Carers stories 2018
On this page
we will keep you informed about animals that you have brought in to
care with WIRES Northern Rivers branch. If you would like to know about
a particular animal, please email us, and we will do what we can to
keep you up to date.
We are often prompted to take care with disposal of rubbish and to consider how it might affect the environment. Plastic of all kinds has a devastating effect on land and sea creatures. Even something as simple as paper masking tape can, however, be a death trap for wildlife.
When WIRES received a call about a snake that was caught in sticky tape, we expected it would be tangled in a heavy duty plastic tape. Our rescuer was surprised to find that the tape was normal paper masking tape which had been crumpled up and discarded. Of even more surprise, the tape had caught not only a Dwarf crown snake but also a little lizard, itself perhaps an intended meal for the snake.
Dwarf crown snakes average about 25cm in length. They are mildly venomous but not considered dangerous to humans because they are reluctant biters, relying more on bluff display than bite. Freeing the snake and the lizard from their sticky situation would take some careful and patient work, since both were so small and delicate. Two WIRES snake handlers worked together, one holding the snake’s head as they soaked the paper and freed the two reptiles.
This lizard and snake were fortunate that the tape they were stuck to was water soluble. WIRES also currently have a juvenile coastal carpet python in care who had been adhered to a very sticky ‘matting tape’ used to insulate a ceiling. This snake had to be transported to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for treatment and is now in care until he sheds.
It is always important to consider the potential consequences of our disposal of rubbish, particularly things with adhesive surfaces, dispose of it responsibly and you might just save a small bird, mammal or reptile from a sticky fate.
Contact WIRES for rescues, advice or enquiries. The 24-hour hotline is for all calls to WIRES in the Northern Rivers - 6628 1898.
Image by Marion Nel
This Coastal Carpet Python was called into our rescue hotline on 21 January, it was found lying in front of a chicken coup at Mcleods Shoot not moving when approached.
The property owner suspected it may have ingested a placebo plastic egg placed in the chicken coop some time previously.
The unfortunate snake was rescued by a WIRES volunteer snake handler and after examination was driven to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital where x-ray confirmed the plastic egg was indeed lodged in the snake’s stomach.
A delicate operation to remove the egg was performed and the snake was brought back into WIRES care for recovery.
After 44 days in care the python finally shed it's skin and three days later it was released back in its home territory at Mcleods Shoot where it was welcomed back by the property owner.
Thank you to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for operating and saving the life of this beautiful animal.
Images by Currumbin Wildlife Hospital & WIRES volunteer Martin Fitzgerald
Have you seen a “mouse”? Disturbed a “rat”? Don’t assume that the animal is a feral pest. There are numerous small Australian mammals which can be easily mistaken for rats and mice, and they often are friends rather than foes.
Over the past two weeks WIRES has taken into care quite a number of baby rodents, including this melomys which has only just opened its eyes.
Melomys, sometimes known as mosaic-tailed rats, are Australian native rodents. There are a number of species in the Northern Rivers, including the Grasslands and the Fawn-footed melomys.
The native Bush rat lives in eucalypt and rain forests and eats insects, fungi, seeds roots and plant stems. In the Northern Rivers we also have the Swamp rat and the Water rat. These shy creatures rarely move in to human houses, but are sometimes found around sheds and rural properties. The New Holland mouse (listed as vulnerable) is similar to the introduced House mouse but does not have a pungent odour.
We also have a number of species of Antechinus in Northern NSW; the Brown, Dusky and Yellow-footed as well as the Black-tailed antechinus that was first discovered in the Border Ranges in 2014. Together with Planigales (which are listed as vulnerable to extinction), these small marsupials are often mistaken for mice. Being carnivores, they eat insects such as cockroaches, so are great inhabitants around your house.
It can be difficult to identify these species of small mammals, particularly when they are young. Please be careful when dealing with mice and rats around your home as you could be accidentally killing protected native wildlife, who might be eating less desirable insect pests and who help maintain the fragile balance of biodiversity in our environment.
By Renata Phelps
In the past two weeks WIRES received a number of calls about swans, often a pair, with bands around their legs. Banding of these graceful birds is done as part of the Australian Bird & Bat Banding Scheme (ABBBS).
WIRES sent one of our volunteer rescuers to check on the welfare of these two beautiful black swans sighted at Lennox Head beach. It was determined that both were in good health. A photo was taken and the tag numbers reported to the ABBBS.
The swans had been observed previously at that location, and the following day they were sighted 40km south at Evans Head. Both had originally been banded at Pacific Pines in Queensland on 3rd December 2017 and 7th January 2018.
