Finally I have some time to update ………and it’s already 2 weeks into April. Well it was when I started this but it will be May before I finish!
The new cockatiel who we call “Rocket Bird” is thriving and almost as big as his parents .Larry named him but I have no idea what inspired the name. Larry’s sister, Vicki, says we have the silliest names for the animals she has ever heard of. I do like “Rocket Bird” as it conjures up a comical image in my minds eye.
Last night we went to our first meeting of the Goulburn River Wild Dog Association as feel we should do our bit of adding to the efforts of controlling wild dogs. Aerial shooting and ground baiting procedures are both carried out. We are told that Dingoes don’t take baits as they only eat their own kill. I can’t find any evidence which shows this to be fact. If anyone knows I would like to hear from you. Larry and I both consider the dingo to be our native dog although there is a lot of argument in this area. We believe they play a role in the control of various species in the wild and we don’t like the idea of baiting them but wild dog control certainly has to carried out. We don’t like baiting anything but some things seem necessary .Maybe we could use the method pictured above on the irresponsible humans who have created the problem by letting domestic dogs go in the bush .
We lost about 90 of the 190 native trees & shrubs we planted. We have had a lot of rain here in the past month and watering in the morning has been reduced to a very simple task , nature taking over but probably not for long. It seems that the plants far prefer the rain water to being watered with a hose and river water as they seem to be doing well. Growth is very slow but we hear the Casuarina Cockatoos almost daily flying overhead and hope that in a few years we will have made a difference to their food supply and that their numbers will grow. It would be great to have them off the endangered list. July we will receive some more funds from Conservation Partnerships to plant more trees. We are building a green house as putting the trees in there will give them a better start.
We get quite a few large flocks of Galahs visiting the paddock next to the house and hope Galy might be among them living free and wild. I guess that the hardest thing when rehabbing and releasing wildlife is that without funds to tag, chip or whatever is required you never really know how successful you have been.
Moses the red-neck is still coming for milk, mainly in the evening .I have cut his amount down as he would be about 5 kilo and about 12 months old , This is when the care manuals say to wean and release. Moses has been living free since he was approx 3 kilo and loving it!!
Billy is growing in leaps and bounds !! He is now 12.5 kilo and I have also cut his milk down morn and eve .Eastern Grey kangaroos will often drink milk from mum till they are 18 months old if allowed. Billy is about 15-16 months old .He has started staying away from home some nights and days as he goes off with Bucky and Bronte. He sometimes returns with them or on his own if he feels the need for some protection and rest. Not being with mum he has to be constantly on the alert. Joeys are very vulnerable at this age when they are just starting to exert their independence. Billy is doing very well and so lucky to have Bronte and Bucky. They have completely accepted him and as Bucky sometimes go off and we don’t see him for 3 or 4 days ,now being a rough male juvenile. Bronte seems pleased to have Billy with her. We are looking fwd to her baby emerging and think she will start her very own mob.
Billy had 2 large kangaroo pox on his left back foot. All the manuals say they will eventually fall off. It is said treatment is usually not necessary as lesions resolve over several months however I felt that poor Billy was carrying round extra weight with these 2 great wart like growths and they seemed to be showing no signs off falling off only growing larger! Although widely spread throughout Australia only few reports of the disease have appeared in literature. The Australian Wildlife Health Network does have a fact sheet on pox virus .Cases have been reported in a Tasmanian pademelon, ringtail possum, southern bent-wing bat ,bottlenose dolphin and crocodiles. The disease is actually worldwide but poses no threat to humans . Billy had adapted to bounding O.K. with these on his foot as he seemed to move just fine. At the suggestion of Lynda Staker I treated them over a period of about 9 days with common old apple cider vinegar and it did the job. Fur doesn’t grow back where these lesions have been but nice new tissue does once the pox tissue has gone.I kept a record and pics so Lynda could write-up the case along with others that were giving the treatment a trial as well. She will include it in her new manual. For anyone interested in looking after macropods Lynda Staker’s manual “Don’t Step backwards” in my opinion is the most comprehensive guide to care of the kangaroo species I have come across. She is always willing to help when I email for any advice. I have a great deal of respect for her dedication and the volume of well researched work she has produced. http://lyndastaker.com/
Big thanks to Helen George for her Wombat rescue and rehabilitation manual which is so precise and easy to follow .Helen is also a macropod carer and I believe it was Helen who first taught Lynda about macropods many years ago. The wombat manual was written back in 1995 and even though I have accessed and printed out far more recent manuals I haven’t found anything that compares as a guide to wombat care when taken as an overall view.Helen is a member of WIRES and has been for many years. Always willing to take a phone call and answer any questions to help a novice like me . A dedicated carer, for I think about 35 years, only just slowing down !! It’s certainly a privilege to be able to learn by listening to dedicated people and reading what they have written.
Between Helen’s manual, Barbara Triggs “The Wombat” UNSW Press Australian Natural History Series and James Woodford “The Secret Life of Wombats” featuring the fantastic research done by Peter Nicholson when he was just a boy and attending school at Timbertop I have had a wealth of information to use caring for my first wombat , the tearaway, “Fidel”.
