GUESS WHO’S BEEN SLEEPING WITH MY COMPUTER? – Brenda

Rosie, the first of the burnt wallabies to arrive weighed 4.6kg, the pads on the underside of both feet had been burnt away. Vets had washed her feet and applied wet dressings, her hands had also been treated and strapped; eyelashes and whiskers were also burnt, her fur was singed, especially around the end of her tail. Rosie had then been taken to the Alderson home where Garry and I had picked her up along with her medical treatment chart from the triage area. She was made comfortable in our bedroom so she could be constantly monitored and not frightened by the other animals in care. Exactly one week later [WRIN meeting day] Garry and I again drove to the Alderson’s and this time picked up 2 smaller wallabies, one with badly burnt and blistered feet [3.5kg], the other smaller and not burnt but with a non-fixable leg injury. Although a medical chart was written up for every animal that was taken to the triage area, there were so many animals arriving that records and animals became separated so positive ID’s became impossible.

Ros showed me the feet of the second wallaby and asked what I thought, her pads had been burnt away but the flesh on the underside of the feet was also blistered, particularly on one foot, I said I would give her a few days to see what happened. Wet dressings were done every morning on both burnt wallabies. After 4 or 5 days the wet dressings were discontinued and daily dressings using a specific burns cream [Silvazine] began. I was pleased with their progress, especially Lily’s. After about a week the upper side of the feet of both wallabies developed the same problem, presenting first with Lily. There had been no indication of any problems anywhere other than the underside of the feet, but then I had seen the same thing happen to Icarus, a Black Wallaby treated for burnt feet 12 months earlier. Lily was having her feet flushed one morning – this is done gently but firmly – when an area of furred skin on the upper left side of one foot sloughed away and exposed an area of bare flesh about 1cm x 1cm with pus around the edges, the area was cleansed with saline then treated with a different cream than what was being used for the burnt area, a cortisone based ointment, a mix of antibiotic, anaesthetic and pain reliever and it worked exceptionally well. The same happened to Lily’s other foot and she ended up with 2 large raw areas on the upper side of each foot as well as burns coming out along the outer edges of both feet. Exactly the same thing happened with Rosie. Also at some stage prior to capture but after the initial burns Lily must have stood on a still burning twig that had burnt deeply into the flesh, this had been covered over by the drying off of the burnt flesh over the entire foot and was exposed as we gradually sloughed off the dead and dry burnt skin, what a shock that morning as the dead flesh slowly sloughed away exposing a long weeping jagged burn line beginning on the main toe and extending about a third of the way down the foot, it looked as if someone had pressed a scalpel blade into the flesh and ripped downwards.

The day before Lily arrived I had noticed Rosie was beginning to walk unevenly as though it was painful to walk – what a silly statement when you consider both feet were burnt raw! On examination I found what looked and felt like a corn developing right in the centre of the main toe. The next morning it was off to the vet to have this area checked out. It was diagnosed as a corn but the vet wasn’t sure whether to surgically remove it right then or wait for the burn to heal before opening the foot. I suggested doing it right away rather than waiting several weeks then opening up a freshly healed area and risking infection problems so it was done straight away. The large hole healed over amazingly fast, in less than 48hrs you would hardly know a crater had been gouged out of the flesh and Rosie was obviously feeling much better, so much so that she decided to liberate herself by trying to break out through the bedroom wall.

It was decided a change of scenery was needed and that’s when the computer room was cleared out and the wallabies moved in. Everything that couldn’t be removed was covered with sheets. It was relatively plain sailing for a while, dressings were done daily for 3 weeks, the 14 large towels covering the waterproof sleeping bags and blankets that were covering the floor were changed and washed daily before my helper arrived to hold the sedated wallabies while I did the dressings. Lily was never happy and not long after arriving it became necessary to board up the lower half of the full length window. As more time passed it became obvious that the 2 wallabies were not getting on and we had outbreaks of fighting and even more mess to clean up so the room was laboriously divided in half so each had a separate area, this behavior wasn’t all that unusual as we were dealing with larger animals, nowhere near adult but definitely not pouch babies.

