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EMERGENCY CARE

This page will be constantly upgraded to include new information and advice regarding other species.

If you have emergency 24 hour care advice to share regarding species indeginous to your area
then please contact us
You will be acknowleged or can remain anonymous.

You have rescued a creature but cannot get it to a wildlife carer immediately.
This page is NOT intended to advise you on the long term care of any of the animals and birds mentioned.
It is intended to help you get through the crucial first 24 hours.
Marsupials
Monotremes
Birds
Reptiles

Most of the calls that come into Roo Gully usually involve newly rescued injured, sick and orphaned animals and birds.
Often these creatures are rescued in remote areas and need to be cared for overnight before travelling to us.
If this happens to you these few simple guidelines may help you through the first 24 hours of emergency care.

Never forget the creature is going to be terrified of humans.
Therefore it will bite, scratch and kick to protect itself.

Stress is a killer.
To minimise stress only treat what injuries you have to.
Keep the creature WARM, QUIET AND DARK in a well ventilated box, or suitable container.

If you have access to a telephone then speak to a veterinarian.
They will try to help you.


If you cannot get hold of professional help -
Serious injuries will need emergency first aid treatment,
but only if it is safe for you to do so.

Stem severe bleeding and immobilise obvious fractures.
Victims of bush fires need any burns cooling with water.
Those affected by high or low temperatures need to be cooled or warmed slowly.
Do not attempt to feed a creature that is hyper or hypothermic.
Those suffering from dehydration should be offered small tepid drinks at regular intervals.

Keep an accurate record of all treatment and nutrition given to the creature in your care.
Pass this history on to the experienced carer, or veterinarian, when the creature moves into their care.


Marsupials

BE AWARE that most marsupials can inflict a nasty bite.

With regard to emergency 24 hour care of marsupials it is often more important to know what NOT to do.

Everyone wants to feed a young joey, but usually this is NOT of initial paramount importance.
It is also worth knowing that it often takes even experienced carers a few days to get a marsupial feeding properly.

So let us go through what your marsupial needs immediately.
After being checked and treated for any obvious and serious injuries it needs to be WARM, DARK AND QUIET.
NO blaring TV - NO telephones ringing - NO loud noises - NO inquisitive or noisy pets - NO noisy kids.
Yes we all know small marsupials and joeys are cute and cuddly - but it is NOT a toy.
It is a living creature that is VERY frightened of its new environment, and who probably wants its mum.
DO NOT pass the marsupial or joey around to everyone.

Spare just 2 minutes to put yourself in the marsupial's predicament.
Think what it would be like for a human child, or you, to be taken into care by aliens.
Aliens that probably, even if they did not mean too, killed its mother with their vehicle.
Even if these aliens want to care for the child - or even if it is an adult human - it WILL be terrified beyond words.
The marsupial in your care is feeling the same.
Never forget - Stress WILL and does KILL marsupials.

Correct housing is vital.
We will not deal with the large kangaroo, because on the 'Rescue Page' it was stated you needed professional help, and therefore you should not be trying to emergency house one. However, if you are then please ring for advice.

Most other adult marsupials can be temporarily housed inside a cardboard box, lined with a towel, and other towels or rags placed inside so it can make a nest.
Make sure you puncture ventilation holes in the sides and top.

Joeys, whether they be kangaroo, possum or any other marsupial joey, need to feel secure.
They have been taken from a warm tight place that felt very safe to them.
Joeys should be housed inside a cotton pillow case and then wrapped in warm woollen clothing to keep them warm.
DO NOT put a joey directly inside a woollen sweater, or a flannelette pillow case.
They can inhale the fluff from such material, and also get their claws caught up in wool loops and cause injury.

There is much controversy between wildlife carers as to whether we should keep a marsupial close to us or not.
Some advocate that they should be left in their bag and have human contact only at feed time.
We take each case on its own merit. And what follows is how Roo Gully deals with different stage joeys.