Black Swans are found in wetlands and river estuaries, bays and lakes across much of Australia. They feed on algae and weeds and only occasionally graze on land, since they are clumsy walkers. Swans pair for life and raise one batch of chicks a year. Hopefully this happy pair will go on to raise many more of these spectacular birds.
By Renata Phelps
A reminder to use Wildlife Friendly netting only.
This beautiful male Flying Fox was caught some time last night. A member of the public called WIRES as soon as the animal was discovered and it looks at this stage as only minimal damage was caused.
The Flying Fox is expected to make a full recovery. He will be kept in care for observation for a minimum of 3 weeks as it sometimes takes a few weeks for constriction injuries to show.
Many are not as lucky, some sustain severe injuries and others are not found in time suffering a slow painful death. Many different species of wildlife fall victim of unsuitable netting.
Please ensure your netting is wildlife friendly and check daily for any victims.
Image by Wendy Leighton
Ringy the Water Dragon survives strangulation
In mid January this year residents at the village at Southern Cross Drive in Ballina noticed one of the many water dragons seemed to be wearing a less than glamorous adornment. On closer inspection it became clear that the poor guy had managed to somehow get his head stuck through the safety seal ring of a discarded bottle.
Judging by the size of the ring and the dragon it appears that he may have been wearing his necklace for quite some time, however it was now clearly approaching restriction and needed to be removed.
WIRES were called to assist, however catching an agile water dragon is no easy task when he has many nooks and crannies to his advantage.
WIRES maintained regular contact with resident Jan, but “Mr Ringy” proved elusive.
Trapping was the only way to contain the lizard.
Resident Jan was provided with a cage trap and string and, thanks to her endless effort and patience, she finally managed to secure the patient almost 5 weeks after reporting the concern.
After a visit from a volunteer reptile handler from WIRES the ring was carefully cut and removed and the Water dragon was assessed and released.
Ringy’s story is a good reminder that a careless approach to our litter can cause great distress to the local wildlife. Please remember to cut all safety seal rings before discarding.
We are all feeling the heat at the moment and so is our wildlife.
You can help by putting out fresh water daily. If you have a bird bath please fill it with fresh water daily. Ice cream containers, placed on the ground around boundaries of the property and filled with water will also help, but be sure to put in a stick or large rock to allow small creatures an avenue of escape should they fall in.
Snakes may venture closer to our homes in search of water. If a water source is available away from your house they are less likely to venture closer seeking a dripping tap.
Images by Sharon McGrigor and Niall Stanton
Ethan from Alstonville had quite a surprise when he found a Python neatly curled up in his wardrobe on 19th January. On closer inspection he noticed a clutch of eggs under the snake.
WIRES was contacted and volunteer snake handler Josef arrived wondering why a python would have chosen such an usual nesting place, not the most hospitable being very hot and dry.
Josef knew straight away that there was something wrong with mother python. Being in an unsuitable environment for some time on her eggs she had failed to shed her already damaged skin, causing bad scarring, and deforming many of her scales.
A road trip to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital was in order. Once up there the vet advised that she must remain in care for treatment and close observation to ensure her skin condition improves and that she can eventually successfully shed her skin.
Josef drove back home where mum python was reunited with her eggs now located in more suitable nesting material.
On Wednesday 7 February the eggs started to hatch.
By 9th February 15 baby pythons had successfully hatched. All were released a few days later in a location close to where mum python had been found.
Mum python will stay in care till she has shed her damaged skin and is back in good health.
Thank you to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for treating this Python. Thank you Ethan for calling WIRES and ensuring the python and her eggs were attended to.
By Josef Kohlmetz
Help our Wildlife - Join WIRES Now
Wildlife volunteers are needed in all parts of the Northern Rivers.
WIRES Northern Rivers are hosting a Rescue and Immediate care workshop in Lismore on 25 February.
The first part of our training can be completed online. Give us a call on our 24 hour hotline 66281898
Members can be actively involved in WIRES regardless of the type of dwelling in which they live. For example, the very intensive care of young birds requires no aviaries or expensive equipment, merely training & dedication.
Fundraising is a necessary part of our operation as we rely completely on public donation. Fundraising is time-consuming and can be organised by someone who is not actively involved with caring for animals.
Having pets or having young children does not exclude members from caring for wildlife. Common sense is the main ingredient.
Our Rescue Hotline is operational on a 24 hour basis; this means that someone has to answer the phone no matter what time it is, day or night. How we manage this is by breaking the 24 hours up into shifts, each manned by a volunteer. As you can imagine this requires quite a lot of volunteers, maybe you could help?