After 3 weeks the dressings were changed to every second day, this went on for about 3 weeks then extended to every third day. Eventually the time between became longer. After about 7 weeks it was decided to leave the feet unwrapped to see what happened. By this time the feet of both wallabies were developing small areas of new grey pad except for the area around where the corn was removed from Rosie’s toe, there was no sign of new pad growth in this area. A concern with leaving the feet uncovered was damage to the fresh new skin which was quite dry and looking really good. It was decided to try an over-the-counter Vitamin A healing ointment to assist in 2 ways, firstly to keep the new skin moist and prevent cracking which would be disastrous and secondly to hopefully assist with new growth. The Ungvita was put on reasonably thickly and the feet covered with gauze then vet wrap, at the second change of this new dressing the Ungvita was applied in a thinner layer and I spent several minutes gently massaging the ointment over all new areas and between the toes, this application and massaging went on at each foot examination, occasionally I would choose to apply a dressing if I thought it necessary.

By now the time required for treating the feet had been reduced from a minimum of 2 hours to about an hour. Soon I began sedating them once a week to give the feet a thorough check over, Lily was never easy to capture but once in my arms was fine, between the 2 of us we developed a routine that I named the ‘capture ballet’ the scenario was exactly the same each time, slow and quiet manouevres culminating in a bottle of formula once in my arms. Rosie allowed herself to be picked up but once in my arms told the world she wasn’t happy with loud screams, growls and meowing, all the time kicking her legs, she was picked up only for sedating. Funnily enough right up until the day of release she would tumble herself into the hanging pouch in her section of the room, she would either lay in bed or stand for her milk [not once did Lily ever get into her pouch voluntarily].

One morning it was obvious that I would no longer be picking up and sedating Rosie to check her feet, she had grown into such a big strong animal weighing almost 7kg that I could no longer hold her securely and there was too much risk she would injure herself – she drew blood on my arms or legs every time without fail. From then on brief checks were done while she lay in bed taking her milk, these checks were mostly accepted with good grace and little, if any, vocalisation.

Several days prior to their release it was becoming obvious that both animals wanted to be gone, their behavior had been changing dramatically over the previous few days, my nights were spent listening to their arguing and banging and worrying that one would attempt to leap into the others area and be injured. It was with mixed feelings that I rang Ros early one morning after very little sleep and said they had to go, preferences would have been another couple of weeks in care. Their stress was showing in a number of ways, one of the most common and obvious – the poo – it was changing from beaut easy to pick up balls to a much softer consistency and a much greater volume, I was now changing the 14 towels at least twice a day, thank heavens for those hot summer days.

The following day they were sedated for the last time and transported back to a safe spot with lots of fresh food, water and nice soft substrate. How Ros Alderson managed all her charges I’ll never know, she had many more burn victims in care plus all the regulars. Lily and Rosie combined with the dozen others in care took all of my time and energy which was made much easier with the assistance of Katja who missed only 2 days of helping with the dressings and feeds of the other animals in care.

 

Rosie, about day 3 after fresh wet dressings applied to hands and feet. Still wearing ID necklace

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All About Diarrhoea

Faeces, poo, droppings, whatever you want to name it, come in a number of consistencies : pellets; toothpaste-like; soft toothpaste; sloppy and liquid. Some joeys pass a few pellets at the start of a bowel action, then faeces of a pasty consistency, finishing with liquid faeces. This is not usually a serious sign. Sometimes it is the result of a stressful episode. Beware! What we may consider to be nothing, could well be a terrifying experience to a young joey, eg particularly noisy and/or disruptive people or animals coming into a quiet room. If outside, a sudden loud or piercing bird call.

Diarrhoea can be put into 2 categories, non-infective ie dietary; overfeeding; bad management; psychological and irritable bowel, and infective, ie bacterial; coccidial; candida or other parasites.

Some joeys will develop diarrhoea if the quantity of formula given is excessive. All joeys vary in the amount of fluids they can consume without causing problems but it has been my experience that more than 20% of bodyweight is ALWAYS too much. The average daily intake should be between 8-15% of bodyweight. If it is more than 15% of bodyweight, beware that diarrhoea may become a problem within 2 or 3 days. It has also been my experience that carers who call for advice rarely believe overfeeding is the cause of diarrhoea.

