Events starting Sept 2018
Merriwa vet called , they had a little wombat needing care, picked up by a council worker. He was alone, no adult in sight and being attacked by crows .The kind man took him to the local vet. He had a small tip of ear missing and superficial wounds around the eyes. He was a lucky little wombat indeed! His wounds were cleaned and antibiotic ointment applied for a few days , all was well. He weighed 1200 grams making his age between 5-6months.
He was a very relaxed little guy who didn’t seem to be traumatised by his ordeal. He started drinking well almost immediately. By the end of Sept he was 1975grams .He was having 3 milk feeds a day and already eating lots of grass with roots attached which I would put into his bag or his enclosure , a very large dog carry cage in our bedroom, or he would be sleeping in our bed. He would suddenly wake up and charge around under the blankets till he needed sleep.
My first wombat “Fidel” had been on his own and I spent hours with him but I still hated leaving him in his pen outside once he emerged as baby wombats are always with mum. I didn’t have any choice as I couldn’t get a mate for him. At night I would put Che into his large cage , hanging on the side in his bag. He was a terror, he would wake up about 3am and hurl himself at the door relentlessly until I had to get him up and feed him. I could get another couple of hours sleep as he would snuggle up and sleep with me after his belly was full.
I decided it would be great to get Che a mate he could play with .Baby wombats love to play rough and tumble with another wombat. I had hoped that maybe I would get a phone call saying a baby needed care but that didn’t happen so I called Penny in Dubbo. She was collecting some young wombats the following week from a carer who was overloaded. I told her Che’s weight and she said there was one that would be a match. We arranged to meet at Mudgee, about 3 hrs drive away, to do the hand over. Ideally wombats should be no more than a kilo weight difference when being buddied as they are rough players. If one is much heavier the smaller one will be intimidated. Once a joey gets to about 3.3. kilo it is at emerging stage and having a buddy is very beneficial. After a day or 2 of adjusting to each other they will play,play,play and cuddle up together preferring to be with each other than just human mum . Together and with human mum is good! By the time we went to meet Penny Che was very robust and he weighed about 2150grams. It turned out that Raul was only 1040grams not the weight I had been told. Penny had 3 other wombats that she had picked up from another WIRES branch and 1 was the same size as Che but I was only offered the very little one . It still could have worked out O.K. if Raul and Che had continued to grow at the same rate. However it became apparent after 24hrs that Raul was a very sick little wombat.
Poor Raul was in a terrible state. There was no back round info about him. I think he had probably been in dead mum’s for a long time but I’m only guessing. He had some flat hair through on his face and head but a virtually hairless body. His gut was very extended, a sign of illness. It is usual for joeys newly arrived from the wild to have undeveloped gut flora but as the artificial milk proceeds through the animals system and they get a bit older the gut flora will establish. This did not happen to plan with Raul. he could keep nothing in , continual diarrhoea and weight loss, he also had thrush. I conferred with Ted and Jenny and tried different things .Larry and I even took him to wildlife vet consultant at Dubbo Zoo as Ted being retired doesn’t have access to the facilities he once had. They didn’t have any answers there other than to tell me he was very underweight and to keep him warm. Once the vet there knew we were consulting with Ted who he described as “A legend ” in zoo circles said if Ted couldn’t get him through nothing would. By the 10th Nov he was so underweight and had gone from the 1044 grams on intake down to 990 grams. His temples had sunken in and he looked close to death. I was not doing very well myself , due to lack of sleep ,trying to keep the little guy hydrated and caring for Che as well. Trying to determine what the case might be was very difficult. Ongoing diarrhoea is a condition that will end in death. Its a dynamic situation and different treatments can create a revolving circle. Giving one treatment can cause another one which needs treatment. I asked Jenny if she would take and care for Raul so Ted was on hand to administer anything needed. They agreed but Jenny was worried that he might die but he was dying with me so his changes had to be better there. He went to them on 10th Nov. Initially Jenny kept him much warmer than the manuals recommend and she also tried a different milk formula which was not as strong and he seemed to be better able to get some nourishment from that. She and Ted got him a bit more stable and back up to 1120grams , a bit heavier than when he came in. He came back home on the 20th Nov. Che in the mean time had continued to grow at a rapid rate . He weighed almost 3kilo , over twice the weight of poor Raul. Raul was still battling but his diarrhoea was not as severe and his thrush had almost cleared up. He needed lots of special care and very small feeds ranging over 24hrs .
I believe Raul was on his dead mothers teat for along time and his system had actually started to close down when he was “rescued”. He was in care with an over worked carer for a while before Penny collected him and then a long drive before I got him and a long drive home to then assess him. I can’t believe the little guy made it. I wouldn’t have been able to get him through without the wonderful help I was given.