You can choose your level of involvement. Anyone 18+ can sign up to become a qualified wildlife rescuer, and can opt for additional areas of wildlife care & involvement:
•Caring for orphaned & injured wildlife
•Building enclosures & equipment
•Phone roster- operating a shift on our 24 hr hotline
Swimming pools and water troughs can be a death trap for wildlife; if they fall in they can’t get out. They will swim trying to find a way out or something to hang onto.
30 January was a hot day and this Echidna would have been looking for a drink of water when it came across a swimming pool, sadly it fell in and unable to get out it swam till it found the pool skimmer box. Was that the way out? Sadly it was not and once in, the Echidna was stuck.
This Echidna was lucky, as soon as it was noticed by the property owner and he realised he would not be able to free the animal without help he contacted WIRES.
WIRES volunteer Merryn arrived on site and with the help of the property owner managed to free the Echidna, not an easy task considering the spines.
The unfortunate animal was brought into care as it had obviously been in the water for extended time, if you have been in water for a long time your skin goes white and wrinkly, and that is what this Echidnas skin looked like.
After two days of rest and recreation plus a good feed, the Echidna was feeling much better and released back on the property where it had come from. Echidnas have a very good memory; it is highly unlikely that it will make the same mistake of looking for a drink from the pool again.
Ready for release
Back in home territory
Ducklings are often found in pools, they fall in, or follow mum, she can fly, but they are yet too young and they are trapped.
Please remember that any container of water can be deadly for our wildlife, especially during the hot summer months. Sadly a huge amount of animals are found in swimming pools or water troughs unable to get out.
If you have a swimming pool or water trough on your property please check it regularly for any animals that may have fallen in, better still create an avenue of escape. A thick weighted rope attached securely so it is hanging into the pool or water trough can provide a lifesaving escape for drowning animals and birds.
Most Australian land animals can swim, but only for so long before exhaustion sets in and they silently drown.
Images by Merryn West-Bird
New Years eve was a sad day for Claire, a resident at Newrybar. A python was accidentally hit by a hedge trimmer, and a clump of 15 eggs were discovered under the snake.
Sadly the python died from its injuries, but the eggs were carefully collected and WIRES was called - could we possibly take the eggs into care and release the baby pythons back on the property if they were to hatch?
WIRES Volunteer snake handler Steve collected the eggs and they were taken into care, equipment and knowledge put into action for the eggs to incubate.
The waiting game began - would the eggs hatch?? It was hard to know how long ago they had been laid, but around 50 days would be the normal incubation period.
Finally, on the afternoon of 24 January it started to happen!
The first little noses started poking out through slits in the eggs.
By the next morning 13 healthy little baby pythons had turned their tub into a literal snake pit!
It was a sight to behold and only two eggs didn't make it - one had dried up early on and one baby python died inside the egg for an unknown reason. 13 out of 15 was a great result however, and that night all the baby pythons were released into a rock walk near where the eggs had been found back on the Newrybar property
Claire was delighted, as she had felt very close to the mama python that had been seen around the property for a long time before the accident.
Thank you for calling WIRES when the eggs were found, and thank you also for your generous donation Claire.
Images by Steve Berry and Claire
Thanks to the vigilant efforts of two Myocum members of the public, and Mullumbimby vet clinic, two young birds were successfully released yesterday.
A young crow was found at the base of a tree, covered in ants. Ronan took the little one into the Mullumbimby vet. Though unclear what had caused its condition, the young bird was checked out and given the all clear.
The young crow was collected by a WIRES volunteer and after a few days rest and recuperation; it was released back in its home territory.
In a second rescue, not too far away, a juvenile Sacred kingfisher was plucked wet and bedraggled from a swimming pool. It was also taken to Mullumbimby vet surgery and then collected by the same WIRES volunteer.
Only a few hours rest was needed for this bird, it quickly gather its strength and was returned to the swimming pool area where Michael, who had fished the bird out of the pool, was present to see it happily fly off into the trees.
Thanks to Ronan and Michael and the Mullumbimby vet clinic who all helped these young birds recover from their ordeals.
By Barbara Wilkins
The Australasian Grebe is a small waterbird. They are prolific divers, disappearing under water when approached or disturbed. They feed on small fish and aquatic insects. An interesting fact about these birds is they eat their own feathers to help prevent injury from any sharp fish bones swallowed.
This little chick was found on a bridge between Naughtons Gap and Casino. Rarely do these birds come into care as they are able to swim as soon as they hatch. Parent birds share the task of rearing the chicks.