Bad management is often the reason for diarrhoea.

– Joeys MUST be fed the same quantity at regular intervals. The following are important.

  1. Pinks must be fed 6 times over 24hrs, all feeds equally spaced and all the same quantity. Once there is a covering of fur, the night feed can be eliminated. DO NOT BE IN A RUSH TO CUT OUT THE NIGHT FEED SERIOUS PROBLEMS MAY OCCUR. Make sure you have incorporated the quantity given in the night feed into the day feeds. Five feeds a day then until well grown.
  2. Always feed at the same time each day, consistency in care is critical.
  3. Keep the volume per feed consistent. Always measure the quantity accurately, even the smallest increase can cause diarrhoea in some joeys. To increase the total daily quantity, raise the amount of each feed by no more than about 5%; eg 10ml per feed increase to 10.5ml. Depending on the joey, I often do this to only 1 feed each day so it may take 5 days for the increased amount to be given at each feed, alternately I may increase each feed by 1 or 2 drops at a time. Raising the quantity suddenly will lead to diarrhoea in most joeys.
  4. The formula and formula strength must be kept constant. If you want to change the formula do it gradually. Don’t take risks, it isn’t worth any problems that may arise. Begin with quarter of new formula to three-quarters of the old for a day, next half and half for a day then three-quarters new to quarter of old, finally the new formula.
  5. Having the temperature too hot or too cold can cause problems. A temperature that feels tepid when checked is suitable. If a too hot formula is given, the joeys mouth may be burnt.

Immediately wash and dry joey when it becomes soiled by faeces; never allow a joey to stay in a soiled pouch; stimulate after every feed. Even very small joeys will groom themselves, if they and their pouches are not cleaned there is the risk of ingesting faecal bacteria or parasites.

When the joey loses its mother it becomes very stressed, everything familiar, ie smell, sound and touch of mother as well as the pouch all disappear. Pressing a newly orphaned joey to your chest so it can ‘feel/hear’ your heart can cause absolute terror to the joey, the ‘relaxing and cuddling into you ‘ that you think you are feeling is more likely to be the joeys instinct to play dead to fool you – the predator – better to place it in its nice new warm pouch and leave it alone as long as possible to give it time to adapt to the new environment.

We cannot avoid the stresses caused by the mothers death but we can avoid many other causes of stress.

  • Do not have a number of people handling the joey and NEVER hand the joey around as an object to be prodded, patted and poked.
  • The pouch must offer security and warmth. Arrange the inner pouch so that the joey is in the horseshoe position it would be if still in the mothers pouch. Don’t keep the joey in a large open pouch, it needs to feel secure, however, don’t wrap it like a parcel. With mother the joey starts looking out of the pouch after 80% of its pouch life has been completed. Joeys that are made to spend time outside the pouch when physically too young can become stressed, they can also suffer damage to their skeletal system.
  • Joeys should not be given to children [even older children] as pets, children and joeys do not make a good mix, stressed animals, and diarrhoea, are the usual result of this combination.

Once the cause or causes of the diarrhoea have been determined you have to ask yourself if it is a problem to the joey. If the joey does not have any infections and is happy and content and still drinking/eating normally then the diarrhoea may not be a problem Many carers become obsessed with the consistency of the faeces. To see a formed pellet is the most wonderful thing in their lives. Take care that you do not compromise the health of the joey simply to have a formed pellet, eg watering down the formula, this will only result in poor growth and a hungry, stressed joey.

DO NOT take the joey off his formula if diarrhoea is a problem, this only weakens the joey and you will often find that if you do manage to stop the diarrhoea, then it will recur once the formula is started. Keep up the regular feeds and give extra fluids between feeds [electrolyte replacer]. My preference is to give the extra fluids sub-cutaneously, this does not interfere with the gut. If the joey is badly dehydrated then give the extra fluids intravenously.

OBSERVE THE FOLLOWING RULES.

