At a recent Wednesday Talk at the Farm, Belinda Kau shared some tips on first aid for wildlife from her experience as a wildlife carer. These free talks for staff and volunteers are held from 1pm every Wednesday except the third Wednesdays of each month. They cover a range of practical and/or thought-provoking topics, and we’ll be sharing notes from some of them here.
First Aid for Wildlife
Inclement weather can cause stress to our wildlife, especially after a storm or heatwave, so take the time to look around for our wildlife friends who might need a helping hand, wherever you are.
During hot weather put out shallow dish of water in a shady spot up off the ground away from pet dogs or cats. Deep pots, ponds or pools need a branch or rope in them so that animals can climb out and avoid drowning. Bees and other insects need a shallow saucer with stones in it so they can get to the water.
If the bird or animal is uninjured, it may just be heat stressed or exhausted. Or maybe a bird has inadvertently flown into a window and is stunned. A calming rest can be all they need to recover. Wrap the animal lightly in pillowcase and place it in a box lined with a towel and with a dish of water. Place the box in quiet dark place for 12 – 24hrs. Possums can be given sliced apple and carrot if they’re kept longer than 12hrs. You can occasionally lightly spray the animal with water if it is heat stressed.
Always release a recovered animal in same place it was found. Release birds during the day and possums at night.
If you find an injured bat or flying fox do not touch it, a very few can pass on a virus if you’re bitten or scratched. Call Bat Conservation and Rescue Qld on 0488 228 134 if you find an injured bat or flying fox.
Take an animal to the vet if it is injured or dehydrated.
Dehydration symptoms: pale gums, sunken cloudy eyes, cold extremities, tented skin. Gently pinch the skin, if it takes a long time to return to flat the animal will need to be put on a drip to rehydrate. Kidney damage from dehydration can cause death within 24 hours so get the animal to a vet as soon as possible. As First Aid, you can offer water in a dripper or syringe but do not pour water down the throat – if it goes into the lungs by mistake it can cause drowning.
Surface wounds can be treated with betadine but bleeding from deep wounds, mouth or nose must be treated by a vet. Broken bones or wings also need vet treatment.
If the bird or animal has been caught by a cat it must go to the vet for a vitamin K shot. The poison on a cat’s claws and teeth will slowly kill an animal or bird.
A baby possum or bird fallen from a tree can be returned to its mother if it’s uninjured. Look for an adult possum, or a leaf nest in the case of a ring tail possum, or a bird nest in the tree you find the baby under. Place the baby possum in a crook in the tree as close as possible to the mother. Put the baby bird back in the nest if possible.
If no mother is about, or the baby possum is injured, place it in a sock or beanie and carry it under your shirt to keep it warm. You can offer it water from a dropper but don’t give it milk or fruit as marsupials need a special milk mix. Put a baby possum in box lined with a towel to keep it warm dark and quiet. Take it to a vet who will pass it on to a wildlife carer. Or call one of these wildlife rescue organisations:
- RSPCA – 1300264652
- Australia Zoo (Sunshine Coast) – 1300369652
- Wildlife Rescue (Moreton Bay Region) – 0478901801
- Wildcare (Gold Coast) – 55272444.
Always check roadkill for babies: in the pouch or on the body of kangaroos, wallabies, possums, koalas and flying foxes and follow directions for baby possums above.
If you want to become a wildlife carer visit the Australian Fauna Care website www.fauna.org.au to find an organisation near you.