Little Kyeema the Kangaroo Joey
Age: Pinkie joey
Found: Attached to a milk teat inside her mother's pouch after she was hit by a car near Caloundra.
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital after the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit darted and sedated her mother.
Veterinary Assessment: Little Kyeema had only suffered small grazes as her mother's body had shielded her. However sadly her mother's injuries were too severe and she had to be euthanised.
Treatment: Little Kyeema was given sub-cutaneous fluids and placed inside a soft cloth pouch and humidicrib to help her feel safe and warm. She was also bottle fed a mix of glucose and warm water.
Future: Later that same day, Little Kyeema was placed into care with an experienced macropod carer who specialises in round-the-clock care of pinkie joeys.
AZWH Statistic: Over 397 macropods (kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons and bettongs) were admitted in 2010 - more than one per day!
Leaf the Kookaburra
Found: On the road at Beerburrum after being hit by a car.
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit.
Veterinary Assessment: Dr Robyn's x-rays and assessment revealed Leaf had a fractured wing, bruising to the right eye, bleeding on the lungs and an open wound near the tail.
Treatment: Leaf underwent surgery to pin the fractured wing and stitch the wound closed, and was given a course of antibiotcs, pain relief and anti-inflammatories.
Future: Leaf is currently in the Bird ICU at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital receiving treatment, and is expected to live a long and happy life.
Statistic: Of the 917 patients admitted in January 2011, 133 were a direct result of road trauma.
Harry the Brush Tail Possum
Found: Lying on a busy road in Burpengary after being hit by a car.
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit.
Veterinary Assessment: Dr Amber found Harry had suffered head trauma which included severe concussion, lacerations to his tongue, and a burst left ear drum.
Treatment: Harry was placed on anti-inflammatories, pain relief and assisted feeding. He spent four days in the mammals ICU and was sent to an experienced possum carer for rehabilitation.
Future: At his three week reassessment Harry was given the okay to be released.
Did You Know?: Brush tail possums prefer tree hollows for nest sites, whereas ringtail possums build a nest called a drey out of collected sticks and leaves.
Picca the Eastern Water Dragon
Found: Narangba, in a suburban backyard after being attacked by a pet dog.
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit.
Veterinary Assessment: X-rays fortunately revealed Picca had no fractured bones, however he was dehydrated and had very weak back legs. The dog's teeth had not punctured the skin, however did cause bruising along the spine.
Treatment: Dr Claude administered Picca sub-cutaneous fluids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and pain relief, before he was sent to a reptile carer.
Future: Picca will be re-checked by Dr Claude in two weeks, and hopefully released in the weeks to follow.
Did You Know?: As eastern water dragons mature, the males become easily distinguishable from females; the male has red coloured skin over his chest and abdomen.
Arethusa the Koala
Found: In a paddock in the Deception Bay area up a gum tree after being displaced by recent floods and trampled by cows.
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit.
Veterinary Assessment: Found the very muddy Arethusa to be suffering from fractured ribs and internal abdomenal bleeding.
Treatment: Dr Julia began Arethusa on a course of antibiotics and has also prescribed pain relief to make him more comfortable while his ribs heal.
Future: Arethusa will remain in an outdoor enclosure at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for the next six weeks before being released back to the wild.
Did You Know?: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital has been inundated with native wildlife flood victims from Brisbane and surrounding areas.
Flax the Wonga Pigeon
Found: Flaxton, after the nest Flax was in fell out of a tree.
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by a gentleman named Steve, who originally found Flax.
Veterinary Assessment: Found Flax to have wobbly balance and a tick on one foot, which was removed. Other than that Flax was uninjured.
Treatment: Flax was crop fed and given sub-cutaneous fluids, then sent to rest in a warm incubator overnight.
Future: Little Flax has been sent to a specialised bird rehabilitator to learn how to be a wild wonga pigeon before being released back at Flaxton.
Did You Know?: Wonga pigeons are endemic to the east coast of Australia, ranging from Queensland to Victoria.
Bonita the Satin Bowerbird Chick
Found: Near Peachester Primary School. Amazingly her injured sister Bella was found earlier the same afternoon in the schoolyard by another member of the public.
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, with Bonita arriving just ten minutes after Bella.
Veterinary Assessment: Bella was suffering soft tissue damage to her right eye, but Dr Robyn gave Bonita a clean bill of health.
Treatment: Bonita and Bella were housed in an icubator to keep warm. Dr Robyn prescribed pain relief and eye ointment for Bella, but sadly upon reassessment her eye was much worse, she was quickly going blind, and the decision was made for her to be euthanized.
Future: Bonita has been placed in care with an experienced bird rehabilitator until she is old enough to be released.
Did You Know?: Satin bowerbirds look very similar while they are young; it is only when the male reaches his seventh year that he takes on a distinctive adult male satiny blue/black plumage.
Lecki the Echidna Puggle
Age: 3 months
Found: Tiaro, near Maryborough, after his burrow was accidentally dug up in a schoolyard.
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, after being left for 24 hours in his burrow in the hopes his mum would return.
Veterinary Assessment: Found Lecki to be a sick little boy, covered in scabs which were actually skin lesions.
Treatment: Lecki began a course of antibiotics to help fight the lesion-causing infection and was sent to a specialised echidna carer to be raised.
Future: Lecki is still drinking a special echidna milk formula, and in the coming months will be weaned by the carer and taught to search for solid food, including ants and termites.
Did You Know?: Puggles are unable to hear until their ears open at approximately three months of age.
Elsie the Saw-Shelled Turtle
Found: Glass House Mountains, when children accidentally hooked her while fishing for eels at a water hole.
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by the concerned family.
Veterinary Assessment: Elsie's x-rays confirmed a fish hook had lodged in her oesophagus with the attached fishing line hanging from her mouth. X-rays also revealed she was full of eggs.
Treatment: Dr Julia gave Elsie a general anaesthetic and removed the fish hook. Afterwards she was placed on a respirator to help her breathe - and to everyone's surprise, she began laying some of her eggs!
Future: Though Elsie laid eight eggs, x-rays revealed she still had at least ten more inside. As her slight throat injury would heal on its own, Elsie was given the all-clear for release 24 hours later in the hope she would soon lay her remaining eggs.
Tulip the Common Brushtail Possum
Found: Elimbah, after she was left injured and orphaned when her mum was hit by a car.
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by a local wildlife carer, as soon as she had been found.
Veterinary Assessment: Tulip was given a general anaesthetic, and x-rays revealed two fractured legs, a fractured pelvis and a fractured jaw. She was also suffering from shock and considerable bruising.
Treatment: Tulip was given strong pain relief, antibiotics and sub-cutaneous fluids. Her left hind leg is bandaged and will be kept immobile for two weeks. A special herbivorous formula will be provided until her jaw heals.
Future: If her reassessment in two weeks shows her fractures are healing well she will be allowed to increase activity levels in order to regain her mobility and strength.
Did You Know?: Common brushtail possums normally raise only a single joey; it is rare for them to have twins. This is helpful to know when checking the pouch of a female possum.
Penny the Rainbow Lorikeet
Found: Mooloolaba, at a high-rise apartment block lying on the ground unable to move.
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by Murray, the co-founder of the Sunshine Coast Koala Rescue group.
Veterinary Assessment: No fractures or injuries were found after x-rays, though she was concussed after flying into a window. She was unable to stand or fly and had serious balance issues.
Treatment: Penny was given sub-cutaneous fluids plus anti-inflammatories, and the nurses set her up in a humidicrib to keep warm.
Future: Just 48 hours after being admitted Penny was standing and perching,plus was brighter and alert. Dr Robyn is confident Penny will make a full recovery over the coming week.
Did You Know?: If Penny had not been rescued she may have died. The simple act of phoning for help saved her life; every one of us can make a difference.
Frodo the Koala Joey
Age: 14-16 months
Found: At Jimna, near Kenilworth
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit
Veterinary Assessment: Found she has sustained a fractured skull and significant damage to the stomach and intestines as a result of being shot with what appears to be the spray of a shot gun. X-rays revealed approximately 15 pellets scattered throughout her body.
Treatment: Frodo required an immediate blood transfusion, intravenous antibiotics, fluids and strong pain relief. Two surgeries have been completed, removing a total of seven pellets.
Future: Frodo is recovering extremely well. She is now eating leaf on her own, moving around her outdoor enclosure and has also gained some weight and is growing fur back. Frodo is expected to stay in care with us for a minimum of six to eight months, or until she has reached a pre-release size of 4kg.
Serena the Greater Glider (and her joey, Secret)
Found: She was caught in a barbed wire fence in Benarkin, near Blackbutt
Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit
Veterinary Assessment: No fractures were found by x-rays, however there was some bruising and relatively minor damage to the gliding membrane. Secret, her joey, was uninjured.
Treatment: The barbed wire strand was removed and Serena received a long-acting antibiotic, as well as pain relief and sub-cutaneous fluids.
Future: Due to her minor injuies, release plans were organised for the following evening.
Did You Know?: Greater gliders are nocturnal and use the hollows that form in mature eucalypts as nest sites, many of which are spread over their home range.
Hardy the Rufous Bettong
Found: At Nanango in the South Burnett Region after being hit by a car
Transported to: Nanango Vet, then onto a wildlife carer and eventually the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital
Veterinary Assessment: Fractured big toe on the right hind foot
Treatment: X-rays were taken and a cast applied to immobilise the fracture site. Pain relief and anti-inflammatories were also prescribed.
Future Outlook: The cast will be removed in a few weeks time and re-x-rayed to establish if the fracture has healed. Hardy should make a full recovery.
Did You Know?: Rufous bettongs are nocturnal and collect grass and sticks to make nests. They carry their collected materials with prehensile tails.
Talie the Shingleback Skink
Found: Talwood, western Qld, caught in the chainlink fence of a dog yard
Transported to: A Toowoomba wildlife carer, then up to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital in Beerwah
Veterinary Assessment: Found to be suffering from deep puncture wounds on the left side, which were flyblown and full of maggots
Treatment: Wounds were flushed with sterile warm water to remove approx. 55 maggots. Necrotic flesh was removed and wounds were sutured closed.
Future Outlook: Recovery is expected to take a few months in the reptile ICU of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital
Did You Know?: Skinks are most commonly found in dry inland areas, and confuse predators by appearing to have two heads.
Rebel the Murray River Turtle
This week's patient is a little 100g Murray River turtle with loads of attitude, hence the name Rebel. A member of the public, checking to see why her dog was barking along the front fence, found Rebel plodding along the street gutter past the tyres of parked cars. Concerned the little turtle would be run over and realising there were no creeks nearby, she phoned the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for advice.
One of the hospital staff members (also a licensed reptile rehabilitator) lives in a nearby suburb and offered to stop in on her way home from work to check on Rebel. She was hoping that Rebel had simply wandered a onge way from home and could be re-released at the closest waterway, but sadly Rebel was in poor health and was instead admitted to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for veterinary assessment and treatment.
Dr Julia assessed Rebel and found he was suffering from a metabolic bone disease, a soft carapace, plastron ulcers and an internal build up of gas. These sorts of problems are usually associated with poor diet, a dirty environment and not enough exposure to ultra violet light, which points to the likelihood that Rebel had in fact been in captivity. Whether or not he escaped or was let out we will never know; either way he is lucky that he was found by a caring person. His future would have seen him become crippled and die while still quite young if the bad husbandry practises had continued.
Dr Julia has been treating Rebel with strong antibiotics, a feeding regime that provides a balanced diet with added calcium, and frequent exposure to sunlight as well as normal UV lights above his tank. In the last couple of weeks Rebel has put on 30g and his anger at the world has subsided - he is actually quite a sweet-natured little turtle. So far, Rebel's long-term outlook is promising. Dr Julia will reassess him in four weeks time and at the astage we will be able to make plans for his future.
Emmett the Tawny Frogmouth Fledgling
This week we received a call from staff at the Dakabin RSPCA shelter asking if we were able to assess a tawny frogmouth with a possible wing injury. A member of the public named Brett had picked up the fledgling after it was blown out of its nest during high winds. Brett had tried a couple of times to place Emmett back up in the tree but had no luck in doing so.
Emmett was transferred to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to receive a full medical assessment by one of our wildlife veterinarians. Fortunately this revealed no injuries or fractures, so Emmett was given a clean bill of health and arrangements were made to get him back home to his parents.
After work that day, Megan from the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital transported Emmett back down to Deception Bay where she was met by Brett the rescuer. The release went very well, probably helped by the fact that tawny frogmouth are nocturnal birds. Brett promised to check on Emmett each day as he went on his morning walk and to contact us if things went badly, but so far so good.
The only time we send baby birds to carers is if they need ongoing medical treatment or are a true orphan. In cases like Emmett's the best possible result is to reunite the youngster with its real parents.
Goldie the Swamp Wallaby
Our latest patient of the week is a beautiful swamp wallaby who got her name due to her golden form of species common to Stradbroke Island. Goldie was rescued from Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island by a local wildlife rescuer after residents became concerned when the juvenile wallaby remained on the same vacant lot of land for two days while other wallabies left and returned daily.
While catching Goldie Jack noticed she would hop a few times and then fall over, which concerned him greatly. Once she was sedated he carried out a routine check which revealed maggot infested wounds to the back of Goldie's neck and head, requiring urgent medical attention. Jack then had to make the ferry trip across to the mainland and travel up to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital located at Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast.
Goldie was given a general anaesthetic before a full medical assessment was carried out by Dr Julia. Her wounds were the result of a dog attack, and were flushed and cleaned while various other tests were carried out. She was prescribed pain relief, anti-inflammatories, fluids, ongoing sedation and medication to help combat the effects of myopathy. Myopathy in macropods is usually caused by exposure to a stressful event or injury and when left untreated can have a devastating effect.
Dr Julia requested the nurses set Goldie up in the Mammals ICU ward under constant nursing supervision. She started eating and responding to treatment, so by the second day Dr Julia had her moved to a larger enclosure and reduced her level of sedation. Sadly on the third day, once the sedation had worn off, Goldie was displaying a head tilt and other neurological signs. The difficult decision was made to euthanise Goldie as she would not be able to survive in the wild, and due to the fact that she was a sub-adult she would not have been able to adjust to life in a captive situation either.
Steve the Rose-Crowned Fruit Dove
This week at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital we had a beautiful adult male rose-crowned fruit dove brought in suffering shock, loss of all tail feathers and extensive right wing trauma. The dove, named Steve, had fortunately been rescued off a fence at Mt Mellum by a vigilant member of the public.
In order to carry out a full medical assessment without causing stress to the already-traumatised patient, Dr Claude began treatment by placing Steve under anaesthetic. When working with native wildlife it always needs to be taken into account that the patients are actually wild; it is quite stressful for them to be in close proximity with humans.
The examination revealed substantial bruising to the right wing and small puncture wounds around the ulna/radius. Medically this had the potential to be very serious if the tissue was to die in the coming days, however fortunately all x-rays were free of fractures. Steve was given sub-cutaneous fluids, pain relief and a course of antibiotics before being sent to the Bird ICU of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to rest. He will be reassessed in four days and at that stage Dr Claude will have a clearer picture as to Steve's long-term prognosis.
We always advise the public to place rescued wildlife in something dark and secure like a box, as too much stress and handling can be fatal for a patient. Other advice is to not let pets near the rescued animal as they are often seen as predators, which causes even more stress. It is also advised to keep the rescued animal in a quiet and warm part of the house until the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit arrives, or alternative transport to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital has been arranged. The sooner an animal is seen by a vet the better its chances, and at the very least the patient will need warmth and possible pain relief. Always remember we are open 24 hours, so don't wait until morning!
Runner the Pelican
Last week two members of the volunteer group Pelican and Seabird Rescue Inc. responded to reports of a pelican with a bleeding wing at Caloundra. The wary pelican was unable to fly but was still quite fast on his feet, hence why he was named Runner, and after a short chase he took to the water. The rescuers thn had to hail a passing fisherman in his boat to ask for a lift so they could continue the pursuit. Fortunately on the water Runner was quickly rounded up, rescued and brought to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for emergency treatment.
Dr Julia examined Runner and found the juvenile male pelican had three gang hooks underneath his wing; two of the hooks were embedded in the soft tissue while the third had punctured a blood vessel, causing all the bleeding. Dr Julia successfully removed the hooks, stitched up the wounds and gave Runner intravenous fluids to help compensate for the large loss of blood. Runner was also prescribed pain relief, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and dose of all-wormer before being sent into care with his rescuers, local pelican rehabilitators the Powers twins.
This week on reassessment, Dr Julia was very pleased with Runner's progress. He has been eating well and all the wounds from the gang hooks are healing nicely, so it shouldn't be too long before Runner is cleared to be released back to the coastal waters off Caloundra.
Over the last few weeks we have had many patients admitted to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital with fishing line/hook entanglements and others with internal tackle. When fishing it is always a good idea to look to make sure no birds are flying past when you are about to cast out, as entanglements do occur and many times the birds are maimed or die if the line or hook is not removed.
Another tip to remember while fishing is to take along a small plastic lidded container so can store any unwanted fishing line/hooks and bait bags, so when you get home the contents can then be wrapped and placed in the rubbish bin. This way, rubbish won't accidentally be dropped or blown into our beautiful waterways and potentially put our wildlife at risk.
Ellie the Wood Duck
In August, a Sunshine Coast wildlife care group responded to reports of a juvenile duck with "a funny walk". The female wood duck named Ellie was rescued and brought to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for veterinary assessment and treatment.
Upon arrival at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital Dr Peter, our avian specialist, caried out an assessment which revealed Ellie's left leg had a Tibiotarsal rotation (meaning the leg was turning outwards on a 90 degree angle, making it very difficult to walk). This and other growth deformities are often seen in native wildlife when they have been fed processed food such as bread from a very young age.
Dr Peter decided surgery was the only option available if Ellie was to ever walk normally. Special surgical pins were ordered and as soon as they arrived Ellie was scheduled in for the difficult surgery.
Surgery involved breaking the affected bone, rotating it until it was straight and then affixing surgical pins throughout the length of the bone. The pins were then secured with an external metal fixator to limit any movement back in the wrong direction.
Dr Peter felt surgery went extremely well and Ellie was set up in the Bird Intensive Care Unit at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to recover before being sent for rehabilitation to the same wildlife carers who had first rescued her.
Four weeks on, Ellie had all the surgical pins removed and she is walking with only a slight limp. In time as the leg muscles strengthen even that should disappear, so her future is looking very bright and pain-free.
Reginald the Swamp Rat
Reginald, a juvenile swamp rat, was last week brought to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for treatment after he was found lying on the ground in the front yard of a property in Beerwah. Swamp rats as a species tend to avoid humans so to see one in daytime suburbia is extremely unusual, and considering Reginald was not moving the home owner was concerned he was unwell.
Dr Robyn assessed Reginald and after a full veterinary examination it was found that Reginald had bilateral respiratory noises which indicated he was suffering from pneumonia. Fortunately x-rays showed no fractures or any other injuries, so antibiotics were prescribed along with supportive warmth, sub-cutaneous fluids and a reassessment in 24 hours. The next day Reginald was a lot brighter and Dr Robyn decided to place him with a wildlife rehabilitator while he finished his course of treatment.
Reginald's dedicated carer went out each day to collect a variety of reeds and native grasses so Reginald had food he would naturally find in the wild. She also provided a slurry mix of farex (baby cereal) and critical care plus a range of vegetables such as sweet potato, sweet corn, carrot and soaked seed. Eight days after first being admitted at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Dr Robyn gave Reginald the all-clear for release.
Cerveza the Masked Lapwing Chick
Late Friday afternoon an orphan masked lapwing chick was rescued and brought to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for care. The chick, named Cerveza, was extremely young and had probably only hatched in the last two days, yet somehow had become separated from his parents. Masked lapwings are commonly referred to as spur wing plovers - as the name suggests, there is a spur on each wing of the adult bird. The adult birds will dive-bomb any potential threat to their eggs or chicks and are fiercely protective parents. In the wild a young bird like Cerveza will snuggle up under his parent's wing to be warm and safe during the night.
In the ICU Nursery at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital we have humidicribs and incubators that can be maintained at the required temperature for an orphan like Cerveza. A feather duster is also provided, allowing an orphan bird to hide amongst the feathers so it feels safe. This specialised equipment allows us to replicate the needs of any wildlife orphan, from a furless kangaroo or koala joey to a featherless baby bird. Cerveza's veterinary assessment found he was uninjured, so a licensed bird rehabilitator was contacted and she is now raising Cerveza until he is old enough to be released back into the wild.
Baby birds like masked lapwings are called precocial; when they hatch they are already covered in soft down feathers, their eyes are open and can walk within the first few hours. Precocial birds are able to feed themselves but still rely on their parents for protection and warmth. Some other examples include ducks and emus.
The other type of baby bird is called altricial; when they hatch they have no feather covering of any kind and their eyes are shut. Altricial birds are completely reliant on the parent birds for all warmth and food. One parent will normally sit on the nest while the other collects food to bring back to feed the family. Some examples of altricial birds are rainbow lorikeets, wedgetail eagles and fairy wrens.
Travis McKoy the Koala Joey
Travis McKoy is an eight-month-old male koala joey, weighing just 920g, who is now an orphan. On Friday night Travis McKoy was riding on his mum's back like he normally does while she moves beween feeding sites. Tragically just before midnight as he and his mum were crossing Lawnton Pocket Road they were struck by a vehicle which didn't stop. Fortunately a local family, Craig, Tracey and Lachlan, were travelling home and stopped to help the two koalas lying a few metres apart on the road.
Initially the family thought both koalas were dead, but the little koala joey sat up and started crying for his mum. Tracey nursed the traumatised youngster while Craig gently placed the limp and critically injured mum in the car. A call for help was placed to the Moreton Bay Koala Rescue volunteer group and rescuer Jane swung into action just after midnight. Sadly the young koala's mum passed away before Jane arrived but little Travis McKoy, named by young Lachlan, was still desperately clinging to his mum's body. Jane transported both koalas straight to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital so little Travis McKoy could receive emergency treatment.
Travis McKoy's veterinary assessment revealed he had fractured nasal bones causing bleeding from both nostrils, and his nose had swollen to twice its normal size. His little face and chest were also bruised from hitting the hard bitumen, causing internal bleeding around the lungs making it hard to breathe. Travis McKoy was given pain relief, antibiotics, anti-inflamatories and fluids. Nurse Natasha rubbed a cloth "koala joey" pouch against his mum's body to transfer her scent across and this helped Travis McKoy feel comforted and safe as he climbed inside the cloth pouch. At this point Travis McKoy was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit and his mum's body was taken away.
Over the next few days Travis McKoy stayed in the ICU at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital where his sad and confused face melted all our hearts. He has now been placed with a specialised koala rehabilitator who has other orphan koala joeys. Once Travis McKoy settles in he will have little buddies to play and nap with and hopefully over time should help ease the grief he is feeling at present.
Sadly as more eucalypt trees are cleared, koalas are forced to travel further across the ground in search of food trees. This exposes koalas to undue stress; dangers from vehicles as they cross busy roads and attack by free-roaming dogs on properties. When koalas come to ground they feel vulnerable and will usually run to reach a suitable tree, then quickly climb up to the safety of the branches.
Chance the Brown Goshawk
Earlier this month, the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit received a call for help from the staff at RSL Care Buderim regarding an injured brown goshawk. The bird was discovered lying on a third floor veranda and appeared to be extremely unwell, so he was rushed to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for emergency veterinary treatment.
Dr Tania assessed the brown goshawk, who had now been named Chance; his condition was so poor he was unable even to stand. Firstly, a breathing mask was placed over Chance's face to allow him to inhale a mixture of Isoflurane anaesthetic gas and oxygen so he would fall asleep. Once Chance was asleep Dr Tania was able to intubate him and begin the assessment, which revealed his oral cavity (mouth) and trachea (windpipe) were full full of blood. He also had severe bruising and a hematoma (build-up of leaked blood) on the right jugular (a large vein that returns blood to the heart from the head and neck). It was an intense time for the veterinary team, as twice while under anaesthetic Chance's heart stopped beating and he had to be revived with an injection of adrenaline; fortunately he responded each time. Once Dr Tania had stabilised Chance she was able to take x-rays which revealed haemorrhaging in the thoracic (chest) cavity, but fortunately no fractures which was positive. Dr Tania gave Chance sub-cutaneous fluids, plus pain relief, anti-inflammatories and then IV fluids, and he was set up in the Hospital's Bird ICU to rest for the next 24 hours.
The next day on reassessment Chance was actually perching, which was amazing after being critical twenty-four hours earlier. He still had his right eye closed but his overall condition was improving, and so Dr Tania requested the nurses begin force-feeding Chance twice daily. Four days after being admitted Chance was eating on his own and starting to fly short distances. Dr Tania was very pleased with his progress and requested Chance be moved to a larger intensive care enclosure complete with branches and foliage to allow him to feel secure. Eleven days after arriving at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital in critical condition, Chance is now displaying normal raptor behaviour. Dr Tania has made the decision to transfer Chance to Currumbin Sanctuary's large flight aviary where he can regain his flight strength and fitness, prior to release back in the Buderim area.
Brown goshawk are by nature shy and secretive birds; they will sit quietly amongt a tree's foliage and then emerge to ambush their prey, which might be a bird, small mammal, reptile or even a large insect. They will then return to a sheltered tree branch and begin to pluck out all the fur or feathers before feeding on the body.
Zeus the Topknot Pigeon
Many times at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital we receive calls regarding injured "topknot pigeons" who on admittance turn out to be the more common crested pigeon, a smaller species which feeds on a variety of native grass seeds found while walking along the ground.
Zeus however is a true topknot pigeon and he looks spectacular! He was transferred to us recently from a vet surgery in Brisbane after being dropped off by a member of the public. The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital is operational twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and provides specialist veterinary treatment and care for all species of native wildlife. Increasingly our wildlife vets answer enquiries from domestic vets around Australia regarding medication dose rates and suitable treatments for sick or injured wildlife patients. Other vets arrange transfer of patients like Zeus to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for specialised treatment.
Dr Claude assessed Zeus and x-rays revelead a fractured bone and severe swelling in his right wing. With this type of injury surgery is not an option, so instead Dr Claude used a figure-of-eight bandage to immobilise and keep the wing in the correct position while the bone mends. Zeus has also been placed on a course of anti-inflammatories and pain relief while he rests in the Birds ICU.
What to feed Zeus presented a dilemma, as at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital we try to provide te natural diet of the species wherever possible. That is why we have so many different native plants in our hospital grounds, from grevilleas which provide nectar-rich flowers for gliders, bats, possums and birds, to eucalyptus species that can be fed to koalas and possums. Logistically there was no way we could gather all the natural food Zeus would normally eat, so the nurses improvised. What a sight it was to see Zeus gulping down small fruit balls and various berries (his particular favourite being blueberries)! Zeus is due to have his bandage removed an to be reassessed by Dr Claude in another couple of days.
Topknot pigeons are a fruit-eating species inhabiting rainforests and remnant forests that contain seasonally-fruiting trees, limiting their distribution to the eastern states of Australia where rainfall is quite high. Topknot pigeons forage for ripe fruits in the forest canopy, favouring marble-size fruit they can swallow whole. As rainforests with fruiting trees are cleared and natural feeding areas become fragmented, these pigeons now rely more heavily on fruit from introduced plant species such as camphor laurel and privet. Topknot pigeons play an important part in the dispersal of the seeds of native fruiting trees, however sadly this also means the seeds from these pest plants are also being spread.
Hoot the Southern Boobook Owl
One Friday night three weeks ago, staff at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital received a call for help regarding an injured owl that had been found in Mooloolah Valley. Anne, the lady who rescued the owl, had been driving home at dusk when she saw it sitting on the side of the road being surrounded and attacked by other birds.
As she had only recently moved to the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane, Anne had no idea who to call for help. After two hours and many phone calls with no luck, she fortunately found the number for the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Anne's call was promptly answered, directions were given and within half an hour Hoot the southern boobook owl was receiving veterinary treatment for a painful eye injury and concussion.
Dr Claude assessed Hoot and took x-rays, which fortunately showed no fractures. Hoot's eye had a corneal ulcer with edema around it (meaning an injury to the surface of the eye surrounded by abnormal build-up of fluid) plus a mild perforation to the side of the eye. Hoot was initially prescribed pain relief, sub-cutaneous fluids and medicated eye ointment to be applied four times over a twenty-four hour period, plus plenty of food and rest in the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital's Bird Intensive Care Unit.
Since admittance Hoot has had four veterinary rechecks and so far there has been marked improvement in the eye's condition, which is positive news. As with any wild bird of prey, perfect eye sight is essential so they can hunt for food effectively; if one eye is permanently damaged, release and long-term survival prospects aren't good. Although Hoot's injury looks quite severe, Dr Claude feels over time it should heal fully.