  1. I have never found it necessary to alter a diet when a joey with severe diarrhoea and badly dehydrated has come to my home, however, the formula must be a good one, universal formulas fed as per instructions on their labels do not raise strong healthy joeys.
  2. Between 8-15% of bodyweight is a rough guide to quantity, if dehydrated do not forget extra fluids [not formula] will need to be given, perhaps over a number of days. Consider night feeds for a time.
  3. A strict routine must be observed, choose your feeding times and stick to them.
  4. Keep everything sterile – use a sterilizing solution for bottles, rinse in boiling water before filling with formula. Wash teats thoroughly in hot soapy water, rinse well, store in fridge. Before using teats soak in boiling water for a minute or two. Regularly scour with salt to remove milk buildup.
  5. If joey dirties himself, thoroughly wash and dry. Even tiny joeys will at times lick themselves, any faeces left on the body may be ingested and cause problems.
  6. You must stimulate the joey either before of after each feed to make sure the bladder and bowels are emptied, this also lessens the chance of messed beds.
  7. Never allow a joey to stay in a bed that has been wet or dirtied.
  8. It is vitally important that the joey is not subjected to any physical or psychological stress. His well-being depends on a continuity of care and all-over good management. You can never compromise the care you give the joey. He is your first priority and must remain so.

Remember diarrhoea rarely stops as soon as you begin treatment. It is my experience that with good care it is usually controlled within 24hrs. Acute bacterial diarrhoea with no stress involved usually responds to treatment within 2 days. Long term diarrhoea – a month or longer – may take anything up to several weeks to control [I have found this to be the case when joeys kept illegally are brought to my shelter, most have been subjected to constant stress and a poor diet. The joey will often stop dirtying beds within a day or so but the consistency of the faeces can take a long time to change]. If the joey is well, growing nicely, but has chronic diarrhoea do not worry unduly. The more you mess around with diet and diarrhoea preparations the longer the problem is likely to persist. A happy animal, growing at a steady rate is your main aim, not formed faeces.

Skip had been kept for many weeks by an inexperienced person and had been suffering from severe diarrhoea. He was badly dehydrated and unable to suck. Apologies for the poor image

 

This last photo shows the dramatic improvement proper care gives after three months. Skip's diarrhoea took six weeks to control.

Shows improvement after 4 days

Note almost normal head growth but grossly undersized body. Had to be put on a drip and could not stand unaided for 4 days

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Roo Poo: A Magnificent Obsession

First rule is DON’T OVERFEED

  • 10% of body weight is a good amount at first. After you have established a good routine then quantity can SLOWLY be increased. If faeces become soft or runny then go back to quantity given before the soft poo started.
  • Don’t worry about soft, even runny droppings; as long as joey isn’t constantly messing his bed, then he’s OK.
  • If you feel droppings are too runny/watery then albi calb or other ‘thickener’ in 1 or 2 of the bottles may help. Don’t make this a habit, medicating when not necessary can start up a range of problems such as going from runny to hard to pass which can end up with various worrying episodes such as refusal to feed, too much straining [eventual prolapse] even some bleeding. Far better to have a stress free you and a baby with sloppy poo than problems that are much worse.
  • DON’T HAVE YOUR BABY TOO HOT OR TOO COLD AND KEEP IN A STRESS FREE ENVIRONMENT –
  • It is best to have only one joey minder with an experienced back-up if you need one. Lots of noise [tv, vacuum, etc] may cause stress as can barking dogs.
  • Some joeys show stress by shaking/trembling, by licking their forearms in an agitated manner, by developing diarrhoea. Others appear to be quite calm and happy in their artificial pouch but are in fact more frightened than those showing symptoms. Look for diarrhoea, refusal to feed and no grooming; these can be signs of stress in quiet joeys.
  • A relaxed joey will groom itself in some way quite regularly even when very small.

