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First Aid for Injured or Orphaned Wildlife

Jay Jay - Squirrel Glider - B. Clarke

Ringtail Joey - L. D'Arcy

Ringtail Mother with two joeys - L. D'Arcy

Dedication and Motherly Love....

This Ringtail mother was rescued with her two little babies.  When they were too big to fit in her pouch, she snuggled them underneath her, holding them to keep them close and warm. 

Brushtail mother with joey - B. Clarke

Sharing the Love (and the food)

Brushtail mother, hit by a car, came in concussed.  Her Joey of course came too.  He was found sitting beside his mother on the side of the road. 

Birds of Prey need specialised Carers - O.N.A.R.R. may take them in, but they must be handed on with 48 hours. 

Galah family - B. Clarke

Geronimo with his family, who visited him every day he was in care. 




Caution! Snakes are dangerous and even more so if injured. Under no circumstances attempt to aid an injured snake. Call for a Licenced Snake Handler to come and take care of it. Your safety comes first!!!





First Aid for injured native animals always begins with the human.   Personal safety comes first, in every instance.  You cannot give aid to an injured animal if you are wounded yourself.   Regardless of how helpless or injured an animal looks, it will try to defend itself from you, or if it recovers slightly, may become distressed and lash out or bite in self-defence.  Look to your personal safety before helping the animal.  If the situation seems too difficult for you handle safely, contact the R.S.P.C.A. on 3426 9910.  This is their Wildlife Hospital.   You may need to contact the Department of Environment and Science.  You could also contact your local vet to see if they can help out in an emergency.




These tips are for basic first aid of native animals in need.  ONARR does not recommend inexperienced people attempt first aid on injured native wildlife, but sometimes there are some things you can do to prevent further injury to the animals. ‘Joey’ refers to any baby native animal that is pouch raised. 


As a general rule, a pillowcase with ties at the opening end is a good item to carry in your car.  Most animals or birds will fit inside a pillowcase, which can then be tied securely to prevent escapes.   This is important, as an animal or bird that is just stunned may well become distressed when it gets its senses back, and attempt to escape from your car.  There has been a case where a gentleman stopped to pick up a koala, which half a kilometre down the road came back to life with a vengeance!   He ended up stopping and opening the car doors to allow the animal out of the car.
Carrying a towel or blanket is also beneficial if you are one of those folks who does the right thing and stops to check the animals they see.  Remove any dead animals from the road, if it is safe to do so, and place them on the verge.  This will help signify to other people that the animal has been checked.   It also saves 15 people from stopping!   Local councils will collect carcases if they are notified of their whereabouts.  


Road Kill:                                                                                      
Unfortunately, many native species lose their life on our roads.   Animals are not aware of the road rules, become startled by the noise of traffic and the lights, and end up as another statistic.  However, depending upon the injury, they may still need vet care, even if it is just to be euthanized.  Again, with a large creature like a kangaroo, contact the R.S.P.C.A. wildlife hospital or a local vet, if the animal is still alive. 
If you come across a deceased animal on the road, please stop and check if the animal is male or female.   Female animals may well have a joey in the pouch, and depending upon its size, it may well be viable to raise and release. 
If the baby is a ‘pinkie’ (no fur, pink skin, eyes still closed), and is still attached to the teat – DO NOT REMOVE IT!   To remove a pinkie baby, the teat must be cut from the dead mother, and a safety pin or paper clip pushed through the teat to prevent the baby from swallowing it.   Do not try to remove the teat from the joey’s mouth – they will spit it out in their own time.   Pulling a joey off a teat is a certain death sentence.   The teat is attached to the palate, and a joey can still be fed around an attached teat.  If you feel unable to remove the baby, take the dead mother to a vet and ask them to remove the little one. 


Most injured animals need some warmth to help them get over shock – shock kills a high percentage of injured animals brought into care.  If you have nothing else, then a drink bottle filled with hot tap water and wrapped in a towel, placed by the animal, will provide warmth.  Do not attempt to feed or give water to an injured animal until it has been ascertained by an experienced carer or vet. 


Possums and gliders:                                                                     
Possums and gliders that are on the ground usually need medical help.  If it is safe to do so, place a box or washing basket next to the animal and using a towel, gently move the animal into the box.  Place a towel around or over the animal to give it a place to retreat to and close the box securely.  Contact a wildlife group, carer or vet.  If the animal has noticeable injuries, a vet should be the first port of call.  Once the vet has ascertained if the animal is viable, they will usually contact a wildlife carer in their area that they know of.   Make a note of where and when the animal was found, as adult possums should be returned to their own area for release once they have been rehabilitated.  Leave your name and phone number with the vet as the carer will want to be in contact with you.
Possums sometimes get ‘caught out’ when they don’t make it home before the sun rises.  They will curl up in some strange places, and if the place is safe, i.e. away from predators, and you cannot see any injuries, let the animal sleep and watch to see if it moves off that night.  If it is in the same place the next morning without having moved off during the night, it may need help.
Joey possums of all species need warmth for the first 48 hours.  Ensure the joey is wrapped up in a sock or towel and placed near warmth.  These little guys are often too small to manufacture their own heat, and shock will have depleted their strength and warmth.
Gliders do get caught on barbed wire fences.  Take as much care as possible in removing the gliding membrane from the wire and contact a wildlife carer or vet for further help.  Gliders with damaged membranes are still viable animals. 


Macropods are kangaroos and wallabies.  The term Macropod means Big (Macro) Foot (pod).   An adult injured kangaroo is a force to be reckoned with.  Do not put yourself in danger.  Call an experienced carer, vet or the RSPCA. The best way to transport an injured wallaby is in a pillowcase, wrapped securely in a sheet or blanket, or in a sack.  This will prevent them from jumping around and causing further injury.   Macropods are very ‘stressy’, so as little noise and movement as possible will be beneficial. 


Birds with injured or broken wings usually end up not being releasable.   A vet should be the first port of call to ascertain the extent of the injury.   Sometimes injuries are just bruising, and with some time in care, a bird can be fully rehabilitated and released.  Again, note where the bird is found so that it can go back – it may well have a partner or family waiting for it.  Depending upon the species, a broken leg is not the end of the world.  Many birds survive with only a stump; as long as they can fly and hunt or find their own food.  Birds hit by cars are often only stunned and removing them from the road to the verge or surrounding bush gives them time to recuperate without being the next squashed animal on the road by the following car.   Baby birds sitting on roads without parents in sight should be collected and given to a carer. 


Slow down and allow snakes time to cross the road, but do not pick up an injured snake – your personal safety comes first.   Ring an experienced snake handler for further information.


BATS OR FLYING FOXES:                                                        
Bats or flying foxes need specialist carers.  Only carers who have had their lyssa virus injections may handle bats or flying foxes.   If you find an injured animal, contact a wildlife group, like ONARR 3030 2245, 
or Bat Rescue (0488 228134).  Do not touch the animal.  If it is summer and hot, and the bat is caught on a fence or tree, a damp towel placed over the animal will help minimize stress and dehydration.  If you cannot do this without touching the animal, leave well alone.


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