  • Unfurred joeys cannot thermoregulate so need a heat source.
    Roo Gully uses a humidcirib, but you will not have one so we make the following suggestions:
    You cannot keep this joey at a high enough temperature with your body heat.
    Place a warm hot water bottle in the bottom of an esky.
    Cover with towels to ensure the joey does not get too hot.
    Preferrably place a thermometer on the top layer of towelling and keep at 34C
    Place the joey inside its pillow case onto the top towel, and cover with another light towel or blanket.
  • Newly furred joeys and Western Grey joeys up to 2 kilos.
    We keep these joeys close to us, in their pillow case, down our shirt.
    Yes, we have discussed the stress factor, and that humans are seen as predators, but it is also true that a marsupial is closer to its mother than any other mammal. It hears her heartbeat, listens to her stomach rumbles, feels her movement, and smells her eucalyptus breath on its face when she grooms it.
    It is never alone, therefore when mum dies it is thrust it a terrifying world of silence.
    We find these young joeys settle better being close to just to one person, and we even sleep with them.
    Nominate one person to be the joey's substitute mother until it is handed over to a carer, or veterinarian.
  • The older joey, regardless of species, is more prone to stress, because it knows it should not be with humans.
    If the joey is showing signs of stress then place inside a pillow case and wrap securely in an outer bag.
    Keep noise to a minimum, but do not leave this joey alone.
    It can escape and could get seriously injured and stressed during recapture.
    Kangaroo joeys have been known to rip open pillow cases with their toe nails, and can inflict serious injury.
    Most usually settle when WARM, DARK and QUIET.

DO NOT attempt to feed a marsupial suffering from shock, or hypothermia.
If you are not a wildlife carer it is unlikely you will have the specialist marsupial milk formula in your cupboard.
Marsupials are lactose intolerant - therefore DO NOT give joeys a drink of cow's milk.
Once the marsupial has settled and is warm you can offer it tepid pre boiled water if it is thirsty.
Because some kangaroo joeys can survive for up to 3 days in their dead mother's pouch, and because it could be another 24 hours before it is handed over to a carer, it may be in need of more than just water. If this is the case you can, in an emergency situation ONLY, feed it half strength evaporated milk watered down with pre boiled water.
Tell the carer you have done so.
Remember a marsupial joey cannot accept a human baby teat, or a lamb's teat into its mouth, therefore it would have to fed with a syringe or a dropper.

You may need to toilet the joey.
The joey will feel safer if it is NOT removed from its pillow case during this procedure.
Use a warm, moist, soft cloth and gently stimulate the cloaca - situated at the bottom of the stomach, in front of the tail.
Work in circles and the joey will urinate. It is not essential that the joey passes faeces at this stage.
DO NOT overstimulate. Some joeys, especially wallabies, can suffer a prolapsed cloaca if overstimulated.

ADULT POSSUMS
Can be fed pieces of apple, melon, bananas and grapes. Also carrot and corn on the cob.
You should also place fresh young eucalyptus leaves in with the possum.
Offer fresh water.

 

 

Monotremes

Monotremes are egg laying mammals, and because they have special needs
please contact an experienced wildlife carer, or a veterinarian, as soon as possible.

Remember, because an echidna has spines and a platypus spends a great deal of its time swimming underwater
the young of both animals do not reside in the mother's pouch for a great length of time.
Therefore if you find a young echidna in a hollow log or a platypus in a hole by a river bank, perhaps it should be there!
You might be 'rescuing' something that does not need rescuing.

ECHIDNAS:

Echidnas are renowned escapologists, and have been known to literally dismantle a building in their bid for freedom.
They are also equipped for digging and can burrow underground.
Therefore housing echidnas is not easy, and cardboard boxes are not suitable.
Instead temporarily house an echidna in a cat cage, or some other very solid container, such as an old bath.
Part filled the bath with soil, put in a hollow log, so it has a hiding place, and cover with small gauge wire mesh.

Echidnas are very susceptible to high and low temperatures, and should be kept at 25C.
If the echidna has been rescued in the sun on a hot day cover with wet towels, or even spray with cool water.

Echidnas do not feed their young every day, so it is not essential to feed a puggle (young echidna) if it is being moved to an experienced carer within 24 hours.
You can however offer water in your cupped hand. The echidna will lap if it is thirsty.
Adult echidnas eat termites, ants, invertebrates and worms.
Access to leaf litter and dead logs will offer some nutrition for the 24 hours in emergency care.
Provide fresh water in a heavy bowl, preferably dug into the soil, or leaf litter, of the echidna's temporary house.

Do not be alarmed to see an echidna blow clear bubbling fluid from its nostrils. This is normal.
An echidna's pouch is actually a fold of skin. The male echidna is also capable of forming a fold.
Male echidnas have a spur on their hind leg. Unlike the platypus, the spur of the echidna is not reputed to be poisonous.
Echidnas are hosts to ticks.
Between June and January it is important to release echidnas, where they were found, within 10 days, because they might have young to feed.

PLATYPUSES:

Temporarily house in a wooden box lined with towels.

Platypuses eat prawns, yabbies, earthworms and insects. They will also eat mealworms.
Because they feed underwater half fill a bath, or other suitable large container that will hold water, and sprinkle in food.
Provide a dry land area for the platypus using flat rocks.

