These are some of the basic rules to be adopted if you find an injured native animal or bird:-
- Pick the animal up using a towel or blanket, being careful to avoid being scratched or bitten. Most small animals can be picked up in this manner – place the towel or blanket over the animal and pick it up like you would a small load of washing.
- Place the animal in a cardboard box lined with an old towel or blanket. The towel will give the animal something to cling to so that it doesn’t slide around in the box. Make sure that you put some ventilation holes in the box first!
- Place the box securely in your car (not the boot as exhaust fumes can kill the animal). Make sure that the lid is securely closed so that the animal cannot escape and cause you to have an accident.
- If you cannot obtain immediate assistance, keep the animal in a warm, dark place and keep noise to a minimum to avoid stress. Remember the animal is in unfamiliar territory and unfamiliar noises and smells can be extremely stressful to a native animal. Our native animals can die very quickly from stress.
- DO NOT OFFER ANY FOOD OR WATER as native animals have very specialised diets and feeding an animal suffering from shock can be fatal.
- Take the animal to your nearest vet or contact your local wildlife rescue organisation or government wildlife authority as soon as possible.
- Remember some animals do not require rescuing, for example some baby birds are left for a short time while their parents forage for food. Unless the animal is in immediate danger just keep an eye on it to ensure a parent returns to care for the baby. Removing a baby bird unnecessarily can be very detrimental to its well-being. If in doubt contact your local wildlife organization for advice.
- If you find a kangaroo, wallaby, possum, koala or wombat that has been injured make sure you check the pouch – joeys have been known to survive in the mother’s pouch following her death for several days. Do not remove the Joey from the mother’s teat as irreparable damage can be done to the joey’s mouth if removed from the teat incorrectly. If possible take the mother and Joey intact to your nearest vet for attention or alternatively call your local wildlife organization for their assistance.
If you are interested in learning more about our native wildlife and how you can help them, consider joining a wildlife care organization.
Need more information on baby birds? Please telephone the Northern Tablelands Wildlife Carers 1800008290
Stress and Wildlife
We must also bear in mind that our wildlife suffers tremendously from stress whilst they are in captivity. The following information gives you some insight on the effects of stress on our wildlife and what we can do to reduce stress.
Stress immediately following rescue
The first 24 hours will be a very stressful period for any native animal coming into care. Firstly we must realise that all the native animals that come into care are wild animals. Most have been traumatized in some way, been injured by a car, dog or cat, been electrocuted, have lost a mother or have been abandoned.
Some will be in a state of shock, all will be terrified and therefore extremely stressed. It is said that more native animals die in care from stress than from any other single cause. Bearing this in mind we must try to alleviate the stresses as best we can.
How stress manifests itself
Some animals when stressed, die very quickly. Other animals that are subjected to stress, often will not thrive, may be a poor eater, may not make regular and appropriate weight gains, may develop diarrhea, may be lethargic, grind its teeth, vocalize, may succumb to disease and may eventually die.
Obviously prevention is better than cure, be aware of the causes of stress and minimize them.
Identifying sources of stress
Apart from the initial stress, (ie the accident, injury or illness that caused the animal to be in care, or the loss of its mother, food, warmth, security), there are many other stresses that the animal is subjected to.
Some causes of stress…
- Being handled by a predator – HUMANS!
- Foreign smells
- Foreign sounds
- Being fed inappropriate food
- Being left at a veterinary surgery
- The change in temperature or fluctuating temperature
- Being housed in an area with reptiles or the family pets
Remember – stress depresses the immune system leaving the animal vulnerable to disease.