Milla the Black-shouldered Kite
One Saturday morning two weeks ago, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital received a call for help from a truck driver named Shane who had rescued a bird from the side of the busy Gateway Motorway near Nudgee. What a great guy to take the time to stop his truck and rescue her from such a dangerous location! There is no doubt Milla would have died if she had not been rescued. Luckily the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit was coming back from another rescue further south and were able to offer their assistance.
On arrival at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Milla was treated by Dr Claude who carried out a full veterinary assessment. Fortunately x-rays showed no fractures, but there was bruising to Milla's right ulna (wing) suggesting she had been knocked by a vehicle. Milla was rather thin, with her body score rated as 6/10. Milla was given sub-cutaneous fluids, pain relief and anti-inflammatory and set up in an intensive care enclosure to recover.
Milla has been feeding very well and is finally starting to gain weight, consuming 60g of meat per day. Her flight is becoming stronger and Dr Claude is happy with her progress so far. Milla is due for reassessment next week.
Black-shouldered kites are found across mainland Australia, preferring areas sparsely treed with grassland and open paddocks to look for prey. They frequently hunt feral mice and can often be seen hovering above a paddock before diving down and emerging with prey grasped in their talons. Black-shouldered kites' aerial courtships is spectacular with the male offering his mate prey while both are in flight. The female will flip upside down and accept the food from her mate with her talons. Pairs breed from July to December and have an average of two youngsters.
Fran the Barn Owl
Two weeks ago an adult barn owl was found lying in a bush track in the outer Brisbane suburb of Cashmere. The owl was rescued by a wildlife volunteer and brought to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for expert treatment and care. On arrival it was fairly evident something was wrong with the owl as she just lay quietly in a towel while the nurse transferred her out of the rescue cage.
Dr Claude began assessing Fran by taking various tests and x-rays which fortunately revealed no breaks or fractures. Fran was extremely weak, unable to even stand up without falling over, plus she was quite thin; Dr Claude also noted Fran had very smelly bad breath!
Fran was prescribed sub-cutaneous fluids, pain relief, and antibiotics; she was also wormed and given a charcoal tablet as the cause of her condition was possibly poisoning. Initial treatment included keeping Fran in a humidicrib to allow her to rest while being kept quiet and warm. Twenty-four hours later Fran's condition had improved enough that she was able to stand on her hocks, so Dr Claude asked the veterinary nurses to begin force-feeding her twice nightly, and to continue to keep her warm. Six days later Fran was starting to display normal behaviour such as perching and feeding herself, so she was transferred to a large rehabilitation enclosure in the Bird Intensive Care ward of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
Nineteen days after being admitted Fran is behaving like a real barn owl: hissing, crouching and extending her wings to look menacing each time her enclosure is to be cleaned. Also today she flew from the ground up to a perch for the first time so her strength is returning. She still needs more time in care to fully recover but her release back to the wild should be in the near future.
Barn owls have a heart-shaped face which helps direct even the smallest sound straight to their ears. This allows them to locate prey at night, like a mouse in leaf litter, and fly down to catch it with their long talons. Barn owls are found in most parts of Australia and their are many different sub-species worldwide.
Minstrel the Yellow-bellied Sheathtail Bat
Minstrel, an injured adult male yellow-bellied sheathtail bat, was found lying on the ground by a member of the public at Deception Bay, a suburb north at Brisbane. Minstrel had suffered an injury to his right wing which prevented him from being able to fly and locate food. Minstrel was slowly starving to death and weighed only 32 grams. Insectivorous bats have a very high metabolism and can consume nearly their body weight in food each night.
On arrival at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital Dr Peter anesthetised Minstrel so he could carry out a full medical examination without stressing the already-frightened patient. The right tip of Minstrel's wing was necrotic, meaning the blood supply had stopped, and the tissue on that section of his wing had actually died. Dr Peter removed the dead tissue and cauterised the blood vessels (which involves fusing the ends together with a cauterising iron). After surgery Minstrel was prescribed a long-acting antibiotic plus daily oral pain medications, and was then placed with a bat carer for rehabilitation.
Seven days later at reassessment Dr Peter was very pleased with the healing process of the wing and he now wants Minstrel to being flight exercise to prepare him for release back to the wild.
Yellow-bellied sheathtail bats are approximately 8cm long once full grown, making them a large species of micro bat. Their body fur and wings are glossy black yet they have beautiful pale yellow fur extending from their chin to abdomen. They have long narrow wings designed to allow them to fly fast after insects above the forest canopy, and they use echolocation to locate an insect and then catch it in their jaws and consume it all whilst flying. The carer has noted Minstrel is extremely calm and quiet compared with the many other micro-bat species she has cared for over the years, and talking with other carers who have had yellow-bellied sheathtails they all seem to have a laid-back disposition.
Regina the Powerful Owl
On Wednesday morning members of a family-run wholesale plant nursery in Morayfield noticed a large owl sitting on an exposed tree branch only three metres off the ground. Throughout the day the family kept regular checks on the owl, while noisy minors and other birds harrassed it in a vain attempt to drive the predator from their territory. By late afternoon the owl had left its roost but instead of flying away it was discovered sitting huddled on the ground. Concerned, the family called a local wildlife carer for advice and assistance.
On admittance to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital the owl was identified as a juvenile female powerful owl and was christed Regina by Dr Robyn, the vet who assessed her. Powerful owls are impressive birds with huge yellow eyes enabling them to hunt at night for prey such as possums and roosting birds, which they swoop upon and seize with their massive talons. Regina was placed under anaesthetic allowing for a full medical assessment to be carried out while she slept so as not to stress her. X-rays showed no fractured bones but a physical check revealed Regina was cold, thin and her right eye was damaged. Dr Robyn placed a drip in Regina's right wing to allow her to receive fluids and electrolytes overnight and she was set up in a humidicrib to give her supportive warmth while she rested. Sadly the next morning Regina stopped breathing and although she was resuscitated she didn't continue breathing unassisted, so Dr Robyn made the decision to euthanise her.
Powerful owls are the largest of the Australian owl species reaching approximately 55cm in height. Their distribution is restricted to just along the eastern regions of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. As a species, their status listing ranges from from endangered in Victoria to vulnerable in New South Wales and Queensland, and they face increasing population pressure with the destruction of habitat containing suitable nest hollows. Powerful owls mate for life and the bonded pair will have a territory they defend year round from other owls. Nest trees are the older trees in the forest; many are eucalypt species that only develop hollows once the trees reach over 100 years of age. Hence, this is why the old trees with hollows are so important in the ecosystem, as they provide nest sites and homes for all sorts of wildlife ranging from nest sites for parrots, cockatoos and owls to homes for gliders, possums, bats and reptiles.
The breeding season for powerful owls is from April to September, with two eggs being incubated by the female over 38 days. The fledged youngsters may remain in their parents' territory for the first year but will then disperse and eventually find a mate to pair up with and establish a territory of their own.
Agnes the Brisbane River Turtle
Agnes is an adult female Brisbane River turtle who was admitted to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital suffering serious injuries to her carapace (the top of her shell). Agnes was one of fifty eight Brisbane River turtles rescued back in March from a dam and noticed a small pond at the base of the spillway wall which looked to be crowded with turtles; he also noticed dead turtles lying on the surrounding rocks. The turtles had in fact been carried over the spillway wall when excess water had been released; sadly some had been injured or killed while others were left isolated in a small pond surround by rocks.
Volunteer rescuers were able to release fifty turtles back into the dam, but this took many hours as the two rescuers had to make numerous trips climbing down into and back up out of the gully while carrying tubs containing a few turtles each time, which was an extremely difficult and heavy task. The other eight turtles had serious injuries and were transported to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, where after vet assessment five were euthanized due to the severity of their injuries. The three remaining turtles began treatment but sadly two deteriorated and were subsequently euthanized also.
Agnes, weighing a thin 1.59kg, was assessed by Dr Amber on arrival. She found that Agnes had fractured segments along the front and rear edge of her carapace and a deep 4cm wide hole in the top of her carapace. After falling such a long way on to rocks, Agnes had been very lucky that her spine hadn't been fractured or any organs ruptured. Dr Amber sedated and placed Agnes under anaesthetic to debride (remove dead tissue) and clean all of Agnes' wounds. The damaged rear edge of the carapace also needed to be trimmed and the skin sutured closed. The hole needed to be covered in medicated ointment and protected by a bandage, and Agnes was also placed on pain relief and antibiotic treatment. Bandage changes were scheduled for every second day and importantly the wound was not to get wet, so Agnes was only allowed to be in shallow water while feeding and then returned to a dry enclosure.
By the beginning of June Dr Amber was pleased with Agnes' progress, especially the healing of the hole, which although still tender had repaired sufficiently to be waterproof meaning Agnes could be housed back in water. Today's reassessment went very well - Agnes now weighs a healthy 1.91kg and she is feeding and swimming normally, so Dr Amber is sending Agnes into care with a reptile rehabilitator for the remainder of the winter period. Come spring and after a final health check Agnes should be cleared to return back home to the wild.
Edwina the Emu Chick
Edwina is an emu chick who somehow unded up on her own walking around the busy streets of Labrador, a suburb near the Gold Coast. Edwina is too young to be on her own and when she was rescued by the RSPCA Rescue Ambulance she was frightened and very hungry; she was then transferred to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for care and treatment.
Remembering that it is illegal to take any native animal from the wild, and only trained and licensed wildlife carers are allowed to care for orphaned of sick wildlife, in all likelihood Edwina was probably found out in Western Queensland and taken home to be an illegal pet, but either escaped or wasn't wanted anymore and released.
On arrival Saturday at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital Edwina was given a full veterinary health check which found her to be quite thin, weighing only 540g, but otherwise okay. By Friday Edwina weighed a healthier 905g and was placed with an experienced emu rehabilitator. Emu chicks can easily become imprinted on humans so Edwina is sharing her outdoors enclosure with two regular chickens, who provide companionship and also teach her to forage. In another eight months Edwina should be at an age where she begins her pre-release time, allowing her to adjust to life as a wild emu while still being given support feeding if needed.
In the wild, the male emu is the parent who builds the nest and incubates the five to fifteen eggs over the fifty-five days in takes for the chicks to hatch. Dad is also the one who solely raises and cares for them. All emu chicks have a striped feather pattern which provides camouflage while they forage on seeds, insects, flowers, plant shoots and vegetation and considering they are a flightless bird this also helps them avoid the interest of predators.
Gexy the Koala
Gexy (Energex-y) the koala was hit by a vehicle on the Brisbane Valley Highway at a location approximately halfway between Esk and Toogoolawah one night two weeks ago. Sadly the driver didn't stop and another motorist found Gexy sitting dazed on the road with head and facial injuries. Another truckie also stopped to assist and together they moved Gexy off the highway away from the immediate danger posed by passing traffic. A local wildlife carer was contacted and by the time she arrived Gexy had managed to climb a tall roadside eucalypt and settle down in a high fork. Realising a rescue effort would be near impossible in the dark, the carer placed a call through to the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit for their professional assitance early the next morning.
James and Kate from AZRU responded immediately and travelled for over an hour to reach the rescue location. Using climbing equipment and well-honed techniques the tree was skilfully scaled, however just as Gexy was almost within reach he became spooked and jumped to a neighbouring tree. This tree was far too thin and unstable to be safely climbed so AZRU liaised with Energex staff and they generously sent out a cherry picker and operater. James, positioned high in the elevated cherry picker bucket, was then able to use a specialized koala catch pole to encourage Gexy to climbe back down the tree where Kate quickly and expertly secured him in a koala cage. By the time the rescue was completed and Kate and James made the return journey, they reached the Australian Wildlife Hospital with Gexy at roughly 2pm that afternoon.
Dr Amber was waiting to give emergency aid to Gexy. His assessment revealed he was between four to five years old and weighed 8kg. X-rays showed his jaw and nasal bones were fractured, he had grazes to his eyelids and nose, a lacerated tongue and crown, and major facial swelling. Gexy was placed on six different medications ranging from pain relief, antibiotics, anit-inflammatories, and treatement for a yeast infection in his gut. After treatment he was set up in a comfortable bed in the Mammals Intensive Care Unit where veterinary nurses kept a close watch on him 24 hours a day.
Two weeks later and Gexy is now doing so well he has been moved to a larger outside rehabilitation enclosure that allows him to climb around, sleep in a tree fork either in the sun or the shade, smell the fresh air and hear the birds. Together this is a huge morale boost for a wild koala and helps keep them from becoming depressed. Dr Amber is very pleased with Gexy's recovery so far and she feels he will make a full recovery in the coming weeks.
In the last twelve months there has been a noticeable increase in the number of koala road trauma patients coming from the Esk/Toogoolawah region which is a direct result of increases in both road traffic and public awareness about the plight of the koala and the organisations and individuals that can be contacted to help in a wildlife emergency.
Dale the Red-neck Wallaby
This week's patient profile features a red-neck wallaby orphan named Dale. He is fourteen months old and has been in care for the past eight months with a macropod carer living out near Tara (western Queensland). Dale was fortunatley rescued after a member of the public took the time to stop her car and check inside the pouch of a dead female wallaby lying on the side of the Moonee Highway.
Incredibly, just two hours earlier the same lady had also checked another dead wallaby and rescued her six-month-old joey later named Chip. Along with Dale the two just-furred joeys were taken to a carer to be raised. Over time, as the boys started to explore outside their pouches, they became best buddies. Even when their carer placed them in individual pouches after each hourly feed, by the next feed the two were fast asleep side-by-side in one pouch.
After recently developing diarrhoea and a bloated foregut Dale was kindly transported to the Australian Wildlife Hospital by a wildlife carer who lives out at Chinchilla, after he heard that Dale's carer mum was unable to make the road trip herself. He has been placed on IV fluids and is bottlefed 30ml of macropod milk every six hours, and also has a bucket of fresh grass, macropod pellets and a bowl of water next to his bed in the Intensive Care Nursery.
Sadly yesterday afternoon Dale's condition worsened: Dr Robyn, assisted by two nurses, prepped Dale for surgery and at approximately 6pm undertook an exploratory laparotomy (on Dale's abdominal region) which revealed inflammation to his gut. Dale came through surgery but in the early hours of this morning his condition deteriorated rapidly and Dr Robyn made the heart-wrenching decision to euthanise him.
For Dale's carer and his best mate Chip, the weeks ahead will be emotionally challenging and our hearts go out to them both.
Java the Jabiru
Java, a juvenile jabiru, was initially admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital just over two weeks ago, after being seen sitting alone on the Wynnum foreshore for two days before local seabird rescuers were notified and he was recovered.
Weighing only 3.7kg he was extremely weak and could not even sit upright. To make matters worse his eyes were half closed and he was "open mouth" breathing, which is never a good sign in any species. Java's fragile state was considered so serious Dr Amber decided not to use anaesthetic; instead Java was gently held and supported while Dr Amber completed an examination which included taking blood and x-rays.
The blood tests showed no abnormalities and the x-rays were clear so Dr Amber prescribed a long-acting antibiotic, plus a dose of wormer for intestinal worms and parasites.
Overnight Java was placed on I.V. fluids and he was also tube-fed a mixture of blended fish, meat, protein mix and water. Incredibly Java was sitting upright on his hocks the next morning and his breathing was back to normal. After a re-check Dr Amber decided to transfer Java into the care of seabird rehabilitators. Four days later on his next re-check with Dr Amber, Java's weight had increased to 4.2kg, he was able to sit up on his own, and was subsequently taken off the I.V. fluids.
This week Java is standing, his is bright, alert and feeding on his own, and his outlook is very promising for release back to the wild in the coming months.
Jabiru, or Black Neck Stork, are Australia's only stork species. Inhabiting the northern regions of Australia, they favour wetlands where they hunt for fish, amphibians and crustaceans. These majestic birds stand up to 1.35 metres tall, their body plumage is black and white with a shiny green/purple next, and they have contrasting red bare legs.
Sam the Carpet Python
Two weeks ago, Sam the carpet python was taken to the Samford Valley Vet Clinic after being badly mauled by a dog. The Australia Zoo Rescue Unit was subsequently contacted so Sam could be transferred up to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for specialist veterinary treatment and care.
Sam had in fact suffered deep punctures over her head and along the entire length of her 4.7kg body, and as she lay writhing in pain on the ground her mouth and wounds became plastered in dirt.
On assessment Dr Claude had to first sedate Sam so she could remove all the dirt from her mouth and place an anaesthetic breathing tube down her trachea. The deep puncture wounds were then cleaned and sutured. Sam's head was badly swollen and she had substantial deep muscle damage, so Dr Claude prescribed strong pain relief, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics to ward off any infection that could be caused by transferred bacteria off the dog's teeth.
Sam will have her stitches removed in approximately four weeks at which time she will go to a reptile carer for monitoring until she has her next skin shed. If Dr Claude is happy with her recovery she will be sent out for release, however depending on how well her injuries have healed she many need to stay for a second shed.
The main point to remember with reptiles is even though they are cold-blooded, they feel pain just like we do. However, because they don't have vocal cords there is no way for them to cry or scream out, and therefore they suffer in silence. Most wild animals won't make a fuss when sick or injured as it will draw the attention of a predator; instead they just sit quietly. The rule of thumb to remember is that if they injury would be painful for a human, it is also painful for an animal, so seek medical attention.
Millie the Echidna
Millie the echidna comes from the Caboolture area where she was found badly mauled by a pet dog. The dog's owner discovered Millie at about 8pm and called the Moreton Bay Koala Rescue volunteer group for help. One of the dedicated members responded to the call and upon arrival realised Millie needed urgent medical attention.. She transported Millie to the Australian Wildlife Hospital, which fortunately operates 24 hours.
Millie was placed under anaesthetic so Dr Robyn could check her injuries. The assessment revealed an open bite wound, roughly the size of a fifty cent piece, on Millie's lower back, plus many grazes and broken quills. X-rays also revealed that Millie had suffered a fractured pelvis, which accounted for her reluctance to walk or climb.
Dr Robyn cleaned and flushed the open wound before suturing the muscle and skin back together. Millie has been prescribed pain relief, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories along with lots of cage rest while she recovers.
While in care at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, Millie is being served a special echidna diet of high protein mix, which is certainly easier than digging for ants and termites. Millie is expected to be in care for a minimum of six weeks while she recovers from her injuries.
Echidnas are found throughout Australia and are covered with strong pointed spines, which are its only form of protection. When in danger, the echidna pulls its head in and curls up in a ball to protect its stomach.
Bobby the Australasian Grebe
This week the Australian Wildlife Hospital received a very interesting patient identified as a juvenile Australasian Grebe. This is a waterbird we don't often see at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, but they can be found across Australia in ponds, lakes, swamps and dams.
Bobby was found in the Morayfield area by a member of the public who took him to a wildlife carer. Bobby was then transferred to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for treatment of an injury to his face.
Once Bobby was under anaesthetic, his vet was able to closely examine his injury, but found it to be only a superficial wound. This was great news as these birds are by nature highly susceptible to stress in captivity. Bobby's wound was cleaned and he was given a long-acting antibiotic and subcutaneous fluids. Bobby was released later that same afternoon back to his wetlands home.
Australasian Grebe, as their name suggests, are found right across Australia and the Pacific region. They inhabit areas of fresh water and dive underwater to catch fish and insects to eat. When feeling threatened by a predator, Australasian Grebe dive underwater and resurface well away from the danger. Grebe are also often seen eating their own feathers and feeding them to their young, which is though to be a behaviour to prevent injury when swallowing fish bones.
UDL the Pink-tongued Skink
This week a member of the public delivered a lizard to the Australian Wildlife Hospital with its upper body trapped in an aluminium drink can. The pink-tongued skink was probably looking for moisture to drink and pushed his head and front legs in to the can, but unfortunately found he was then trapped. UDL could not get himself out of the can and as he struggled to get free, the sharp edges of the can’s opening cut into his body.
UDL was sedated so one of the vets at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, Dr Amber, could use tin snips to cut him free from the can and clean and treat his wounds. Dr Amber gave UDL subcutaneous fluids, pain relief and sent him to the reptile intensive care ward at the hospital to recover. Vets are confident that UDL will be OK for release in one week’s time – the outcome however could have been much worse.
It is so easy for all of us to make a difference every day of our lives with the environment and wildlife. Something as simple as placing rubbish in bins (like plastic bags, fishing line, nylon netting) and recycling (plastics, paper, glass and cans) can make a HUGE difference.
All too often at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, we see the trauma and misery thoughtless littering causes. From marine turtles that have ingested plastic bags (which in turn causes submerging problems so the turtles slowly starve to death) to birds that are often found entangled in discarded fishing line, hooks or netting, affecting their ability to walk, fly and ultimately survive. UDL isn’t the first case we have seen and he probably won’t be the last until we as a society take more responsibility for our actions.
Saidy the Brush Turkey
Saidy the Brush Turkey was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital suffering a fractured left leg. It is unclear how Saidy’s injury occurred but fortunately someone saw her in distress and called for assistance. Upon arrival to the Australian Wildlife Hospital, Dr Amber placed Saidy under anaesthetic so she could conduct a thorough medical assessment including x-rays of the injured leg to determine the severity of the fracture.
Fortunately for Saidy her fracture was a ‘clean break’ meaning the bone wasn’t shattered or fragmented and luckily, is relatively ‘easy’ to repair. Dr Amber used a product called Vet Light soaked in warm water and then moulded around the limb. This mixture dries hard and forms a protective layer to stabilise the bone ends while they fuse back together. Saidy’s cast should be able to be removed later this week, and all going well she should be able to return back to the wild to breed come spring time.
In the wild, male Brush Turkeys play a large part in caring for eggs. The males rake up plant material and dirt to form a mound for a nest, which can be over one metre high and three metres wide. The males endeavour to keep the nest’s egg chamber at a constant 33 degrees Celsius, regularly checking the temperature by inserting his beak (which has a heat sensor in it) in the mound. He then adds more plant material if the temperature inside this chamber is too cold or scratches some material off the mound if it is too hot. Many females will visit the mound to lay their eggs and fifty days later the eggs will hatch. Brush Turkey chicks are completely independent from the time they hatch.
Tim the Gould’s Long-eared Microbat
This week a Gould’s Long-eared Microbat found himself in a very sticky situation. A member of the public placed sticky fly paper around his home to catch flies and other insects, but unfortunately, caught more than he bargained for.
An adult Microbat that had been attracted to the prospect of an easy meal of juicy flapping insects became stuck to the paper. The male Gould’s Long-eared Microbat, weighing a mere seven grams, was no match for the highly sticky glue on the fly paper and the more he struggled the more he became stuck.
The Australia Zoo Rescue Unit responded to the call for help and travelled to Woodford to free Tim and take him to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for veterinary treatment. After being removed from the paper Tim still had glue stuck over his tiny furred body and delicate wing membrane, which was carefully cleaned off. Canola oil was applied directly to the areas affected by the glue and then rinsed clean with warm soapy water. Tim was dried with paper towel and placed in a humidicrib to help maintain his warmth while he recovered from the anaesthetic. Dr Claude also injected Tim with 0.5mls of subcutaneous fluids to help with his hydration and prescribed oral glucose water every two hours plus regular offerings of mealworms.
The following day Tim was placed with a qualified bat carer to assess his flight ability and to give him time to recover from his exhausting ordeal. Tim was then released back to Woodford.
As with all sick, injured or orphaned wildlife, extreme care should be taken when they are encountered as they can scratch, peck or bite no matter how small or cute they seem, especially when dealing with any species of bat as they can carry disease.
Abe the Flesh-footed Shearwater
Abe, a juvenile Flesh-footed Shearwater is one lucky seabird! The exhausted youngster was rescued from a busy car park in Maroochydore by the dedicated team from the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit.
Upon arrival, Abe was found to be in a weakened state and certainly would not have survived another day without food. Abe still has down feathers over much of his body and his vet, Dr Amber, feels he will need to be in care for a few weeks while his body condition improves and his strength returns. Abe is currently resting comfortably in the bird Intensive Care Unit at the Australian Wildlife Hospital after receiving fluids and much-needed nourishment.
Flesh-footed Shearwater migrate south from the waters off Japan and Siberia each year to breed along the eastern coastline of Australia, particularly favouring Lord Howe Island. Each year pairs of Flesh-footed Shearwater return to the same nest site using a burow or rock ledge to lay a single egg, which they both incubate and raise once hatched.
The Shearwaters' diet consists mainly of fish, squid and crustaceans which they catch while at sea. They have the ability to either dive whilst in flight or from a sitting position on the water surface to catch their prey. These birds can also use their wings to "fly" under water - with their wings half open and using a flapping motion, Flesh-footed Shearwater are able to swim after prey! The name "shearwater" comes from their ability to cut or shear the water with their wings.
Grant the Kreft's Freshwater Turtle
Grant is a 68g juvenile Kreft's freshwater turtle that has sustained a severe injury to the back of his carapace and rear end.
He was found by a member of the public at Eudlo on the Sunshine Coast and brought to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for veterinary treatment. One of the vets, Dr Claude, has prescribed pain relief, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics for his injuries, and has also placed Grant in a "dry dock". This means Grant is not allowed to be submerged in water as his wound must remain dry.
Every three days Grant is placed under anaesthetic so the wound can be flushed clean and checked by Dr Claude before a new bandage is applied. Dr Claude is positive about Grant's progress and estimates he will be in care at the Australian Wildlife Hospital for at least two months.
Kreft's freshwater turtles are a type of freshwater short-necked turtle, with webbed, clawed feet and the ability to fold their neck sideways if threatened by a predator.
Topaz the Tawny Frogmouth
Topaz the tawny frogmouth arrived at the Australian Wildlife Hospital after he was rescued one night from the middle of a busy road near Woodford on the Sunshine Coast.
Upon arrival to the hospital, Dr Peter found that Topaz had a fractured leg and also some of his tail feathers had ben damaged and knocked out. Following treatment, Topaz was placed in rehabilitation with a registered bird carer while his leg healed. Topaz was then scheduled for an appointment to be fitted with new tail feathers.
Imping, or the grafting of new tail feathers, is a common practice that enables birds that are being rehabilitated to return to return to the wild in a shorter space of time. If they had to wait until their feathers grew back, it could take six months to a year for that to hapen, prolonging their stay in captivity and enabling their territory to be taken over by another bird. Getting birds like Topaz back to the wild as quickly as possible is very important.
Dr Peter used tawny frogmouth tail feathers from our feather library. While under anaesthetic the new feather shaft is cut down to fit inside the shaft of the original feather and is then anchored in with surgical tissue glue. Having tail feathers for a bird is very important as they need to be able to manoeuvre to catch prey and avoid predators. Over the course of an hour, Topaz received a full set of new tail feathers and Dr Peter thinks he will be ready for release in a couple of days' time. The imped feathers will last until the new ones grow and will basically moult the same as his natural feathers would have.
Tawny frogmouths are not owls, rather they are a member of the Nightjar family. They are nocturnal birds and throughout the day rely on their feather colouring and their ability to remain very still to provide camouflage. Because of this, they often look like a stick or small branch of a tree.
Zac the Koala Joey
Little Zac, a seven month old koala joey, is currently a patient in the Intensive Care Nursery at the Australian Wildlife Hospital. Zac was found sitting alone on the ground beneath a tree by a caring member of the public. As Zac sadly looked up, it was obvious he was very sick - his right eyelid was swollen and half closed and he was also having trouble breathing. As Zac is only a young koala, the surrounding area was checked to see if his mum could be located. Unfortunately she couldn't be found.
Zac was rushed from Murrumba downs where he was found to the Australian Wildlife Hospital at Beerwah by dedicated volunteers from the Moreton Bay Koala Rescue group based in Moreton Bay Regional Shire.
Upon arrival at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, Dr Claude placed Zac under anaesthetic with a mixture of Isoflurane and oxygen so he would be sleeping while she carried out his assessment. Zac was found to be suffering from severe pneumonia, dehydration and also had a Chlamydia infection affecting his right eye.
After ten days of intensive treatment and care, Zac had improved enough to be placed with a registered koala carer. Unfortunately however after a further two weeks of improvement, Zac had a relapse and was re-admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
To date Zac's list of treatment has included x-rays, various tests, antibiotics, fluids, oral meds, use of a nubuliser to help administer lung medication, and oxygen delivered via nasal tubes to help him breathe. Weighing only 1.29kg, Zac's little body has been through an exhausting few weeks, so at this stage Dr Claude is guarded in her assessment of Zac's long term prospects.
Spot the Bandy Bandy
Spot is a Bandy Bandy that was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital after a member of the public found him lying on her driveway in Maleny.
The Bandy Bandy is a snake that lives predominately under the soil. They like to hunt and feast on blind snakes; however they will occasionally hunt above ground, usually after heavy rain.
Upon assessment Dr Stacey found Spot had a large laceration to the right side of his face and blood welling in his mouth. Once sedated, the wounds were cleaned and sutured and Spot was given pain relief, anti-inflammatories, anti-biotics and fluids.