 

ANTIBIOTICS ARE AN ESSENTIAL PIECE OF EQUIPMENT BUT –

  • Be absolutely sure your joey needs antibiotics before using
  • At times, despite vet advice to use antibiotics, it may be preferable to use your own or another experienced operator’s judgement and not use, or perhaps delay use, until you are certain they are needed.
  • Once you start antibiotics the full course MUST be taken. Do not stop just because joey appears to be OK.
  • Any overuse of medication can cause problems eg. diarrhoea or thrush. Thrush is also caused by poor hygiene. If not diagnosed in time it can cause eventual death. Medication is a poor and unsuccessful substitute for cleanliness. Undiluted bleach poured over the entire sink area and left for several minutes before being wiped with a cloth that has also been soaked in bleach is what I use. I then wipe over any other area where bottles, etc may have been standing.
  • Until your joey is eating plenty of solids then sterilizing bottles and teats is essential. Teats should be washed in warm soapy water after use then stored in the fridge until the next feed. Steep in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Use any reliable method of sterilizing bottles.
  • If your joey develops diarrhoea, regardless of the reason, the joey and all his bedding must be kept clean. After washing, rinse pouches in a suitable disinfectant. Don’t be afraid to shampoo your joey [dirty area only], use warm water and a mild shampoo, rinse off and towel dry. Don’t let him get cold.
  • Kangaroos don’t start getting out of the pouch until they’re quite old, usually over 8 months, therefore keep the joey’s pouch routine as it would have been in the wild, ie don’t allow finely furred joey’s the run of the house. There may not be any problems but it’s wise not to take the chance. Problems with the skeletal structure may occur.

I think the most important point is never to allow the ‘poo’ of your animals’ to become an obsession. If your baby is not messing his beds and is otherwise healthy then the consistency doesn’t really matter. This also applies to outside joeys, droppings vary in consistency for many reasons, don’t worry if your outside animals are not always popping out perfect little balls.

All this is only relevant if you know with certainty that your joey hasn’t an infection, personally I rarely have problems with sickness in joeys, on a couple of occasions a ‘stress’ episode has brought on a messed bed or two but before day’s end it’s cleared up. Stress can be something as simple as a sudden loud noise or a really ‘loud’ person coming into the room.

For constipation a drop or two of oil – I use wheatgerm oil [sometimes liquid paraffin] – in the bottle once or twice should do the trick. Pure prune juice is also good, wallabies enjoy it.

This little fellow was the victim of well-meaning but ignorant care. He arrived quite malnourished and suffering severe diarrhoea. His bones were very thin and was unfortunately beyond help. He was euthanased.

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Caring for orphaned Joeys

On arrival the baby should be quickly but carefully and quietly examined for injuries and its condition assessed, eg dislocations, broken bones, dehydration, hyperthermia or hypothermia. Immediately this has been done and everything found to be OK, place the baby in a pre-warmed pouch [unless hyperthermic] and weigh -you will have already weighed the pouch while awaiting the baby’s arrival – place in its warmed bed. Do not attempt to feed the baby if it is chilled. Body temperature must be raised to about normal first. Temp. will be OK when the baby feels ‘toasty’ warm when placed against your lips, all extremities should feel warm. A baby that is chilled through or hypothermic may take several hours to warm, don’t try to rush the warming process by placing in an overheated bed. If the baby is dehydrated and cold then giving fluids under the skin is a good idea, this will hydrate the baby and help warm it. Always warm the fluids to body temp. before injecting and never attempt to sub.cut. fluids yourself unless you are experienced. Get the baby to your vet asap.

If the orphaning event occurred only an hour or two before arrival it is not necessary to attempt to offer fluids immediately. If the baby is a pink, wait another hour or so before attempting to feed. Velvets can wait 3 or 4 hours and well furred can be left for 5 or 6 hours, this may seem a long time but it allows the baby time to settle into its new environment and also makes it more eager to drink when fluids are offered. Do not disturb baby during this time.

Sometimes baby will arrive very dirty and/or bloody, cleanliness is not the first priority just now, quiet, warmth and fluids are the primary considerations, however gently smoothing over some warmed oil [pure apricot, avocado or even baby oil] whilst the baby is in the pouch will loosen and help warm the pinkie or velvet covered body, the remainder of the dirt will rub off in the course of the day. Keep a fresh pouch on your heat source always and after feeding the baby change to the clean warm bed. Until established it is a good idea to keep the baby in the pouch at feeding time. Keeping the eyes covered can also reduce stress.

