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.
Mullumbimby Public School celebrated World Environment Day recently with lots of activities focussing on protecting the environment. The gold coin donation collected was generously allocated to the local branch of WIRES to assist with feeding flying-foxes, wallabies and possums in care.
WIRES volunteers Barbara and Colleen attended the School assembly and explained how the donation would be used to support native animals in care.
Students from the Environment Committee were presented with a certificate and book with thanks for their wonderful fundraising activities on behalf of local wildlife.
WIRES is very grateful to the school students and teachers for this wonderful initiative to help our injured and orphaned wildlife.
Echidna season is here
Many current calls to our hotline are regarding echidnas that are spotted in house yards. Sometimes the animal has “dug in” or rolled into a ball, which are its ways of defending itself when it feels insecure and in danger. The best solution is to leave the echidna alone, remove the threat (usually the family dog) and the echidna will go on its way once it feels secure. Echidnas have a great memory, and it is unlikely that it will return after a frightening experience.
As the weather gets cooler, echidnas become more active and are starting to travel further afield looking for a mate. If you are very lucky you might see as many as 10 echidnas walking in a line. This is called an echidna train. The female is in the lead with males behind in order of size! She may lead them around for 6 weeks before choosing a mate.
Unfortunately, this increased activity makes echidnas more vulnerable on the roads. Please be alert when you drive to avoid injuring an echidna. Echidnas don't move very quickly, so please slow down to allow them to safely cross - and keep an eye out for injured animals that may be on the side of the road.
Echnidnas aren’t easy animals to handle! The echidna's sharp spines, called quills, cover its back and moult every year. Each individual spine has a muscle attached to its base, giving the animal control over the movement and direction of its spines and enabling it to anchor itself firmly onto many surfaces by using the erect spines.
If you find an echidna on the road, it may have been hit. Injuries are not always apparent. If you can, cover with a towel and move it off the road. Please stay with the animal and call WIRES right away. Do not put the echidna in your car uncontained as it may bed itself in and be very difficult to remove.
When you ring our Hotline (66 28 1898), one of our members will talk you through the situation and how you can assist until a rescuer arrives. It is also very important to know where the echidna is from as we always aim to return them to their home territory where they are likely to have a burrow.
Image by Sharon McGrigor
A lifting experience for this Barn Owl Nestling
This little Barn Owl nestling found itself in real trouble when it accidently fell about 6 metres from its nest box. For a number of years, the owls at Lindendale had been using the purpose built nest boxes erected by Ken and Louise, who encourage the owls in their macadamia plantation as natural rodent control agents.
After falling to the ground the owl chick was fortunately found by Ken and Louise and they called WIRES straight away for help. The chick was collected and transported by WIRES volunteer Marion to Lismore where he was carefully assessed by experienced avian carer Kim. Amazingly he had survived the fall unscathed. He was kept quiet and warm in a substitute nest box and happily ate four mice throughout the night.
Reuniting chicks with their family is always the best outcome, but the next day Kim discovered the nest box was too high to reach. So Steve Cubis Tree Services from South Lismore were called and Steve kindly made the trip out to Lindendale with his cherry picker.
Once high enough to inspect the nest box, it was discovered that the roof had been damaged, so some hasty repairs were made before the little owl chick was placed safely back inside where the parent birds were quietly waiting.
Please remember that rat baits kill more than just the rodents, and many of our native wildlife suffer a slow death from secondary poisoning. Owls are extremely efficient hunters and a pair of owls with chicks can easily take up to 10 rats per night. With the ongoing loss of large old trees with hollows, a nest box is a good way to encourage owls to your neighbourhood.
Some great nest box plans can be found here if you would like to erect a nest box and encourage natural pest control.
Images by Marion Nel and Kim McCully
Possums at risk as the days shorten
As the days shorten and winter approaches, more cars are on the road at dusk, dawn and dark. Sadly, this means that many nocturnal animals become victims on our roads.
Possums are particularly at risk at this time of the year, and WIRES has been receiving a large number of calls about injured, deceased and orphaned possums. Yesterday there was a particularly sad case where a mother Ringtail and her little joey were both found dead on Richmond Hill road.
In the Northern Rivers region we predominantly have two types of possums. The Ringtail possum (pictured) is a red-brown colour and has a long tail with a white tip. They are smaller in size than the Brushtail possum, which can be black to grey in in colour.
As with all marsupials, it is very important to check any possum that is killed on the road. If it is female there may be joeys in her pouch or nearby if they were riding on her back. In many cases the joeys can be saved.
