by Susie Edmonds
If you live in the Braidwood or Bungendore areas, chances are you’ve noticed the large number of dead wombats on the sides of many roads.
You would have also noticed that many of these wombats have been painted with coloured crosses. These show that the wombat has been checked by someone to ensure that it is dead, not suffering, and does not have a joey.
Often, the mother wombat is killed but the baby in the pouch survives, sometimes without injury; however, often with some degree of trauma. Injuries range from mild to life-threatening. This was the case with little ‘Friday’ (pictured above).
She was 320 grams when taken from her mother’s pouch by a caring member of the public. What the person didn’t know was that Friday had severe injuries to her front foot. The foot must have been close to the entry of the pouch when the mother was dragged along the road by the car that killed her. As a result, half the foot was missing.
As it was summer, the wound had become quickly infested by maggots, which had eaten much of the leg, shoulder and ear. These horrific injuries would usually be fatal, but the member of the public knew to ring Native Animal Rescue Group.
Dr Ralph works his wonders
Friday was brought into care and immediately taken to an experienced wildlife vet, Dr Howard Ralph, who treated her injuries. Only time would show whether the foot would be viable. Many vet trips followed; slowly, the foot healed.
She continues to be in care at the Majors Creek Wombat Refuge. At 12 kilos, she walks with a slight limp but runs, digs and bites like any other wombat. Eventually at around 25-30 kg she will be released into the wild to live out her life.
This positive outcome would not have been possible without the efforts of the vet team and her carers. Most important, however, was the actions of the member of the public who cared enough to stop and check and therefore saved her from a slow horrific death.
Roadside rescues does and don’ts
It is very important when removing a joey from the pouch of a dead mother not to pull the joey out, especially by the legs. This can severely injure the joey. It must be eased out and it is often necessary to cut the pouch open.
A small joey attached to the mother’s teat must not be pulled off but rather the teat must be cut close to the mother. It is often best to phone the local wildlife group for advice and assistance. Rescued joeys need specialist care and must be handed into these groups. It is illegal to keep a native animal unless you are trained and licensed.
Les Waterhouse, Majors Creek Wombat Refuge – 4846 1333
NARG Wombat Coordinator – 4846 1900 (eastern Palerang)
Wildcare Wombat Coordinator – 6299 1966 (Queanbeyan and western Palerang)