Beware of the spur on the hind leg of the male platypus. This is venomous.

 

Birds

Birds are notoriously difficult to care for following injury.
Stress is a big killer, and often the least you do the better the chance they will survive the first 24 hours.
A bird will gape, hold its beak open, when stressed.
If a bird gapes place it in a dark box as soon as possible. Keep it quiet.
Many species of birds can also inflict serious injury.
They require careful handling.
Be aware of sharp powerful beaks and talons.

Roo Gully
Tip
Handling Birds

If you have to handle a bird capable of inflicting serious injury then it is important you immobilise the beak and talons before you commence any treatment.

At Roo Gully the handler wears thick gauntlet gloves.
We cover the head of the bird with a cloth hood, and also tape the talons closed.
Or we encourage the bird to grip a piece of wood, such as a small branch.
If the bird gets a good grip you can tape the talons to the wood.
The bird must be held facing away from the handler.
The wings are held securely by the handler to prevent further damage to the bird, and also to protect the person examining the bird for injury.

Do not tie the hood tightly around the neck, and make sure the bird can breath.
Work quickly and remove the hood and any tape from the bird as soon as possible to minimise stress.

Black Cockatoo

It can be difficult to detect all injuries to birds because of the amount of feathers and down.

If it is safe to do so immobilise any broken wings.
Close the wing into its natural formation and bandage to the bird's body. Leave the uninjured wing and legs free.

Cardboard boxes are usually adequate to house a bird for 24 hours in an emergency.
Choose a box big enough to house the bird, making sure there is enough room to prevent damage to wing feathers.
Line the bottom with a towel, or a newspaper. You can also add torn strips of newspaper, crumpled into loose balls.
Make sure you puncture ventilation holes in the sides and top of the box.
Place the box in a quiet, dark and warm place.
Young birds and chicks might need a heat source.

Some birds have to be force fed. If the bird is in your care longer than 24 hours you may have to consider this.
Make sure any food is given to the back of the mouth. The glottis (tube leading to the lungs) is situated directly behind the bird's tongue and must never be blocked by food or fluid.
For this reason NEVER pour fluid into a bird's mouth.
If the bird needs fluid and will not drink, give fluid by spoon or syringe as far to the back of the mouth as possible.

SEA BIRDS

Sea birds, which include albatrosses, pelicans, terns and many others, require specialist care.
However situations have occurred when sea birds have been blown hundreds of miles inland by cyclonic winds, and require emergency care before they can be transported back to the coast and into the hands of experienced carers.

Sea birds blown inland will be exhausted and need somewhere quiet, dark and warm to recover.

Sea birds contaminated with oil from spillages must be prevented from trying to preen, and must be discouraged from ingesting oil into their digestive system
Wipe the bird's beak clean of oil, and wrap the bird's body in a sheet, keeping the head free.
Oil contaminated birds can be washed in a mild solution of dish washing detergent, and then rinsed.
Dry the bird and place somewhere warm, dark and quiet.

These birds will eat whole fish such as whitebait and pilchards.
The size of the fish, or piece of fish, should be roughly the same size as the bird's beak.
Offer the fish to the bird head first.
It is important to make sure any frozen fish is properly thawed.
NEVER feed these birds tinned fish or domestic pet food.

WATER FOWL

These birds usually have webbed feet and include geese, swans, ducks and swamphens.

Natural diet includes aquatic vegetation, grasses and their seeds. Some also eat insects, snails, worms and fish.
You can supplement their diet with chopped green vegetables, duckweed, clover and grass.
Do not feed them salt water fish.
In a 24 hour emergency care situation they can also be fed chicken pellets.

WADERS

These can be quite large birds, and usually have long spindly legs and long sharp beaks.
They include plovers, ibises, brolgas and herons.

They normally eat insects and fresh water fish.
You can supplement their diet by crushing dog biscuits and mixing with raw mince. Moisten and feed as a sausage shape.

CARNIVORES

Carnivorous birds vary in size from large Wedgetail eagles to kookaburras, owls and magpies.
Birds of prey can be very dangerous to handle, and you should seek the help of an experienced carer.

Natural diet ranges from rats, mice, snakes and lizards to large insects.
In an emergency you can supplement their diet by crushing dog biscuits and mixing with raw mince.
Roll into small balls and feed to the bird.
Only offer mice caught in your home if you are sure they have not had access to rat poison.

INSECTIVORES

These are usually smaller birds such as cuckoo shrikes, bee eaters and magpie larks.
They also include smaller birds such as robins and wrens.

These birds consume insects, spiders, caterpillars, worms and larvae.
You can supplement their feed by crushing dog biscuits and mixing with bread crumbs and a mashed hard boiled egg.
Feed as a crumble.