Spot had the sutures removed after four weeks in care, and during that time also shed his skin without any problems. Snakes that suffer wounds that penetrate the scales can often have problems shedding their skin if there is a lot of scar tissue. It is important to allow them time to shed when they have had severe wounds to ensure they are able to survive in the wild upon release.
After a further week in care, Dr Stacey has now given Spot the all clear to be released back to his home after dark.
Bandy Bandy’s are nocturnal animals that are found in all habitats from rainforests to the desert. The unique pattern and colouring of the Bandy Bandy is beautiful and also acts as a defence mechanism. When agitated the Bandy Bandy contorts its body into one or more upright loops and thrashes about. This either is meant to scare off the attacker or confuse them enough to allow the Bandy Bandy to escape.
The Bandy Bandy is a venomous snake and like all snakes, should never be handled.
Ninja the Green Tree Frog
Ninja the Green Tree frog was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital towards the end of February. One of the vets at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, Dr Peter, gave Ninja a thorough medical examination including an x-ray to determine the extent of damage. Ninja’s left hind leg had been injured so severely that his tibia was fractured; however, Dr Peter felt Ninja was a good candidate for surgery.
Weighing in at only 96 grams, Ninja was placed under anaesthetic and a breathing tube was inserted down his trachea so the anaesthesia nurse could control his breathing during surgery. A doppler was also placed under Ninja’s chest so the sound of his heart could be heard and monitored. Amazingly, Dr Peter used a one and a half inch, 25 gauge needle as the ‘pin’ for Ninja’s fractured leg so it could heal.
Surgery went very well and after waking up from anaesthetic, Ninja was placed in the hospital’s reptile Intensive Care Ward whilst he recovered from surgery. Within two days Ninja was eating and eagerly gulping down crickets and Dr Peter was extremely pleased with Ninja’s recovery and the healing progress of his hind leg.
Today, after a re-check, Dr Peter removed the tiny pin. X-rays showed Ninja’s tibia had healed and the fracture site was stable. Ninja has been energetically hopping around his enclosure chasing dinner and behaving like a healthy frog, so well in fact that Dr Peter has scheduled Ninja to be rechecked in three days. If all goes well, Ninja will be given a clean bill of health and he will be able to be released that same evening back home to the wild.
Archi the Koala
This weeks’ patient story is a heart breaking one.
Volunteer koala rescuers from the Moreton Bay Regional Shire responded to a call from a member of the public on Friday afternoon. The caller reported a koala was seen caught on a wire fence in the Morayfield area. The two rescuers were mortified with the scene that confronted them on arrival - a young and healthy male koala that had caught his right arm between two wire strands. Rescuers believe he got caught while he was trying to climb over the fence the night before and had fallen, dislocating and fracturing his shoulder, wrist and fingers. The poor boy, named Archi, had struggled to get free and damaged his arm further as a result of his body weight blocking the blood supply to his arm. Over the following hours flies laid eggs on his injured arm and ants were also swarming all over it.
The rescuers quickly cut Archi free and made an emergency dash to the Australian Wildlife Hospital where veterinary staff were waiting to help. Archi was sedated and lifted from the koala transport cage and placed under anaesthetic. Dr Amber untangled Archi’s arm from the wire and removed the ants so she could assess his injuries.
Sadly, Archi’s arm was cold and there was no blood supply moving through. Amputation wasn’t an option for Archi as a wild koala and wouldn’t be able to climb, in addition to the toxins that would have been released into Archi’s system when the pressure was removed from his arm. Dr Amber made the heart wrenching decision to euthanize Archi, which was the most compassionate and humane decision possible under the circumstances.
Many tears were shed for Archi that afternoon.
Batty the Little Red Flying Fox
Wednesday night a male Little Red Flying Fox was hit by a car and seriously injured in the Kawana area. The juvenile Flying Fox was named Batty by the person who found and transported him to the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
After being assessed and x-rayed by Dr Stacey, surgery was scheduled to repair Batty’s fractured left wing. The fracture site was mid-way along both the radius and ulna (bones in the wing) and there was also an open wound in that area. Dr Stacey stabilised the fractures by inserting a surgical pin in one of the bones, thus also stabilising the other close lying bone. The wound was then closed and Batty was prescribed pain relief, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and given sub-cutaneous fluids to help him recover.
In the 24 hours following surgery, Batty’s condition has stabilised and he has even been showing a healthy appetite for fruit, juice and nectar. When hungry he uses his long tongue to lap up the juice; his favourite being freshly squeezed watermelon.
Following reassessment, Dr Stacey sent Batty to a bat carer so he can be nursed back to full health. Generally Little Red Flying Fox cope better in captivity if they are grouped with other Little Red Flying Foxes in care.
Remember if you do discover an injured or orphaned bat, it is best to call a vaccinated bat rescuer as bats can carry disease that can be transferred to humans.
Godwin the Green Turtle
Last night a wildlife carer received a call for assistance regarding a very large Green Turtle stranded on rocks between Sandstone Point and Godwin Beach. A local man was taking a walk along the beach with his sons when he came across the injured turtle and realised it needed help. The Green Turtle had endured a possible boat propeller strike or shark attack, suffering injuries to the lower back section of its carapace with the tail and cloacal opening missing completely.
For the rescuers to access the beach with their vehicle, a Moreton Bay Regional Council worker was required to unlock gates and to assist. The ingenious carer used a pair of her husband’s old overalls to create a makeshift sling and together with her husband, a local man and the man from the Council, they lifted the turtle (later named Godwin) on top of the sling to carry the turtle to the waiting vehicle. With nightfall fast approaching and the tide coming in the rescuers carried Godwin 200m over slippery rocks back to their vehicle and to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for treatment.
Due to the nature of the injuries we don’t know if Godwin is a male or female turtle as the tail is normally the key to telling the sexes apart (females have a shorter tail than males). One of the vets, Dr Peter has prescribed pain relief and antibiotics and blood tests have shown Godwin is anaemic and weak. Dr Peter has treated and waterproofed the wound to the carapace and he plans to set Godwin up in a pool later today. In 24hours Godwin will hopefully be stronger, able to submerge and to swim before a reassessment for Dr Peter to decide if treatment should be continued.
One week later and it’s good news so far for Godwin – Godwin is able to submerge and is due for reassessment tomorrow. This turtle has beautiful big dark eyes, a gentle spirit and if there is hope of rehabilitation Godwin will be tenderly nursed back to health by the Australian Wildlife Hospital’s dedicated and passionate veterinary staff.
Miranda the Green Tree Snake Hatchling
Three weeks ago a member of the public arrived at the Australian Wildlife Hospital animal admittance area holding a container of reptile eggs. The eggs had been dug up by some workmen during earthworks on a rural property. After opening one egg to see what was inside and finding a baby snake, the property owner considered squashing the eggs. Fortunately one of the workers said he would take the eggs to the Australian Wildlife Hospital so the unhatched snakes could be saved.
An Ecologist from the Ecological Services Unit (ESU) of Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors identified the deceased snake from the opened egg as a Green Tree snake.
Green Tree snakes, as the name suggests, spend a lot of time off the ground travelling and hunting in trees (amazingly they are incredible climbers from the moment they hatch) and they are completely harmless.
This week the eggs started hatching and we had ten babies emerge over a two day period, of which they were taken and released in bushland at Cooroy Mountain. Three days later and a further five eggs had hatched, followed lastly one day later by little Miranda, the final Green Tree snake baby to emerge. All hatchlings have now been released back to life in the wild.
All snakes should be left alone, for our own safety and also their welfare. Remember all reptile species are protected and it is against the law to hurt or kill them.
Shirley and Timba the Bush Stone Curlews
Shirley is a Curlew that was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital after being found lying on the side of a busy road near Caboolture. She was dehydrated, weak and had suffered bruising to her back, most likely the result of being hit by a vehicle. As Shirley is only a juvenile still unable to fly, she has been placed with bird carers who will care for her until she can be released in the coming months as a self sufficient adult back into the wild.
Timba was admitted a few days later and he comes from the northern suburbs of Brisbane. Timba was rescued from a storm water drain after a member of the public made the discovery after hearing Timba’s constant calling for his parents. A vet check showed Timba had sustained no injuries, but was cold and hungry. Unfortunately for Timba, having been separated from his parents for a prolonged period, there is no chance of reuniting them. Timba has therefore been placed with the same bird carers as Shirley and will be raised for release in the future.
Shirley and Timba are now adjusting to their new ‘parents’ and surroundings and are reportedly feeding well and eating loads of insects. They also sleep snuggled up side by side.
Bush Stone Curlews are listed as endangered or vulnerable in many states of Australia. Their numbers have been declining mainly due to habitat loss and predation. Curlews nest on the ground, relying on fallen timber to give their nest site protection and privacy. Their eggs and the flightless chicks are vulnerable to being trampled on by cattle or horses, slashers/motor mowers and being eaten by foxes, cats and dogs.
Camouflage is their best defence - they stay very still when approached and their feather colouring helps hide their appearance, so many times people walk right past them without even noticing. A nocturnal species, their eerie calls can be heard echoing across open paddocks and grasslands and that can sometimes be the only indication they are in an area.
Diva the Gould's Long-eared Bat
A licensed bat carer and rescuer admitted a gorgeous micro bat to the Australian Wildlife Hospital this week. The micro bat was identified as a Gould’s Long-eared bat and even though she is a fully grown female, she weighed only nine grams.
The micro bat, named Diva, was dehydrated and suffering an injury to her left wing, which was preventing her from flying. Fortunately x-rays taken showed the wing wasn’t fractured, just badly bruised, which is lucky for Diva. One of our vets Dr Stacey prescribed pain relief, anti inflammatory, ointment and subcutaneous fluids so Diva’s wing could heal. Diva has been placed in care with the licensed carer who rescued her and is expected to make a full recovery over the coming weeks.
It is important to remember that bats should only be handled by vaccinated bat rescuers as some bat species can carry disease, which can infect humans.
Micro bats are nocturnal mammals sleeping through the day in tree hollows, under loose bark and sometimes buildings. These roost sites are also used to rear young and sleep when inactive over the colder months, sometimes housing up to twenty-five bats in a single colony.
Gould’s Long-eared bats typically fly close to the ground when hunting to catch airborne insects or insects on the ground or on vegetation, then eating the insect while continuing to fly. All micro bats are natural pest controllers, consuming half their body weight per night in insects. Without the many micro bat species in the environment we would be plagued by insects.
Stumpy the Burton’s Snake Lizard
Last week, a wildlife carer arrived at the Australian Wildlife Hospital with a small unidentified “snake” that a neighbour had accidentally injured. The “snake” was in fact a Burton’s Snake Lizard and the lower third of its body was almost totally severed.
Named Stumpy, Dr Robyn gave her a full examination while under anethestic, and found the point where the injury had occurred was below Stumpy’s cloaca (bottom). A couple of centimetres further up and Stumpy would not have survived the injury at all. Dr Robyn surgically removed the tail and closed the open wound with stitches and was prescribed pain relief, anti-biotic and anti inflammatory.
The next day Stumpy laid two beautiful eggs, which are now being incubated and will hopefully hatch in the coming weeks. After giving birth, Dr Robyn decided Stumpy should be fed, which in itself proved to be a challenge. Burton’ Snake Lizards feed almost exclusively on small skinks, which they swallow whole. Feeding skinks to a patient was not possible, so Stumpy was instead tube fed a protein mix straight into her stomach.
This week Stumpy finished her medication and Dr Robyn feels the stitches will be able to be removed in another week’s time, after which she can be returned home to the wild.
Burton’s Snake Lizards are often mistaken as snakes as they only have tiny scaly flaps where there would normally be legs. They are in fact harmless and are quite beautifully marked lizards with a uniquely shaped snout design to tightly hold prey. Interestingly, like geckos, Burton’s Snake Lizards don’t have eye lids, instead using their wide tongue to moisten and clean their eyes. Burton’s Snake Lizards are commonly found across mainland Australia.
Annabelle the Platypus
The Australian Wildlife Hospital admits and treats patients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year including Christmas day. This is important as wild animals have no concept of 9am to 5pm or Monday to Friday and so many native species are nocturnal.
On Christmas day we had a rather uncommon patient admitted, a 345gr juvenile platypus from the Woodford area. Annabelle as she was named by her rescuer was found having difficulties swimming and submerging and seemed to be exhausted. On closer examination she was found to have paralysis ticks all over her body and was also thin and dehydrated. Annabelle was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital where she had over thirty ticks removed and she was given subcutaneous fluids to help rehydrate her. She was identified as a juvenile and still dependant on her Mother for milk. The rescuer had noticed a larger platypus in the same water body so Annabelle was taken back so she could re-unite with the larger platypus who would hopefully be her Mother.
Sadly the larger platypus shunned her, so Annabelle was returned to the Australian Wildlife Hospital to be fed special milk formula while a platypus carer was contacted. Platypus carers aren’t as common because they need to complete separate extensive training relating to that species and the Government will only then issue a special license allowing them to rehabilitate platypus.
Annabelle will stay in care until she is weaned and learns to forage for herself. Platypuses have a very sensitive bill which they use to locate food in the gravel along creek beds, which includes mostly yabbies and insect larvae. Platypuses and echidnas are the only worldwide species classified as monotremes (egg laying mammals); making them quite unique species.
Harry the Bearded Dragon
Harry, the Bearded Dragon, was found by a member of the public and taken to a local Veterinary practise for treatment. The attending vet found a fracture to Harry’s hind right leg and damage to his tail, so Harry was subsequently transferred to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for specialised treatment.
Harry was given a thorough medical examination and an x-ray. He was found to be quite thin and his tail injury was actually an old injury that had already healed. The fracture to Harry’s leg was very serious and the vet decided surgery was the only option available to repair it. Harry was prepared for surgery and while he was under general anaesthesia, a surgical pin was inserted next to the fractured bone to help stabilise the leg.
As with all reptiles, fractures heal slower than in mammals. This meant that Harry had to be kept relatively quiet while the bone was healing, which isn’t that easy for a wild lizard! After eight weeks, Harry’s surgical pin was removed and he was allowed to start climbing to strengthen his leg. He was also kept on high calcium diet.
One month later, x-rays showed the bone had healed and Harry had regained his fitness. Harry’s vet was very pleased and this week gave Harry the all clear for release back to his bushland home.
Mercy, Hope and Courage, Ringtail Possums
Tragically last week, bushfires claimed the lives of many native animals, from koalas, wallabies, possums to bandicoots, carpet pythons, antechinus and many other native species. After seeing such devastation first hand, it was heart-warming to find animals that had survived and know that the dedicated vets and nurses at the Australian Wildlife Hospital were there to help them.
Thursday night after one of the bushfires had died down, wildlife rescuers searched for over three hours. However with the increasing limited visibility due to nightfall and smoke haze, a decision was made to resume the search at first light.
The next morning, against the blackened earth, ginger fur stood out like a beacon guiding one rescuer to an injured female Ringtail possum. The traumatised possum allowed the rescuer to gently wrap her in a towel and check her burnt body. Mercy, as she was then named, lifted her burnt face and looked up with big sad brown eyes, the rescuer told her in between sobs that she was safe now and help was coming for her and her babies. The rescuer could not even begin to imagine the terror this beautiful girl had experienced.
While Mercy was under aesthetic having her burns treated by Dr Amber, there was much excitement as a pouch check revealed both male joeys were uninjured. The twins named Hope and Courage were found to be OK with no burns or smoke inhalation. Somehow Mercy had managed to flee the flames and not drop either of her joeys from her bulging pouch. Mercy has burns to all feet and her face, but Dr Amber is confident long-term she will make a full recovery and return to the wild along with her boys.
Just over three weeks ago, a member of the public was carrying out some landscaping and unearthed eighteen white cylindrical eggs. Not wanting to harm the unhatched youngsters, but realising the nest site was now disturbed and there was no other area suitable for relocation, she phoned the Australian Wildlife Hospital for advice.
The eggs were subsequently brought in to be incubated and although they were thought to be from a fresh water turtle, they were housed in a secure container and labelled for staff safety.
Out of the eighteen eggs, sixteen hatched and the other two were found to be infertile. All of the Kreft turtle hatchlings were healthy, readily catching and eating mosquito larvae and other small insects. The turtles were released in a waterway near where the eggs were initially laid with plenty of waterlilies and aquatic plants present to provide the hatchlings safety from predators, their main threat in the wild.
If you do ever see turtle hatchlings remember it is illegal to take them from the wild. Turtles can be kept as pets, but you must obtain a license and purchase a captive bred one from a registered breeder or pet shop.The decision to have a turtle as a pet should be given a lot of consideration as the cute 20-cent-sized hatchling will grow to the size of a small dinner plate within the first five years. Turtles can also live to over twenty-five years of age, so they are a long term commitment with specific requirements and needs.
Bowie the Koala
Our patient this week is a gorgeous koala named Bowie. He was found sitting on the road in Deception Bay by a member of the public, which is unusual behaviour for a koala.
Bowie was in quite poor condition and so was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital and given a thorough assessment. Although there were no physical signs of trauma, it is thought that Bowie’s poor and weak body condition is a result of poor habitat availability and that he is a newly dispersing sub-adult koala.
Bowie is currently receiving anti-biotics for possible secondary infections and his condition will continue to be monitored by the vets.
Unfortunately habitat destruction, along with motor-vehicle accidents, domestic pet attacks and disease are the most common reasons wildlife are admitted to the hospital. Habitat destruction can leave wildlife ‘displaced’ or in areas where they cannot find suitable habitat to call home.
It is also interesting to note that Bowie’s eye colouring is unique – he has one brown eye and one blue eye, which is a genetic characteristic. This type of colouring is occasionally seen in koalas, but can be quite rare.
Blue Tongue Lizards: Blue One, Blue Two, Blue Three, Blue Four, Blue Five
Last Wednesday afternoon a call came through to the Australian Wildlife Hospital regarding a seriously injured female Blue Tongue lizard. A motorist noticed the lizard moving slowly across the road and pulled her car off to the side of the road so she could run back and “shoo” the lizard away from danger.
Unfortunately the driver of the car following was not as vigilant and the female Blue Tongue lizard was actually run over and her babies were scattered on the road where she lay. All babies were about two weeks off being born naturally, so they were all premature and many were also badly injured. The first motorist placed all the injured lizards in a t-shirt and rushed home to phone the Australian Wildlife Hospital for help.
However, when the rescuer arrived to collect the patients, the mother lizard had already died, but there was hope for some of her babies.
On assessment Dr Claude pronounced eight babies to be deceased, two needed to be euthanized as their injuries were too severe and the remaining five were set up in intensive care. I am pleased to report this week the baby blue tongues are now quite active, all are feeding and drinking well and all should be ok for release in a couple of weeks.
Wilbur the Mudlark
Wilbur the Mudlark was left with an injured wing on Sunday after being struck by a car. The incident happened at Golden Beach, Caloundra, and luckily for Wilbur a wildlife carer lived close by and was called to assist. Wilbur’s left wing was badly bruised making immediate flight impossible and far too painful.
Injuries that render birds flightless leave them susceptible to dog and cat attacks, wild bird predation or starvation as they are unable to move from food source to food source.
It is important that injured limbs are x-rayed to check for fractures which will need appropriate veterinary treatment. If a fracture is left to heal on its own, the bones can become misplaced causing them to heal crooked which makes flight and movement very difficult, impeding the birds’ long term ability to survive in the wild.
Luckily Wilbur’s x-rays were clear, showing no fractures, so Dr Stacey prescribed anti-inflammatories, pain relief and cage rest while the swelling and bruising subsides.
Wilbur will be due for reassessment in a week, at which time he will either be sent to the bird carer for further rehabilitation or released back home to the wild. He is certainly a lucky little bird considering he weighs only 80grams and a car weighs over a tonne, but most importantly someone took the time to stop and call for help.
Mudlarks are very common and widespread throughout Australia. They are more commonly known as the Peewee in New South Wales and Queensland.
Hooty the Southern Boobook Owl
Hooty is a Southern Boobook Owl that was found unable to fly properly due to an injured wing. Hooty was given sub-cutaneous fluids at a local vet surgery and then sent to a wildlife carer. The carer brought Hooty to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for x-rays, which showed a fractured right wing.
Due to the nature of the type of fracture and where it was located along the wing, surgery was not an option. Instead, one of our vets, Dr Stacey, wrapped the right wing with a figure-of-eight bandage to immobilise the wing while the bones healed. Dr Stacey also prescribed pain relief, anti-inflammatories and two weeks of rest and plenty of nutritional food for Hooty.
Hooty is now due to be reassessed in a couple of days and all going well, he will enter into flight rehabilitation stage of his recovery. This will help Hooty to regain his wing mobility and flight strength, which is so important for raptors, as they are predators.
Boobook owls are nocturnal hunters, feeding on small mammals and insects which they detect with their excellent vision and then immobilise with their long talons. Boobook owls are found right across Australia with habitats ranging from open to dense forests.
Dilution the Green Tree Snake
This week our featured patient is a juvenile Green Tree Snake named Dilution, who was admitted to the hospital suffering puncture wounds from a cat attack. On many occasions, patients that are admitted with injuries made by dog or cat bites will be prescribed a course of anti-biotics so infection doesn’t set in. The actual bite might not be life threatening, but if it is left untreated, the infection certainly may.
This little Green Tree Snake was given the name Dilution based on the tiny doses of medicine he has been prescribed by Dr Arana. When calculating how much medication to give to a patient, the vet bases this on the patient’s individual weight and as Dilution only weighs 16 grams, this makes his doses very small! Some of Dilution’s medication includes receiving a 0.0003mls injection of sub-cut anti-biotic.
Green Tree Snakes are common in suburban areas and are frequently encountered in backyards. These snakes are non-venomous and, as the name suggests, spend a considerable amount of time in trees and shrubs. When annoyed, they flatten their body showing their blue skin colouring, which is normally hidden under the green scales and they will also sometimes produce a foul odour.
Dilution is due for a re-check in seven days and if all is well he should be taken for release back to the Shorncliffe area. The Green Tree Snakes’ diet includes frogs and skinks; fully grown they can reach around 1.5 metres in length and be thicker than a ten cent piece.
Jacinta the koala
Early Saturday morning, a koala arrived from Arundel on the Gold Coast suffering horrendous burns sustained in a bush fire Friday night. The fire was thought to have been caused by a thoughtless person throwing a cigarette butt from a car travelling along the highway.
The fire destroyed an area of bushland roughly four to five football fields in size, and a known koala and wildlife habitat. Wildcare wildlife carer volunteers were unable to access the area Friday night as the bush was still burning fiercely and the danger from falling trees was ever present, making the scene very dangerous. At first light Saturday morning, the rescuers were able to search the burnt out area and this is when the koala was rescued and transferred to the Australian Wildlife under the expert care of a veterinary nurse. The seven-year-old female koala was named Jacinta and Dr Amber placed the critical patient under anaesthetic so she could assess the full extent of her injuries.
Jacinta’s fur was completely singed and left smelling strongly of smoke. Her nose was raw and swollen and her ears were blistered inside. All four paws were severely burnt and the top layer of skin was peeling off to reveal the raw swollen skin underneath.
Dr Amber treated and bandaged all of Jacinta’s paws and applied burn cream to her nose. Long term the burns should heal well but there is the risk of infection, so the bandages are carefully changed and the wounds checked every day. The most worrying aspect at present is the threat of Jacinta developing pneumonia due to her lungs being damaged by smoke inhalation. Currently Jacinta is on strong pain relief, antibiotics and fluids and the vets hope to see her well on the way to recovery in four to six weeks.
Cutter the baby Grey-headed Flying Fox
This week’s patient is Cutter, a nine day old orphan Grey-headed Flying Fox, who was found clinging to the body of his dead Mum. His Mum had been shot and she had died a couple of days earlier leaving a helpless Cutter unable to fend for himself. Fortunately Cutter was found and taken to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for emergency care and treatment.
The Vet examining Cutter found he was severely dehydrated as he had not had milk in those days since his Mum had died. He also was suffering from pneumonia which he developed over the cold nights struggling with no extra body warmth from his Mum. He was also covered in fly eggs and the maggots had eaten a ten cent piece size hole in his wing membrane. Cutter’s prognosis was bleak.
But being a courageous little fighter, Cutter has now stabilised to the point where he has been placed with a bat carer. He is currently fed 6mls of soy baby formula every four hours (around the clock) and he has even gained weight. Cutter will be with his carer for about four months and then he will be placed in a bat crèche with other orphans to begin preparation for life as a wild flying fox.
The Grey-headed Flying Fox is listed as vulnerable in the wild and as a species they are widely misunderstood. The role of Grey-headed Flying Fox is to pollinate native trees and disperse their seeds keeping the native forests healthy. This is accomplished as they feed on a tree’s flower pollen and nectar. Travelling from tree to tree, they transfer pollen as they go. They also feed on native fruits; as the seeds travel through their digestive system and leave the body in faeces, the seeds germinate many kilometres away from the parent tree. Keep in mind when a flying fox eats orchard fruit it is doing so because the natural food has been cleared and to survive it must eat every day, just like us.
Squirmy the Welcome Swallow
This week’s patient is a timely reminder that baby bird season is here in full swing. At this time of the year, the Australian Wildlife Hospital will have many baby birds admitted to the hospital as orphans. Many of these patients are merely fledgling birds learning to fly under the watchful eye of the parent bird.
Squirmy is a fledgling Welcome Swallow and the lady who found him did all she could to re-unite him with his parents, but as can sometimes happen the parent birds didn’t continue to feed him. Without help Squirmy would not have survived, so he was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital and now he will go out to a qualified bird rehabilitator to be raised until he is able to be released successfully back to the wild.
So remember, on finding a young bird on the ground:
1. Check to see if the youngster is injured; if so take the patient to the Australian Wildlife Hospital (if you are unsure a vet can assess the youngster).
2. Look to see if there is a nest/siblings/parents close by.
3. If the youngster is uninjured, the best thing to do is simply place the youngster up in the original nest, (if needed, a make-shift nest made from an old ice-cream basin with drainage holes in the base will suffice, as long as you tie it securely to a branch in the nest tree and place a stick down into the basin so the youngster can climb out when ready).
4. And finally, make sure the youngster is out of reach of any passing dogs or cats, and stand well back and watch to see if the parents come down to feed. Most times the parents will continue to feed and the youngster’s attempts at flight will improve as the days pass. Some youngsters may need a helping hand more than once.
Odette the Black Swan cygnet
Odette is a Black Swan cygnet that was found badly injured in the backyard of a residence at Pelican Waters. This backyard borders a freshwater lake where a resident pair of Black Swans raises their cygnets each year; it was thought that Odette was one of their little youngsters. The Australia Zoo Rescue Unit responded to the call for help, collecting the injured patient and transferring her to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for treatment.
Dr Claude assessed Odette’s injury, which was found to be quite severe and requiring surgery. Odette was suffering a large open wound under her left wing which was thought to be the result of an eel attack. The deep wound was cleaned, sutured closed and finally bandaged to keep the area sterile.
Odette was prescribed pain relief, anti-inflammatories and anti-biotics and was placed in a warm humid crib whilst she recovered from surgery.
Two days later, Odette’s condition had stabilised so she was placed with an experienced bird carer while her injuries healed.
Odette’s bandages have now been removed, revealing only a scar where the deep wound had been. Dr Claude is very happy with Odette’s recovery so far and has given permission for her carer to allow Odette intermittent time in water. Dr Claude has scheduled Odette for another re-check in 7 days time.
Black Swans are found throughout Australia, but are more common in the south.
Sharpie the Carpet Python
Our patient this week is a carpet python that was accidentally hit by a whipper snipper as a person was cutting grass in their backyard. The python suffered two large lacerations running horizontally across his body, rendering him in desperate need of veterinary attention. The Australia Zoo Rescue Unit responded to the call for help and recovered the injured python from the Noosaville property to transport him to the Australian Wildlife Hospital at Beerwah where he was named Sharpie.
One of our vets, Dr Arana gave Sharpie a sedative injection to make him groggy, thus allowing her to place an anaesthetic breathing tube down his trachea. While under anaesthetic Sharpie’s wounds were cleaned and Dr Arana also delicately sutured the torn muscle tissue back together and finally closed the wounds. Sharpie was given pain relief, antibiotics and his stitches are due to be taken out in four to six weeks. In the long term, Dr Arana expects he will make a full recovery from his injuries and return to life in the wild.
Klondike the Lace Monitor Egg
During heavy rain on a day late January 2009, a member of the public noticed a sizeable egg washed out from under the edge of her in-ground swimming pool. Unsure of the type of creature that had laid the egg; she was less than enthusiastic about having it hatch in her back yard, so the egg arrived at the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
The egg was set up in a clear sealed container with damp vermiculite, placed in an incubator and clearly marked ‘Do Not Open’, due to the fact it was unidentified and could potentially be venomous. Each day staff eager to learn what species our little patient might be, viewed the egg to see if there was any evidence of hatching. Months went by with no change and there were thoughts that maybe the egg was infertile and would never hatch.