Fidel when last weighed nearly 2 weeks ago was 4500 grams so he would be close to 5 kilo now! He is a lot of work! I am indebted to my sister Helen who came and helped me when he first came into care. First it was keeping him warm at the correct temperature then it was packing ice packs around him all day and night to keep the temperature down when it was so hot and he was so small. I do wish she’d come back till he’s ensconced in his large pen ,fully emerged and in his burrow !!Fidel likes to start grazing at about 5 pm up in the hills and would have me stay there all night if he could. It would be great to have two people taking turns to sit on the cold ground as he likes to have a bit of time out from grazing to play “jump over and bite mum” I’m sure Helen would love it! Now I understand why carers keep 2 wombats together. It’s not because they get lonely (they are solitary animals but with their mum till time to go it alone and she leaves them in the burrow for long periods while she is grazing) it’s because it makes life easier for the carer!!! They are rogues, especially males , and want to play by way of leaping , biting and rolling downhill like an out of control ball. Wombat mums are very tough and keep them in line.Care has to be taken to ensure that wombats don’t get used to people if they to be released successfully to be truly wild and free. Fidel doesn’t live in the house and doesn’t have contact with anyone else apart from minimal contact with Larry when it’s necessary.Fidel loves to start grazing at about 5 pm and would have me stay out all night if he could. I give up 2 hours then he has his evening milk and goes into a small pen we have till the early morning .He has dug a burrow but still isn’t fully emerged so he doesn’t stay in it all night as he still has his bag. He would be more than happy to stay in it if I could go in there as well………he’s got no chance. I might sleep outside with the young roos but being in a bed with the stars overhead has its compensations !! He has his morning milk about 6.30 am. I always supply pulled out grass for the night but he’s not as keen on that now that he knows what grazing is all about. His new pen has lots of grass growing in it .Grass that is less than 10 cm in length has the best nutrition and it seems that he instinctively knows that.His new pen which is up on the hill-side and is 10 x 7 metres is now finished thanks to Larry’s great building ability and Bunny’s generosity paying for the materials. It won’t be just Prince George who has an enclosure named after him!!
We had a visit from a swamp harrier who was eyeing up the cockatiels but realized there was no way to make a meal so he departed. Larry took this shot of him while he was contemplating how to get a meal.
We have also had visits from some flocks of Short-billed Corellas.
The little possum “Sandi” that we took from Dubbo zoo was successfully released and she is around .She eats a lot of gum and is wilder then Squirtymatey the male possum that came from Dubbo. He is living in a hollow pipe above my office. He has become very friendly and he is often in the front yard at night. I can get quite close to him .I tried to take a picture but it’s not very clear. You can see he has a tree trunk table that he gets on to then goes up into the wattle tree if I get to close. I leave him some fruit out on his tree trunk table once a week.
In the past couple of months I have seen Bozo a couple of times and I was able to get close enough take a pic of him. I have also seen him come to the paddock next to the house with Bucky ,Bronte , Billy and another grey who is a bit bigger than Billy. Maybe a doe , I have called him/her Bobby. When I go out Bozo and Bobby hop away immediately. I have formed the opinion that if you bring up a kangaroo eating natural food, in the wild and take it out into those surrounding for grazing where he sees the mobs daily even though dependent on you for some time once a certain level of maturity is reached that animal will live as a wild one and will not come back to you ,what reason does it have?Bozo was only given grass and his milk formula while growing up.He never had grain till Bronte and Bucky came and he could take it or leave it ,more often leave it. If you bring up kangaroos in a backyard situation, even if they do have a bit of land to graze at night , and return to the backyard by day, feed them substitute food such as grain while they are growing up then they will return for the grain as that is what they know. Bucky and Bronte were bought up like that till they were about 12 kilo then we bought them here and continued to give them some grain as that is what they knew. I believe they come back to the house for the food not any attachment to us. Billy has joined with them so he does that as well and he is also still on milk so still dependent,the same as Moses who comes for his milk. Once Moses has finished with milk we will probably still see him but not every night .Bucky and Bronte don’t come everyday as there is lots of grass about now and I believe that if we stopped putting grain out for them they would probably stop coming right up to the house after a time. However, we are finding that we are able to study different behaviour by having them around and want to follow Bronte and baby and see if she does make her own group. As we have no intention of moving any time soon we will continue to do what we have been doing and see what happens.
Weeks have passed since I started writing this post.It’s now May 11th!! Fidel’s new pen is finished, just a few wombat decorating touches to add. He was 5225 grams when I weighed him about 4 days ago. I have been taking him into his new pen for a hour in the evenings and he likes it there. Another week and he will be ready to stay there day and night. Feeding him his milk and a grazing walk in the evenings will be so much easier. Hoping he will dig a good burrow in there for himself and start using it all day.
” Adventure in the Wombat Pen ” update coming soon !!