Let’s not rubbish our wildlife



All sorts of rubbish left behind, or left lying about the yard and not considered harmful, can and does injure wildlife and other animals. How we responsibly dispose of rubbish can help prevent severe injuries and death to inquisitive or hungry critters.

Drink cans can be deadly traps when thoughtlessly discarded. Snakes are one of many species that can become trapped while exploring the inside of the can. If a snake slithers its head through the opening, it is unable to get it back out as its scales do not bend backwards and can keep it pinned at the neck.

Plastic bags, the bane of modern society, are seen along almost every roadside; many of these end up in our waterways entangling turtles and platypus or wash out to sea causing untold damage to many aquatic creatures, and slow death to marine mammals by compromising them in many ways.

Let us not forget the dreaded orchard netting, often seen as discarded piles about yards or sheds when no longer needed, or loosely draped over fruit trees and veggie gardens, to protect plants. Many creatures get tangled up in the netting, suffering constriction, dehydration and starvation; it’s not pleasant to find an animal in this condition often severely injured or died suffering for a long time prior. We ask everyone to be diligent about the responsible removal of unused or unnecessary netting from around their property, and please urge others to do likewise.

Glass from empty bottles, left behind and broken by time, can cut the feet or mouths of unsuspecting wildlife, when running or grazing. Unfortunately, they cannot go to the doctor for stitching, bandaging and antibiotics, so many suffer infections that can be fatal, or are crippled, inhibiting their ability to survive.

Sounds depressing? It need not be, if we only spare a thought for the other creatures we share this environment with, by cleaning up after ourselves, or after others less responsible.

Cut that ring before disposal

We all use plastic bottles, jars and containers that all have a round plastic seal around the top. How we dispose of these small rings can be the difference between life and tragic death for unwitting wildlife. Before disposal, cut it open with scissors, so it no longer poses a threat to wildlife.

Water Dragon survives strangulation

This 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..

Judging by the size of the ring and the dragon it appears that he may have been wearing his necklace for quite some time.

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.   Trapping was the only way to contain the lizard.

The member of public was provided with a cage trap 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, the Water dragon was assessed and released.


Cut that lid before disposal

Baby-food-pouches are convenient, but they can cause suffering and death if not disposed of responsibly.

Lids have tiny slits that can be extremely harmful when inadvertently being investigated by native animals.

This native duck was found in time, the lid was removed and the duck was released. Many animals are not as fortunate, either unable to be caught or never found in time.

Please dispose of rubbish responsibly, cut lids and bands and put it in the bin.

He was found in a compost bin, the lid was put back on after having been accidentally left off overnight.

No one knew he was inside. …He was in there all day- all night- all day. …

He was a Mountain Brushtail possum just looking for a meal, it became his last.

He died shortly after being found.

Please check before putting lids back on bins as a possum such as this may be sheltering inside.

Check before spraying trees

The impacts of pesticides on wildlife are extensive, and expose animals in urban, suburban, and rural areas to unnecessary risks.

Many native animals shelter in trees during daylight hours and can be severely or fatally injured if exposed to insecticides.

Injuries such as this can be the result of the simple act of spraying our fruit or ornamental trees for pests, or with fertiliser.

This juvenile Mountain Brushtail possum was humanely euthanased, he had lost his eye sight, and had horrific chemical burns to parts of his body as well as his face.

  Fishing line and hooks.

 If you go fishing,  be responsible and dispose of discarded line and hooks in bins, or take it home and bin it in a responsible manner.

This Tawny frogmouth had a rusty fishing hook embedded in its leg. The carer was fortunately able to save this bird, seen here just before having the hook removed from its leg.

Sadly many do not fare as well.

 A young Brahminy Kite hanging from a high branch with twine and fishing line caught around one foot and wing. After a very complicated rescue operation involving multiple people the bird was rescued.

The bird was exhausted and needed veterinary treatment and long term care.

Is your dog secure at night?

This Mountain Brushtail possum was brought in after having been attacked by a dog.  This possum was lucky, in normal circumstances a dog attack takes place at night out of sight. 

This possum was in care for 10 days, it had veterinary treatment and its wounds were treated daily. Native animals are usually not found when first injured, they hide away out of sight. 

Please ensure your dog is secure from dusk till dawn, this kind of injury can be avoided, it is your responsibility to ensure native wildlife is safe from your domestic pets.

Do you know what your dog is doing at night?

Think Before You Chop and Cut

Cleaning up the yard is something we all do, cutting down that tree that has become too large, or the Coco’s palm that we now realise is possibly not the right thing to have around- out comes the chainsaw.

Picture on the left shows a Mountain Brushtail sleeping during the day. Unusually we would not be able to see possums sheltering in a palm or a hollow within a tree.

Ringtail possums in particular will build their drey in a Coco’s palm. Possums will not flee the drey when frightened; they will freeze in fright. I will leave the outcome of that encounter to your imagination…. Please check before you cut, that no one is calling it home.

Fatal Consequences for Relocated Possum

This image shows clearly what can happen to a possum removed from her home, and given no new home to call her own. Her mum was trapped and relocated to the forest close by, she was in mums pouch. Unfortunately no new home was provided. She was  found days later, orphaned,  injured, infection was well advanced, malnourished and numerous wounds covered her body. She was humanely euthanased. 