This week on a routine daily check (seven and a half months later), our patience was rewarded. There was evidence of slits in the egg casing! Finally our egg was hatching and it took a full 24 hours for the baby lace monitor to fully emerge. Our gorgeous youngster was named Klondike and is an absolute perfect miniature of an adult lace monitor, which can easily reach over two metres in length once mature.
Once hatched the young are completely independent and can move with considerable speed and agility. Little Klondike has now been released back to native bushland at Buderim, very close to the yard where his egg was originally laid. His major task now is to find food whilst staying out of view from predators that might view him as food.
Quandamooka the White Bellied Sea Eagle
Our patient of the week is a sub-adult white bellied sea eagle named Quandamooka. Quandamooka is the Aboriginal name for Moreton Bay, the area she was rescued from.
A very cold and wet Quandamooka was pulled from the sea by a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Ranger, who arranged for her to be transferred to the mainland via ferry. The ferry was met by one of the dedicated team members from the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit, who transported Quandamooka to the Australian Wildlife Hospital that same night.
Quandamooka’s veterinary examination revealed she was thin and suffering physical exhaustion, but thankfully no major injury or illness was discovered. She was set up for the night in an intensive care enclosure with a heat lamp, allowing her feathers to dry while she rested.
Her condition has greatly improved and she is now able to stand and perch and is feeding herself. Quandamooka has entered rehabilitation for a few weeks to allow her strength to increase and from there she will be released back to the freedom of Moreton Bay.
Majestic the Wedged-tailed Eagle
This week’s stunning patient comes from Goombungee, a farming district near Toowoomba. A local farmer found this wedge-tailed eagle entangled in a fence, thrashing about to free himself. Fortunately for the eagle, a wildlife carer was called to assist and the wedge-tailed eagle, later named Majestic, was freed from the wire.
Upon examination, Majestic’s wing was hanging low and the carer feared the wing might be fractured. A call was placed to the Australian Wildlife Hospital and a rescuer set out to collect Majestic. A very large cardboard box housed Majestic for the two hour trip back to the Australia Wildlife Hospital and thankfully he remained quite calm.
Dr Claude, one of the vets at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, assessed Majestic on arrival and found him to be mildly dehydrated and a little thin. Fortunately, x-rays showed no fractures and apart from two small wounds, Majestic was relatively ok.
After plenty of fluids and a good feed, Majestic had become a much feistier eagle. Experienced staff used extreme caution whenever handling Majestic due to the strength and the sheer size of his talons.
Dr Claude has now given permission for Majestic to move into rehabilitation, so his body condition can improve and he can build up his flight strength. He will then be released back out to the wild.
The wedge-tailed eagle is the largest bird of prey in Australia with a wing span of up to 2.5 metres.
Tonka the Squirrel Glider Joey
All marsupial females have pouches. The most likely species encountered in South-East Queensland are kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, possums, bandicoots and gliders. If you see a body, a simple pouch check can potentially save the life of a precious youngster, just like our Patient of the Week.
Tonka the Squirrel Glider joey was discovered along with his sister Ginny in the pouch of their dead mother. Her body was found early one morning by a member of the public in the front yard of their Glenview property.
Being pinkie joeys Tonka and Ginny’s eyes were still shut and they had not yet grown fur so they were completely reliant on their mother for warmth, milk and safety.
As Tonka and Ginny’s mum wasn’t discovered until daylight, both joeys were very cold and hungry, as is often the case when a nocturnal marsupial dies overnight.
Fortunately the Australian Wildlife Hospital has a special nursery with humidicribs for orphans like Tonka and Ginny and after being assessed they were placed in soft fabric pouches and tucked away in a warm humidicrib to allow their condition to stabilise. Two hours later; 14 gram Tonka and 12 gram Ginny were able to be given oral and subcutaneous fluids.
Sadly Ginny passed away later that afternoon, her little body unable to cope with her prolonged exposure to the cold night.
Tonka has been placed with a wildlife carer who feeds him milk formula every three hours throughout the day and night. The carer says Tonka is doing very well and now weighs 19 grams, his eyes are almost open and he is starting to grow fine fur.
Wombat the Koala
Members of the public at Toogoolawah found a koala on their veranda last weekend, which appeared to be blind in one eye. They were able to contain the koala in an upside-down laundry basket, while they called the Australian Wildlife Hospital for advice. The vets at the Australian Wildlife Hospital felt it was best that the koala was brought to the hospital to be assessed as she was very quiet.
The Australia Zoo Rescue Unit was sent out to meet the rescuers at a half-way point so they could bring the koala, later to be named Wombat, to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for assessment. The vets found that she was lactating – but was without her joey, which must have become separated from her. The people who found Wombat were able to locate the small koala joey and kept a watch over him 20 meters high in a eucalyptus tree through the night! As there were no medical concerns for Wombat, and she was coping well with her injured eye, the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit travelled out to Toogoolawah to reunite Wombat with her joey the next morning. It took the rescue team two hours of tree climbing to retrieve the little joey and reunite him with his mum! It was well worth the effort though, to bring back together these two very special koala patients!
It is coming up to the breeding season, which means wildlife is on the move. The Australia Wildlife Hospital sees a dramatic increase in patients at this time of year, so please be aware of wildlife on our roads.
Pinky-Pie the Koala Joey
This week our featured patient is a 555 gram female koala joey named Pinky-Pie. Pinky-Pie is an orphan and believed to be approximately six months of age.
Pinky-Pie was found by a family travelling along a road near Somerset Dam, after they stopped the car for a rest break. They heard high pitched squeaks coming from some bushes and on investigation found a distressed koala joey calling for her Mum. Unfortunately, Mum was nowhere to be found, so the family contacted the Australia Zoo Recue Unit for help.
Pinky-Pie was transferred to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for a check-up, she had minor injuries to her left front and hind paws, which Dr Arana treated, but otherwise she was in good health.
Pinky-Pie has been placed in care with an experienced koala rehabilitator who is also caring for Bluey, a six-month-old male koala joey orphan, who was found alone along a road in Obi Valley the very same day.
Both koala joeys are doing well and will be with their rehabilitator until they are weaned off milk formula at approximately 12 months of age. At that stage they will enter the Australian Wildlife Hospital ‘Koala Kindy’ where they will have minimal human interaction and learn to become totally independent. Somewhere between 16 and 18 months of age, both Pinky-Pie and Bluey will be released back to life in the wild. Pinky-Pie will return to the Somerset area, and Bluey back to the Obi Valley.
Ozzie the Osprey
This week an exhausted female osprey named “Ozzie” was rescued from a mud hole near Lake Cooroibah in the Noosa area. Ozzie was found desperately struggling to free herself but to no avail as her feathers were caked in a burden of heavy mud.
After arriving at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, Ozzie was given a full medical assessment and her feathers were cleaned to reveal her beautiful white and brown plumage. Following a vet check by Dr Arana, Ozzie was found to be in poor body condition (meaning she was very thin); otherwise there was nothing seriously wrong with her.
Ozzie is now strong enough to be able to stand upright and perch, she is also showing a good appetite for gar fish. In another two days Ozzie is due for a reassessment and at that point Dr Arana will make a decision on her future care.
In South East Queensland, wild pairs of osprey breed from June to August and will continue to use the same nest year after year by adding extra nesting material each season. Females lay between two to three eggs and incubate them for 40 days whilst the male brings her food. Once hatched, the chicks spend 42 days in the nest being fed by both parents and in the months after fledging, chicks may travel well over 20kms to find a mate and territory of their own.
Possum Magic the Brushtail Possum
Possum Magic arrived at the Australian Wildlife Hospital on 27 July, after she had been found quietly sitting on the ground (which is not usual behaviour for a possum), and especially considering it was during the day.
Tests results showed Possum Magic had rodenticide poisoning (she had eaten rat poison) and she was suffering internal bleeding. Such a life threatening condition in any patient, Possum Magic needed a blood transfusion to save her life. Thankfully all went well and she is currently regaining strength and has a healthy appetite, the nurses say – pink Lilly Pilly leaf is her favourite food at the moment. Possum Magic certainly needs her strength as she has a five month old joey in her pouch that is constantly suckling milk.
In coming weeks as Possum Magic makes a full recovery she will be able to return home with joey to her territory in Beerwah.
Everyone should be aware rodent poison can harm any animal, including pets, so careful consideration and thought is needed.
Cory the Tawny Frogmouth
The Australia Zoo Rescue Unit was called to a domestic practice Vet Surgery to collect an injured Tawny Frogmouth this week. The Tawny had been found by the side of a road by members of the public, and thought to be injured, was taken to their local vet.
Many Tawnys are injured by vehicles as they swoop down to eat moths that are attracted to the shiny headlights. Named Cory, he was found to have a broken wing as a result of colliding with a car. Fortunately for Cory, the break was mid-shaft of his ulna (a bone in the wings of birds) and was a stable fracture. The vet that was treating Cory was able to operate and insert a pin into his broken wing to hold the bones together whilst they heal. Cory will remain with us at the Australian Wildlife Hospital for a few more days before going to a wildlife carer who specializes in caring for Tawny Frogmouths.
While in the care of a rehabilitator, Cory will be placed with other Tawny Frogmouths so that he does not become ‘humanized’. Cory has also been prescribed with a treatment of anti-inflammatory medication and cage-rest until his wing is healed, and will then he will be placed in an aviary for ‘physio’ and flying practice. When Cory is strong and well, he will be released back to Burpengary.
Despite their owl-like appearance, Tawny Frogmouths are not closely related to owls. They get their name from their colour and the fact that they have a wide frog like mouth. They are most active at night, mainly in the few hours after dusk and just before dawn.
Be aware of wildlife that may be more active at night and keep an eye out for them while driving.
Elisa the Green Sea Turtle
Elisa is a Green Sea Turtle that was found by members of the public in April 2009. Elisa was stranded on a beach at the waters-edge of Gatakers Bay, Hervey Bay. She was rescued by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Officials and transported to the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
It is very difficult to correctly age marine turtles until a necropsy can be done, but we have estimated that Elisa is more than 40 years old. When Elisa was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital, she weighed 65kg and was in poor condition with a sunken plastron and wasting of her shell. Initial blood tests showed that she was chronically anaemic, and had a fluke infection.
Elisa’s treatment included anti-inflammatory medication, vitamin supplements and anti-parasitic medication. Over the last two months, Elisa has almost eaten us out of squid! She would usually eat about 3kg of squid per day. In her first month of treatment she gained 10kg in weight! She was a pleasure for the nurses to feed, whilst many turtles need to be force-fed!
Elisa regained her strength and was doing all things that turtles should! Her blood results improved, and she was tagged and micro-chipped before being released this week.
Maverick the Northern Giant Petrel
Maverick is a male juvenile Northern Giant Petrel who was found by National Parks Rangers on Fraser Island two weeks ago. The Rangers found him in a weakened state - unable to stand or fly and weighing only 1.6kg. Maverick was transported by ferry across to Rainbow Beach where he was met by Seabird Rehabilitators and then transferred into their care. To help rebuild Maverick’s strength he was fed loads of nutritious food including up to 19 pilchards in one meal, also squid and salmon. He was also allowed lots of rest on special support foam to protect his feet from any pressure sores – a crippling condition known as “Bumble Foot”.
On Tuesday this week Maverick started showing signs of nasal discharge and slightly laboured breathing, so he was brought to see Dr Stacey. A test showed a mild respiratory infection and Maverick was prescribed antibiotics and antifungal medication. Maverick was also weighed during his check-up and he tipped the scales at a much healthier 4.1kg, all going well he will need to be re-checked by Dr Stacey in one week’s time.
Northern Giant Petrels are aggressive predators and scavengers, with females feeding mostly at sea, while males feed equally at sea and on land. These petrels have a maximum wing span of 210cm and the biggest threat to the species is drowning caused by long-line fishing gear.
Charlie the Magpie Goose
This weeks’ patient is a male juvenile magpie goose named “Charlie”. Un-characteristically for a wild bird, Charlie was reported to be approaching members of the public in a very tame fashion. Concerns were raised over his strange behaviour and also his welfare, so a local Wildlife Rehabilitator went out to investigate.
On arrival at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, Charlie was found to be quite thin; he exhibited no fear of humans and he readily ate food from a bowl. It is thought that Charlie has been raised by a member of the public and consequently he is showing imprinted behaviour. In this state Charlie is not considered releasable back into the wild; where he could starve, be attacked by a dog or worse? Charlie’s case has been submitted to the Species Management Program and he should find a suitable safe home in a Zoo or Wildlife Park.
If you find an uninjured orphaned native animal, it is vital to take it to a trained Wildlife Rehabilitator for care. All Queensland Wildlife Rehabilitators must hold a current license issued by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and also be trained in all aspects of caring for the particular species of native wildlife their license covers.
Blair the Koala
Our Patient of the Week is a 4 year old male koala named Blair. Blair has a rather traumatic past, as this is the third time he has been admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for lifesaving treatment.
We first came to know Blair in June 2008 after he had been mauled by a dog. He was admitted to the Hospital in a critical condition suffering shock, fractured ribs, a fractured clavicle and other trauma. Two months later, after around-the-clock veterinary care, Blair had made a full recovery and he was released back to his own territory in the Cleveland area.
Nearly three months later, tragically Blair was struck by a vehicle while trying to cross a busy road. Once again he arrived at the Hospital in a critical condition suffering shock, a fractured left elbow and other trauma. This time Blair spent two and a half months in care and was lovingly nursed back to full health. Again he was released back to his own territory in the Cleveland area (as the State Government legislation requires us to do).
This week, not six months after he returned home, he was again hit by a vehicle while trying to get across another busy road. Watching the veterinary staff working to stabilise him, trying to save his life was heart-breaking. This time he has a dislocated hip and possible spinal trauma; he is in a critical condition, and we don't know if he will survive this third trauma.
How much can one brave little koala endure? Thankfully Blair is receiving the best 24 hour care available - but what is his future, even if he does pull through?
Stinky Lar-Roo the Eastern Long-necked Turtle
Stinky Lar-Roo is an Eastern Long-necked Turtle (freshwater) who unfortunately was hit by a car as she was crossing a road. Many people are surprised by how far freshwater turtles will travel from creeks and dams, and they can often be seen crossing roads, particularly in wet weather.
Stinky Lar-Roo got her name from the unfortunate pungent odour that is released from Eastern Long-necked Turtles when they feel threatened. She is one of the lucky turtles we have admitted to the Hospital as her shell was fractured on the under-side (plastron) but the fracture was stable and not displaced, and so we were able to repair it.
It takes a number of months for fractured shells to heal, and care must be taken that no fungal infections develop at the fracture site. Stinky Lar-Roo is very shy, but is coping with her treatment and rehabilitation very well. The fracture is already starting to heal and she has been allowed in water again for a swim which she really enjoyed!
Forest the Eastern Brown Snake
Forest is a large Eastern Brown Snake that was brought into the Australian Wildlife Hospital in April by a member of the public in his backpack (not recommended) after noticing his skin was not normal.
Upon arrival at the Australian Wildlife Hospital he was examined by Dr Claude who determined he was suffering from severely infected dermatitis. His skin was sloughing off and he was almost dead and in a very depressed state.
He was started on a course of antibiotics and over the last couple months has shed his skin 4 times. With each shedding his skin improved dramatically and he became more alert and feisty each day.
After his fourth skin shed Dr Claude decided he was ready for release. Two members of the Australia Zoo rescue unit collected him and today (11/6/09) successfully released him back into the wild.
Whitlam the Koala
Whitlam is a 6 year old koala that came to the Hospital from Helensvale on the Gold Coast. It appeared that Whitlam lost his grip in a large eucalypt and fell from the tree and landed on a concrete driveway.
Thankfully, the residents at the property were home and heard the thud and went outside to investigate. They kept a close eye on him until a volunteer wildlife rescuer arrived.
Whitlam suffered a fractured jaw which was surgically repaired by inserting a plate and screws. The Australian Wildlife Hospital has been at the forefront of this type of life-saving surgery for koalas. In years gone by, old-school veterinarians argued that this couldn’t be done however, like many other koalas treated at the Hospital before him, Whitlam’s jaw has healed very well and this week Dr Arana removed the plate.
Whitlam will be in care for another few weeks and then will be released back to his original rescue site on the Gold Coast.
Skewer the Eastern Water Dragon
Our Patient of the Week was found within the grounds of Australia Zoo. If you have ever been to the Zoo you would have noticed the many Eastern Water Dragons that scoot all around the park. One of the Zoo Keepers found an adult Eastern Water Dragon with a very large thorn sticking out of her side.
On close examination our vet found that the thorn, from a palm frond, had gone through the one side of the abdomen and was sticking out the opposite side! She was aptly named ‘Skewer’ and underwent surgery to remove the frond.
In surgery our Vet found that the frond had pierced the stomach twice! She was able to carefully remove the foreign body and repair the internal damage. Skewer has received antibiotic and anti-inflammatory treatment and is recovering well.
We expect Skewer to be released back at Australia Zoo in the next two weeks.
Spitfire the Green Sea Turtle
Even the tiniest patients receive intensive care and attention at the Australian Wildlife Hospital. Spitfire is a Green Sea Turtle hatchling. He was found struggling in very shallow water, on the beach near Cape Moreton. He weighs only 25g! His left front flipper had sustained an injury which prevented him from using it correctly and he was unable to swim out through the breakers to the open ocean.
Spitfire was contained and transported very quickly to the Hospital for medical attention. Due to his injury and the struggle to survive, Spitfire needed to be given two antibiotics and two types of pain medication. He also received fluids to assist in his rehydration. While his injuries heal Spitfire will remain in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.
Green Sea Turtles are one of Australia’s ocean reptiles that require everyone’s care and attention as their numbers are declining rapidly due to urbanisation of their nesting beaches and injuries from boats, discarded netting and pollution of the ocean.
If Spitfire grows to his full size he could weigh more than 150kgs and live to over 100 years old.
Wattle the Grey-headed Flying Fox
On the evening of Wednesday 6th May an experienced and vaccinated bat carer received a call regarding a flying fox entangled on a barbed wire fence at Palmwoods. Equipped with a head torch, gloves, a towel and wire cutters, the carer was able to cut free the piece of wire fencing along with the entangled bat.
Realising the extent of injuries to the bat’s wing and her mouth, the carer then drove the patient down to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for specialised help to remove the barb wire. The carer christened the flying fox “Wattle” as she was found caught under a flowering wattle tree. Wattle was anaesthetised and then began the delicate work of freeing her left wing and mouth from the wire barbs. After forty-five arduous minutes Wattle was freed and the staff could start treating her injuries.
Wattle had suffered tears to the membrane on her left wing, and also damage to her mouth as she tried to bite her way free. The corner of her mouth was torn open 1 ½ cms across her cheek and this needed to be delicately sutured back together. Wattle had also broken two of her upper incisors, but fortunately her canines were all intact. Her wing was then covered with a specialised bandage to help with the healing and she was given pain relief, anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic and rehydrating fluids.
Wattle has now been placed in the care of her rescuer, who reports Wattle has been a very sweet natured and brave little girl. She especially loves to lap the nectar collected from fresh eucalypt blossom and other native flowers, but at present her mouth is still too sore to allow her to chew the flowers.
Grey-headed flying foxes are a nocturnal species and may travel up to fifty kilometres in one night searching for food, which is made up of nectar and fruit from native trees and shrubs. In the past ten years the total population has dramatically declined due to land clearing which has resulted in loss of habitat and food sources.
Desrae the Tawny Frogmouth
On 5 May 2009 a Buderim resident noticed a Tawny Frogmouth sitting in her front yard. The Tawny appeared to have suffered an injury to her shoulder and was unable to fly to the safety of a tree.
The resident realised the Tawny needed help, so she phoned the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit on the Rescue Hotline 1300 369 652. Cory and Kate were on the scene in minutes and safely delivered the injured Tawny down to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for treatment.
Avian Specialist Dr Stacey masked down the patient, which is done by placing a breathing mask over the patient’s face and letting them breathe in a mixture of oxygen and anaesthetic gas. The patient, who had now been named Desrae, was sleeping peacefully while Dr Stacey examined her and took X-rays.
X-rays showed a fractured left clavicle, so Dr Stacey gave Desrae some pain relief, anti-inflammatories and some fluids. He then recommended cage rest for the next couple of weeks while the injury heals.
Desrae will be able to leave the Australian Wildlife Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for Birds in the next couple of days and go to a bird carer for the rest of her rehabilitation.
Desrae will need to come back in for a check-up in two weeks and, all going well, will be released back to her Buderim home.
Patch the Green Tree Snake
The Australia Zoo Rescue Unit went on a call-out for a Green Tree Snake that was unfortunately caught in a shed door - ouch! The Rescue Unit brought him to the Australian Wildlife Hospital where our vet put him under anaesthetic so that she could properly assess his injuries.
It was found that Patch had two large open wounds, but was moving well. He has subsequently undergone treatment to allow for healing of the wounds and is progressing very nicely. We expect him to be released in the next few weeks - hopefully he will steer clear of doors and hinges!
Cotton Bud the Echidna
Cotton Bud was walking across a road at Mount Cotton when he was hit by a car last week. A driver stopped to pick him up and took him to a local vet who then called the Australian Wildlife Hospital for advice. One of our nurses picked him up from the surgery and brought him to the Hospital where our vet found that he had a fractured beak, which is a very common injury for echidnas hit by cars.
Fortunately for Cotton Bud his break is stable and able to be treated. He is currently in the care of an experienced echidna carer for rehabilitation whilst the break heals. Already the bones are granulating well and hopefully he will start eating again soon.
Echidnas are not often seen but are fairly common residents of South East Queensland. They have a particularly strong sense of smell which they use for finding their food, which includes termites and other ants and also worms, beetles and larvae. They have no teeth but use their sticky tongue to draw food into their mouths and they ‘chew’ it between their tongue and the bottom of their mouth. Echidnas are greatly threatened by loss of their habitat.
Gavin the Keelback Snake
Keelback Snake is a name we should all try to remember. Gavin is a juvenile Keelback Snake that was injured when he was run over by a motor mower. He was very lucky as he was seen immediately by the resident who was mowing and Gavin was brought to the Australian Wildlife Hospital straight away.
Dr Peter examined Gavin and found he had wounds to his tail that would require him to be kept in the hospital for a short stay. Antibiotics were prescribed to kill any germs that may have infected the wounds, and a medicated paste to be placed over the wounds to seal them. Gavin was then placed in a specially heated enclosure to assist him to get well.
Why should we remember Keelback Snakes? Because they are one of the few animals that can eat TOADS. This is a very special ability as toads are poisonous to most animals. Keelback Snakes can be found in many urban back yards, and particularly like living near creeks or in low lying areas. They are non-venemous and their main source of food is lizards, frogs, small fish and even tadpoles.
Gavin’s wounds have healed really well and he has been released this week to chase more of those pesky toads!
Shazza the Kookaburra
Shazza the Kookaburra was found on the ground at a busy intersection in Landsborough on Monday. She appeared to be dazed and her rescuer had been loath to leave her unattended as dogs were roaming in the area.
On arrival at the Australian Wildlife Hospital Shazza was assessed by Dr Arana and found to be suffering from shock – possibly as a result of colliding with a car. Whilst Shazza was reluctant to fly, she was able to stand and support herself comfortably on a perch. Dr Arana confirmed that there were no broken bones but prescribed Shazza some anti-inflammatory medication to ease soreness suffered from the impact. Later in the day Shazza was offered a tasty meal of chunky beef pieces which she consumed with relish.
The next day Shazza was again given the opportunity to fly – this time she enjoyed her flight practice and didn’t demonstrate any discomfort at all.
Dr Arana has now given Shazza the green light to be released back to Landsborough when weather conditions improve.
Squirt the Squirrel Glider
Squirt is an adult female Squirrel Glider that was found in a peg bag on a washing line! She was missing a finger on her left forearm and had an open wound. She was brought to the Australian Wildlife Hospital by the member of the public who found her and was given immediate treatment for the wound. It is not known what caused the injury.
Squirt convalesced in the Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for the duration of her treatment and was released last Thursday evening.
The Hospital admits many gliders that have been victims of attacks by cats or caught on barbed wire. Squirrel gliders can be seen in suburban gardens and dry forest and woodlands. They are nocturnal and eat insects and nectar of local native flora. You can have great fun spotlighting in your garden looking for gliders and possums.
Our seven tiny Patients of the Week are Stripe-Faced Dunnarts which are part of the Dasyurid group of animals. A miner found them when there was digging at a mine at McKinlay. He waited for the mother to come back for them but, after a few hours, he realized that she was not going to return so he made arrangements to transfer the animals to the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
Our vet found that they were quiet and dehydrated, so fluids were administered and they were fed with marsupial milk. The tiny Dunnarts weight just 3g each! They will soon start to forage for spiders, insects and small reptiles. In times of plenty, fat is stored in the tail of the Dunnart. They are under threat from cultivation, fires and predation by foxes and cats in their habitat of grassland and shrubland.
Booma the Woma Python
Booma, a 2.1 metre adult Woma Python, came into the care of the Australian Wildlife Hospital recently after he was found on a dirt road on a property at St George with a stick protruding from the side of his body. He was taken to St George veterinary clinic who then called the Australian Wildlife Hospital for specialist advice to keep his condition stable and to arrange an emergency transfer. The Australia Zoo rescue team met Booma’s rescuers at Dalby, completing the 6 hour road trip to the Hospital where he was immediately assessed by Dr Amber.
Booma subsequently underwent 4 hours of surgery to remove the forked stick which was believed to have been ingested along with some prey. The stick had travelled down his intestinal tract to within 6 cm of the end where it turned and punctured the intestinal wall, protruding outside of his body.
Woma pythons are an endangered species due to habitat loss. They hunt for prey in burrows and are a form of python that don’t have the heat sensoring pits found in other pythons.
Booma has recovered well from surgery, has a healthy appetite and, importantly, his digestive system is working well, which is a positive sign that the surgery was successful. He is expected to make a full recovery and be released back into the wild at St George in approximately two month’s time.
Black Beard the Frill-necked Lizard
Black Beard is the first Frill-necked Lizard ever to be admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital. We get many calls about ‘frill-necks’ but, until now, they have all turned out to be Bearded Dragons! Black Beard was found by a motorist on Murdering Creek Road, near Noosa - he had been hit by a car and suffered a broken leg and trauma to his tail. He has been with us in care for over three weeks now and is recovering slowly but surely from his injuries.
The Frill-necked Lizard is probably one of Australia’s most famous lizards because of their impressive display of a widely distended throat when they are threatened. They are commonly found in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and across northern Australia and rarely seen in south-east Queensland.
Agent M the Ringtail Possum
Agent M is a ringtail possum that was found on the ground at Maleny. Wildlife carers were called and they immediately brought the sub-adult possum down to the Australian Wildlife Hospital at Beerwah.
An x-ray showed that he had a broken hind leg and the bones were displaced, which would have been very painful for him. Agent M was given pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication and kept stable overnight before having surgery to repair the fracture the next morning.
Our vet placed a pin to join the broken bone together whilst it heals and Agent M is recovering well from surgery. He will now be placed with an experienced possum carer who will take care of him whilst he recovers. Once the bone has fully healed the pin will be removed and Agent M Will be able to be released back to the wild.
Our reptile room at the Australian Wildlife Hospital is full of our cold-blooded friends that have different injuries and illnesses. One of our current patients is Humpty - a cranky carpet python who, unfortunately, ate a porcelain dummy egg that was in a chook shed! Luckily the home-owner found the snake resting in the coop as he was trying to digest the egg and was able to put him in a bag and bring him down to the Hospital. Humpty underwent surgery to remove the egg and we are happy to report that he is recovering well and should be released soon. Hopefully he won’t make the same mistake again!
We have also been able to release two clutches of carpet python eggs recently. Both sets of eggs were displaced when earth-works were being conducted and were brought to the Hospital for incubation. Interestingly, some of the eggs hatched two snakes - not the usual one! If you find any eggs in your garden that become displaced as you are digging etc, please call the Hospital and we will incubate them and then release the young when they hatch.
Ozzie the Koala Joey
Ozzie came to the Australian Wildlife Hospital on Australia Day, after having been rescued from the Cleveland area in Brisbane. Curiously, he had been struck by a wheelie bin and the incident was reported to a local wildlife rescue group. The rescuers could not locate Ozzie’s mother.
Dr Amber examined Ozzie on his arrival at the Hospital and assessed his age to be just 9 months. He presented with some tenderness to his hind quarters, but fortunately he had not suffered any serious injury. An x-ray revealed some inflammation to the lungs so he was prescribed a course of injections to address this. He was also found to be anaemic, so was also prescribed a daily dose of vitamins.
A couple of weeks on and Ozzie is doing well. He has been placed in the care of one of our staff members who is also caring for a female joey of a similar age. They enjoy each other’s company and playing together. Follow-up blood tests and another x-ray this week revealed a pleasing improvement in Ozzie’s condition and he is adapting well to the experience of being in care.