Raul stared to thrive and by mid Dec I had him back on his correct formula and 3 milk feeds a day which he was loving. His weight was now 1905 grams, almost 2 kilo! . Che was now 4500 grams. There was no chance of leaving these two together without any supervision. Che was very rough .He wanted to play with Raul but he was far to strong.
These two made double the work I was hoping to cut in half but they were both wonderful and worth all of it. Wally was still here and he was interested in Raul.
The drought had started. The food was sparse and quite a lot of animals began coming to the house paddock for support food .
In Nov I moved Che outside to the nursing pen. He loved it there and had his own burrow .
After his early morning feed I would bring him to the house to see Raul who was still inside . I would sit outside with them on a blanket on the grass which they both seemed to like but had to watch Che as he would try and play and get to rough. It took a lot of energy to play his long games of run and chase. Che was moved into the larger pen about this time and Raul went out into the nursing pen once he was ready for the outdoors. Fortunately my niece Annaliese came for visit from New York in Dec and she was wonderful with Che, playing the run and chase game in the large pen everyday till they were both ready for rest.
I would take Raul from the nursing pen into the Che’s pen after they had both had their morning milk and we would all spend a couple of hours together. I had a carry bag to carry baby wombats in which I would use to carry Raul in .It had previously been used by Che who was now to big for it but he would still get into it.
I would let Che and Raul spend time together but they needed to be supervised as Raul was to small to hold his own against Che’s rough playing and would get frightened. Eventually Raul needed a bigger space so another move was made. Che went into the big wombats pen further away from the house and Raul moved to intermediate! Sometimes I would walk Che over here and sometimes take Raul over there. They didn’t mind seeing each other but did like their own space ultimately. They were very different , Che loved walking up in the hills as high as we could go. I would take him climbing for a couple of hours, he was in his element. Wombats are usually released at about 18mths old .In the wild mum would drive them off about then. Wombats raised by carers should be about 20 kilo release weight. Che had reached about 15.5 kilo by June 2019 and he was a terror. he would attack my legs , biting and wanting out and was so naughty when we went walking not wanting to return. It was hard to control him and he would take advantage when we were up very high slopes .I think he knew he had an advantage over me!
When Che was only 15.2 kilo , to light for release, he would be unable to hold his ground against an adult wombat, he took off one day and I couldn’t find him. I left the pen open and 3 days later he returned in a sorry state. He clearly had an encounter with a much larger wombat, maybe gone down someone’s burrow who was not impressed , had managed to get away but not before getting attacked on the rear. Massive area of fur gone and deep scratches, ouch. I put him on a course of antibiotics to make sure he got no infection. He stayed close , but not for long!! Both Che and Raul loved almonds and they would get some every day.
Raul loved his walks down along the banks of the river following wombat tracks. Larry would take him exploring in some caves which he really enjoyed. He was a gentle soul not a ruffian like Che. We had a lot of wombats coming to the yard for support food as the drought was in full force by then and Raul showed that he was not intimidated and would stand his ground. It was very interesting to see this poor sick little wombat turn into a fabulous juvenile.
Che took quite a while to recover from his ordeal and get rump fur again but it didn’t change his mischievous behaviour, cheeky as ever.
By Nov 2019 Che had stacked on quite a bit more weight so Larry put a dog flap door in the back of his pen so he could go and return .The drought was also in full force by then so coming back to the pen for support food and water was really needed.he continued to use his burrow in there.We kept a night camera in there so could monitor his comings and goings and kept an eye on him to make sure he was managing O.K.He was about 19 kilo but apparently the ideal release weight is about 22 kilo.I personally think given that each wombat is different and that Che hated being locked up I made the decision to let him go earlier with the dog flap in place so he had somewhere to return to for safety. I continued to monitor Che with the night camera until Oct 2020.His visits back to the pen were infrequent by then .He had done very well and looked great.
Meanwhile Raul had been doing really well. By the end of June 2019 he was over 12kilo.He had a very different personality to Che. With Larry and me he was very gentle but would stand his ground against other wombats that were coming to house yard for support food. The drought was full on and we support feeding many animals . Raul had learnt to hold his own, I believe because of the times he had spent with rough neck Che. t was so good to see this given what a poor sick little guy he had been , such a rough start to his life and now he was a beautiful juvenile wombat.
By the end of Jan 2020 Raul was heavy enough to be released. Larry put a dog flap into the back of his pen and he would go in and out as he pleased. The drought was in force by then so he was getting support food every eve. We monitored Raul with the night ops camera util about Sep 2020 and he was doing well and looking great .