While Brushtail possums generally only have one baby at a time (very rarely they will have twins), the Ringtail possum is likely to have 2-3 joeys at any time. So always look around in case there is another joey nearby. Call WIRES for advice on how to check a pouch and to arrange a rescue.
Most importantly, always drive carefully at dawn and dusk and slow down in areas with bushland around the roadsides. A possum, wallaby or any nocturnal marsupial life might just be able to be saved.
Image by Sharon McGrigor
WIRES Volunteers: Giving Wildlife a Second Chance
National Volunteers Week (21-27th May) is an opportunity to acknowledge the many diverse roles that wildlife carers play in helping injured and orphaned native animals across the Northern Rivers - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
When little joeys like Carob and Coffee Bean are orphaned, a whole team of local WIRES volunteers help to give them a second chance.
Trained volunteer Hotliners take calls in their own homes - morning, noon and night. They are on the front line to provide initial advice to the public and arrange for one of our rescuers to respond when needed.
A network of WIRES members spread across the region, from Crabbes Creek in the North, to New Italy in the South and Drake in the West are on call to pick up or take delivery of native animals and provide essential first aid and initial care.
Some WIRES members are full-time carers, providing round the clock nurture for animals in their own home. Making milk, bottling, feeding – sometimes 6-7 times a day, and washing the many pouches and towels is an enormous but highly rewarding job. However these carers can’t do what they do without the contributions of so many other volunteers, many of whom operate quietly behind the scenes.
There are those who stock and distribute food supplies and equipment; those who assist with fundraising activities; those who come along to working bees to build and maintain cages and yards; and those who do the many administrative roles that keep the local WIRES Branch running smoothly.
Importantly, WIRES acknowledges the invaluable role played by local vets, who also volunteer their time so generously to assist wildlife in significant need.
Every contribution made by our volunteers, big or small, makes a huge difference to each and every little life that is saved.
WIRES rely on the generosity of the public. If you would like to donate or are interested in becoming a member, contact WIRES Northern Rivers on 6628 1898
Any time is a great time to join WIRES and start learning to be a wildlife rescuer. 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 Allison Pon
A relaxing fishing trip was cut short for two fellows fishing in the Wilson River at Lismore when this Brisbane short-necked turtle thought it had caught a tasty meal. It was hooked with no chance of escape.
WIRES was promptly contacted but the carer was unable to safely remove the hook. The Turtle was in need of surgery.
The turtle was driven to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital where the hook was finally removed during surgery, but the turtles ordeal was not yet over. Two months of treatment followed.
Finally yesterday it was given the all clear and the turtle was brought back to the WIRES carer in Lismore. Earlier today it was released back home in the Wilson River where we hope it will stay well clear of fishing lines and hooks in the future. Seen in this picture at release, heading to the safety of the water in the Wilson River in Lismore.
Should you be out fishing and accidentally hook a turtle, please do not attempt to remove the hook or cut the line and let the turtle go, please call WIRES straight away for help, or if in business hours take it to your nearest veterinary clinic.
Image by Marion Nel
Migratory bird day
Saturday May 12th is World Migratory Bird day; an opportunity to raise awareness about the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats - in all parts of the world.
Autumn heralds a time of change for many of our wildlife, but in particular migratory birds begin their long haul flights to other environments. Migrations are tuned to the seasons and are a response to the fact that when it is winter in the northern hemisphere it is summer in the southern hemisphere. Birds arrive in Australia in August or September and leave in March or April to return to their breeding grounds in the tundra areas of Siberia and, for some, Alaska, to breed in June and July.
While many migratory birds are shorebirds, a number of other land-based birds also migrate. Channel-billed Cuckoos, for example, are Australia’s largest cuckoo and are very distinctive with their huge curved bill and strikingly barred tail. They travel south from New Guinea, Indonesia or the Bismarck Archipelago to Australia from August to October where they breed, before heading north again around March.
Channel-billed Cuckoos are not nocturnal, but they can often be heard vocalising at night, with their loud 'kwark, wark, wark'. The adults feed mostly on native figs and fruits, but will also take insects and sometimes chicks. Like other cuckoos, the adult bird lays her egg (occasionally two) in a host nest, usually of larger birds such as crows, ravens, currawongs or magpies and occasionally smaller species such as Magpie Larks. The chick does not push out the other eggs or chicks like some cuckoos but they are fast-growing with a voracious appetite. Chicks eat whatever the host feeds them, most often insects.