Ozzie will return to the Hospital’s Rainforest (pre-release enclosure) in about 3 month’s time, before being released back to the wild.
Twinkle the Gould’s Wattled Micro-bat
Twinkle is a 9g juvenile Gould’s Wattled Micro-bat- and, like most juvenile Hospital patients, she got herself into the wrong place at the wrong time, and managed to get caught by a household cat! The cat’s teeth tore through her wing membranes and made about 5 holes in her left wing. Luckily the teeth missed her body- usually when micro-bats have puncture wounds in their body they die of infection. Twinkle had to be prized out of the cat’s mouth and was brought to the Australian Wildlife Hospital where antibiotics, anti-infammatory medication and pain killers were administered. Twinkle has made a terrific recovery in the care of an experienced bat carer and is ready to be released.
Gould’s Wattled Micro-bats have the uncanny ability to fold their ears like a piece of origami so that they can move around in their roosts. They roost mostly in tree-hollows and are insectivorous bats that catch their prey by scooping it in their tails, and eating it ‘on the wing’- that is, as they are flying. They can be found across Australia bar the Cape York peninsular.
Chicky-Babe the Yellow-billed Spoonbill
This very cute Patient of the Week was brought to the Australian Wildlife Hospital by a wildlife carer from Bribie Island. He was found on the ground having fallen from the nest. Chicky-Babe is a Yellow-billed Spoonbill - an uncommon species to be admitted to the Hospital. Fortunately, Chicky-Babe was found to be healthy and had escaped injury from the fall. He was subsequently sent to specialist bird carers who have reported back to the Hospital that he is doing very well and enjoying his diet of whitebait and pilchards!
Yellow-billed Spoonbills are common residents of wetland areas and can be found in shallow swamps, fresh and brackish waters, dams and small pools. They feed by sweeping their bills from side to side in the water and any prey in the water that touches the bill triggers it to shut immediately. Yellow-billed Spoonbills grow quite large - up to 80-90 cm tall. Chicky-Babe will be released back to the wild when he is old enough to survive on his own.
Bazza the Pacific Baza
Bazza was found on the ground at the Woorim Golf Club on Bribie Island. He was bleeding from two puncture wounds to his back and unable to fly. He was rescued by an experienced bird carer and brought to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for assessment. He has now been admitted and has begun a course of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medications.
Bazza is eating on his own which is a great sign that he is on the road to recovery. He should go to a raptor rehabilitator soon for flight practice before being released back to the wild.
The Pacific Baza is a medium-sized, long-tailed hawk with a prominent crest - the crest and their boldly barred abdomen make this bird of prey very distinctive.
Gigantor the Lace Monitor
Gigantor is a Lace Monitor that was rescued by a Reptile carer when he was found dragging his body across a road. When he first presented to the Australian Wildlife Hospital Gigantor was quiet but was able to move all his limbs. X-rays showed no obvious fractures, but as it was obvious he was in a great deal of pain the vet started him on pain relief. Over the following few days he showed a slight head tilt which suggests he had suffered some neurological damage. Gigantor is now climbing well and eating on his own, however he will remain in Hospital until he has fully recovered.
Lace Monitors, also known as Goannas are found over most of the southern hemisphere, from Africa to southern Asia and Australia. Different species of monitors have evolved to a semi-aquatic mode of life; others are tree-dwelling whilst others have adapted to live in the harshest deserts.It is not unusual to find Lace Monitors in suburban areas of South East Queensland. We have two others in care at the Hospital currently - one of which was also hit by a car, and the other was attacked by dogs. One should be cautious when approaching Lace Monitors as they can bite and may do some serious damage as they whip their tails in defense. You will quite often see Lace Monitors in picnic and BBQ areas but please enjoy observing them from a distance and do not feed them as they will start relating people to food which can cause Lace Monitors to act in an aggressive manner if people then don’t share their lunch with them.
Brisbane River Turtles
You may remember our Patient of the Week, Salada the beautiful Brisbane River Turtle who was admitted after she had swallowed a fishing hook. Whilst she was under anesthetic she laid six eggs which staff at the Australian Wildlife Hospital incubated.
Salada recovered well after her surgery to remove the hook and she was released to the wild where she would have laid the remaining eggs (Brisbane River Turtles lay approximately 15 eggs). After about six weeks the little eggs hatched in the incubator and the cutest little turtles came out! Staff kept them contained for a few days before releasing them back to Sandgate, where their mum had come from.The eggs had to be kept at a constant temperature of 29 degrees with high humidity, and they all hatched within a 24 hour period. Turtle hatchlings are independent from when they hatch. Of the 15 eggs that are usually laid, sadly only one to two of those are expected to reach adulthood.
Mr Andy the Pelican
On New Year’s Day a pelican became entangled with fishing line and lures for the second time in his life. He was found at the Powerboat Club with a hook embedded in his leg. He was rescued by seabird carers and brought to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for treatment. ‘Mr Andy’ had a mass of granulation at the hook site and the wound was flushed and bandaged with a special dressing. He will have a course of antibiotics and, all going well, will be ready for release in a few weeks.
The rescuers believe that he is the same pelican they rescued and cared for in August 2008. He was found at Bulcock Beach at that time with a few fishing hooks embedded in his tissue and he was successfully released after treatment. The rescuers were able to identify him by the scar tissue from the previous injuries and also by his cheeky character!
We urge all fishermen to dispose of their used line and tackle in rubbish bins so that our beautiful wildlife does not get entangled in it.
Noosa the Loggerhead Turtle
Our patient of the week is an enormous loggerhead turtle that weighs 111kg! He was seen by the Noosa Lifeguards floating off Noosa beach and was rescued by the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit who were cheered on by beachgoers! The turtle has been named 'Noosa' and was found to be in good body condition.
He has been admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital as a “floater” which means there is a build-up of gas in his gut or under his shell that has prevented him from diving and feeding. Sadly, the floating condition is quite common with sea turtles and is largely caused by a parasitic infection that takes over and slows the gut-movement of the turtle allowing gas to accumulate. Some large turtles have been floating for months before being rescued and, because they are floating, they are unable to dive to feed, are more prone to shark attacks and even suffer sunburn to their shells.
Noosa will have a long road to recovery with anti-parisitic medication, de-gas tablets and lots of TLC! He has already shown aggressive behavior and is very active in his pool and we hope he will show signs of improvement soon - you can imagine how frustrating it would be for a turtle not to be able to dive when that is all they want to do!
The staff at the AustralianWildlifeHospital has come to the aid of literally hundreds of baby Grey Headed Flying Foxes orphaned at one of the local Gold Coast bat camps following the recent severe storms. Grey Headed Flying Foxes have been listed as a “vulnerable” species for some time and are a very important species that we need to protect.
To date there have been a total of 320 baby grey-headed flying foxes rescued from the Canungra colony. The AustralianWildlifeHospital was able to assist local wildlife rescuers with a donation of medical equipment, as well as providing veterinary support. Dr Claude and Nurse Peta spent two days working with the rescue team, conducting health checks and administering medication. Approximately 75 babies were triaged and treated during that time and subsequently some of our Hospital staff and volunteers have taken on the task of hand-rearing a number these patients.
These little bats are amazingly intelligent and are all so happy to now be in care. They are learning to hang whilst flapping furiously, although they can’t fly yet! They have quickly come to learn the feeding routine and now rush to be fed first. Thanks to the combined rescue effort - also involving Wildcare Australia, Bat Care Gold Coast and Brisbane, the RSPCA, the CurrumbinWildlifeHospital, Greencross Vets, veterinary students and others - there are now over 300 bats that will not perish from dehydration and malnutrition.
Hurley the Lace Monitor
On 12 February 2008 the staff at the Australian Wildlife Hospital received an urgent phone call from a veterinarian in the Redlands area of Brisbane.
She reported a member of the public had brought a lace monitor into her surgery which had been hit by a vehicle and was suffering severe facial trauma. After a 3 hour round trip the team from Australia Zoo Rescue Unit arrived back at the Hospital with the 2.5 metre long lace monitor.
Dr Amber took x-rays of the patient - now named Hurley - and discovered multiple fractures to his upper and lower jaws, lacerations to his tongue and bleeding from his right ear drum. The fractures were stabilised and strapped and Hurley spent the next month in intensive care where he underwent a full treatment program including pain relief, antibiotic, and calcium injections.
As a result of his condition Hurley was unable to open his jaws to feed, so an assisted feeding program was undertaken by Nurse Lee. Each day she prepared a “Reptile Slurpie” made from eggs, protein mix and calcium, and this was gently syringe-fed to Hurley to keep his strength up.
By the end of April, Hurley’s x-rays showed the fractures were healing well and he was now able to eat solids. At this stage of rehabilitation Hurley was sent to an experienced reptile carer and spent the next seven months getting back into prime condition. Over each successive month his condition steadily improved and he went from being a docile and uninterested patient to an alert and aggressively confident monitor, demonstrating all the behaviour needed to cope with life back in the wild.
Just a few days ago Hurley was driven back down to his home turf in the Redlands area and released. His first reaction was to lay in the warm sun for nearly ½ an hour before slowly but happily ambling his way back into his bushland home.
Maggie the Koala Joey
Maggie is a tiny orphaned koala joey who was admitted to the AustralianWildlifeHospital late last week. She is 4 months old and weighs just over 200 grams. Maggie’s mother suffered severe injuries as a result of a savage dog attack several hours prior to her rescue. She was still clinging to life when found but sadly died in her rescuer’s arms. She had survived just long enough to see that her little girl would be looked after.
Maggie is of an age where she should still be in her mother’s pouch - hence she is now being housed in a humidicrib to keep her body temperate warm and constant. She is being bottle fed every three to four hours and is, understandably, still very tentative about this new routine. She has also been prescribed a short course of medication to treat a mild tummy upset.
When she is through her period of intensive care, Maggie will be placed with an experienced koala carer who will care for her in their own home until she reaches a weight of approximately 2.5 kilograms, at which time she will return to the Hospital’s koala kindergarten to learn the skills needed to fend for herself ahead of her eventual release back to the wild.
Dog attack is the most common threat to our vulnerable koala population after road accidents but there is a simple remedy. If you are a dog owner and live in a koala habitat area, please ensure that your pet is not allowed to roam or walk off its leash. Not only is this a courtesy to your neighbours, and particularly other dog owners, but you will be protecting koalas too.
Onyx the Black Flying Fox
Onyx was initially admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital on 27 October - he had been found on the ground Caboolture and was rescued by a wildlife carer. Our vets found that he had swelling over the bridge of his nose and superficial grazes to his right nostril. He was also slightly dehydrated, but this was quickly overcome once he was given oral fluids.
Onyx came back to the Hospital this week for a re-check and a fracture on phalange 1 (a finger-like bone) was found. Fortunately the fracture is only slightly displaced so there was no need to repair.
Onyx will stay with his experienced bat carer until he is ready to go to bat kindergarten - then, if all goes well, he will be released into a colony.
The Black Flying Fox is the largest species of flying-fox in Australia. Interestingly, they can beat their wings up to 120 times per minute, can fly at 35-40 kilometres per hour and may travel over 50 kilometres from their camp to a feeding area. They often share their camps with other flying-fox species.
Bubble and Squeak the Tawny Frog Mouths
Our patients of the week came from Beerwah. They were blown out of their nest in a big storm, and were found on the ground by a resident. They are Tawny Frog Mouths which, contrary to popular belief, are not owls, but part of the Nightjar family. Bubble and Squeak were not injured in the fall as their wings helped them to glide to the ground, however they were covered in ants when found. Our vet gave them a thorough assessment and they were found to be in great condition and simply needed to be returned to their family.
The best way to re-unite any type of baby bird with the family, if they have fallen from a nest, is to get an old ice-cream or plastic container, and put some holes in the bottom so that rain water can drain out. Then put some leaves and sticks into the box and place the young birds in. Hang the box up in the same tree as the original nest, or the closest tree, and watch! 98% of the time the parents will come and feed the babies and then teach them to fly, giving them a much better start to life than if they are hand-raised by people. Sometimes birds have even been known to carry their young from these make-shift nests to the original nest! If the parents do not come down within 4 hours then give the Australian Wildlife Hospital a call, as there may be something wrong - but most of the time the parents will be looking for their young; their young will be calling out and they just need a chance to be off the ground away from predators.
In the case of Bubble and Squeak, as they are nocturnal birds, their rescuers just needed to put them in a makeshift nest and make sure that they were in full shade for the day. As it got dark their parents called for them and then began hunting to feed their young.
Tawny Frog Mouths feed on mice and insects and particularly like moths. Tragically, this means we admit a few adult Tawnys each week that have been hit by cars as they swoop down to feed on moths attracted by the headlights of cars. Please stop to pick up any you see on the side of the road, and remember how to re-unite young birds with their families!
The Rainforest is a special enclosure at the Australian Wildlife Hospital that is home for a short while to our orphaned koalas and others that are recovering from serious injuries. We currently have 10 koalas in residence - of these 8 were orphaned and 2 are rehabilitating after suffering severe injuries.
Infant koalas (joeys) who are orphaned initially go to a carer who specialises in koala rehabilitation and will come back to the Hospital once they reach a weight of approximately 2.5 kilos. At this weight the joey is normally weaned off his or her bottle (which is a soy milk formula) and, in some instances, will receive a dietary supplement of Infasoy paste.
Koalas’ normal diet consists of the eucalyptus leaf and, at this age, they are ready for this to be their primary source of nutrition. The Rainforest - which is also referred to as a pre-release kindergarten - provides a variety of eucalypt types that they can eat and several trees to climb. This environment enables the joeys to develop their fitness and the skills needed to interact with other koalas and fend for themselves when they are released into the wild.
At approximately 4 kilos the joey is ready to be released back to the area that they originally came from and, although it is sad to say goodbye to these beautiful animals, we hope that they never have occasion to come back to our Hospital.
It is currently the mating season for koalas, so please drive carefully in areas signposted as koala habitat. They may be crossing the road looking for a partner or searching for food. One orphan in our care is one too many.
Salada the Short Necked Turtle
A Brisbane River Short Necked Turtle came into our care last Tuesday after a concerned person found her in a pond at Sandgate with fishing line hanging out of her mouth.
Dr Claude examined and X rayed the turtle - now named Salada - and found a hook stuck in the esophagus. She soon discovered that Salada was a female and, whilst anesthetized, produced 8 eggs. The eggs were placed in incubation straight away and, if all goes well, the young will be released back into the wild.
Dr Claude believes that Salada is carrying more eggs, so it is important that we get her back out into the wild as soon as possible. The removal of the hook proved to be very difficult and Dr Claude had to cut and suture the neck to remove it. Salada has several stitches which will dissolve over the next few months. She will be kept under close observation and when it’s deemed safe to do so, will be released back into her pond at Sandgate.
Please be aware of the hazards to our wildlife caused by discarded fishing lines and hooks.
Shadow, Ensham and Abigail the Echidna Trio
Our Patients of the Week come from across Queensland. They are all puggles (baby echidnas) and each of them was orphaned when their mums were killed by cars. Each puggle was very lucky that some drivers stopped to check the pouches of the mothers and were able to get the puggles to trained carers. They have been named Shadow (the largest one) from Beaudesert, Ensham from Emerald, and Abigail from Gympie.
Echidnas are related to the platypus and are an unusual taxon group of monotremes - egg-laying mammals. They feed their young on milk secreted from the ducts on the mother’s belly every few days, and in between feeds the mother echidna will travel to feed herself on ants and termites. Echidnas enjoy cool temperatures, hence when they are being rehabilitated the adults are kept cool with ice-packs - quite the opposite to other mammals that require heat when undergoing treatment. It is crucial at this time of year for adult echidnas to go back exactly where they have come from as there is a very high likelihood of puggles waiting in a burrow somewhere to be fed.
Our trio are in the very capable hands of two different carers and will remain with them for some months until they are old enough to be released.
Please look out for injured wildlife on the roads and check them for young in the pouch. We are in the busiest season for injured wildlife, admitting 539 animals in the month of September and 478 in the month of August.
Marty the Sugar Glider
The Australia Zoo Rescue Unit travelled south of Brisbane to the Manly Road Veterinary Clinic to pick up a koala that had been hit by a car and whilst they were there they also collected a sugar glider that had been brought to the clinic by a member of the public.
The glider was admitted to the Hospital showing some neurological damage and trauma to his left eye. He was christened Marty and commenced treatment to reduce swelling and inflammation. Marty is a juvenile glider, weighing just 90g, and was found on the ground being attacked by birds. It is likely he suffered a blow to the head and fell to the ground and then the birds saw him and attacked him.
Marty has subsequently been transferred to a very experienced glider carer and he will have a re-assessment in a few days time. We anticipate that he will make a full recovery so that he can be released back to the wild.
Kinky the Eastern Water-dragon
A Beerwah resident discovered an Eastern Water-dragon that had got himself caught in a wire fence and had no way escaping by himself. He was also found to have a kink in his tail - hence the name Kinky!
Kinky was dehydrated, weak and showed signs of an infection when he was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital earlier this week. When he first came in he was not eating and this may have been due in part to a small wound inside his mouth. He has started to respond well to treatment and his wounds are healing.
He still has a kink in his tail – this was likely an earlier injury - however it does not hamper his movement. We expect Kinky to make a full recovery and be released soon.
Aero and Sandy the Whistling Kites
Within the last 24 hours we have admitted two Whistling Kites to the Australian Wildlife Hospital, which is unusual.
The first one to come in was from Dayboro and has been named Aero and has extensive bruising. He was found on the side of a road so it is very likely he was hit by a car. Fortunately Aero does not have any fractures and is having treatment for the soft tissue damage he has sustained.
The second whistling kite admitted has been named Sandy, and came to us from Bli Bli. He was found under a tree, unsteady on his feet with both eyes closed. After an examination our vet found that Sandy had suffered head trauma and ulcerations to the corneas of both eyes. Sandy has started eye treatment and is on anti-inflammatory medication.
Both Aero and Sandy will stay at the Hospital for a few days before being placed with an experienced raptor carer. They will both be released to the wild when they are fully recovered.
Trio the Mountain Brush-tail Possum
Our Patient of the Week is Trio, a Mountain Brush-tail Possum, that is a resident in a garden in Buderim.
Trio suffers from Possum Dermatitis, which is a common disease of possums that is largely caused by stress. The dermatitis bacteria eats away at the flesh, most often at the base of the tail or on the face and, if caught in the early stages, can be treated with antibiotics.
If you have possums in your garden you can keep an eye on them and, if you notice any loss of fur and redness, you can call us at the Australian Wildlife Hospital to arrange for the possum to be collected and admitted for treatment. Trio is lucky that members of the public brought him to us at the first signs of the disease. He will now go to a possum carer for on-going treatment and when he is fully recovered he will be released back to Buderim.
Trio has been fed fruit, rice, bread, almonds etc by the people whose garden he lives in. Bread is one of the worst things to feed wildlife because of the yeast it contains - this can make all animals very sick. The team at the Australian Wildlife Hospital advocate ‘If you love wildlife, let nature feed itself’. By continually feeding wildlife, they can become aggressive, dependant and, ultimately, sick - and what will the animal feed on when you go on holiday or move to another suburb?
Possums naturally feed on a variety of leaves, flowers, native fruit, buds, bark, grass and, occasionally, small insects. To turn your garden into a possum buffet you can plant a variety of native plants that are indigenous to the area that you live in. Also, you may be able to leave safe dead trees and hollows of limbs as nesting areas. If you keep your compost heap enclosed you will prevent possums from scavenging and will also prevent rodents.
Bob the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
The Australia Zoo Rescue Unit was called to Buderim this week to rescue a beautiful Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo that had been hit by a car.
The cockatoo, named Bob by Hospital staff, is a juvenile, weighing 690g. He was found to have suffered a broken wing from the impact with the vehicle. Our vet also found dried blood in Bob’s mouth from the car hit and he was quite dehydrated, suggesting the injury had occurred a few hours previously.
The nature of the break to his wing did not require surgery, fortunately, so Bob has had the wing strapped to hold the bones together while they heal and his treatment includes anti-inflammatories, antibiotics to prevent infection and vitamins to aid healing.
Bob is being crop-fed as he is still young. Interestingly, the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos are fed by their parents for around 18 months.
Christine the Koala Joey
Last Monday our staff member Karen was called to a koala rescue at Elanora on the Gold Coast involving a female koala and her five-month-old joey.
The pair had been attacked by a dog and a person from a neighbouring property who had witnessed the attack bravely scaled the fence and was able to rescue the mother, rushing her to the veterinary clinic at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Sadly, she was dead on arrival.
But what of the joey? As the rescuer tells it, when the dog was attacking the mother koala a male koala came down from a tree next door and was frantically trying to get INTO the yard. He managed to do so and somehow ended up with the baby koala clinging to him. He calmly and very determinedly took the uninjured joey high up the tree out of harm’s way.
Karen, with assistance from a Wildcare Australia volunteer, an EPA ranger and concerned neighbours (including Christine and Jules) then mounted a rescue to retrieve the youngster and bring her into care, as she was not yet weaned and would be unable to survive without her mother.
In a surprising twist to this story, a red ear tag on the male enabled them to identify him as Zulu (pictured right) – a koala that had been admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital in April 2007. At that time he was suffering from a sizable tumour on his chest however, with the benefit of surgery, he made a full recovery and was eventually released back onto Christine and Jules’ acreage property. They had named him Zulu (“brave warrior”) and have kept a watchful eye on him ever since, so it seemed appropriate that the young joey, whom we believe to be Zulu’s offspring, should be named Christine.
Whilst male koalas are notable for being absentee fathers, young Christine has Zulu to thank for her being alive and well today.
Another of our staff members, Carolyn, now has the privilege of hand-raising Zulu’s girl until she too is able to be released back to Elanora in a few month’s time.
Minnie and Miney the Eastern Chestnut Mice
Last week a local resident was doing some work in his backyard that disturbed a nest of native mice. The mother scurried away leaving her two young in the nest. The resident brought the young mice, later identified as Eastern Chestnut Mice, to us at the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
Minnie and Miney are being fed special milk formula and are also having one solid meal each evening. They will be released back to the wild in about 3 weeks when they are able to fend for themselves. Native mice are protected in Australia and should therefore be released into the bush.
Eastern Chestnut Mice grow to about 14cm long with a tail that is up to 12 cm long and are a warm brown colour with a grey/white underside. They are an uncommon species, mostly nocturnal, and live in different habitats ranging from grassland to open-forest and swampy areas. They will eat seeds, nuts, fungi and some plants and arthropods.
We encourage Wildlife Warriors to use animal-friendly mouse ‘traps’ that catch the animal without hurting it, and have the animal identification confirmed before arranging for feral, introduced species to be humanely euthanised. You can email a photo to the Queensland Museum for identification of species.
Masked Lapwing Plovers
This week land clearing was taking place in Beerwah, and a nest of Masked Lapwing Plovers had to be moved. The Spotter-Catcher on site brought the eggs to us at the Australian Wildlife Hospital. The eggs were very cold when they came in and we did not expect them to be viable, however when one of our nurses picked them up a second time she heard a very faint cheeping sound!
The eggs were swiftly placed on heat bags in the humidi-crib and slowly the chicks began to chip away at their shells. They needed quite a lot of help to hatch, but eventually they were out and chirping madly!
Our staff tried to take them back to the rescue site in the hope that we could find their parents and re-unite them; however it was not possible as the land clearing had scared off the parents. The chicks have gone to a very experienced bird carer who has the challenging job of feeding the chicks every half hour and teaching them to feed on their own as their parents would! It was very fortunate for the chicks that they came in to us at the right time - just before they would have naturally hatched, as it is very difficult to incubate and hatch eggs in captivity.
Masked Lapwing Plovers grow to about 35cm and live in grasslands, mud flats and urban parks and commonly can be heard calling out at night. Parents may swoop down on people or animals that are a threat to their nest.
Mary the Koala and her joey Toyah
Last Friday night the AustralianWildlifeHospital received an injured female koala carrying a joey. Ten-year-old Mary and her six-month-old joey Toyah had been subjected to a prolonged attack involving rock and stick throwing by a gang of youths at the JimAkersPark, Kallangur. This was upsetting enough for the Hospital staff and volunteer rescuers Anika and Henk Lehmann from the Caboolture Koala Care and Rescue Group, however their anguish was exacerbated by the knowledge that the gang had earlier killed a koala joey, with the body found by Anika in the bottom of a garbage bin.
Anika, an experienced rescuer who is hardened to serious injury and illness in koalas, admitted she had later been reduced to tears by the incident and still finds it hard to reconcile today. She praised the efforts of a local resident (known only as Glenn) who happened across the gang while they were in the throes of the second attack while walking his dogs in the park. Glenn had the presence of mind to take the youths to task and call the Caboolture Koala Care and Rescue Group who later alerted both the RSPCA and the police to the incident.
When Mary first arrived at the Hospital she was very traumatised – her pupils were fixed and dilated – but, fortunately, despite being struck several times, she had no open wounds. Toyah was similarly distressed and anxious about his new surroundings, however a week on from the attack, both are recovering well.
Five other koalas from Kallangur (two carrying pouch young like Mary) were subsequently rescued from the same park owing to fears for their welfare. We are continuing to liaise with the police and the QPWS and will arrange for their release when we are satisfied that their home is safe for them to return to.
Diamond the Red-bellied Black Snake
Last week in Cooloola Great Sandy National Park a Red-bellied Black Snake found a discarded aluminium drink can that looked like an interesting place to explore – and, perhaps not surprisingly, once he got about 15 cm of himself in, he got stuck!
Some members of the public were nearby - a gentleman had just proposed to his girlfriend - and as they were getting ready to leave they noticed that the snake was in trouble. They managed to safely pick up the snake and put it into a secure bag. They drove the snake to the Australian Wildlife Hospital where we had a venomous snake handler ready and waiting to assist our vet with his examination.
The vet was able to inject the snake with an anesthetic so that the snake handler could cut open the can. We found that the snake had gone into the can and then doubled back the other way so was REALLY stuck! Fortunately he had no injuries at all. We kept him at the Hospital overnight for observation and then he was released back to where he came from the next day. The rescuers aptly named him Diamond in honour of the occasion!
Mollie and Maxine - Koala Joeys
Mollie and Maxine are 6-month-old koala joeys who were orphaned in separate incidents and have been in care at the Australian Wildlife Hospital for the past two months. Our Hospital Manager Gail Gipp has become their surrogate mother and tends to them around-the-clock, including bottle feeding every 4 hours.
Both came into Gail’s life as “pinkies” (pouch young with no fur) in early May and were in very poor condition. Mollie’s mother had died from septicaemia, while Maxine was found bruised on the ground after becoming separated from her mother. Each weighed approximately 100 grams.
Both Mollie and Maxine are now growing up as sisters and developing beautifully – two weeks ago they were able to leave the confines of their shared humidicrib and are enjoying their feeds and rapidly gaining weight.
Hand-raising koala joeys, or any wildlife, is not for the faint-hearted – it can be physically and emotionally challenging but can also enrich your life and bring about unexpected rewards.
Arguably Australia’s best koala “mum”, Gail has hand-raised countless animals over the past 30 years and is very open to passing on her extensive knowledge to those who are eager to learn. Gail does however screen people to ensure they have the best interests of the animal at heart and are motivated to become wildlife carers for the right reasons – most importantly, that they are committed to the ideal that every rehabilitated animal should be returned to the wild to live as a wild animal should.
Serena the Black Flying Fox
Serena was rescued and brought to the Australian Wildlife Hospital after a very unhappy week in her life.
Unfortunately Serena was shot with an air rifle and, although she survived the shooting, she was unable to fly properly with a wound to her shoulder. Not being able to fly made Serena vulnerable to predators and she was then attacked by an eagle.
Luckily for Serena, her home colony was on the property of a wildlife carer and her cries of distress were heard by the carer and her son. They raced to her rescue and bravely chased the eagle away. Serena was rushed to the Hospital for treatment, as the talons on the eagle’s feet had inflicted some serious injuries to her chest, stomach and back.
At the Hospital Serena received very special treatment from Dr Claude who found that she had approximately 5 puncture holes and 8 tear wounds on her body from the eagle. An air rifle pellet was also lodged in her shoulder. Her wounds were thoroughly cleaned, she was given antibiotics to counteract the bacteria from the eagle’s claws and given medication to keep her as comfortable as possible.
Serena has now gone to a wildlife carer who is experienced with flying foxes and tells her every day what a brave little bat she is. Her wounds are healing very well and, at this stage, she is spending most of her days eating and sleeping in order to regain her strength.
Ely “Lucky” Grills the Koala
Our Australian Wildlife Hospital team is amazed by the story of an 8-year-old male koala we have named Ely “Lucky” Grills.