NECTIVORES

These include honeyeaters, wattlebirds, lorikeets and silvereyes.

Natural diet ranges from the nectar from native bushes, to soft fruits and berries, to small insects.
You can supplement their diet by chopping well ripened soft fruit such as grapes, bananas and melons.
Or by making a mix of baby cereal, sugar and water.
Chicks can be supplemented with mashed hard boiled egg mixed with mashed ripe fruit.

GRANIVORES

These birds vary in size from small finches to pigeons to parrots, galahs and cockatoos.

BEWARE - Parrots have strong beaks and can inflict serious injury - including amputate human fingers!

Natural diet includes seeds from native bushes and trees and native fruits and berries.
You can supplement their diet with bird seed, and chopped raw fruit and vegetables such as apples and corn on the cob.
Chicks can be supplemented with mashed hard boiled egg mixed into baby cereal moistened with water.

FRUGIVORES

These birds usually live in the rain forests and surrounding regions. They include bowerbirds, and fruit doves.

Natural diet is native fruit and berries, and insects.
You can supplement their diet with chopped well ripened fruit such as grapes, bananas and figs.
You can also offer dried sultanas and raisins that have been well soaked.
Chicks can be supplemented with mashed hard boiled egg mixed with mashed soft fruit.

EMUS
Harry the emu

These magnificent flightless birds are often very reluctant feeders when they come into care.
Predominantly grazers, it is difficult to tempt them, but we have discovered that emus are attracted to the colour yellow.
They seem to like the yellow flowers of Capeweed, and can be tempted to drink by floating yellow balls in their water container.
A word of warning though - watch out they do not eat the balls!
They will also eat chopped fruit and vegetables.

Emus are curious birds and tend to eat anything once they settle in, including pegs off the washing line, yellow pegs first of course, and nice shining socket sets!

 

 

Reptiles

There are many dos and don'ts with these creatures. The 'don'ts' are VERY important for YOUR safety.

SNAKES:

DO NOT attempt to rescue a poisonous snake unless you are very experienced in handling these reptiles.
DO NOT attempt to rescue a snake unless it has been positively identified by an experienced person as non venomous.
VENOMOUS SNAKES CAN AND DO KILL HUMANS - CALL AN EXPERIENCED HERPETOLOGIST.

House in a wooden box, or an empty fish tank, with a tight fitting lid.
Line the bottom with newspaper and, because snakes are cold blooded, provide a heat source at one end only.
A light globe can provide the ideal temperature of around 25 - 30C.

Because many snakes do not feed every day it is not essential to feed the snake if it is being moved to an experienced carer within 24 hours, but you must provide fresh water in a shallow dish.

LIZARDS:

Bobtail lizard
These creatures can bite and scratch.
Any wounds are prone to infection.
Seek medical attention if bitten or scratched.

House in a wooden box, or an empty fish tank, with a tight fitting lid.
Line the bottom with newspaper, and place loose bark or leaf litter at one end for shelter.
Position a flat rock at the other end under a heat source. A light globe can provide the ideal temperature of around 30C.

Do not attempt to feed a lizard unless it is warm. It cannot digest food if it is cold.
Provide fresh water in a shallow dish.
Beaten raw egg in a shallow dish will tempt most lizards. Place the lizard close to the dish.
Most lizards are omnivores, and will eat insects and chopped up fruit.
Large monitors do not feed every day so it is not essential to feed the lizard if it is being moved to an experienced carer within 24 hours, but you must provide fresh water in a shallow dish.

Common injuries:

  • Puncture wounds caused by domestic pet bites. These can be deep and involve internal organs.
  • Lacerations and amputations caused by garden spades, forks, whipper snippers and lawn mowers.

Clean all wounds with tepid, previously boiled, water and a mild solution of antiseptic, and speak to an experienced carer, or your veterinarian.

TURTLES:

These creatures need access to water and dry land.
House in a fish tank, or any other large container that will hold water.
Fill with water deep enough for the turtle to swim underwater.
Water temperature should be around 25C.
Make a platform of flat rocks at one end. The top rock must be above the water level to allow access to dry land.
However if they have debilitating injuries house in an empty fish tank lined with moistened newspaper, provide a heat source using a light globe, and spray with a fine mist of warm fresh water regularly.

Juvenile turtles need to be fed every day, and for the first 24 hours, can be fed prawns, earthworms, tadpoles and large insects. Any uneaten food should be removed from the water.
Adult turtles do not feed every day, and so it is not essential to feed them if they are being moved on to an experienced carer within 24 hours.

 

 

 

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