Possums are territorial, and cannot be relocated even close by without being provided with a possum box.

Please call for assistance before attempting relocation.

Swimming pools can be death traps for native wildlife

Many native animals lose their lives in swimming pools. This can easily be avoided by draping a securely tied rope into the pool, or place knotted ropes along the sides, securing them to the pool edge allowing the animal can climb out. Alternatively purchase readily available Escape ramps and install.  All native animals can swim, but will soon become exhausted and drown if they have no avenue of escape.

Goannas or Pythons raiding the chicken coop

WIRES receive many calls for reptiles that have eaten plastic eggs and of course many more would go unreported or mysteriously disappear.  A python or Goanna that has eaten a placebo egg will most likely suffer a painful end to life with a blocked digestive system. 

If you have chickens and need to prompt your hens to lay in set locations, WIRES recommends you avoid using plastic replicas and simply leave one of the real eggs in the laying spot to encourage the chooks to lay there. Marking the dud eggs with a texter is recommended, or rotate the egg daily, or marking it with a food dye so no eggs go to waste

This Goanna came into care after being caught red handed raiding a chicken coop. Typically WIRES would advise to open the coop and allow the Goanna to make a hasty retreat – however this case was a bit different. 

The chicken keeper had placed six golf balls in his laying boxes to encourage the chooks to lay there. The golf balls were nowhere to be seen, realising the implication for the Goanna he had closed the door and called WIRES. 

WIRES volunteers Martin and Brett attended and collected the Goanna and promptly took him to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for X-rays and assessment. The six golf balls and three chook eggs were clearly visible. Guilty as charged!

This one was lucky; many sadly are not and suffer a long painful death.

Wildlife friendly netting.

Native animals, increasingly displaced from their natural habitat by tree clearing and extreme weather, are resorting to flowering and fruiting trees in our gardens and orchards.

Birds, bats, lizards, snakes and the occasional possum are the main victims of inappropriate netting. Animals become tangled in large mesh netting and cannot free themselves. While struggling to escape, the net cuts ever deeper into the animal.

Images below distressing and sadly just one of the hundreds of flying foxes caught in fruit netting every year. She was a Grey-headed Flying fox and a threatened species. She did not survive her ordeal; she died from Rhabdomyolysis not long after she was released from the netting by WIRES volunteer Merryn.

Rhabdomyolysis is a painful condition caused by serious muscle injury. It results from the death of muscle tissue that releases a damaging protein (myoglobin) into the bloodstream, which then leads to serious complications such as renal failure.


The injury above and many others could have been avoided had the correct netting been used.

We recommend a densely woven net as pictured below that will not trap wildlife 


The base of the net should be secured to the trunk of the tree or to the ground to prevent wildlife getting inside.

Wildlife friendly netting should have a mesh size of less than 5 mm.

We recommend a densely woven net that will not trap wildlife and doesn’t need a frame, such as the Fruit Saver nets, Hail Guard or Vege Net. These nets are all white – the colour best seen by animals at night.

Remove nets promptly after fruiting to prevent damage to new growth.

Some hardware stores in Australia have taken the lead and stopped selling netting that is potentially harmful to wildlife. Ask your local supplier to stock only fruit tree netting that passes the ‘finger test’ – netting that you cannot poke your finger through.

Old netting is often seen as discarded piles about yards or sheds when no longer needed, or loosely draped over fruit trees or veggie gardens to protect plants. Many creatures get tangled up in the netting, suffering constriction, dehydration and starvation. We ask everyone to be diligent about the responsible removal of unused or unnecessary netting from around their property, and please urge others to do likewise.

For more information visit  wires.org.au           and        www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com and look for the link to the netting page.

Snakes trapped in netting

Rescuing snakes trapped in netting often require more than one reptile handler as the job can be dangerous to say the least and in these cases it most certainly was a situation that would take some very careful handling. These are just a small sample of WIRES volunteer reptile handlers rescues.  Snakes are often severely injured. They have in many cases been trapped for extended time and will be dehydrated, have cuts to their bodies where they have struggled to free themselves, they usually require veterinary attention and are often in in care for extended time.

NEVER try to free a snake trapped or entangled in netting unless you are trainind to do so, please call WIRES or your nearest wildlife organisation immedietly for assistance and advice.

We ask everyone to be diligent about the responsible removal of unused or unnecessary netting from around their property, and please urge others to do likewise.


Lizards trapped in netting

Blue-tongue lizard dropped into Alstonville Vet Hospital by a concerned member of the public. Was found with what was described as a swollen leg.

The lizard was assessed by the vet and found that his injuries were consistent with entanglement, which is sadly too common in built up areas with  many backyard fruit trees having inappropriate use of fruit netting.

The netting had wrapped around the lizards right leg, cutting off circulation, creating deep lacerations down to his bone, which had eventually deteriorated and broken. Laceration was also present on his left leg, but not as severe.

Because Blue-tongues rely  on their fore-legs to move about, he sadly had to be euthanised.