It is vitally important that you do not handle the baby unless it is essential, this means at feeding times only. Eastern grey joeys in particular stress very easily. Don’t misinterpret the signals baby is sending to you, eg relaxing in your arms or ‘snuggling’ into your body can, in fact, be signs that the joey is so frightened that it is surrendering to its captor, not that it is relaxed and happy in its new situation. Don’t take the chance, allow the baby to adjust to its new situation quietly and with minimal handling. It is a fact that stress is one of the major killers of eastern grey kangaroos.

The correct amount of formula needs to be given to prevent problems such as dehydration or diarrhoea and maintain the baby in a healthy condition. About 10% of body weight in fluid is required over 24 hrs, eg a 750 g baby will need 75 ml. Some babies will take up to 15% [112 ml], be wary though, after a few days there may be problems as baby’s gut becomes overloaded and refusal to suckle may occur. Diarrhoea is also likely to develop. I have found 10% to be a satisfactory amount at least until the baby has adjusted to its new lifestyle. Always heat formula to body temperature, approx. 36 degrees.

On arrival if baby is dehydrated you may offer lectade [or similar] if you wish, this is often taken eagerly and more than the 10% should be given. My preference for dehydrated babies is to sub.cut. fluids and begin formula straight away, by doing this the baby will begin to gain strength immediately, blood sugar levels will increase to a normal level giving more strength and energy. Sub.cut. fluids are given in conjunction with the 4hrly formula routine until full rehydration has occurred. Full strength, or almost full strength, formula is given from the beginning, the old rule of 24 hrs lectade, 24 hrs quarter strength, 24 hrs half strength, etc, etc is a definite no no, too much weight and condition are lost in this way and it is surely the cause of many deaths. Little, if any, weight is lost giving full strength formula from the beginning. A 2.5 kg baby will increase its weight by about 200 gms in its first week. Very occasionally a baby will react to the artificial formula and dirty a few beds. Do not mistake a few dirty beds or loose faeces for diarrhoea, diarrhoea is continual uncontrolled bowel movements.

All babies are slightly different and react a little differently to the artificial food and surroundings. If you experience problems with diarrhoea don’t begin to chop and change formulas instantly, formula, if mixed correctly and hygienically is rarely, if ever, the cause of any problems. Make certain the problem isn’t from another cause, ie baby too hot or too cold, too much noise, too much handling, irregular feeds, too much formula. Methodically work out a regular routine and stick to it. It’s probably a good idea to contact a shelter operator with more experience and talk things over, be prepared to accept that you may inadvertently be the cause.

Toileting at feed times is essential to prevent possible bladder or bowel infections. Exposing the ‘other’ end only, dab the urogenital sinus gently with a cotton ball or damp ‘chux’ wipe [I apply a little moisturizing cream – Roskens skin repair or unperfumed sorbolene with glycerine with no additives]. Don’t stimulate for too long as baby will become stressed and there is also the possibility of causing a prolapse [more in wallabies]. Bowels will eventually empty and 2 days of no action is not unusual until a routine is established, however, if you suspect pain in the gut area seek help. The bladder should work almost immediately, if you are not getting anything from the bladder after the first few feeds, then there may be a problem. When bladder finally empties collect a sample and check if it is clear and not cloudy or very dark, if in doubt have it checked by your vet. Stress can easily cause bladder infections.

The skin of pinks dries out in the artificial atmosphere and needs to be kept moist particularly the tail. I have tried many products but always come back to Roskens Skin Repair or any brand of Sorbolene and Glycerine. Humilac available from Vets is also used. Warm before use.

It is vitally important that feeds be given regularly and not erratically, 6 equal feeds per day [4hrly] is best. If very small then 3hrly may be necessary for a short while, I’ve found more than this isn’t required and can cause more problems than you may be trying to solve as constant handling and attempting to feed can cause unnecessary stress and possibly death. If you are unable to keep up this regular routine then it is best if the baby is passed on to someone who can.

Don’t be in a rush to reduce the number of feeds per day, small quantities 4hrly are by far better than large volumes spaced too far apart. If baby overfeeds then it won’t be hungry at the next feed time and will refuse, overfeeding may also cause pain and refusal to feed for a good many hours by which time baby will be stressed and so will you.