Last Wednesday afternoon, just as twilight was descending, Ely had the misfortune to be literally collected by a car on Dayboro Road, near the Petrie Quarry, in Brisbane’s Pine Rivers district. The driver of the vehicle alleges that she thought she saw a koala on the road but had been unaware that her vehicle had made contact with him. It was not until the driver stopped at the Petrie Train Station, some 12 kilometres on, that she was alerted to the fact that there was a koala dangling from her car’s grille by a concerned passer-by. This prompted an urgent call to the Caboolture Koala Care and Rescue group, who despatched Rhondda Hay to assist the stricken animal.
Rhondda’s first impression when she approached the car was that the koala had been decapitated, as his body was indeed “dangling” but his head and left arm were not visible. A closer inspection revealed that the koala’s impact with the car had been with such force that the hidden body parts had been pushed through the grille, wedging him close to the bonnet. This impact was consistent with the 100 kilometre per hour speed limit that exists on the Dayboro Road.
There were signs of life however, thus began a very a delicate task to free
Ely, with Rhondda using household scissors to carefully cut around the grille mesh with the permission of the owner of the prestige vehicle. A few anxious minutes ensued until it was mission accomplished and, after an initial shake of his head, a limp-bodied Ely was placed in a cage and transferred to us for urgent assessment.
Whilst Ely was clearly in shock from the experience, our vets were amazed to find that he had suffered no serious injuries. Within two hours of his placement in our Intensive Care Unit, he was much brighter, sitting up and eating. Ely was however found to be suffering from an underlying chlamydial infection, so will remain at the Hospital for 45 days to complete the required treatment regime.
Happy the Kookaburra
Happy the Laughing Kookaburra was found in a chook shed by a local resident from Landsborough. He made no effort to fly away when approached and so was brought to us at the Australian Wildlife Hospital for an assessment.
Our Vet found that Happy had a broken left ulna (one of the bones in the wing) and was feeling very flat, due to the considerable pain. The break did not need to undergo surgical repair, but a figure-eight bandage was applied to hold the bones together while they heal.
Happy has now been sent to one of our experienced Kookaburra carers and will have his bandage removed in two weeks when another x-ray will be taken of his wing to ensure the bones have healed properly. In the meantime, he will have anti-inflammatory medication to make him feel more comfortable.
In the event of a good report, Happy will then have a further two-week stint in Hospital rehabilitation, including flight practice, before being released back into the wild.
Marcel the Euro
The Australian Wildlife Hospital admitted a Euro joey from Stanthorpe last week. He had been orphaned when his mother was killed by a car, and he had been taken home by a member of the public. Unfortunately he was not given the right type of milk, and the teat on the bottle used for him was far too small, and so for one week he didn’t get the correct nutrition. The joey developed a candida infection of his gut as a result of the poor diet, and was surrendered to us at the Hospital.
He has now been named Marcel (strong warrior) by his trained and experienced carer and is happily enjoying the correct amount and type of food. He will stay with this carer until he is old enough to be released back to the wild (at about 16 months old). Marcel sleeps in a pouch, but also spends some time hopping around in an outdoor fenced area. Already he has bonded with him foster ‘Mum’ and will call out to her if she is out of sight!
Euros are also known as Wallaroos and, contrary to what their name suggests, they are not a kangaroo/wallaby cross. They can range from light brown to dark grey in colour and have a longer coat that kangaroos. They are common in rocky ranges and plateaux of grassland and woodland.
At the Australian Wildlife Hospital we cannot stress enough the importance of wild animals getting care from those who are registered, trained Wildlife Carers as soon as possible. We need to remember that native animals are wild and, as such, should not be treated as pets. If you would like information on becoming a Wildlife Carer please call us on 5436 2097 and we will gladly assist you.
Danny Boy the Green Turtle
Some members of the public observed an immature Green Turtle swimming in the same place at the Spinnaker Marina (Bribie Island) over the course of a week. This behaviour prompted them to call the Australia Zoo Rescue Team who were able to catch the turtle - later named Danny Boy - and admit him to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for assessment.
Upon examination our vet found Danny Boy to be suffering from an infection, so prescribed antibiotic treatment. Danny Boy has also had a barium meal and x-rays are being taken every day to check the progress of the barium down his digestive tract. He is eating happily and has already begun to show an improvement, so the future looks bright for this lucky turtle.
Sadly, many sea turtles suffer from a floating condition where they have a build up of gas in their gut or under their shell. This gas means they can no longer dive to feed, are more likely to be hit by boats and be attacked by sharks. One of our vets once removed 13.5 litres of gas from a large (150 kg) Green Turtle - you can imagine how painful that was for her! And still she could not dive, as she had more gas that caused her to remain buoyant! The build up of gas may be caused by a blockage in the gut from plastic etc, or by a parasitic infection that slows down gut movement.
Danny Boy will continue his treatment, and all going well, will be released back to the ocean in a few weeks time.
Freya the Koala
Each year the Australian Wildlife Hospital receives hundreds of sick and injured koalas that come into care for a variety of reasons. The majority of these are caused by human impact.
Last week brought us a trauma patient whose story upset most of the Hospital staff as she suffered horrific injuries directly caused by human impact.
Freya is a seven year old female koala in beautiful condition from Kallangur. On 13 June Freya’s habitat was being bulldozed around her to make way for a housing development. Freya went unnoticed in her tree as the bulldozers moved in and it wasn’t until the tree she was in went crashing down that she was found broken and bleeding on the ground.
Freya was rushed to the Hospital in a critical condition; she suffered a badly broken jaw that had to be surgically repaired, internal injuries that also saw her undergo abdominal surgery and she also lost her left eye as it was too badly damaged to be saved. Freya hovered in a critical condition for several days and was given very strong pain relief and antibiotics and she was also on an IV drip.
Freya sat up for the first time on 18 June and we are hopeful she will make a full recovery.
She is one of thousands of koalas that are injured or killed from tree felling. Unlike many, she was found and, hopefully, her life has been saved.
Human impact takes a horrific toll on our wildlife every year with millions of animals losing their lives. We must do more to preserve habitat and remember that, whilst we need our homes, so do they!
Fred the Blue Tongue Lizard
A couple of weeks ago a wildlife carer rescued Fred, a Blue Tongue Lizard, from a yard in Waterford where we suspect he had been attacked by a dog.
An examination on arrival at the Hospital revealed that he had extensive bruising over most of his back and chest and crushing injuries to his toes. Fred had to have one digit removed and a splint applied to that leg to allow the tissue to fully heal. He subsequently developed an infection from the damage to the skin over his chest, but responded well to antibiotic treatment. He was also given Betadine baths for his skin infection and to help treat the wound on his leg. After ten days his splint was able to be removed.
Fred is now eating well and has regained full function of his leg. He is due to be released back to Waterford in a few days time.
Helmet the Broad-Shelled Turtle
A wildlife carer was driving along the Warrego Highway last week and saw a truck hit a very large freshwater turtle that was walking on the road. Incredibly, the turtle only suffered a hairline fracture to his carapace, and there was some blood in his mouth and he had bruising to one eye-lid. The carer drove for four hours to bring the turtle, later named Helmet, to us at the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
Broad-shelled turtles are known to measure up to 35cm from head to tail along the carapace, however Helmet measures a very large 38cm. Our photo (right) shows Helmet with another freshwater turtle in care.
On admission Helmet was first put onto anti-inflammatory treatment, and later he had surgery to repair the fracture to his carapace. We expect Helmet to make a full recovery, although it may take many weeks for the shell fracture to heal.
Broad-shelled turtles are common residents of rivers, ponds and lakes from Queensland down to Victoria. They are carnivores that feed on invertebrates and fish. In wet weather freshwater turtles will often be seen walking across roads far from waterways - please slow down to avoid hitting them.
Spot the Spotted Python
Rangers on Fraser Island recently found a spotted python that was severely constipated and her cloaca was prolapsing. They had observed that she had 3 hard masses in the lower abdomen.
On arrival at the Australian Wildlife Hospital an x-ray was undertaken and our Vet found inspissated faeces so surgery was performed to remove the masses. The surgery was successful and Spot is now on the road to a full recovery. All remaining well, she will be released back on Fraser Island in a few weeks time.
Spotted Pythons, sometimes known as Children’s Pythons, are related to carpet pythons but only grow to about one metre. They are a fawn colour with dark blotches, and live in dry forest and woodlands. Spotted Pythons are nocturnal and feed on lizards, birds and small animals, and kill their prey by strangulation, so are not venomous.
Spotted Pythons are a popular pet in Australia, and it is fairly easy to obtain licenses and buy snakes from authorised breeders. Before considering buying a pet snake it is important to do your research so that you are able to provide the best possible care. There are many books available on caring for pet snakes. It would also be a good idea to make sure there is a Reptile Vet in your local area.
Maria the Yellow-Faced Whip Snake
A Yellow-Faced Whip Snake was unfortunately attacked by a dog at Buderim this week when it ventured into its yard. When the dog’s owners found the snake they thought she was dead as she was limp with no signs of life. The next morning however, they had another look at the snake and found, to their surprise, that she was quite active and very much alive! The Australia Zoo Rescue Unit was called to collect the snake – promptly named Maria - and transferred her to the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
One of our vets found that she had extensive puncture wounds to her body but, luckily, no fractures were found. Maria was placed on antibiotic treatment and pain relief, and her condition quickly started to improve. She is now doing very well and is very active in her enclosure. She should be released in the next few weeks.
Treating reptiles is very different to treating mammals and marsupials. They can only have antibiotics and fluids every two days due to their slow metabolisms - this effectively doubles their time in care. With the onset of winter special care must be taken during their treatment as they need to be kept warm to heal, then allowed to cool down again before release to enable them to cope with the challenges of winter on their bodies. When they are cold they are unable to digest their food so extra care is taken to make sure the last meal we give them has been well digested before their release.
Yellow-Faced Whip Snakes are slightly venomous, small, slender snakes that only grow to about 75 cm. They live under rocks and in open grass and woodlands. They are abundant across South East Queensland.
Kamalaya the Thai Banded Bullfrog
Last week a Banded Bullfrog accidentally made his way from his home in Koh Samui to the Sunshine Coast in a traveller’s make-up bag! The tourist called the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit who went immediately to fetch the frog and bring him to the Australian Wildlife Hospital where we placed him under quarantine conditions. We notified the Department of Primary Industries that we had him as introduced species have a high risk of carrying diseases which may affect our already decimated native frog species. The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) subsequently collected the frog from us to take to their own quarantine facility.
The tourists did the right thing by reporting the introduced species. We need to be constantly aware of the threat of foreign species on our native species and the possible negative impact they may have on our unique Australian flora and fauna.
The Banded Bullfrog is also known as an Asian Painted Frog, Chubby Frog, Rice Frog or the Bubble Frog, and is native to South East Asia. They live on the forest floor, and eat flies, crickets, moths and grasshoppers. They are able to survive very dry conditions by burying themselves in the ground and waiting for rain.
Hayden the Swamp Wallaby
Last weekend we received a phone call from a veterinary surgery on the south side of Brisbane. A member of the public had dropped off a little swamp wallaby that had been orphaned when his mother was killed by a car. The staff at the vet surgery had taken an x-ray of the wallaby and found that he had a badly broken leg. They gave him some pain relief and then organised to transport him up to us at the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
When the wallaby arrived at the Hospital and was examined by one of our vets the diagnosis was not good - Hayden had an open compound fracture, with the bone protruding through the skin. This type of fracture is difficult to treat as once the bone has been exposed to air it has also been exposed to germs and this can make the healing process difficult.
The vet in charge of Hayden decided to operate on his leg and place a pin into the bone to stabilise it while it heals. Hayden came through the surgery very well, and was placed on antibiotics and pain relief to aid his healing.
Once Hayden was ready to leave the Intensive Care Unit he was sent to an experienced wildlife carer who is rehabilitating other swamp wallabies of the same age. Hayden will however need to have regular check ups at the Hospital to monitor the healing of his leg and, at some point, the pin will have to be removed. Hayden’s future is looking very bright at this stage and he should ultimately be able to return to the wild.
If you see a marsupial on the side of the road, please check to see if there is a joey in the pouch that can be saved. Joeys can live for up to a week inside the pouch of a dead mother, and have a good chance of survival if they are placed into the care of trained wildlife rehabilitators.
Barkley the Barn Owl
Barkley is a juvenile Barn Owl who was attacked by birds in a tree, and twice during the attack he fell to the ground.
The Australia Zoo rescue team picked him up and brought him to the Australian Wildlife Hospital to have a thorough work-up by one of the vets, as it was clear that he was injured.Birds will often attack other birds and animals that are injured because they attract predators to the area. We suspect that Barkley was initially hit by a car as he was found to have extensive bruising to his left wing as well as some bleeding in his mouth. Fortunately he does not have any fractures and his injuries will heal quickly.
Barkley has been at the Hospital for three days and is slowly getting stronger and his appetite is returning. He will continue a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication and will then move into a larger enclosure to allow for flight practice before being released.
Barn Owls are a common species around the world and are often seen around Brisbane suburbs. They are also known as Ghost Owls or Delicate Owls and will feed on small rodents in woodland and urban areas.
Zimmie the Koala
Last Monday afternoon one of our staff noticed a koala in her garden in Petrie that had a ‘dirty bottom’ which is a classic sign of the Chlamydia infection. She called the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit who arrived with their gear to rescue the koala who was, fortunately, in a small paperbark tree.
Rescuer Cory climbed into the tree, and Toby passed him the ‘flagging’ pole. Rescue teams use a long pole with a ring at the top that is covered with fabric, and place that above the koala’s head to guide the animal down the tree. The koala, later named Zimmie, jumped into a nearby pine tree and went up quite high within a few seconds! From the paperbark Cory was able to use the pole to flag her down far enough for Toby to continue from the ground. Our staff member, Julie, was then able to hold Zimmie against the tree before Toby was able to pick her up and put her gently in a cage.
Zimmie is a mature female, about 10 years old, and is suffering from severe cystitis. Fortunately, she is not like most female koalas with this condition, who develop ovarian cysts. Her bottom is stained brown from constant leakage of urine from her bladder. Zimmie has now started a 45 day course of antibiotic treatment and supplements to treat her condition and we expect her to make a full recovery and to be released back to the wild.
The Chlamydia infection is rife in the koala population of south east Queensland and the infection may manifest as conjunctivitis or cystitis. When you see koalas in the wild please check that they are healthy with clear eyes and a white bottom, speckled with grey, that is natural camouflage for when they are high up in the trees. If the infection is caught in the early stages the koala has a very good chance of making a full recovery. If you see a koala that is not well please call our Wildlife Emergency Hotline - 1300 369 652.
The rescue team was called to Wurtulla last Friday to collect a tiny Loggerhead Turtle hatchling that had been found in a very weak condition after struggling to get out of its nest. With that mission accomplished and the hatchling placed in the care of the Australian Wildlife Hospital, the team re-visited the site the next day to see if they could find any other hatchlings in need of help.
Sadly, they found that the nest had been laid under a pathway and so constant compression over the site meant many turtles had died trying to get out and head to the ocean. The eggs would have been laid about 8-9 weeks ago. The rescue team found that 42 were already dead in the nest, however they were able to gently take out 37 healthy and active hatchlings and immediately send them on their way into the sea. They also rescued 20 weak hatchlings which they transferred to the Australian Wildlife Hospital where we placed them in warm water to allow them to recover from their struggle to get out of the nest. We did not need to feed them as they still had part of the albumen from their eggs attached, so would get their energy needs from that.
The rescue team released the first four of these rescued hatchlings on Wednesday - 30 kilometres offshore in the eastern Australian current (just like in 'Finding Nemo'!) into deep water to give them a greater chance of survival, away from land-based predators such as sea gulls.
Research has shown that only one in one thousand marine turtles reach sexual maturity, which is why it is so important for us to do everything we can to protect turtles and their habitat and breeding sites to give each hatchling the greatest possible chance of survival. In 15 to 20 years these turtles will return to the coastal zone to eat soft corals, sponges and jellies and, after 30 years, they may come back to the region to lay eggs of their own!
Stakey the Magpie
The Australia Zoo rescue team responded to an emergency call from Minyama on Wednesday afternoon to rescue a Magpie that was walking around with a kebab skewer sticking out of the left side of his head!
Fortunately, once he arrived at the Australian Wildlife Hospital our vet was able to remove the skewer easily - leaving just a small wound on the side of his head. The Magpie was given the name Stakey (for obvious reasons) and is currently undergoing treatment for his injury including antibiotics to prevent infection and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and swelling. Stakey will go to a carer for short period of rehabilitation before being released.
Stakey's prognosis is good, unlike many other birds that incur this terribly common injury. You can help birds like Stakey by breaking up any sticks - like those from kebabs and Pluto pups - and disposing of them properly, to ensure that other birds are kept safe.
Zigg the Bush Stone-Curlew
A Bush Stone-Curlew came into our care last week after he was found lying on the ground in a park in Cleveland. The rescue team travelled down to Brisbane and brought the bird - named Zigg - back to the Hospital for our vets to undertake a thorough examination.
No visible injuries were found but Zigg was extremely weak and could not stand up. Over the last few days he has shown a vast improvement and, with the help of physiotherapy, is now able to stand but is still a bit wobbly. He is being moved out of intensive care during the day to be housed outdoors for a few hours. The nurses will gradually increase his exposure to the outdoors as part of his rehabilitation until he is well enough to be released back in to the wild.
The Bush Stone-Curlew is a large (52 to 58 cm), slim, mainly nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird and is quite unusual looking. When sighted the bird will normally crouch down or stand perfectly still and rely on the plumage pattern to disguise it, rather than attempt to fly away. They were once quite common, however their numbers have declined significantly through loss of habitat and predation by foxes and feral cats.
Cory the Little Corella
A Little Corella came into our care on Tuesday after a concerned member of the public rescued him at a caravan park in Caloundra with an injury to its wing. He has been named Cory.
One of our vets gave Cory a full examination including an x-ray, which revealed a fracture to his left shoulder. Surgery was performed and a pin inserted. A small wound was also noted under the right wing which was flushed out with a diluted solution of chlorhexidine which is an antiseptic.
A support bandage has been applied to the left shoulder which will be re-assessed regularly over the next 2 weeks. A course of metacam has also been prescribed - this is an anti-inflammatory medication used to provide pain relief.
The pin will be removed after 20 days if the shoulder has healed. After his pin is removed Cory will be placed with a wildlife carer until he is strong enough to fly again.
Dempsey the Carpet Python
Dempsey - a carpet python - came into our care last week as a result of an emergency call to the Hospital. A gentleman by the name of Cameron phoned in, concerned after seeing a python with a bulging stomach and a split in its side. The rescue team was dispatched and traveled to Noosa and caught a ferry across to North Shore, found the python and rushed him back to the Hospital.
After close examination Vet Amber concluded that old scar tissue had burst after Dempsey had swallowed a sizable chicken. The saying "his eyes were bigger than his stomach" is quite accurate in this case.
Dr Amber washed down the open wound and applied thin, impregnated gauze to the area. A course of antibiotics has been prescribed to prevent any infection. Now it is a matter of waiting for the food to digest and then suturing the wound. Hopefully Dempsey will eat smaller prey in the future.
Eight gorgeous ducklings (Wood Ducks) came into our care this week after their mother was sadly hit by a car on a busy road in Maroochydore. It is a heartbreaking incident that could easily have been prevented if the driver had been aware of the sign indicating a duck-crossing, and driven more slowly.
Wood Ducks nest in trees near water, sometimes directly over water, but other times up to 2 km away. After hatching, the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The mother calls them to her and the ducklings may jump from heights of up to 89 metres without injury! You might be lucky enough to see a family of Wood Ducks in your area as they make their way to a waterway.
Wherever you see a sign indicating wildlife - ducks, koalas, kangaroos, or echidnas - that is the location where there have been numerous incidents of animals being hit by cars. Please slow down when you see those signs - they are there for a reason - and keep a look out for injured wildlife on the roads.
Pinchy the Channel-Billed Cuckoo
A Channel-Billed Cuckoo came into our care on 2 March after a resident found him in the Buderim State Forest.
Pinchy - as he has now been named - presented with a missing toe nail and swelling and bruising to the left hip. There was also evidence of some kind of trauma, possibly the result of being hit by a vehicle.
Pinchy was prescribed medication to reduce the swelling and is still unable to fully extend his left wing. He is otherwise bright and alert and will be re-assessed over the next few days. All being well, he will then be placed into long term care until he is fully rehabilitated and able to be released back into the wild.
The Channel-billed Cuckoo is not a bird we see commonly at the Australian Wildlife Hospital – it migrates to northern and eastern Australia from New Guinea and Indonesia between August and October each year and leaves again during February or March.
This type of bird is the largest parasitic cuckoo in the world. Apart from its large size, its massive pale, down-curved bill, grey plumage (darker on the back and wings) and long barred tail, make it impossible to confuse it with any other bird. In flight the long tail and long wings give the bird a crucifix-shaped silhouette.
Sinya the Possum
A Common Brush-tail Possum and her joey came into our care last Friday. She has been called Sinya and came to us after being taken to a local vet with injuries. She was then transferred to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for treatment.
A thorough examination by Dr Peter revealed extensive bruising and swelling to the radius (her arm) and an x-ray showed a fracture in two places. Surgery was performed to insert two pins and, thereafter, a course of antibiotics prescribed to prevent infection. Medication for pain relief was also administered.
So far Sinya is making a good recovery but will need to stay with us for at least a week and then conclude her rehabilitation with a carer.
These possums get their name from their brush-like tail and are marsupials - which means they carry their babies in a pouch. The joeys stay in the pouch and drink their mother's milk until they are 4 months old.
Zeb the Koala Joey
Last Thursday evening a koala joey had the good fortune to be rescued from a rain-soaked backyard vegetable garden in the northern suburbs of Brisbane thanks to the vigilance of the resident. For reasons unknown he had become separated from his mother and, despite a search, she could not be located.
On arrival at the Hospital he was immediately checked over by Hospital Manager Gail, who is an expert with koala joeys. She named him Zeb and assessed his age to be just ten months – his condition suggested that he had been separated from his mother for 3-4 days. Joeys of Zeb’s age do not have the survival skills to fend for themselves, particularly in a challenging urban environment and without the nutritional nourishment provided by their mother’s milk.
Little Zeb was exhausted from his ordeal and, not surprisingly, extremely hungry - Gail fed him infant formula and fresh eucalypt leaves overnight which he consumed with vigour. Fortunately, he was otherwise only suffering from a slightly weepy left eye and a build up of mucus in his nasal cavity.
Gail was able to place Zeb into the care of one of our staff members, Carolyn, and prescribed four hourly feeds, eye drops and a course of antibiotics to hasten his recovery.
One week on and Zeb is now thriving – he has ceased his medication and adapting well to the new experience of being in care. He will return to the Australian Wildlife Hospital when he is weaned in a few week’s time to complete the final stage of his rehabilitation before being returned to the wild.
Goldy the Eastern Brown Snake
Last Sunday we had a call from a member of the public to say that an Eastern Brown Snake had got his head caught in an aluminium drink can. As you can imagine, he was not a happy chappy! Fortunately our Senior Vet Jon, who was nearby rescuing a kangaroo that had been hit by a car, was able to collect the snake straight away and bring him into the Hospital.
Jon anaesthetised the snake – quickly named Goldy - so that he was relaxed and safe to handle, and then he easily removed him from the can. Goldy had not sustained any injuries and once he had fully woken up from the anaesthetic he was able to be released back near to where he came from.
Eastern brown snakes are venomous – the venom is the second most toxic land snake venom in the world and upsets the blood clotting mechanism of its prey. They feed on rats, mice, lizards and other snakes and are active during the day. The adult is uniform in colour – they can vary from light brown, orange or black and can grow up to 2.4 metres in length.
Give all snakes a wide berth if you come across one - they will leave you alone if you leave them alone. Registered commercial snake catchers are available to relocate snakes that find their way into homes - give us a call on 1300 369 652 if you need a referral to a snake catcher in your area.
Whistler the Wandering Whistling Duck
Whistler came into our care this week after a keeper at Australia Zoo noticed her in amongst the Zoo's kangaroo enclosure with a drooping wing.
After being examined by Dr Stacey she was found to have two breaks in the wing. A pin was inserted to hold the bones together - the wing was then strapped and a course of Baytril (an antibiotic for bacterial infection) and
Metacam (for pain relief) were prescribed.
Whistler will have the pin removed in approximately ten days and will be in rehab for a further two weeks - it is hoped that she will then be able to be released back amongst the flock of ducks that roam about the Zoo.
Hooter the Masked Owl
Last week a beautiful Masked Owl came into our care after being found on the side of a road in Glasshouse Mountains. It was assumed that the owl, who was subsequently named Hooter, was hit by a car. It was apparent however, that he was also suffering from eye injuries.
An examination by Dr Peter revealed ulcerations to both eyes. Antibiotics and topical eye medication were administered over the following week and, in an effort to save Hooter’s sight, a procedure which involved stitching the eyes lids together was undertaken to the left eye which was the worst affected.
Up to this point Hooter’s prognosis was not looking promising, however a week down the track we are happy to report that Hooter has now made a full recovery and will be released back into the wild today.
The Australian Masked Owl is seldom found more than 300 km inland. They are nocturnal and their prey includes rodents, reptiles, birds, insects and bandicoots. Their population is declining and several states have this owl on their Species Conservation Status list. They are very territorial and remain in the same area all their lives.
Hannah the Platypus
Hannah, a young three-and-a-half month old Platypus, came into our care last week after a long drive from Uki, a small town in NSW. She was found on a bridge by a local resident who contacted the Tweed Valley Wildlife group who, in turn, contacted another wildlife carer from the Gold Coast and arranged a meeting point in Murwillumbah late that night. Hannah was a cold, exhausted and dehydrated little puggle and needed to be kept warm if she was to survive the night, so the carer turned the heater on the maximum setting in her car, which soon turned into a sauna/humidicrib enabling the puggle to warm up. (The carer on the other hand was sweating profusely!).
The next morning the puggle was brought to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for a thorough examination – including a blood test and x-ray - by Hospital Manager, Gail, who has experience caring for platypuses. This revealed a slight respiratory infection, malnutrition and dehydration. Two deep, infected puncture wounds were also detected which could have been inflicted by the spurs of another platypus.
Antibiotics were prescribed for the infection, fluids administered for dehydration and food and rest prescribed. Hannah is being fed a special formula, is feeding well (see photo) and sleeping a lot – fortunately, she has a good prognosis for a full recovery.
Jake the Pelican
Jake, a male pelican, came to the AustralianWildlifeHospital after concerned beach-goers noticed fishing line protruding from his mouth. Our seabird rescuers responded immediately to the call and brought him into the hospital where an x-ray revealed fishing line and a hook down his gullet.
Surgery was scheduled for the following day and, fortunately, it was a success, with the offending items skillfully removed by Dr Jon.
Jake is now well on the way to making a full recovery however, sadly, he is just one of a number of patients we have seen this year that have ingested items carelessly discarded around our waterways. With so many people looking to enjoy the water this Christmas, we ask that everyone please take care to dispose of any rubbish, lines or hooks into bins rather than the ocean or shoreline to help to prevent any other wildlife having to undergo this type of ordeal.
Chook the Lace Monitor
A Lace Monitor was brought into our care after a phone call from a local resident requiring some assistance. The Monitor, aptly named Chook, had apparently swallowed some chicken meat which the person was using to try and capture a feral cat. The person became concerned when the wire attached to the meat was no longer visible on the ground.
Consequently, our rescue team was called upon to capture and bring Chook into the Australian Wildlife Hospital. An examination and x-ray revealed both the wire and two large chicken bones in Chook’s esophagus and stomach.
Chook was immediately prepped for surgery to remove the bones and wire.
Fortunately, Chook’s operation went well and it is expected that he will make a full recovery and be released back to the wild over the coming weeks.
Zephyr the Peregrine Falcon
A Peregrine Falcon came into our care this week and has been named Zephyr. He was found at the Readymix Quarry in Glasshouse Mountains, lying on the ground with an apparent eye injury.
One of our dedicated vets examined Zephyr and fluids were used to flush out the eyes - he had a cloudy cornea in the left eye and both eyes were suffering from ulcers. Sadly, an x-ray revealed pellets from a firearm had embedded in his spinal region.
After two days of care Zephyr was stable enough to undergo surgery to remove the pellets. Unfortunately for Zephyr, being a raptor, his eyes are his means of survival. It is a great shame that a person has inflicted an injury of this nature onto this type of bird.
We will continue to monitor him and administer medication in the hope of repairing the damage to the eye area and, ultimately, releasing this magnificent falcon back to the wild.
Kathryn the Pelican
Last Saturday a pelican at Bell's Creek got into trouble when she ate some fishing hooks that had a tiny piece of fish on them. She was rescued by some specialised sea bird carers and found to have fishing line coming from her mouth and tied around her body. The rescuers were unable to untangle the line around her body so brought her to us at the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
Once admitted, the line was removed and X-rays clearly showed the two hooks in her stomach so our vet began surgery immediately to remove them. The pelican was named Kathryn and, fortunately, she came through the surgery with flying colours. She is now on a course of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and pain medication and will stay with the carers for rehabilitation for a few weeks before being released back to the wild.