Another small local partly migratory bird is the Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. This cuckoo has iridescent green upper parts, white underparts with bold dark, mostly unbroken barring, and a very white face with fine, dark mottling. Some migrate from breeding areas in New Zealand, Norfolk and Chatham Islands to South-West Pacific islands via eastern Australia. Others breed in Tasmania, eastern Australia and south-west Australia and migrate as far north as New Guinea and the Lesser Sundas.
Migration is a perilous journey and birds face many threats, often caused by human activities. Flying long distances involves crossing many borders between countries with differing environmental politics, legislation and conservation measures. World Migratory Bird day is an opportunity to acknowledge the ecological importance of migratory birds and address the need for international cooperation to conserve them.
More information about World Migratory Bird Day can be found at http://www.worldmigratorybirdday.org
Young Channel-billed Cuckoo who was rescued on the ground while still a nestling and was raised and released by a WIRES carer.
Image by Melanie Barsony
WIRES receive animals into care for a variety of reasons and sometimes it can be hard to ascertain exactly what has actually happened.
This adult female Squirrel glider came into care after it was brought into a house by the dog.
Squirrel gliders rarely come to the ground; they are arboreal and very adept at climbing. When they wish to move further afield they use the membranes of skin (called a patagium) that stretches between their front and back legs to glide from tree to tree. They steer and maintain stability by varying the curvature of either the left or right membrane. As they approach to land, they bring their hind legs closer to their body, make an upward swoop and land on the bark utilising their sharp claws to grip. They have been observed to glide up to 100 metres with the assistance of a downhill slope.
As with any travel, accidents can happen, and this is also the case for Squirrel gliders. If a strong wind is present, or distance of a branch is misjudged, the glider may not land as intended, but hit head first resulting in a concussion and end up on the ground.
Is that what happened to this glider, is that the reason it was able to be picked up by the tail by a dog? We will never know. What we do know is that this glider was not severely injured; it was kept in care for 4 days to ensure all limbs were functioning, appetite was good and all body functions normal.
Squirrel gliders are territorial and she was released well after dark back onto the property where she had come from in order for her to be reunited with her family.
Thank you Ruth for calling WIRES and for taking these pictures when the glider was released.
Plumed Whistling Ducks do not come into care as often as Wood Ducks and Pacific Black Ducks, so it has been quite a treat to have three of them come in at once.
The three young ducks were found alone in a swimming pool at 2am at Meerschaum Vale in early April, when Ashley and her family were alerted to their presence by their pet dog. The ducklings were too young to be on their own and would have been an easy target for predators. An extensive search of the area failed to find their parents, so they were brought into care. They were named P, W and D.
The Plumed Whistling Duck is a tall, long necked duck, with prominent long off-white plumes edged in black along the flanks. It is found in the northern and eastern tropics of Australia, and extends southwards to eastern New South Wales.
They can be found sometimes in large numbers on the edges of lagoons, mangrove creeks and swamps where they preen and sleep during the day, then at night they fly out to feed on grasslands, often a long distance away.
The three orphaned ducks will be in care for another 2-4 weeks while their flight feathers grow. Once able to fend for themselves, they will be released on a large dam in Meerschaum Vale with others of the same species, near to where they were found.
Image by Barbara Wilkins
Now is a great time to join WIRES. Our next workshop will be held in Lismore on May 27th. Complete the online part of our course in the next 2-3 weeks and then join us for the practical workshop.
Give us a call 66281898 for more information about how you can join and contribute.
Jenny was on her way home from work quite late at night when she came across a wallaby on the road. Jenny stopped. Sadly the wallaby was dead but inside her pouch Jenny found a very young joey very much alive.
Jenny gently removed the joey from the pouch wrapped her warmly, drove home and called WIRES.
The joey was named Toona due to the location being near Toonambar Dam.
Toona had not escaped injury; she had a significant bang to head and lots of bruising and gravel rash around head and one toe. Jenny was given vital information on how to help the joey overnight.
The following morning she met with WIRES. Jenny had done a magnificent job caring for Toona overnight, the first few hours can determine the long term outcome for these orphans, good or bad, Jenny had ensured the outcome for Toona would be positive.
Toona spent the next few weeks in a humidicrib in intensive care, her wounds healed and she has thrived in care.
After 5 weeks in care she is now at a stage of development where she is big enough to meet other joeys in care and yesterday she joined a number of other orphaned Red-Neck wallabies. Her journey back to the wild is well under way.
Thank you Jenny for caring and for calling WIRES.
Images by Renata Phelps & Julie Marsh
Rush hour for reptiles
As the days become shorter and cooler we start to pull out the winter woollies and look forward to cosy nights by the fire - if we are lucky enough to have such a luxury.
