First aid for sick, injured or orphaned wildlife
Each situation will differ, however, for orphaned, injured or sick wildlife their most basic needs are:
- Urgent assistance from a wildlife rehabilitator or other qualified person such as a vet. Please contact DRWS on 08 9394 0885 or Wildcare on 08 9474 9055. Please do not keep any wildlife for a few hours or days without seeking assistance from Wildcare or DRWS.
- To be securely contained
- A small drinking bowl of water is generally ok
Please consider yourself and others when stopping to assist wildlife in need if they are on the roadside. You do not want to force wildlife back on to the road where it could face further distress and injury. Nor do you want to put yourself in a situation where you could be seriously injured.
Smaller wildlife species are often found after being caught by the family dog or cat. Please place a towel over the creature (including its head) and use both hands to gently pick it up and put it in a secure box. The box should be lined with a towel. Place the box in a warm and quiet place while assistance is sought. Wildlife will be extremely stressed and the less disturbance the better. Advice from a carer should be obtained immediately. Veterinary attention will almost always be required.
If the kangaroo is injured and alive it is important that everyone is kept well away both for their own safety and to minimise stress to it.
Please contact Wildcare 08 9474 9055 immediately. If there are any issues then please contact DRWS on 08 9394 0885 for advice.
If the animal is dead the pouch MUST be checked for young.
Unfurred pouch young require warmth to survive – an easy way to do this is for someone to put the baby up inside their sweater and use body warmth until either a WARM hot water bottle or wheat pack is available. Unfurred pouch young require experienced help urgently.
Furred pouch young will need to be contained in a makeshift pouch: a jacket with the sleeves tied together, a pillow case, etc. and kept warm and quiet until it can be passed on to an experienced carer.
Bandicoots & Possums
If alive, it should be covered with a towel or similar and both hands used to gently pick it up with a very firm grip. Be wary of teeth and claws. Possums in particular will react to the stress of being handled by trying to bite and scratch their rescuer. Bandicoots and possums can be contained in a secure box or a makeshift pouch.
If dead the pouch MUST be checked for young as above.
Often people trap a possum because it is running about their ceiling and they are unsure what to do next.
If the noise is occurring throughout the night the creature running about IN the ceiling may not be a possum. Possums tend to leave their homes around dusk and return around dawn rather than run about inside throughout the evening. If you have constant noise throughout the night it could be a rat in the ceiling (please note many rat baits are toxic to our native wildlife).
A trapped possum cannot be relocated to another area – possums are territorial and will simply return to their own territory or be killed. The possum must be released on the property where it was trapped.
You should make arrangements for the possum’s point of entry into the ceiling to be fixed, so the possum cannot regain entry. There are plans for possum boxes which can be made and then put up to provide an alternative living space for the possum.
DRWS is most willing to assist with the provision of a possum box. DRWS pays for the boxes to be constructed so a donation to cover our costs is required. As of January 2014 the cost of a possum box is $45. Please contact us if you require more information.
Baby Birds & Fledglings
Uninjured baby birds should be placed back in their nest or in an artificial nest such as a hanging basket, ice-cream container with drainage holes in the base, baseball cap or similar placed as high up the tree as possible.
It is surprising how tiny (yet fully feathered) a bird may be and still be fluttering between trees and moving around its environment.
Fledglings are usually on the ground learning to fly and are often in danger of harm from traffic, cats, dogs or are being attacked by other birds. In this case the bird should be picked up gently (you can use a towel) and placed somewhere high and safe – a Y shaped tree branch, on the fence or shed, on the wheelie bin (shaded from hot sun).
The baby bird or fledgling should then be observed, from a distance, to ensure that the adult birds are attending to it.
Only obviously injured or abandoned young should be removed from their environment. If a young bird requires care it should be placed in a box and there should be a towel on the bottom of the box. This will prevent the bird from further injuring itself by flapping around the box. While a wildlife rehabilitator or vet is being arranged maintain the box and bird in a warm, quiet place.
An adult bird on the ground and able to be approached is definitely injured or sick and will need help.
The bird should be gently but firmly picked up (using a towel), placed in a box lined with a towel and kept in a warm, quiet place until it can be passed on to a wildlife rehabilitator or vet. Birds may react to the stress of being captured by trying to peck, bite and scratch the rescuer.
Occasionally, particularly if the bird has flown into a window, it may be stunned and recover enough to be released within a few hours.
Be aware that there are night birds and day birds and that they attack each other!
An owl found out in the morning must be kept until dark for release and a magpie found at dusk must be kept until morning for release.
Use both hands to pick up an injured turtle and put it in a small box. Do not put it in water.
For more information about turtles and turtle rescue please contact Turtle Oblonga Rescue and Rehabilitation Network. Turtle rescue numbers can be found on the website.
Use a towel to gently pick up the echidna and secure it within a very sturdy container. Ensure the container is strong as echidnas are easily able to work themselves out of most boxes. They have a lower body temperature than other creatures so they they do not need to be kept warm. In hot weather they should be kept in a quiet cool place while assistance is sought.
Bobtails are frequently admitted due to accidents, being attacked by domestic pets or being unwell. In all instances urgent attention is required.
The bobtail should be quickly placed in a fly-proof box and kept on a warm, quiet place while advice is sought from WILDCARE or DRWS.
If a bobtail is seen trying to cross a road it should be moved to the side where it can safely continue in the direction it was travelling.
Picking up a bobtail
Some methods are:
- Wave a decoy hand in front to distract it and then grasp behind neck with other hand, gently lift the bobtail supporting under body with decoy hand.
- Place foot in front to distract and proceed as above.
- The bobtail can be GENTLY swept into a dust pan or onto a shovel.
It is not recommended that anyone handle bats without the appropriate immunisations. Every effort must be taken to ensure no-one is bitten or scratched by a bat. Thick leather gloves or a towel can be used to gently pick up a bat and place it in a secure box. The box should have a tea towel attached to the top of the box (hanging down) for it to climb into and hide while assistance is sought through WILDCARE.