Please remember when you are fishing or on the beach to pick up any fishing line and hooks and put them in the rubbish bin so that they don't cause harm to our wonderful marine animals.
Possum the Sugar Glider
An infant sugar glider, who was given the unlikely name of 'Possum', came into care at the Australian Wildlife Hospital this week after being transferred from a suburban veterinary clinic. He had been brought to them by concerned residents after being attacked by a cat.
Possum was examined and, fortunately, found to have no visible signs of injury. Cat attacks can lead to serious injuries and infections and, sadly, cause the death of many wild animals.
Possum was kept under observation for 24 hours then released into the care of an experienced wildlife rehabilitator who specialises in gliders. He will remain there until he is able to fend for himself in the wild at approximately 12 months of age.
Gliders are nocturnal and can glide up to 90 metres. They live in leaf nests constructed in hollows, in groups of up to 10 and are commonly found living in Queensland rainforests. They feed on wattle exudates, gum sap, nectar and insects.
Soakey the Brahminy Kite
A stunning brahminy kite was feeding near fishing trawlers off the coast of Mooloolaba earlier this week. Unfortunately he got himself tangled up in the fishing lines to the point where he was in the water struggling to keep himself afloat.
Members of the public got him out of the water and called some experienced sea bird carers who met them on shore and brought the kite to us. They named him ‘Soakey’- a fitting name for a bird that had found himself fully immersed in water!
At the Australian Wildlife Hospital Soakey was put under a general anaesthetic and had x-rays taken. There was a concern that he had eaten a fish with a hook inside – however our vet found nothing to indicate this on the x-rays. Soakey was then kept warm in a humidicrib for 24 hours.
He underwent a test flight the next day and flew beautifully - he was then released by our rescue team back at Mooloolaba.
Jack the Galah
An juvenile galah came into our care last Friday. He had been hit by a car on the Bruce Highway. Fortunately, a concerned driver who noticed the incident brought the bird in to the Australian Wildlife Hospital and named him Jack.
Jack was, understandably, in shock. He had suffered head trauma and concussion. Our vet also found that Jack's foot was turning in slightly – a condition known as pigeon-toe. An x-ray revealed no fractures or breaks to the wings which was fortunate for Jack. He is however also undergoing treatment for suspected heavy-metal poisoning.
Jack is still under close observation in our intensive care unit, however we are hopeful of a full recovery.
Lucky the Lace Monitor
Lucky came into our care last weekend after a motorist accidently ran over him. As luck would have it, the driver stopped and managed to capture him and drove straight to the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
Lucky was fortunate indeed. An examination by one of our vets revealed lacerations to the tongue along with bruising to the head. Lucky will stay in our care with the expectation that he will now make a full recovery and be released back in to the wild.
The Lace Monitor, or Lace Goanna, is a member of the monitor lizard family and are commonly known as goannas. They frequent both open and closed forests and forage over long distances (up to 3 km a day). They are mainly active from September to May, but are inactive in cooler weather and shelter in a tree hollow or under a fallen tree or large rock. The females lay between 4 to 14 eggs in spring or summer in termite nests. Their diet typically consists of insects, reptiles, small mammals, birds and birds' eggs.
Robbo the Tawny Frogmouth
A Tawny Frogmouth came into our care this week after a concerned resident found the bird sitting on the ground. He has been named Robbo and is a juvenile.
After a thorough examination by Dr Amber and with no obvious signs of ill health, Robbo will now be transferred to a registered wildlife carer where he will be monitored for a short while. Assuming all is well, he will be released back into the wild as soon as possible.
The bulk of the Tawny Frogmouth's diet is made up of nocturnal insects, worms, slugs and snails. Small mammals, reptiles, frogs and birds are also eaten. Most food is obtained by pouncing to the ground from a tree or other elevated perch. Some prey items, such as moths, are caught in flight, which has led to many unfortunate instances of birds being hit by cars while chasing insects illuminated in the beam of headlights.
With their nocturnal habits and owl-like appearance, Tawny Frogmouths are often confused with owls, but are actually more closely related to the Nightjars. Their feet are weak, and lack the curved talons of owls. The Tawny Frogmouth is found throughout Australia, including Tasmania. It can be seen in almost any habitat type except the denser rainforests and treeless deserts.
Womble the Puggle
A puggle (young echidna) came into our care after being found by a farmer while ploughing his land about 40 km out of Emerald. After discovering that he had unearthed the nursery burrow, he contacted us for advice.
We arranged for the puggle, quickly named Womble, to be flown down to Brisbane and then transferred to the Australian Wildlife Hospital to be hand-raised. In their natural environment echidnas dig a nursery burrow and deposit the puggles, returning every five days to suckle them until they are weaned at seven months. Unfortunately because this burrow had been dug up the only chance of survival for Womble is through our care.
After examination by our vets he was found to be very healthy with no injuries. Womble is now in the care of our senior vet nurse, Vicky, until he is old enough to be released back out into the wild.
Pengy The Penguin
Our very unique patient of the week is a Little Penguin. It is very unusual for a penguin to be found this far north and there have only been 5 reported findings in the past 20 years. Pengy may have been caught up in the storms experienced down south and swept up the coastline. He was found by a camper at Sandy Cape on Fraser Island, who then reported it to the local Parks and Wildlife Ranger.
Pengy was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for a check over by one of our vets. He weighed 600 grams when admitted and it was determined that he should achieve a goal weight of 1000 grams before being released back into southern waters.
Pengy was otherwise given a clean bill of health and placed into the care of some experienced sea bird rehabilitators. He is enjoying a diet of fresh seafood and has subsequently gained 200 grams since being in care.
Bart the Hawksbill Turtle
Queensland Parks and Wildlife rangers were patrolling the shark nets at Rainbow Beach this week when they found a rare Hawksbill Turtle floating against the side of the nets, unable to dive.
Sadly, Bart is one of many turtles we admit to the Hospital each year that are diagnosed as "floaters". They get a build up of gas in their gut or under their shell that prevents them from diving to feed; it also leaves them susceptible to boat strikes and even sunburn damage to their shells. This gas build up can be caused by a parasitic infection or a blockage caused by something like a plastic bag. A single plastic bag has been known to cause the death of up to 50 marine animals before finally decomposing. It is very difficult to see if a plastic bag has been ingested by a turtle because the density of plastic means it is not able to be identified on an x-ray, and it is very difficult to operate on a marine turtle. Deconstruction and replacement of the shell can take years to heal.
We are treating Bart with anti-parasitic medication, de-gas tablets and antibiotics; he has also been placed on IV rehydration fluids and will undergo ultrasound and x-rays to help with the further evaluation of the problem.
With time and a lot of TLC we have been able to rehabilitate many turtles and release them back to the wild and we hope that Bart will be one of them. He is now eating squid happily on his own, which is a good sign.
Please be sure to throw litter into a closed rubbish bin to ensure it does not end up in the sea where it causes so much harm!Lace Monitors - Smallies 1 and 2
Our patients of the week this week are two very special lace monitors. They have been named Smallies 1 and 2 and were brought into the hospital by Briano and Tosh, two of our animal rescuers, six months ago as eggs! Their mother was nowhere to be seen when our rescuers came upon their nest in Beerburrum that was disturbed by a bulldozer.
When lace monitors produce eggs, they are laid in termite nests where they become entombed by termites. These eggs were rescued from a site where land-clearing was taking place, and were placed in an incubator.
The lace monitors are now 3 months old and are ready to be released back to the wild.Greater Glider Maxine
Maxine was found by passers-by lying on a road. When she came into our care she was found to be nursing an injury to her tail but is now responding well to treatment.
She is feeding well on a diet of a variety of eucalypt leaf. The Greater Glider's natural habit is the eucalypt forests and the tall open woodlands.
They are found throughout eastern Australia from Victoria to Northern Queensland and they vary in weight from 900 - 1700 grams for southern species and 650 grams for the smaller northern species.
Tucker the Water Dragon
Tucker, a water dragon, was sunning himself when he was attacked by a dog. Fortunately the dog's owners rescued him and brought him to the Hospital.
Our vet, Dr Amber, found that he was in shock, with deep wounds to his tail. The very tip of his tail needed to be surgically removed, and depending on how well it heals, he may still need to have a larger part of the tail amputated. The good news is that water dragons survive well with part of their tails amputated, and we expect Tucker to make a full recovery.
Water dragons are found along the eastern fringe of Queensland and are common residents of suburbia close to creeks - even in inner Brisbane. They readily hide in water if approached, are great swimmers and can remain submerged for a few minutes. Look out for them in your garden - they are wonderful to have as they eat small bugs which would be feeding off your plants.Ningi the Emu
Our patient of the week this week is an emu chick whom we have named Ningi.
Ningi was attacked by a bird of prey and sustained three large puncture wounds to his body. He was found in the Quilpie area - his concerned rescuer phoned us for advice on feeding until she could bring him into our hospital for treatment.
When Ningi came to us on 5 September he was found to be dehydrated so he was given sub-cutaneous fluids, was prescribed antibiotics and had his wounds flushed to prevent infection.
Ningi will be rehabilitated with a volunteer carer over the next couple of weeks then released back into the wild.
Orphan Update - Luke and Charlotte
We are pleased to report that two earlier patients - Squirrel Gliders, Luke and Charlotte - are continuing to thrive.
Their excellent condition is testament to dedication of their volunteer carer.
Casper the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo
Our patient of the week is a Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo named Casper. You will often see these magnificent birds soaring over the tree tops and letting out a loud call. They form large flocks in winter and feed on native trees and shrubs, including eucalypts, banksias and feed on wood boring insects and pine seeds around pine plantations. They can grow up to 65cm.
Casper was bought into us by a member of the public after being found on the ground. He is an immature cockatoo and is in poor body condition and appears to have been sick for some time with a coccidia infection. The infection is so severe that it has caused a cloacal prolapse and a yeast infection. He has now had surgery to repair his cloaca and is on antibiotics. He is making a slow recovery and will stay with us for some time before going to a wildlife carer for further rehabilitation then, hopefully, being returned to the wild.Hawkeye the Pacific Baza
Our patient of the week is a Pacific Baza who has been named Hawkeye and was bought to us by a concerned member of the public on the 19th August. Hawkeye was found hanging upside down in a tree after flying into a truck.
An examination by one of our vets revealed bruising around the eye and a fracture to the fibula. He is improving each day and is now feeding himself which is very encouraging. We are planning for him to be able to leave the hospital within a few days to be looked after by a raptor carer in order to continue his recovery and rehabilitation before being released back into the wild.Tango the Koala
Tango is a small, very cute two-year-old koala who came to us last week from Bundaberg. She was hit by a truck on Friday night and taken to a local veterinarian. X-rays revealed a broken right femur and she also had multiple lacerations to her face. The veterinarian from Bundaberg drove Tango to the Australian Wildlife Hospital on Saturday afternoon, realizing a koala with such serious injuries was outside her area of expertise.On arrival, Tango was given pain relief and antibiotics and placed on IV fluids and her surgery was scheduled for Sunday. Dr Jon and Dr Amber performed the surgery, using plates and screws to repair the break. Tango is still in the Intensive Care Unit, however she is recovering well and getting stronger each day.
Tango was named by a special group of children who visited the Australian Wildlife Hospital on Friday 17 August to mark KIDS Foundation's Injury Free Day.
The group of twelve children, each of whom has serious injuries themselves, was visiting the Sunshine Coast from across Australia to participate in TANGO, a personal development and leadership program designed to assist young people with life-changing injuries to discover their talents, achieve their goals and experience new opportunities.
They will be monitoring Tango's progress over the next 2-3 months, after which time she is expected to be released back to the wild.Bandit the Carpet Python
A 2.5 metre carpet python was sunning himself on a road in Ilkley so some concerned members of the public stopped their cars to try to get him out of harm's way. Another car approached and the rescuers tried to slow it down but it continued forward and drove straight over the snake!
The rescuers were able respond quickly to put him in a box and bring him in to us. He has been named Bandit, and is moving well which is a good sign. He will have to stay with us for at least 8 weeks of observation because it can take some time for internal injuries to become evident in such large reptiles.
Snakes are protected animals in Australia and need your help to conserve them and their habitat. If you find a snake that is in need of assistance, please call our 24 hour emergency number 1300 369 652.
Koala Joeys - Angel and Gillian
At the weekend we admitted two koala joeys into our care - Gillian and Angel, both around 5 months old. The joeys were from separate mums but both had suffered tree falls. The joeys were dropped as male koalas were trying to mate with their mums. Gillian was homed with an experienced carer to be hand-raised and eventually released back into the wild. Angel is being looked after at the hospital as she suffered more serious injuries, including spinal damage. Angel has been placed in a humidicrib and is on a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication and is being closely monitored.
If you have koalas in your area, please keep an eye out for these vulnerable little ones and call us on 1300 369 652 if you have any wildlife emergencies.Majestic the Black-Necked Stork
This week we received a call from a member of the public who reported that there was a single Black-Necked Stork that had been mixing with a flock of pelicans at the Donnybrook Boat Ramp for two weeks. It is quite unusual to see these wonderful birds in south-east Queensland, particularly at a boat ramp - they normally inhabit wetlands and swamps. The person was concerned that the bird had stayed in the one place for two weeks.
We sent two experienced bird carers to the rescue and, with plenty of patience, they were able to safely catch the bird and bring him in to us. He is a juvenile and has been named Majestic.
Our Vet found him to be underweight, with sores on his feet, and an x-ray showed six hooks and a swivel in his gut. Most of the hooks are disintegrating on their own, but the swivel may need to be surgically removed at a later date. Majestic has gone into care with the ladies who rescued him - he is doing well and eating 16 yellow-tails each day! We expect him to stay in care for quite some time, before – hopefully - releasing him back to the wild.Jenny the Pelican
Earlier this week Pelican and Seabird Rescue received a phone call from a lady at Cabbage Tree Point, in the Logan Shire, reporting a pelican with a large amount of fishing line hanging from her mouth. Fortunately, Jenny the Pelican was fairly easy to catch and she was rushed up to the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
Dr Jon, our head vet, examined her she was very underweight with about 10 metres of fishing line hanging from her beak. The loss of body condition indicated that the fishing line had been with her for some time. Then, on X-ray examination, something far worse than the fishing line and a hook were found in her stomach - a 40cm piece of wire! Jenny had to be prepped for immediate surgery.
A laparotomy, a procedure where the abdomen is surgically cut to gain access to the intestinal tract, was performed and a very large piece of wire, as well as the fishing hook, was removed. It appears that the wire had come loose from a crabbing pot The inside of Jenny's stomach was very inflamed and sore which, again, indicates that she had ingested the items some time ago.
If having wire in her stomach wasn't bad enough, Jenny also has a condition called 'bumble foot'. Bumble foot is found in water birds that have been in captivity and have been inappropriately housed, with hard and unsuitable flooring. To correct this condition she may have to have her foot splinted and lots of supportive therapy in the future.
Jenny is now on a course of antibiotics, supplementary IV fluids and being looked after by dedicated seabird carers. She is recovering from the surgery and, so far, progressing well.Ted the Grey Goshawk
On Tuesday our rescue vehicle collected a Grey Goshawk from Maleny who had been hit by a car. Grey Goshawks are magnificent birds of prey that feed almost exclusively on other birds. They require precision flying skills and perfect function in their talons to hunt effectively.
When our vets anaesthetised Ted for examination they found that he had a few more issues than were apparent on the surface. He was severely dehydrated and had suffered deep wounds to both his feet, probably over a week beforehand. He was also suffering from a secondary stress-related infection in his mouth called Trichomoniasis. Both of these were probably contributing to Ted's emaciation and dehydration and he was in a very bad way when he arrived at the hospital.
He is currently in our intensive care humidicrib receiving intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Sadly for Ted, he will need to have one of his toes amputated once he is in a more stable condition. Dr Peter, our specialist in raptor treatment, will perform this surgery however he is confident that he will ultimately have a successful release back into the wild. Fortunately, the badly affected toe is not essential for effective hunting, and he should cope well.
Grey Goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae) is also known as the White Goshawk. It is distributed over much of the northern and eastern sides of Australia but, sadly, has become rare due to clearing of native habitats. It feeds primarily on birds, but the larger females will also prey on mammals.Orphan Update - Luke and Charlotte
This week we would like to report on the progress of two very special Squirrel Gliders, Luke and Charlotte. You may remember their story from a few weeks ago. These siblings lost their mum as a result of a cat attack. They were very lucky to survive the attack themselves and since have been adopted by a 'foster mum'.
The pair were so small at the time of rescue; they needed to be fed every two hours to supplement what their mum would have been feeding them. By the end of the first week they fell ill and had to come back to the Australian Wildlife Hospital to see the Vet. They have since recovered and are doing much better.
Luke and Charlotte's carer has been doing a wonderful job of looking after them and now has them feeding every four hours, which is six feeds a day! They are gaining weight and strength gradually and are very fortunate to have the dedication of their carer to raise them up.
It is a tragedy that Luke and Charlotte lost their mum to a cat attack, but now they are in the best foster care and are being given a chance of survival.Turt's Release
This week was very exciting for all of the Australian Wildlife Hospital team, as we were able to release one of our very special patients.
You may remember our story about "Turt" the Green Turtle who was rescued from Mooloolaba back on Anzac Day. After our vets had removed a fishing hook and fishing line from her, she began to make great improvements and we are glad to report she made a full recovery.
Turt was taken back to Mooloolaba to be released by the team of vets, nurses, volunteers and rescuers that all helped her along during her recovery stages. This is definitely the best part of our job - what we look forward to most of all is a successful recovery and release!
At the Australian Wildlife Hospital, we currently treat more than 5000 patients per year for illness and injury and, as the human encroachment on wildlife habitat expands, we can expect an increase in our patient numbers. Most wildlife become sick or injured due to human interference and with marine turtles, it is usually from discarded fishing tackle and plastics, or boat strikes. In Turt's case, it was the initiative of the family who noticed her unable to dive, that saved her life. Had Turt been left in the wild as she was, she certainly wouldn't have made it.Honey the Koala and her adopted joey Malibu
The Caboolture Koala Care and Rescue Group went out to a rescue late on Friday night, for a koala and her joey hit by a car at Narangba. The mother was run over by a car, as indicated by tyre marks across her left hip, and her newly-furred joey was tragically thrown out of the pouch and died instantly.
The rescuers named the mother 'Honey' and brought her to us at the Australian Wildlife Hospital. She was assessed and found to have major trauma to her mouth. This type of trauma is common when koalas are hit by cars, as their teeth bite into their tongue on impact. Honey's front incisors were badly damaged, but the good news is that these teeth continue to grow in koalas throughout their lifetime.
Dr Amber stitched up her badly lacerated tongue and washed out her mouth with antiseptic and prescribed pain killers, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics to prevent infection. Her injuries improved significantly within the first 24 hours and she should make a full recovery soon.
The very next night, another female koala and her joey were stuck by a car and rushed to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for treatment. Sadly, the mother didn't survive the journey and passed away on the drive here. Her young joey was protected in the pouch at the time of the accident and luckily escaped physical injury, however the emotional trauma of tragically losing her mum would have been very scary for her.
There is a happy ending to this sad story however, as Honey has happily adopted "Malibu" the joey as her own. She is very protective of her and will nurture and raise her until she is fully weaned off her milk and big enough to go out to the wild on her own. It surely was fate that brought this special mum and koala joey together and they make a perfect pair.
We are heading into the breeding season for koalas and so they are more active at night and more likely to be on the roads. Please slow down on the roads and look out for our wildlife. If you see an injured animal please stop and call us on our 24 hour emergency number: 1300 369 652.Nelson the Koala
This week the rain has brought in a large variety of animals. Nelson the koala was one who was rescued from Kipparing, in the Redcliffe Shire.
This poor boy had spent the last few days on the ground, where members of the public were able to get right up close and pat him – which is very unusual behaviour for a wild koala! Volunteer rescuers were notified and were able to collect Nelson and get him up to the vets at the Australian Wildlife Hospital for assessment and treatment.
At an estimated 5-6 years of age, Nelson was in very poor body condition on arrival. Our vets have detected severe conjunctivitis in his left eye which will need a course of antibiotics to clear up. An x-ray and ultrasound were also taken to investigate his internal organs. In addition, they have taken blood samples from him to send away to pathology for testing. These tests will help determine whether Nelson is suffering from any other ailments and, from there, we will be able to prescribe further treatment.
Nelson will be stabilized in Intensive Care until our test results come back and, in the meantime, we will continue to provide the best care for him, keeping him well fed and comfortable.
Remember, if you come across any native wildlife that you think is sick or injured, call the Australian Wildlife Hospital on 1300 369 652 for advice.Turt the Green Sea Turtle
Turt was rescued twice in one day on April 25th! It was a busy day out on the water, with perfect conditions and everyone enjoying the Anzac Day public holiday.
In the first instance, some fisherman had noticed Turt floating around on the surface and, when they got close enough, lifted the 19 kg turtle into their boat for a closer inspection. There was a discarded fishing hook lodged in her mouth that they were able to remove for her. Thinking that she was ok, they released her back into the water, where she floated around for a while before another concerned family noticed her in trouble.
They too were able to lift her into their boat and look after her while the Coastguard alerted the Rescue Team at the Australian Wildlife Hospital with the details. While the Rescue Team were on their way, the family kept Turt nice and calm and cool in the shade of their boat canopy. They moored alongside the jetty so she could be easily transferred to the Rescue Vehicle and back to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for treatment.
Turt had to undergo surgery to remove a hook that was embedded inside her (see x-ray photo). The poor girl had ingested alot of fishing line and it was all caught up in her intestines and gut and, as a result, she has had a big accumulation of gas under her shell which was causing her to float. The vet placed her on a course of treatment and, hopefully, in time, will be able to swim and dive normally again.
She didn't have much of an appetite when she arrived, so we have kept offering her some tasty treats to eat with her medication! This week she has begun eating a variety of fish, squid and sea grass and her strength is improving rapidly. She has also started submerging, which is a good sign she's well on the way to a full recovery.
Every year more than 6 million tonnes of rubbish is dumped into the world's oceans and is the cause of painful injuries to much of our precious marine life. It is up to us to keep our waterways clean and free of rubbish to avoid seeing cases like Turt's in the future. Our team of vets, nurses and volunteers have done a wonderful job helping Turt to recover but, of course, it couldn't have been possible without the initial rescue by the lovely family that day! Thanks are extended to everyone involved as she certainly wouldn't have made it out in the wild for much longer without intervention.
Squirrel Gliders Luke and Charlotte
A young boy found a dead squirrel glider in his garden on Saturday morning and noticed that her pouch was moving. He called his dad and together they took the glider to their local vet, who referred them to the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
It is estimated that the mother had been dead for more than 12 hours, and found puncture wounds to her body which are tell-tale signs of an attack by a cat. The young boy named the two joeys that were squirming inside their mother's pouch Luke and Charlotte. Nurse Jo gave the joeys some glucose, as they were very dehydrated, and put them inside a pouch to keep warm. Luke and Charlotte were then entrusted to one of our wildlife carers, who specialises in caring for gliders and will hand-raise the pair.
We appeal to all cat owners to keep their cats indoors unless they are accompanied outside and encourage you to put a collar with a bell around your cat's neck. This bell can be a warning to all wildlife that danger is approaching, so they have a better chance of staying out of harm's way. If any wild animal is attacked by a cat it is important to keep them warm in a dark box, and then to seek veterinary help as soon as possible to treat them for shock, trauma and infection.
Skittles the Scaly-breasted Lorikeet
Skittles is a scaly-breasted lorikeet who was rescued from the local area a little while ago. He's a real little character with a great personality but, unfortunately, he suffers from Beak and Feather Disease. This means he is quite sick and sadly - it's a disease that commonly affects lorikeets and sulphur-crested cockatoos in the area.
The disease was first positively diagnosed and shown to be caused by a virus in 1987, after it caused a significant number of deaths among threatened parrots. The virus kills feather and beak cells. The symptoms of balding, feather distortion and beak deformities have been recognised in captive birds for many years, but their cause was unknown. Symptoms include diarrhoea and feather abnormalities, with most birds eventually dying. Death may occur suddenly within one to two weeks of the first symptoms.
It is so sad that there is no known treatment for this disease so the team here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital have embarked on a research program to get some answers. Skittles has become a major player in this research and is one of twelve lorikeets in the program. All they have to do is donate a little bit of blood once a week to be sent away for testing. The aim of this project is to see whether the disease progresses the same way in lorikeets as it does in other parrot species - that is whether lorikeets become carriers and subsequently can infect other wild parrots. A project such as this will help determine whether lorikeets can clear the disease completely and subsequently be released back into the wild with no detrimental affects to other wild parrots. Our vets can also observe whether lorikeets effected by PBFD continue to shed the virus after the active stage of the disease has finished and their feathers grow back.
The program is still in its early stages, so it will be some time before we see the results. In the meantime, we will be looking after Skittles and his buddies here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
Hyabusa the Sea Eagle
On Sunday a fisherman was enjoying a day out on the Pumicestone Passage when he noticed a White Bellied Sea Eagle sitting on the bank unable to fly. He was able to put a towel over the bird and contain it in a box. He kept it in a dark, quiet place overnight and contacted a bird carer, Maureen, on Monday morning. Maureen collected the bird and brought him immediately to the Australian Wildlife Hospital to be assessed by one of our vets, Dr Stacey, who specialises in avian medicine.
Maureen named the Sea Eagle 'Hyabusa' which is Japanese for 'Bird of Prey'. Dr Stacey assessed Hyabusa and found a puncture wound on his left leg. X-rays were taken and luckily showed no bone damage. There is no way of knowing what caused this wound but it was flushed out, and Hyabusa was started on a treatment of antibiotics, pain killers and anti-inflammatories.
Hyabusa has made it through the first critical 24 hour period of being in care and has a good grip on his perch, which is a good sign. His leg is still very bruised, but hopefully the treatment will be a success and he will be able to be released back to the wild in a few weeks.
The White Bellied Sea Eagle is the largest coastal bird of prey and they are usually found in pairs over coastal islands, reefs, estuaries and bays - and often far inland on major rivers. Look out for them soaring high in the sky when you are on the coast!
Ebb the Koala
Ebb is young koala who was found abandoned in the Pine Rivers area and admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital in February. There had been no mum in sight, so we can only assume that something happened to her as he was too young, at under one year of age, to be left by himself.
One of our older female patients, Jamie, has since become a surrogate mother to young Ebb and they have established a close bond during their rehabilitation together.
This week there has been quite a bit of activity outside in the hospital grounds, and some machinery has been used to start excavating the site for the new Australian Wildlife Hospital, which will be the world's largest. Whilst it has been something of a milestone to see the construction work get underway, all the activity on day one caused Ebb some anxiety, so since then he has been spending his days in the relative calm of the Intensive Care Unit and returning to his outdoor enclosure at the end of every afternoon.
Ebb is progressing very well in terms of his physical development, but is not yet displaying signs of independence so he will remain in care until he is a little more mature and ready to fend for himself in the wild.
Tank the Saw Shell Turtle
Tank the Saw Shell Turtle was brought into us from a carer who collected him from a vet surgery in Strathpine. Because of our expertise in wildlife medicine many vet surgeries choose to send wildlife cases to us for treatment.
Poor Tank had a fish hook down his distal oesophageus, as you can see on the X-ray picture below. The fish hook was too embedded to remove through the mouth so Dr Che had to surgically remove it through the neck. Tank is recovering in intensive care and is currently on a course of pain relief and antibiotics.
Tank appears a lot brighter today and the vets are happy with his progress so hopefully it won't be long until Tank is back out in the wild.
Below are some interesting turtle facts taken from the website listed below:-
- A group of turtles is called 'a bale of turtles'
- Turtles shed their shell as they're growing; this skin resembles a burnt leaf.
- The largest turtle in the world is the Leathery Turtle whose shell is up to 2.4 metres long and can weigh up to 860kg.
- Turtles and tortoises are the oldest forms of reptiles alive today and have changed very little in their 200 million year history.
- Turtles and tortoises are the only reptiles that have a shell built into their skeleton.
- Turtles don't have teeth, but instead have horny ridges that are serrated and sharp on their upper and lower jaws.
- Tortoises are related to the Turtle family. They live on land, have elephantine legs and eat vegetation.
- You can tell the difference between a male and a female turtle by the length of their tail and the shape of the back of their shell. Males have a longer tail while females are generally bigger.
- The Snake-Necked Turtle's long neck enables them to draw breath at the surface without exposing the rest of the body to predators.
- Some turtles can breathe underwater through their bottoms, especially during hibernation.
- One of the most unusual turtles is from North and Central America and called the Alligator Turtle (or Snapping Turtle). It has shield-like scales, similar to an alligator, and a special tongue that moves like a worm underwater. Any unsuspecting fish trying to eat 'the worm' will become the turtle's next dinner.