While humans can adapt to the changing seasons by rugging up and keeping warm, life is not so easy for our native animal friends.
As mammals we have evolved as warm blooded creatures and have developed the amazing ability to thermoregulate; that is to say, our bodies can generate heat to support our vital organs in cold weather. Our opposing thumbs also enable us to build shelter and create warmth. Not so for our native reptile friends.
As ectothermic animals, reptiles rely entirely on their environment for the heat they need to function and to digest their food. As winter approaches lizards and snakes are hard wired to build up their reserves in preparation for the cold months ahead.
As the temperature drops snakes are actively chasing food, helping to keep the rat population at bay and are also seeking out a quiet cosy place to curl up for winter.
For the forthcoming colder months, reptiles will enter a state known as brumation. Brumation is similar to hibernation in mammals where their body slows and energy consumption is minimised. While reptiles do disappear when the weather is cold, they do awaken again if we get a warm spell, and may come out of hiding to stretch and soak up some sunshine, before retreating again until Spring.
So right now is “rush hour” for our snakes. You may notice heightened activity in their haste to stock up for winter.
If you do encounter a snake or lizard outside it is best to just let him or her go on its way. In the event that one ventures indoors please call WIRES 66281898 and they will help to get it back where it belongs.
Image by Sharon McGrigor
Thank you to Students at Jiggi Public School for your generous donation to WIRES.
Students at Jiggi Public School celebrated the end of the school term with a wildlife picnic. Students bought along nonliving native wildlife to join them on a beautiful Autumn day picnic. All fauna groups were represented from a red-bellied black snake, a seagull and even a Tasmanian Devil. Money collected will be used by WIRES to help with the rescue, rehabilitation and release of native wildlife. Julie Reid a WIRES and Jiggi Landcare member was on hand to collect the generous donation.
Tristan from Bexhill found his tractor to have a flat battery.
When Tristan lifted the engine cover he discovered a soundly sleeping Coastal Carpet Python inside the cowling of the engine fan. Had this python not been discovered prior to the engine being turned on it would have been severely injured.
WIRES snake handler Marion attended this call, and slowly coaxed the snake out. It was a slow process as the python seemed to know the engine well, including all the best hiding places.
After some time and encouragement Marion was able to get a good grip on its head and remove it from the tractor.
The python was finally relocated unharmed to a creek bank close by.
Thank you Tristan for calling WIRES.
Did the Easter Bilby call at your place?
The idea of the Easter Bilby is much older than many people think. This Australian alternative to the Easter Bunny was first documented in 1968 when a 9-year-old girl, Rose-Marie Dusting, wrote a story titled "Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby" – a story published 11 years later. In 1991 the Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia developed the idea to increase awareness of the environmental damage caused by feral rabbits. Later, several confectionary manufacturers started creating chocolate bilbies, and several additional children’s books were published around this theme.
WIRES regularly receives calls from people who have spotted what they think is a Bilby. However Bilbys are not found in the Northern Rivers area of NSW.
While Bilbys were once common in many habitats throughout Australia, the Lesser Bilby is now believed to be extinct and the Greater Bilby is on the endangered list. The latter occur only in fragmented populations in the Northern Territory; in the Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts and the Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Western Australia; and the Mitchell Grasslands of southwest Queensland.
In the Northern Rivers of NSW, our Easter eggs are far more likely to be delivered to us by a Northern Brown or a Long-nosed Bandicoot. Other animals that might be mistaken for a Bilby include the rarely sighted Long-nosed Potaroo (which is listed as vulnerable to extinction) or Pademelons – with both the Red-necked and Red-legged pademelon found in our area (the latter is also listed as vulnerable).
All these small marsupials deserve our recognition as native alternatives to the Easter Rabbit.
Pictured here is Marlou, a Red-necked Pademelon, currently in care with WIRES.
Image by Jeanette Dundas
Hayla the Ringtail’s remarkable rescue
Normally dogs and wildlife are a deadly combination. WIRES regularly receive calls about animals that have been attacked, injured or killed by pet dogs. However this little Ringtail possum owes it’s life to a very special dog.
Hayla, a Maremma/Blue Heeler cross, works on a farm in Myocum, protecting the livestock from foxes, dogs and other predators. Hayla has never ceased to amaze her owner Lindsay with her work ethic and instinct to protect all farm animals particularly the young, sick and vulnerable.
“She regularly checks on the turkeys nesting in the paddock and then is on hand to welcome the newborn chicks. She alerts the humans to any birds trapped or in distress. She identifies the cows ready to calve and then guards the calves. She will sit all day with an orphaned calf being fed in the yards” Lindsay said.
