Common Macropod Species.
- Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)
- Red Necked Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus)
- Swamp Wallaby (Macropus bicolor)
It is important to provide orphaned joeys with the best care possible in the first 24 hours that they are in care, as this is the most critical time in the animal’s rehabilitation. The initial emergency care that it receives will have a huge impact not only on the animal’s survival but also on its chances for release.
Macropod joeys come into care for a variety of reasons including:-
- Road trauma
- Dog attack
- Environmental impact
- Abandoned by their mother (either while being chased by a dog or during drought etc).
Many macropod joeys sustain injuries when their mother is killed by cars and it is imperative that all orphaned joeys receive a full veterinary assessment immediately when they come into care.
General Care of Orphaned Macropods
Making the decision to care for an orphaned macropod should be made after taking into consideration a number of issues. It is a huge commitment, financially, emotionally and in time and resources. For the welfare of the animal, you should ensure that you are well prepared for the commitment.
You should not attempt to raise a macropod joey if you have any of the following details in your life:-
- If you work and are unable to take the joey with you or have an unstable work environment (eg noisy factory, shift work)
- If you have domestic pets (unless you have a large enough property that the macropod joey will not have access to the dog/cat)
- If you have young children
- If you cannot keep the joey in a quiet stable environment
- If you cannot stick to a dedicated feeding pattern
- If you are unable to cope with night feeds
- If you are unable to be the primary carer of the joey
- If you cannot afford to financially raise a joey. It can cost hundreds of dollars to raise each joey.
- If you will have a problem parting with the joey when it is time for pre-release.
We raise to release….and we need to raise them properly to ensure their survival, not just throughout care, but also after release. If you don’t think you can meet this criteria you should not raise a macropod joey.
Raising a macropod joey as a pet is not acceptable; they are entitled to their true life. We are the keepers and carers for a short period of their lives, usually due to human caused intervention with their mothers, by car, dog or habitat loss. We should do everything in our power to give them the best possible chance and duplicate the life they would have had with their natural mother to the best of our abilities.
The decision to hand raise a macropod joey should only be taken if there is a reasonable chance of success and if there is a place for the animal to go when it is time for release.
Some of the equipment that you will need to raise an orphaned macropod joey include:-
- Appropriate milk replacer
- Glucodin powder
- A selection of glass bottles in different sizes (25ml, 50ml and 100ml bottle)
- Assorted macropod teats
- Pouches in an assortment of sizes. These should be made from cotton fabrics only.
- Electric heat pad or humidicrib
- Digital thermometer
- Cane basket and basket liners of thick warm natural fibre, wool or down/feathers; or a hanging bag made from natural fibre (not synthetic).
Macropod joeys that come into care will need around the clock feeding. As a general rule the following guidelines can be applied:-
- For joeys that are unfurred with eyes closed and ears down – 8 bottles per day evenly spaced (every 3 hours)
- For joeys that are furless but eyes open and ears up – 6 bottles per day evenly spaced (every 4 hours)
- For joeys that are finely furred, eyes open and ears up – 6 bottles per day evenly spaced (every 4 hours)
- For joeys with short sleek fur, eyes open and ears up – 5 bottles per day evenly spaced (every 5 hours)
- For joeys with long sleek fur, eyes open and ears up – 4 bottles per day evenly spaced (every 6 hours)
- For joeys with thick dense fur, eyes open and ears up – 3 bottles per day evenly spaced (every 8 hours)
Macropod joeys need a strict routine so for example, a joey on six feeds per day would need to be fed at 6am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm, 10pm and 2am. It is important to stick to the same times. Joeys become very stressed and fail to thrive if their feed time is not set and their routine becomes broken.
If you are not prepared to feed a joey during the night, you will not be able to care for a macropod joey.
Below are some hints to help you successfully raise your macropod joey to release.
- Make sure in the first few weeks you are the only person to touch and feed the joey. Unless you establish a bond and it sees you as its mother, its chances of survival are poor.
- Read, read, read everything and anything and perfect your macropod caring.
- You must attend specialised training workshops to learn the necessary skills associated with raising orphaned joeys. Contact your local wildlife carer group. See Carer Groups
- See and treat each joey as an individual. What works for some joeys will not work on others. You must be aware of your joeys individual needs.
- Be strong and take as much advice as you can, especially from carers that have been caring for macropods for a long time. Common sense usually tells you what’s right or wrong anyway.
- Everyone makes mistakes and we all regret them, but use them as a learning experience. If you don’t learn and you continue to repeat those mistakes then you should not be caring.
- Be honest with yourself and others. If your joey does not survive and you can honestly look back and not criticise yourself; you did a good job.
- Remember in the wild 90% of joeys do not make their first year.
And last of all, a lot of clinical signs that joeys present with eg poor appetite, fur loss, skin lesions and diarrhoea to name a few are all signs of stress. It is important to reduce exposure to stress as much as possible.