Aspen the Eastern Brown Snake
Aspen was rescued this week from a house at Elimbah. The owners were quite used to her living in their garden shed and happy to have her there too! They had however mistaken her for a harmless python, not realizing she was a highly venomous snake.
On Wednesday they noticed that she had entangled herself in some netting in the bucket she was living in so it was good they called the Australian Wildlife Hospital when they did!
Our rescue team were able to untangle her and bring her in to be checked out by Dr Amber, who teamed up with Deon from the Reptile Department at Australia Zoo to examine Aspen's injuries. Working with a venomous snake requires an experienced handler who knows exactly how the snake should be treated and, in this case, allowed our rescue team to head straight back out to another rescue!
Dr Amber and Deon firstly had to safely guide Aspen's head into a clear perspex tube to ensure that she was unable to bite anyone whilst getting an injection of anaesthetic. Once safely asleep, Deon was able to monitor Aspen's breathing rate while Dr Amber cleaned up the wounds caused by the net cutting into her. Dr Amber also had to stitch together a few areas which should heal up nicely.
All going well, we can expect Aspen to make a good recovery and be released safely back into the wild where she won't be a bother to people.
Pollard the Possum
A cute little Ring Tail Possum was found on the veranda of a Caloundra residence yesterday. The poor thing was curled up in a ball, covered in saliva and blood from a cat attack. At only 107g, she didn't stand much of a chance against the cat at all. All too often here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, we see the poor victims of domestic pet attacks.
Pollard was lucky and got to the Hospital as soon as possible and was able to be treated straight away. This quick rescue certainly saved her life. After treating the puncture wounds on her skin, it was found that her left hind foot had a broken toe with the bone exposed. Surgery was the only option as a severe injury like that could have become badly infected, not to mention very painful! Dr Amber had to surgically remove this broken toe which was a very delicate operation (Pollard has very small toes!).
All was a success and now Pollard is being cared for by one of our wonderful, dedicated wildlife carers. She will be fed and her bandages changed until her wounds heal, then hopefully she can go back to the wild where she belongs.
Little Loggerhead Turtles
Last Wednesday was turtle day at the Australian Wildlife Hospital! There were reports of little baby turtles washing ashore all along the coastline. The poor little things, just recently hatched along various Sunshine Coast beaches, struggled with the big swells and rough winds on their way out to the deep blue.
Members of the public and Council Lifeguards were on the ball and quickly notified us of the strandings. Dedicated wildlife rescue volunteers were a wonderful help in transporting the little ones around and getting them into care.
Luckily, with no injuries, they will soon be able to be released off Steve's research boat, Croc One, back into the currents where they belong. Unfortunately, only an estimated 1 in 1000 hatchling turtles will survive to an adult age, so whenever and however we can help them, we will!
If you find a sick, injured or lost turtle on your local beach, remember to call us on 1300 369 652 or QPWS Marine Stranding Hotline Number 1300 130 372. They will be able to advise you about what to do!
Kerry the Koala
Kerry the Koala spent four long days tangled in a barbed wire fence before being rescued by carers at the Gold Coast. She was badly injured and very stressed out by the time she was found. Residents of the area had noticed her but failed to report her until four days later!
A severe tear to her pouch meant re-construction surgery and sadly the loss of a little joey koala she had been carrying. This is so unfortunate and such a painful ordeal for Kerry to go through. She is still recovering in Intensive Care at the moment and will move outside when she stabilizes. Until then we will keep her as comfortable as possible and treat her wounds so they do not get infected.
Sadly, barbed-wire fences claim the lives of many species each year, including possums, gliders, flying foxes and birds. Another victim of a barbed wire entanglement this week was a juvenile Kookaburra. The wire was embedded into the skin of the right wing but luckily the quick response of a wildlife carer and our vets was able to save its life. It too will need time in Intensive care to recover before being released back into the wild.
Bill the Kookaburra
Bill the kookaburra was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital on Valentine's Day. Sadly for him, he was hit by a car 24 hours prior to being admitted. He has a fracture to his left tibiotarsal (shin bone). Dr Amber commenced surgery immediately and placed an intramedullary pin into his leg.
This stabilised the fracture and will remain in place for at least two weeks. Bill has been placed on antibiotics and will require lots of loving care over the next few weeks. Bill did not get to have Valentine's dinner with loved ones but Dr Amber expects a speedy recovery.
Trey's friend Finn
Finn is the second platypus that has come into care in the last two weeks. Strangely, he was found walking on the highway at Kiels Mountain. It was obvious he'd been on his own for a while, due to his poor body condition. He was very de-hydrated and skinny, which meant any longer out there and he probably wouldn't have survived.
Here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, he has made friends with Trey who came into Gail's care a few weeks beforehand. This is good for both of them, as they get to grow up together and enjoy each other's company during rehabilitation. Their favourite time of the day is definitely swim time! Watching them play in their pool and forage for mealworms is a highlight for the staff and volunteers to witness and great fun for them too.
Unfortunately, in the area that Finn was found, there was a lot of evidence of recent land clearing and development. Often, when excavating equipment is used, platypuses' burrows are wiped out, leaving the inhabitants stranded and with nowhere to safely live. It's very lucky Finn wasn't run over by a car or truck on his travels down the highway and, with the dam and creek levels dropping, there is now less and less suitable habitat available for them to live.
Gail will be caring for Trey and Finn for some time, but the future for them is looking good.
Monet the Rainbow Lorikeet
Monet the Rainbow Lorikeet was brought into the hospital from Caloundra on 5 February 2007. He is unfortunately one of many parrots hit by cars that we see here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
Part of the reason why these beautiful birds get into so much trouble with cars is due to native flowering shrubs being planted on islands in the middle of busy roads. Planting of native plants is a brilliant idea if planted in the right locations. Planting them in your gardens (if domestic animals are controlled) is a great way to attract our native birds.
Monet is currently in intensive care with neurological trauma. He has been placed on a series of medication. Monet is however doing well - if he is not chirping away, he is happily preening himself. We are hopeful that his rehabilitation will remain on track so that he can be returned to the wild where he can be with his other Rainbow Lorikeet friends.
Karen the Shingleback Skink
This week, a lonely Shingleback Skink was dropped off at the gates of the Australian Wildlife Hospital. We are very used to getting lizards and skinks brought in, but not of the Shingleback variety, as they are not commonly found in this area. This little one was noticed by some passersby whilst driving out west. Thinking it to be sick, they decided to rescue it and bring it with them on their visit to Australia Zoo. It was very underweight and had a fungal and bacterial skin infection.
To clear this up, our vets have placed Karen on a treatment of antibiotics, and our nurses give her a daily soak in a diluted Betadine solution. Hopefully, after a week of this treatment, Karen will have made a significant improvement, and will also be back on a proper diet in order to get back into a good body condition.
Shinglebacks are very close relatives of the Blue-tongue Lizard; however they prefer the dryer climates, which is why they're generally found west of here. They are very interesting-looking skinks, with rough scales, quite dark in colour and a broad triangular-shaped head and tail to confuse predators!
However, it's cars that are the main threat to these skinks. As they are commonly found sunbaking on the roads, Shingleback Skinks are often overlooked by motorists and sadly run over. It is important to keep a sharp eye out for all wildlife on and near our roads and slow down where caution signs are posted.
Next time you visit Australia Zoo, you may be lucky enough to bump into a member of the Wandering Wildlife Team and meet a Shingleback Skink up close and personal! They have a small family of Shinglebacks that have been raised and live at the Zoo, so be sure to keep an eye out for them.
Trey the Platypus
One of the most unique Australian native animals is arguably the platypus. Part of the monotreme family (whose only other member is the echidna), platypus certainly are amazing! Few people are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these nocturnal creatures in the wild. So you can imagine our surprise this week when young Trey was admitted to the Australian Wildlife Hospital in a very critical condition. He was very weak, underweight and had a serious skin condition. Orphaned, with no chance of survival in the wild, he is now in care with our Hospital Manager Gail; she has taken on the role of 'surrogate mum' to this little Aussie battler.
Raising an orphaned platypus is very involved, with feeding required every few hours and medication for his dermatitis administered regularly. There is also swim time, when Trey gets to go fossicking in his pond for meal worms and other yummies that make up his complete dietary requirements. This is also great enrichment for Trey as he gets to practise the vital skills that will help him to survive in the wild.
Platypus and echidnas are the world's ONLY living monotremes, and it is here in eastern Australia that the platypus calls home. So, it is up to us to ensure that their habitat is conserved and protected, not polluted. Platypus sightings are rarer these days, which indicates that with the rapid growth in residential and commercial development, comes the rapid decline of such special wildlife.
Buckey the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
Buckey was found on the ground at a property at Clagiraba on the Gold Coast. He was found with an injured wing and unable to fly. The property owners were worried about him, so they notified a member of the Wildcare group based on the Gold Coast and they were able to go out to rescue him. It was obvious that he had some damage to the wing, so he was taken straight to the closest vet for x-rays. They showed that Buckey had been shot and still had the lead bullet lodged in his wing. Ouch!
It was decided they needed a second opinion on the possibility of removing the bullet, so Buckey was brought to the Australian Wildlife Hospital on Wednesday. Here, he was x-rayed again and underwent surgery to dislodge the bullet. The surgery was successful and Buckey was a very good patient. He will now be recovering with a registered Wildlife Carer until he is fit for release. He will need to be monitored very closely as he has shown signs of lead poisoning from the bullet. He is on a course of antibiotics to ensure he's comfortable and to improve his recovery chances.
Sadly, native birds are often targets for deliberate injuries by humans, and the holiday period is when we see a lot of cruelty cases. It is illegal to deliberately harm any native wildlife, so be sure to report any cruelty cases to your local Wildlife Authority so the persons responsible can be prosecuted.
Victor the Koala
It's a good thing the Australian Wildlife Hospital runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Without the dedication of the hard-working team of vets, nurses, volunteers and wildlife carers that are on alert during this very busy season, poor Victor the koala may just not have made it.
It was the Boxing Day traffic that caught Victor off guard when he was hit by a car on the New England Highway, in the suburb of Geham at Crow's Nest. The quick response of Clare, one of our wildlife carers based at Toowoomba, gave us the best chance of saving Victor's life. She was able to pick him up and start driving to meet our Rescue Ambulance halfway, and transfer him so that he could continue the two-hour journey to the Australian Wildlife Hospital.
Victor was examined thoroughly on arrival and x-rays were taken. They showed that he suffered terrible fractures to his right arm and severe lacerations on the right side of his tongue. He underwent immediate surgery to stabilise the fracture by application of an external fixateur. It is estimated an injury of this type could take quite a while to repair, so Victor will be cared for here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital until such time as he is ready for release. Currently he is in our Intensive Care Unit where the nurses can keep a very close eye on him, as he's not out of the critical stage yet. Regular pain medication is necessary to keep him as comfortable as possible during his recovery.
We hope you all stay safe on the roads over this busy holiday period, and please watch out for wildlife! Any sick or injured wildlife should be reported immediately to the Australian Wildlife Hospital on 1300 369 652.
The large numbers of koalas being hit by cars and attacked by dogs could be greatly reduced if we all:
- Slow down while driving through areas where you know koalas and other wildlife live
- Keep pets locked inside at night time to allow our native wildlife to move around safely to feed
With those simple tips in mind, we can all do something to help save sick and injured wildlife in our own backyards!
Kyle the Bearded Dragon
Poor Kyle the Bearded Dragon was rescued from Boondal Entertainment Centre by a caring family who had seen him struggling across the hot carpark dragging his left foreleg. Kyle was initially examined by Nurse Bev, who soon realised that there was something seriously wrong with his left elbow, which was quite swollen. Dr Jon anaesthetised and x-rayed Kyle's leg and discovered that the elbow joint was being eaten away by a chronic infection. There was no alternative but for the limb to be amputated.
Amputation of a limb can represent a serious disability for a wild animal, and we will only perform such operations if there is a good chance that the animal can easily survive in the wild. In Kyle's case he had survived in quite good body condition for at least six months in the wild, so he obviously was coping despite his injury. So we have decided to give him a second chance at life. Kyle has been placed on antibiotics and will be in rehabilitation for the next two to three weeks, and if all goes well he will be back out with his buddies in the wild once again.
Percy the possum
In October last year a Common Brush-tail Possum was hit by a car and killed. Luckily a member of the public stopped and checked her pouch… and found a little furless joey. She took the orphaned joey home with her to rear and named her Percy.
The possum was raised for a year and treated very much like a pet and so has become ‘humanised', craving human contact and not behaving as a wild animal should. Although Percy was given plenty of love over this time, she missed out on learning natural possum behaviours, as her surrogate mum was not a registered wildlife carer and couldn't provide her with all of her possum needs. Percy was brought to the Australian Wildlife Hospital and will need to spend at least six months with a registered wildlife carer learning to be a possum again. This will be a time of intensive work teaching her to be independent of humans, to forage for food on her own, interact with other possums and protect herself from dangers in the wild. Possums are predated upon by introduced predators that are a great threat, including red foxes, cats, and dogs.
The best thing for Percy when she was first found would have been for her to be taken immediately to the Australian Wildlife Hospital or to a carer. Please remember, if it is safe for you to do so, check dead wildlife on the side of the road to see if they do have joeys – and if they do, take the mother's body with the joey to the Wildlife Hospital or wrap them in a towel and keep in a warm place while you call us for a Carer's contact number. Please don't pull the joey off the teat or out of the pouch as you can injure or stress the orphan. For all injured or orphaned possums and other wildlife, call 1300 369 652.
If you are interested in becoming a wildlife carer, contact WILVOS (Wildlife Volunteers Association Incorporated) on (07) 5441 6200 or WILDCARE AUSTRALIA on (07) 5527 2444. A wide range of courses are run each year specialising in care of different species, and it's a great opportunity to learn from the best!
The most rewarding part of our job is when we get to see the animals we've worked so hard on get released back into the wild. This was realised last week for Charlie, the Green Sea Turtle that we've been looking after for the past two months.
The exciting thing is that we've come full circle with this patient. Briano and Kate rescued him off the beach at Marcoola; he then was treated in hospital by our vets, cared for by our nurses and finally released by Briano off Croc One!
But when one moves out, unfortunately another one (or two) move in. Sadly, we are seeing too many sick turtles washing ashore. The most recent additions to our turtle rehabilitation facility are Coincidence and Xena. Coincidence weighed in at almost 17 kg and is missing his left front flipper. Xena is the smallest green turtle we've had into hospital and is pictured here with Bonnie. They have both just arrived and are still in the process of being examined and diagnosed. When the results come in, we will be able to begin treatment and hopefully get them back onto the road of recovery.
We wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas, and be sure to keep in touch in the New Year!
As the traffic on our waterways continues to increase and pollution levels spiral out of control, it is our marine and sea bird life that suffers. We are well aware of the devastation caused by these factors here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, where we see it all first-hand. This week alone, we have had four sea turtles washed up on local beaches. Three were Green Sea Turtles and one a Hawksbill.
Their common problem is that they are all 'floaters'. Coccidia, blood fluke and obstructions (pollution) in the intestines causes this, and results in a large amount of gas accumulating under the shell. This, of course, makes them float. Once weakness, dehydration, hunger and barnacles set in, the turtles get so sick that they are washed ashore. Floating on the ocean surface also leaves them vulnerable to sunburn and boat strikes – OUCH!
Charlie (the turtle formally known as Chloe), was lucky when some lovely people stopped on their morning walk at Marcoola Beach to help him. They called the Australian Wildlife Hospital emergency hotline for assistance, and he is now safely residing in an ICU pool at the Hospital. Charlie will have x-rays, ultrasounds and other procedures to determine what the cause of his illness is. He and the others will most likely be in hospital for some time before they are fully recovered. Turtle re-habilitation takes a long time.
Sea turtles are one of our favorite marine creatures, so please help them by learning about them and following our top ten turtle tips:
- Australia is home to six of the world's seven species of sea turtles
- Sea turtles have lived in the oceans for over 100 million years
- All of Australia's sea turtles are either listed as endangered or vulnerable
- Leatherback turtles grow the largest, up to 900kg and can have a carapace length between 1.8 and 2.8 metres long.
- When breeding, nesting females return to the same area, thought to be in the same region as they were born
- If you see turtle nests in the wild, please do not interfere with them
- When you find rubbish on the beach, pick it up and put it in the bin
- Fishing tackle and plastics are a major threat to sea turtles, so clean it up!
- Young marine turtles drift and feed in the open ocean. When they are about dinner plate-size, turtles settle near inshore feeding grounds where they can find sea grasses, algae, jellyfish and crustaceans
- Take action and join your local community water watch group – become a Wildlife Warrior!
Tanamai the Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake
A trip to the beach is always lots of fun. The sun is shining, the sea is sparkling and the snakes are swimming! Well, it's not every day we get to see these awesome oceanic species in action. But Tuesday called for a beach rescue in Caloundra, where Tanamai, the Yellow-bellied Sea Snake was found washed ashore.
Alerted by Matt, the lifeguard on duty, our rescue team was quick on the case, as this species is dangerously venomous. At a length measuring nearly one metre, Briano was able to safely tail and bag the snake on the shore of Dicky Beach and bring it to the Australian Wildlife Hospital for attention.
He was very weak and exhausted from a long time out at sea, so on arrival to the clinic Tanamai was examined straight away. Tanamai appeared slightly neurological, with a mild left-side head tilt, and x-rays were taken to investigate his lungs. He has been placed in the ICU on a series of treatments and we are waiting on test results from pathology for more answers about his condition.
Of the 54 known species of sea snakes, there have been 11 recorded from Moreton Bay alone. The Yellow-bellied Sea Snake is known as the world's most widely spread and truly oceanic snake, and is found in all tropical and subtropical seas. They are recognised by their sharply contrasting black body and yellow belly and their yellow paddle-like tail has black spots or bars on it.
It is important that all snakes are treated with caution and this summer, for any snake questions or rescues, call a professional!
Cuddles the Koala
Early this week, a mysterious koala was rescued from Redcliffe. He was noticed with sore ears by members of the public late in the afternoon, and the Koala Rescue Group was called to attend. They swiftly rescued this poor male koala and brought him to the Australian Wildlife Hospital to be treated.
After examination, a microchip was found and we were able to identify him as ‘Cuddles', a six-year-old male. He was originally caught, tagged and released by another koala hospital back in 2002! Now that we had his name figured out, we needed to solve his ear problems.
On arrival, both of his ears were bald and extremely red and painful. It is thought that they had been burnt. Another burn was noted on the right side of his rump, which was cleaned up and treated. Burn patients often suffer from severe dehydration, so he was given some fluid solution also. He is now recovering and will be on a short course of antibiotics while he heals. We will make him as comfortable as possible during his stay and he will move out of the ICU to an outside enclosure very soon.
It is not known for sure how his burns came about. We have had bushfire patients in the past and as we all know, especially at this time of year fires can be a real threat to us, our homes and our wildlife. Sadly, large numbers of wildlife perish each year in Australian bushfires. Those lucky to escape alive often suffer bad injuries as a result and if they're not found in time, can't receive the medical attention they need.
Here's some advice from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service website to remember if you see or are in a bushfire:
If there is a bushfire, follow the track to the nearest road, beach, lake or creek for refuge. Large logs, a ditch or burnt ground can also provide protection in some situations. Avoid areas of heavy fuel, such as deep leaf litter or thick vegetation, and stay low to the ground where the air is coolest and contains the least smoke. In high fire danger conditions, walking tracks and other areas may be closed. It is essential for your safety to follow the instructions on signs in these conditions. If you see a bushfire, please alert a ranger or the police as soon as possible.
If you see animals that need assistance from a bushfire, call the Australian Wildlife Hospital on 133 369 652.
There's nothing more heartbreaking than witnessing the devastation a pet cat or dog can do to a family of native wildlife. All too often we are getting little orphans into the Australian Wildlife Hospital whose parents have been killed. Often, they arrive here in the pouch of their dead mum. Their only hope is to be cared for and hand-reared by a dedicated wildlife carer until they are big enough for release.
Marley and Pink Toe are two bandicoot babies who were recently found in the pouch of their mother, who was attacked and killed by a cat. They are Long-nosed Bandicoots, which when fully grown are the largest of the mainland species of bandicoots found here in Australia. They have grey-brown fur and a creamy white belly and feet. Their ears are pointed, their teeth are delicate, and as the name suggests, their nose is narrow and long!
At the moment, these two bandicoot brothers are being fed a special milk supplement four times a day. After their last feed for the day, some yummy goodies are left out for them forage for and snack on during the night. They like to eat both insects and some fruits and veg. Bandicoots are nocturnal animals, so night time is when they are most active, and most vulnerable.
Loss of habitat, due to development is a major threat to bandicoots in the wild. They are being forced into suburbia, and people were killing them because they thought they were rats! At night time, they fall victim to cat and dog attacks and often get run over as well.
With only a short life span of up to two and a half years, these little critters don't waste anytime when it comes to breeding! A mother bandicoot can have between one and four babies at a time, after the shortest gestation period of any living mammal – a quick 12.5 days!
Long-nosed Bandicoots play a very important role in bushland ecology. As their droppings are dispersed they add natural nutrient to the leaf mulch. They also eat grubs that would otherwise weaken the roots of grasses. It is important that we look out for these amazing little marsupials, and keep our pets locked inside at night time, to allow our nocturnal natives to hunt and feed safely.
Henk the Green Tree Frog
Henk is a Green Tree Frog from Ipswich that had a bit of a misadventure in a family's backyard swimming pool. They found him with an injured leg, which they thought to be broken, so decided to bring him into the Australian Wildlife Hospital for some specialist veterinary attention. He was quite dehydrated on arrival and it was noticed that he had chlorine deposits on his skin. After a soak in demineralised water, Henk was x-rayed and diagnosed with a fractured pelvis. It is thought he may have been sucked into the pool filter and suffered these injuries as a result. Dr Amber has admitted Henk to hospital for four weeks of rest and will continue to x-ray him to check on the progress of his pelvis healing. We have had success with frogs with similar injuries before, so with his medication and special care, we hope to see Henk hopping back to a full recovery.
Green Tree Frogs are the second most widely distributed frogs in Australia, found in all states except for Victoria and Tasmania. It is a familiar species that many people recognise, but they often turn up in water tanks, shower blocks and even toilets! It is important that we act now to conserve frogs in Australia, as scientists have noticed quite a decline in their population. The book A field guide to frogs of Australia offers some great advice on frog conservation. Here are a few tips:
- Don't drain frog breeding sites of water
- Don't introduce new fish species to ponds and creeks
- Don't use pesticides if you can help it (frogs do a good job of eating many insect pests)
- Don't collect frogs or tadpoles from national parks
There are a lot more wonderful facts and information on all frog species found in Australia in this guide, which is available for purchase here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital. Remember for any wildlife emergencies, you can call us on 1300 369 652.
Harry the Koala
Harry is a two year-old-male koala that was hit by a car in Ormiston, Redlands recently. On admission to the Australian Wildlife Hospital, our vet observed that Harry was suffering old fractures to his elbow and shoulder, blood on his chest and lacerations to his tongue. In addition, his eye was badly ruptured, which was going to require surgery.
Harry was placed in intensive care for close monitoring over a few days until his eye operation. The removal of his eye was necessary as it was irreparably damaged. The operation was a success and Harry was a very good patient. After a few more days of rest in our ICU, Harry has now moved into our ‘Mums and Bubs' enclosure, where he will reside happily outside for his rehabilitation.
We have just come out of the annual breeding season for koalas, which is the busiest time of year for us here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital. We see an average of 30 koalas per month admitted during the year, but from July to September (breeding season), those numbers increase to 90 koalas per month! The majority are hit by cars (like Harry) or victims of dog attacks, and are in a very critical condition when they arrive. Treatment can take months, which means we generally have 40 koalas in the hospital at all times undergoing treatment and rehab.
The large numbers of koalas being hit by cars and attacked by dogs could be greatly reduced if we all:
- Slow down while driving through areas where you know koalas and other wildlife live
- Keep pets locked inside at night time to allow our native wildlife to move around safely to feed
With those simple tips in mind, we can all do something to help save sick and injured wildlife in our own backyards!
Sun, Sand and Snakes!
It was a beautiful, sunny weekend with many locals and holidaymakers enjoying our Sunshine Coast beaches. You can imagine the surprise of one local beachgoer when on her morning walk along the water's edge at Maroochydore, she came across what she at first suspected was an injured sea snake. While keeping an eye on its movements, she alerted the weekend surf lifesaver on duty then called the Australian Wildlife Hospital for assistance.
Together they kept onlookers at bay and the snake safe until Briano arrived in the rescue vehicle. He immediately identified it as a Yellow-faced Whip Snake, measuring approximately 2.5 ft in length and living up to its reputation as ‘the cheetah of the snake world' by moving across the sand very fast! This nice, slender snake, with gorgeous colourings, was quite displaced out on the open beach. How he got there still remains a mystery, but we suspect he may have been dropped by a bird of prey in the area.
It's the second beach snake rescue for Briano this week. The other being an Eastern Brown Snake who decided to sun itself right between the red and yellow flags at Currimundi! Remember – as the weather warms up, reptiles are going to get more active and appear in unexpected places. So, stay vigilant and call an expert for assistance on 1300 369 652.
Teak and Tumbles
A misadventure for a mother echidna and her baby puggle ended in a visit to the Australian Wildlife Hospital this week. Teak and Tumbles were out and about on Hamilton Rd on Monday, when they came into contact with some excavating equipment in the area. The hit caused Teak (mum) to be knocked onto her back, and this sent little baby Tumbles out of the pouch and rolling down a small hill.
Vet Nurse Beverley was called out in our Rescue vehicle to Woombye to assist, and was able to collect both mother and puggle and re-unite them here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital. After they both had a veterinary check-up and radiograph taken, they were given the ok to go into care for a short time before release. Our resident echidna specialist, Head Vet Nurse Vicky, will be looking after them and place them back into the wild (away from heavy machinery!) when they are ready.
Sunny the Koala
Last week we had a special patient visit us again. Sunny is a beautiful male koala who unfortunately was hit by a car back in August 2004, but has returned back with injuries far worse.
On Sunny's first trip to the hospital, he had head trauma and a few lacerations to his face. Sunny spent five months here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital before he was released at Birkdale, where he was from.
Unfortunately when he returned to us last month, we was in a bad way. Sunny was hit once again on the same road! But this time he had a badly fractured arm, facial injuries, abrasions on his hind legs and his teeth had punctured his top lip and nose.
Poor sunny had to have surgery on his arm, but he is recovering well. It's so sad to see this beautiful boy come back to us for the second time in two years, let alone getting hit again on the same road! Sunny is such a sweet, quiet, placid boy and we all hope he recovers well enough to go back home soon.
Two of our wonderful staff members Briano and Kate had the day off and were going for their morning coffee, when they received a phone call from a Caloundra lifeguard to say there was a dolphin tangled in the shark nets down at Dicky Beach. Briano and Kate got there as quickly as they could. Briano jumped on the jet ski at Kings Beach with Troy, one of the lifeguards. When they got to the net they found that it was wrapped around both of the dolphin's pectoral fins, the top jaw and through the mouth. The dolphin was exhausted and had little strength left. The right pectoral fin had a large slice where the net had cut into it and bones were exposed. The first thing they did was cut the net away from the fin, and then they removed the net from the dolphin's mouth and freed up the other pectoral fin. Once they had completely removed the dolphin from the net, Briano swam to the surface, carefully guiding the dolphin as he went. The dolphin was then maneuvered to the shore where other rescuers were waiting.
Once notified of the dolphin, Kate called us here at the Australian Wildlife Hospital. Dr Che Phillips along with Wendy Agnew (University of Queensland fifth-year vet student) left the hospital to help out and to provide veterinary support to the injured dolphin. Sea World on the Gold Coast was also contacted. Luckily, Sea World veterinarian Dr David Blyde was in the area, so he was able to come and help out with the dolphin as well. The dolphin was placed in the shade and kept cool with sea water. Blood samples were collected and x-rays taken of his injured flipper. The dolphin was given pain relief in the form of injectable antibiotics and oral antibiotics and fluids. The Sea World van then arrived and the dolphin was placed in the vehicle and transported carefully back down to Sea World for further veterinary attention.
Fleur and Olivia
Fleur and Olivia are two beautiful Green Tree Snakes, so similar they could be twins. Sadly, their stories are similar too – both were victims of severe attacks by domestic cats. The Green Tree Snake is a harmless native species that can often be seen moving in trees or across the ground during the day. They mainly prey on small frogs and lizards and have no venom. Unfortunately they have no defences against attack by domestic cats, so poor Fleur and Olivia ended up with multitudes of infected puncture marks from the cats' teeth. Thankfully, the owners of both cats were good enough to bring in the snakes for urgent treatment, and both are now recovering in our reptile ward. With luck they will be released back into the wild within the next week or so. Both cases demonstrate the terrible damage that domestic pets cause to our beautiful wildlife and environment. Cats are great pets, but keep them indoors; they have no place in our fragile native ecosystem!