This week, Hayla displayed a new level of care.
Lindsay had found a dead female ringtail possum on their property two days earlier.
Then, during the night, Hayla located an orphaned female baby possum, which we assume had been separated from her dying mum.
Hayla managed to get the possum joey to attach to the fur on her back, keeping it warm, and then presenting it to Lindsay and his family at 6am the following morning.
The tiny (88g) possum is now in care with a WIRES volunteer. She will be buddied up with another ringtail currently in care, and they be released together as a little family when they are about 8 months old.
The little possum has been named Hayla in recognition of the wonderful work of her canine rescuer. Well done Hayla - you truly are a wonder dog.
Images by Lindsay
WIRES regularly receive calls for sick, injured or orphaned animals from The Channon, Tuntable and Keerong areas.
The 3rd of February proved to be a particularly eventful night, with two Pademelon joeys found all alone.
One older joey was spotted outside a house at Tuntable, and after consulting with one of our macropod carers, it was determined he was too young to be by himself. This joey (later named Sapote) was easily caught and brought into care, where once he had settled joined two Pademelon joeys already in care, one of which was rescued from Upper Tuntable Falls Road back in December. Sapote can be seen in the picture below he is the one in front.
The second little Pademelon joey found on the road by itself that night- was very young and barely furred. Mum was probably hit by a car, but managed to hop off, leaving her joey behind. Sadly it is not uncommon for young joeys to fall out of the pouch from the impact when mum is hit.
Thankfully Mandy noticed her while driving past and met one of our volunteers. Mandy named this joey Marlou, she can be seen below being fed by our volunteer macropod carer.
Marlou will join other Pademelon orphans once she is a bit older. All will be released back to the wild.
Thankfully these joeys were not injured, but of course not all our rescues have happy endings.
Below are just some of the other wildlife rescues where WIRES has been involved in the Terania area since December (2017)
A Grey Goshawk was hit by a car on Wallace Road. It was transported to one of our raptor specialists but sadly died as a result of its injuries.
A juvenile Tawny Frogmouth was found on Terania Creek Road with bad maggot-infested injuries from a suspected animal attack. Its injuries were too severe for us to save.
A little duckling was picked up by itself in the middle of Keerong Road and went into care with one of our bird specialists where it was introduced to a number of other ducklings. These will be reared together and released once old enough to fend for themselves.
A snake was found looking unwell in a pond at The Channon and, after consultation with one of our snake specialists it was ascertained that it was most likely shedding and advice was given to leaving it under observation.
WIRES is always looking for new members and we particularly need more volunteers in the Terania area. If you are interested in helping wildlife, get in touch with us.
Contact WIRES for rescues, advice or enquiries. The 24-hour hotline is for all calls to WIRES in the Northern Rivers - 6628 1898. www.wiresnr.org
Images by Fleur Letitia & Sue Ulyatt
People are often surprised to know that echidnas are very good climbers. With each spine controlled by a separate muscle they can scale fences and push their way past many obstacles.
Wildlife carers need special, deep tubs and enclosures when they rescue or care for an echidna so that they don’t escape.
When WIRES received a call from Peter at Dalwood they discovered an echidna that had definitely met its match. This echidna had fallen several metres down into a Macadamia hopper and definitely could not get out.
After trying several strategies to provide an escape means for the echidna, with no luck, the WIRES volunteer climbed down a ladder into the macadamia bin to wrestle with this strong animal and carry it back up the top. The metal sides were very slippery metal and presented a challenge for our volunteer and echidna alike. .
The echidna is very lucky to have been spotted by Peter and to have survived the ordeal. It has some skin off its back legs where it had been trying to dig on the metal bottom of the hopper but is now in care with one of WIRES’ echidna specialists and should make a speedy recovery before being returned to its home on the macadamia farm. We trust this particular echidna will stay clear of metal bins in the future.
Thank you Peter for calling WIRES.
Images by Leoni Byron-Jackson
'Hiccup' and 'Sneeze' are Pheasant Coucal fledglings. They are not siblings but buddies.
When orphaned they couldn’t be reunited with their parents so they are being raised together in WIRES care until they are independent.
It is so important for orphan birds to have a buddy when in care as it reduces the chances of the birds from becoming humanised.
These birds are wild and need to remain so to be successfully released.
If you find an injured or orphaned critter phone the WIRES Northern Rivers 24/7 Hotline service on 66281898.
By Julie Marsh
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