While Marcus tends his plants on Sheoak Ridge, Claire is busy rehabilitating native wildlife. Claire is an experienced, licensed wildlife carer who has specialised in macropods through extensive training and ongoing learning. You never stop learning with this ‘hobby’.
Over the years, we’ve rescued, rehabilitated and released agile wallabies (Macropus agilis), swamp wallabies (Wallabia bicolor), red-legged pademelons (Thylogale stigmatica), pretty-face wallabies (Macropus parryi), eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) and ruffous bettongs (Aepyprymnus rufescens). We’ve also had northern quolls (Dasyurus hallucatus), squirrel and sugar gliders (Petaurus norfolcensis & P. breviceps), striped possums (Dactylopsila trivirgata), brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) and many species of bird come into care. Animals that do not occur here on Sheoak Ridge are sent to other soft release facilities for release as soon as possible.
Population growth, increased traffic, habitat destruction and fragmentation, and domestic pets like dogs and cats have had an enormous negative impact on our native animals in the modern world. Most of our animals come into care from car strikes (ie the mother is killed and the joey survives the hit). Less often we get animals brought in that have been affected by bush fires, become separated from their mother for unknown reasons, or attacked by domestic dogs and cats.
As someone who greatly values the uniqueness of our amazing fauna, my greatest wish would be for people to drive slowly and carefully, particularly when driving at dusk and dawn, as these are the most active times for many animals. I would also love to see pet owners be more responsible. Cats should never be allowed to roam (they are just too good at killing and breeding. It’s not their fault, it’s just the way it is.) and dogs must be restrained at all times. If you own domestic animals, please think about the impacts your pet is having on native wildlife and work on ways to reduce this (e.g. keep your cat indoors or build a cat run, secure dogs in housing at night and walk them on a lead etc).
Every single one of the animals we’ve had in care have their own remarkable personality. It’s a tough job being a carer (stressful, sleep deprivation, dealing with sick wallabies, + the expense of vet bills and medicines etc), but I truly think the rewards outweigh the tough bits. If you are keen to get involved, there are many organisations around Australia that do wildlife rescue and rehab (for example Far north Queensland wildlife rescue, WIRES in NSW, Wildlife Victoria, VIC and Fauna Rescue SA). You need to have a permit to have wallabies or other native animals in care and joining a registered organisation and doing their training courses will give you this. Once you have a minimum of 5yrs of experience and appropriate certified training under your belt, you may wish to obtain your own permit as we have done. The main thing you always have to remember is that you are doing the job for the animals not for yourself, thus the welfare of the animal in your care is the most important thing.
Everything has to come back to the idea that you are rehab’ing them for life back in the wild. They are not domesticated pets and should always be treated as wild. That’s not to say you can’t love them. They get lots of love and attention from their mums in the wild. You only have to watch how a mother wallaby fusses over their pouched young to appreciate that. Being orphaned is also incredibly stressful, so a little love goes a long way. But you also have to give them the appropriate time they need in a wild environment to tune their natural instincts and give them a buddy of the same species and size for company as soon as possible. If you are a member of a group or network this should be relatively easy to organise.
The other factor to remember, is if you have a dog or a cat, you may be putting your wild charges in a life threatening situation. While your dog might be the biggest sook in the world, dogs and dingoes are two of their main predators in the wild, and habituating them to dogs while in care not only goes against the regulations set by DERM in their official code of practice, but it also makes it more likely they will lose the ‘flight’ instincts necessary for their survival in the wild. If you do have a dog, they must retain their fear for them, not learn it’s ok to hang out with them. Keeping young wallabies in close proximity to their natural predators is incredibly stressful for them, even if you as their carer can’t see the signs. Cats are the definitive host for toxoplasmosis, a protozoan parasite that kills macropods and other native animals like bandicoots. Toxo is spread through cat faeces. It only takes a small amount of ingested infected grass to infect and kill a wallaby.
Enjoy these pics and blogs about my gorgeous little mob. I love them all and wish them all the best of luck for life back in the wild.
**Remember to check the pouches of any marsupials (e.g. possums, bandicoots, wallabies, kangaroos, bettongs, quolls, wombats, koalas…) you find on the road. Call your local wildlife rescue group or local carers immediately if you find something. Contact me if you can’t work it out. **
Wildlife Rescue – Facilites
At Sheoak Ridge, we take the final stage of our rehabilitation process of injured, sick or orphaned wildlife seriously. We have built a series of safe, soft-walled enclosures to assist in the process of a carefully monitored soft release. Each enclosure was designed to suit particular species and stages of development. By the time the wallabies have moved into the final (HUGE) enclosure, they have been weaned off human contact and wombaroo milk formula. In doing this, we are aiding the development of their natural instincts for life back in the wild. It is essential that our wallabies display a high level of vigilance and flight responses before release as this greatly increases their chances of success in the wild. Each of the pens has 12+species of native grasses, termite mounds, charcoal, rotting logs, weather-proof shelters and a large number of native tree/shrub species. The two smaller pens can be joined or separated as need be and are suitable for all three species we find on our property (swamp wallabies, pademelons and agile wallabies), while the largest enclosure is perfect for the final release stages of swampies and agiles). We also have an outdoor snake-proof and weather-proof enclosure that is used for small joeys that need to come in at night time or wallabies that need to be segregated from others due to illness or injury. Claire has experience in many areas of macropod care, including emergency 1st aid (eg sub cutaneous fluid administration), first aid of fractures/breaks (before taking to a vet for xrays and care after vet treatment), treatment of disease, infections and other ailments.
As well as having our own permit for the rehabilitation of native animals, Claire and Marcus are part of the fabulous network of volunteers within Far North Queensland Wildlife Rescue. If you’d like to inquire about becoming a carer, please contact this group to join up, book in for the next available training session and get connected to experienced mentors within the group.
The wallabies at Sheoak Ridge would like to thank our amazing sponsors at Daintree Wonder Tours for their generous, ongoing support. Owners Jenna and Dave care for young, orphaned wallabies and assist our mobs by providing funds for wombaroo (special wallaby milk formula) and other supplementary feed necessary for healthy growth. Please click on this link if you are visiting the far north and would like to go on an exceptional nature tour with people who truly care about our native wildlife: http://www.daintreewondertours.com
Thanks to our friends at Wetherby Station, who also recently donated to our wildlife rescue program. Visit their website at: www.wetherbystation.com
Our friends Thomas and Natalia at Wild Earth Expeditions have also recently donated to our release program. Please visit their website for information on unforgettable, small-group tours around the world.
We gratefully acknowledge the support from ADAWS (Atherton & District Animal Welfare Society), who have been subsidising our wombaroo milk since 2012. They operate a second hand store at 22 Main St, Atherton, so if you have goods, please feel free to donate them to this wonderful organisation (or do your shopping there! They have great stuff).
We would also like to acknowledge the incredible support we get from the wonderful vets at Tablelands Veterinary Service www.tablelandvet.com.au/ and the vets at Hands On Healing Veterinary Clinic in Mossman (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hands-On-Healing-Veterinary-Clinic/221605527910561).
We truly couldn’t ask for more dedicated vets!
If you would like to become a sponsor of Sheoak Ridge Nature Reserve’s wildlife rehabilitation program please contact us for details.