Kangaroos are quite old before they begin to eat solids, some around 9months, don’t worry if your baby seems too big to be on formula only, if a good quality formula is offered in the correct quantities your baby will be healthy and begin to eat when its time is right, always have a bowl of dirt handy, a little fibrous bark is good as is grass with roots and dirt attached, rolled oats and wallaby/kangaroo pellets can be left where baby can reach them. Never offer bread and if you offer any fruits keep them to a minimum.

Be suspicious of a young baby that begins chewing anything and everything. Is the formula lacking? Some babies will suck their pouch or various body parts, as long as they can’t harm themselves or ingest pouch fibres it’s not a huge problem but make sure baby isn’t hungry. Try to encourage baby to suckle on a teat without a hole, this will prevent sucking body parts or pouches. A baby not given a good formula will not grow properly and will end up with a multitude of structural problems, eg poor bone density, little muscle tone, etc. Those ‘cutesy’ frail looking thin boned animals rarely survive to adulthood. When baby begins to eat solids do NOT take this as a sign that milk can be discontinued, a quantity of milk is still required for many more months. Eastern grey kangaroos are not weaned in the wild until they are somewhere around 18months.

There are a number of milk substitutes available, none mimic mums milk very well. Macropods in their early development cannot digest lactose sufficiently rapidly when fed a bolus of cows milk or other high lactose formula. Therefore a low lactose formula must be given. It is likely that joeys could be fed cows milk if we could invent a method where the joeys were able to sip very small quantities of of milk very often as they normally would in mum’s pouch, rather than our 3 or 4 hourly regimes. It is the introduction of large amounts of lactose into their gut at the one time that causes problems not the lactose itself. Cows milk has always been suspected as being involved with the development of cataracts in joeys. Poor nutrition and overheating are known causes of cataracts, therefore good nutrition and a joey kept nicely warmed, should mean a healthy joey.

If you choose Wombaroo or Biolac then follow directions on the packet, remembering that from quite early on, if using Wombaroo, extra fluid has to be given to the baby either added to or between milk feeds. Di-vetelact and Formula One can be used but, if used as per pack directions, will not raise strong, healthy joeys. If using either of these products follow the formula below. With this formula animals grow at about the same rate as those raised in the wild, they will have an all-over healthy look, not frail and fragile, fur will be smooth not unkempt, bones and muscle will be well developed and strong. Weight by 12months should be about 7-8kg.

Cleanliness is essential, all equipment should be sterilized. Glass bottles sterilized in sterilizing solution are best, flush thoroughly with boiling water just prior to filling with formula, for tiny babies a salt solution may be preferred. Teats should be washed in warm soapy water and kept dry in the fridge, they are sterilized before each use by immersing in boiling water for several minutes. Regularly they should be scoured with salt to make sure there is no milk residue build-up.

The formula is as follows:

To 350ml warm boiled water, add 7 scoops [supplied] Di-vetelact, one egg yolk [approx. 16gms] and 3-4tspns full cream natural yogurt – Jalna, red lid is a good one. Stir with a fork. Always keep refrigerated, use within 24hrs.

Mix all together and always keep refrigerated. Do not reheat and do not keep more than 24 hrs. Formula 1 can be used but it MUST be weighed, mix as per instructions on packet and add yogurt and egg yolk as per the Di-vetelact. As the protein content of mums milk gradually increases as baby grows to pouch emergence, I usually begin with less egg yolk for tiny babies and gradually increase to the full amount as baby grows. For small babies I also add a drop of pure cold pressed wheatgerm oil to 1 or 2 bottles each day, this supplies vitamin E and helps the bowels. For the immune system a small amount of vitamin C in one bottle each day is a good idea as is acidophilus powder for the first few days after arrival. If using Formula One, weigh out 65 gms of powder and make up as for Di-vetelact. Do not use the scoop method with this product.

Calculations for raising a kangaroo from approximately 600 gms to weaned and near release is 350-360 hrs of time and, if using the above formula, several hundred dollars.

It is extremely important that you attend to your animals mental learning as well as his physical condition if you don’t want all that time and money to be wasted. Do not raise your animal to believe that humans are a part of his natural environment and do not let him eat or sleep with dogs, no matter how cute it may look you are quite possibly sentencing him to a cruel and painful death as on release he will have no fear of them

 

 

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