WIRES with Kay Muddiman: Wild roller coaster ride

Wildlife care brings along with it a huge range of emotions, ranging from joy to utter devastation.

We lose many creatures despite our best efforts. You would think, therefore, that it would get easier when you lose an animal, but it doesn't, especially if you have to make the decision to euthanase. It is simply devastating, every time.

I thought I would share with you three of my recent rescue experiences, all occurring within a couple of weeks of one another: two sad, but thankfully one with a happy ending.

The first was a young joey Eastern Grey Kangaroo, injured in a vehicle collision that had killed her mother. She was spotted and picked up one evening and brought direct to our house by a local resident. The joey was bleeding profusely from her nose and mouth, with very laboured breathing.

She had glazed eyes and was totally limp. Obviously she had suffered massive head trauma. I knew in my heart what the outcome was going to be, and sadly I was right. Within 10 minutes of settling her in a warm pouch and making her as comfortable as possible, she had a couple of seizures and died. In reality, a blessed relief for her.

The second sad rescue was an adult male Eastern Grey Kangaroo entangled in a fence. It was just on dark when we got called out, so a difficult job was made more difficult by torchlight. He was caught by a top row of barbed wire and two plain lower wires, which had twisted around his legs and held him fast.

When we finally got him free, he couldn't move. We hoped it was maybe temporary from hanging in the fence, as the lacerations to his leg from the fence didn't appear to have cut the tendons. We checked him last thing that night. There had been no change, so we started to suspect a broken back. Upon going back first thing the next morning, there was still no change.

The poor guy was alert and struggling to move when we approached, but couldn't, so it confirmed our suspicions of a broken back. He was therefore euthanased to put him out of his pain. Not the ending we would have liked, but at least he didn't die a prolonged death.

The third, and thankfully joyful, one was a 1.3 kilogram joey wombat, a little girl who was rescued from the pouch of her mum who had been killed on the road. She had no visible injuries, although one can never be sure. She was, of course, traumatised, and after an initial examination was put in a covered, warm pouch in a quiet spot to settle.

After a couple of hours came the first attempts to feed her and, as they all do, she put up a massive objection and fight with both teeth and claws to the artificial treat and formula that didn't taste at all like Mum’s! It's amazing how muscly, strong and wriggly they are, even at this early stage, but I did finally manage to get her to take a little. The next day I passed her on to another carer who already had a wombie around the same size, as they do far better with another joey for company.

In the wild, joeys are constantly with mum, who not only feeds and nurtures them, but plays with them. As human 'mums', we can't be with them 24 hours a day giving them attention, so a buddy helps make up for this. Also, they ideally need a carer who can take them right through to release, rather than going through the stress of changing carers. Being on a main road, we're unable to do this.  

I checked on her a few days ago, and while it took a several days and a few battles to get her to accept the bottle, she now does and drains it. She has been named 'Bindi' as she came from Binda.

  • If you need advice or help with injured or distressed wildlife, please ring the WIRES rescue number 1300 094 737. Your call will be logged and directed to the appropriate branch as our volunteers are always happy to assist.