The grebe's feet and legs are made for life in the water so to find one on a bridge was rather unusual. This little one was brought into care for observation to ensure there were no injuries and housed overnight in a tub set up with a makeshift pond and soft cloth to take the pressure off its legs and feet.
All seemed normal overnight.
Early the next morning the creek below the bridge was quietly checked out and it was not long before the sound of another little grebe could be heard in the dense foliage further along.
Our little chick was placed in the creek near the sound of the sibling and the little Australasian Grebe family was soon reunited.
If you find an injured native critter or one that seems to be misplaced phone the 24/7 WIRES Northern Rivers Hotline on 66281898.
By Julie Marsh
Joan a resident of Alstonville was out for an early morning walk when she came across a large and very young white bird at the base of a huge Norfolk Pine.
She gently gathered up the chick and quickly returned home to phone Wires Hotline on 66281898.
Wires volunteer Julie was quickly on the scene and identified the large chick as a Royal Spoonbill chick.
The bird had no injuries so the best option was to return it to the nest where the parent birds could continue to raise it.
The only problem was the nest was approximately 30-40 metres up in this enormous pine tree.
After a few phone calls the Wires hotliner spoke to the owner of Down To Earth Tree Services, John Holmes.
John was on the scene with his cherry picker in no time at all.
The Royal Spoonbill chick went for a ride in John’s cherry picker and was placed back in the nest where it made itself comfortable and waited to be fed by its parents.
Thanks to Joan for calling WIRES and thank you to Down To Earth Tree Services, John Holmes for taking time out of a busy schedule in order to help return this beautiful chick to its parents.
By Julie Marsh
Learning to fly can be hazardous.
Bimbi is an 8 week old black flying-fox; she was somehow separated from her mum whilst learning to fly. Found hanging alone in a tree far away from the colony she was rescued by a WIRES volunteer after a call to our emergency hotline.
She will stay in care with other juvenile flying foxes till all are ready to resume life in the wild.
Image by Lib Ruytenberg
Kookaburra chick reunited with its family, thanks to Essential Energy
Birds sometimes build nests where a fall by a chick is fraught with danger. One Kookaburra family regularly uses tall bangalow palms in the centre of Byron Bay, and almost every year, WIRES is called out to a chick found on the ground.
This little fellow was found under a tall Bangalow palm by holiday maker Ed , he called WIRES immediately and kept watch until WIRES volunteer Deb arrived.
After checking the young chick had not been injured by the fall, and ensuring the parents were about, Essential Energy were called to assist with putting the little one back in the nest.
The wonderful Essential Energy crew once again used their cherry picker to put the little one back in its nest, watched over by anxious kookaburra parents. It is now safe with its sibling, and hopefully will stay safe until it has grown its flight feathers and is ready to fly off with the family.
A huge thank you to Essential Energy for their prompt response and caring reunification of this little Aussie icon with its family.
Images by Deborah Pearce
A large Goanna was yesterday found sunning itself on a big pile of pallets at Beaumont Tiles in Ballina. Employees were concerned that it may get injured as the location is close to the highway and there is no source of food or water. It had appeared after flash flooding and a king tide had occurred.
WIRES volunteer Marion visited the location earlier today to check on the goanna which had now gone into the warehouse.
Goannas are not the easiest of native animal to handle, and this particular one was cornered with little chance of getting out by itself. It was fast becoming defensive so Marion called for backup.
When WIRES volunteer Steve arrived it had gone into the ladies toilet.
This area made the rescue a lot safer for Marion and Steve and the goanna was soon caught and placed into a suitable container for relocation back to a more suitable environment nearby.
Thank you Beaumont Tiles for calling WIRES and being concerned for the welfare of our native wildlife.
Images by Belinda & Marion Nel
HIGH ALERT: Flying-foxes are especially susceptible to a run of days with high temperatures. Flying-foxes suffering heat stress may come to the ground or move lower down roosts closer to the ground during daylight hours.
If you see this please call WIRES or another wildlife care group immediately 1300 094 737.
In Northern Rivers area please call 66281898
It is important NEVER TO TOUCH OR HANDLE a flying-fox under any circumstance as a very small number may present a risk of contracting Australian Bat Lyssavirus, a disease transmitted through bites and scratches.
If you are waiting for a WIRES rescuer to arrive and you are able to safely provide some form of shade over the flying-fox (without touching it) to keep it out of the direct sun, please do so.
If the flying-fox is on the ground and it’s a hot day, you can place a cool towel or umbrella above it until the rescuer arrives to protect it from the the worst of the heat.
Spraying the animal intermittently with a very light mist or setting up a sprinkler to gently wet the animal can also help.
Image by Nick Edards