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Country living advice from Wildcare

Tawny Frogmouth rescue Wildcare

MANY READERS WILL be aware that ‘the magic towel’ has been mentioned before. Carrying a towel in the boot of the car is not only useful for cleaning your hands, but also quite useful for first aid.

A towel can be part of your tool kit to rescue small native animals from the road or backyard and putting them somewhere safe. It can be used to securely hold small animals that need to be taken to a Vet or handed over to Wildcare.

Spring is a lovely time of the year. Everything is taking off – and so is our wildlife. It is an absolute delight to watch a joey kangaroo take its first hops and to listen to the ever demanding baby birds calling out to be fed.

It’s a busy time for Wildcare with a steady stream of orphaned and injured animals coming into care: abandoned baby birds; turtles with cracked shells from being run over; lizards with puncture marks from dog attack; orphaned wombats and kangaroos from road-crossing incidents; and a growing number of calls for Wildcare’s snake handlers to relocate snakes that turn up in the wrong place.

How to pick up turtles and move off roads

With new people moving into the area it’s a good time to remind ourselves what we can do to help out. Reptiles come onto our roads to get warm and motorists must keep a wary eye open to avoid them. If you see a turtle or lizard on the road, and if it is safe – stop the car, activate your hazard lights, and move the animal off the road in the direction they were headed.

Towel useful to place over
the head of an animal to calm it

Pick up turtles from the front and back, not the sides, as this is where the scent glands are! And it is harder for them to bite you. If you are squeamish, this is where the magic towel comes into play. Lightly drop it over the lizard, turtle or bird and scoop it up. For snakes, just stop and let them pass by (including in the garden), whilst alerting others nearby.

Echidnas are difficult!

Injured reptiles can be placed in a box, kept cool, then seek help. Echidnas can be difficult to pick up, but a rolled towel or other material will help to avoid their spines, as you wriggle your fingers underneath the shoulders to lever them off the ground – don’t use a spade, as this may injure the animal.

Keep the land around your house
clear and well-tended

In the garden, try to keep dogs and cats under control and inside at night. If you discover a lizard in the dog run, then move it somewhere else, nearby. Check that bird netting is off the ground to avoid snakes and lizards getting tangled up. And keep the land around your house clear and well tended, so you can see what is around.

Baby birds

If you come across a baby bird on the ground, just keep an eye on it for a day — it might continue to be fed by its mother. Contact Wildcare (6299 1966) and talk about what to do. A rescued bird can be placed in a box with material at the bottom to hold it secure and then kept in a warm place. Often baby birds end up on the ground as they learn to fly, but haven’t quite yet got the knack. They can also be carefully placed back in a tree – in a container if you cannot reach the nest.

Slow down and avoid encounters with roos and wombats

At this time of the year there are less orphaned kangaroos and wombats coming into care as there are less being hit on the roads. But as you know, there is still a risk in coming across them on our rural roads particularly at dusk and during the darkness of night. Driving slower will give you more time to react to the unexpected.

If you come across a large injured animal be careful how you approach it. A towel can be used to protect you and to place over the head of an animal to calm it whilst you wait for help.

Wombats’ habit is to stop and listen

On the road, be aware that wombats have a habit of stopping, listening, deciding what’s coming towards them and then moving – often too late if your car is travelling too fast. So don’t expect them to rush off the road. Check injured animals to see if they are still alive and whether there is a joey onboard, or hiding nearby.

Top up birdbaths

Lastly, make sure birdbaths and ground-level containers are topped up with water – and enjoy watching what comes along to have a drink or splash. It’s great to see people helping our wildlife.

 Contact Wildcare on 6299 1966 for help (put it in your Mobile).

IMAGE: Baby Tawny Frogmouth in care. (Author supplied)

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