were on their way. On arrival the joey
was tipped out of the rescue bag loaned by Tony and up he stood, after a moment or two he
slowly ventured around and then made straight for the lounge room window. I grabbed a
pouch and said I would try to get him into it. ‘He’s never been in a pouch’ I was told. A large
pouch was chosen and placed close to his head, a short hesitation then straight in he went
head first much to the surprise of those watching, I then placed him in a basket where he
shuffled and stretched, placed his head in the pouch and I swear I heard a long satisfied
sigh. Another shock came moments later after my comment I would now offer him a bottle
of formula only to be told he had been weaned for a long time. My biggest shock came later
in the day when I discovered the ‘he’ was actually a ‘she.’ Hoppy was changed to ‘Happy
Girl’ and is now doing beautifully, she has joined the little mob in care but favours one
named Cling who also thinks HG is a good feeding and sleeping mate.
Cling arrived several weeks before HG, he was lucky in that we were able to convince the
callers to hand him over only a day after he had been found. He had been seen in a
paddock [mum was found later, she had been shot and was dead]. When I received the call
about this joey I asked if they would please place it into a pillow case or wrap gently in a
blanket and to not hand it around to any family members, ‘too late for that’ I was told, ‘he’s
already met all the kids and dogs and we’ve put him in a cage in the middle of the back
yard.’ When we arrived we were pointed in the joeys direction and discovered the cage was
a piece of ringlock fencing simply pulled into a circle and tied with a piece of wire and left in
the open in the back yard. This joey was terrified of everything. Over a period of a few days
he settled into his new situation reasonably well although it took a couple of weeks before
trust was fully established. On arrival he weighed 3.8kg.
Less than 24hrs after this arrival there was a call for another joey, still in its mums pouch –
mum had been shot – the callers were asked to gently remove the joey and place it in a
pillow case then leave it comfortable until we arrived a short time later. This latest arrival
was christened Clang – and if you’re as old as me and had children in the early ‘70’s I’m
sure you will know where those names came from. Several other joeys have arrived over
the last couple of months, all except HG are male.
Illegally kept birds have mostly been magpies and parrots, both large and small species.
Some have been at the point of death when surrendered and we were unable to save them,
others fared better and have been released. The most frustrating of these are the birds that
have flight feathers clipped, supposedly to stop them escaping, mostly doesn’t work and
makes our job more difficult as we then have to remove the damaged feathers and wait for
the new ones to grow. The most frustrating and ‘anger making’ illegal birds this season were
sibling, not long hatched, Bush-stone Curlews, one of our endangered species. We were
told they had been picked up by two boys then given to a young girl who kept them for two
days before deciding perhaps she should do something with them other than stand looking
at them in their plastic box. They had been identified by checking bird books.
I had expected to be presented with a pair of lapwing chicks and was more than shocked
when the birds proved to be curlews. One was near death and didn’t make it for more than a
very short time after arrival despite fluids under the skin and placing under a heat lamp. The
sibling was still standing, it was also given fluids and swallowed small amounts of food
placed into its mouth. Before long Garry was spending more than 2 hours each day finding
and gathering natural food from all over our area, not easy when the days are very hot.
Eventually we were able to purchase worms from Bendigo – thanks must go to Cheryl and
Ken who did the purchasing and met Garry part way with their special cargo. The local
collecting still went on for some time while we watched the bird grow taller and taller and still
taller until it was almost full size and would spend much of its time roaming the aviary
gathering its own food. What a most glorious creature it was. Arrangements were made for
the single bird to be put into a breeding programme rather than risking a solitary release,
even though we had locations where birds were known to be and regularly seen.
I believe it is part of the ‘job’ of WRIN and shelter operators to continually put out the
message to the public that not only is it illegal to keep any wild native species that may be
found, but it is in its best interests to ensure it is placed with others of its kind in a place
where it will receive proper care with those others, with the end result being a release back
into a suitable spot in its natural habitat. If you have any ideas on how to go about informing
the public please let us know.