If it is safe for you to approach the animal, throw a towel or blanket over it, making sure its head and claws are covered and gently place in a ventilated box. Birds are best placed in a cardboard box so the feathers won’t get damaged. Place a towel on the bottom of the box for comfort. Other animals, such as Possums can be placed in a pet carry cage or similar, also with a towel on the bottom of the cage for comfort.
It is extremely important to follow the next guidelines.
If you are unable to pick up the animal, place a washing basket (or such like) over the bird/animal then place a towel over the basket so that it is dark, quiet and away from predators.
Call the Kangaloola 24 Hour Emergency Hotline 0407 412 750 or your local Vet immediately – the first few hours are critical to the animals survival.
Safe removal of a joey from a pouch
Did you know that a marsupial joey (eg: a kangaroo, possum, wombat, koala etc) can live up to five days in the pouch of its dead mother? So, if you see a dead adult on the side of the road, or if you accidentally hit one while driving, or if your domestic pet brings home a dead possum, then you should always check the pouch - there may be a joey alive inside!
First thing, consider your safety and ensure the joey is safe from further injury. The mum may need to be dragged or carried off the road. If she is still alive, then the game changes. In that case, call and wait for a rescuer.
Follow these instructions to learn how to safely remove a joey from the pouch of a dead mum.
READ THIS WHOLE PIECE BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO REMOVE A JOEY. IF IN DOUBT CALL FOR HELP.
Removing a joey from the pouch is not as easy as it sounds. If the mother has already reached rigor mortis (stiffening of the body after death) the pouch opening may be quite small and tight and removing the joey could be difficult and may cause injury. Even if the body is still soft there may not be enough room to manoeuvre and free the joey without harming it.
It is absolutely vital to look inside and understand where the 2 large legs and tail are positioned. These 3 limbs are fragile and at risk of being broken. Great care must be used to understand where those limbs are and ensure they are not forced or put into a position where a break might occur.
In many situations it is better to use a pair of scissors to cut the joey free - of course this can have its problems too. You need suitable scissors, not paper scissors - they won't do it.
The best way to cut a joey out of the pouch is to move the dead mother so that the pouch opening is toward your body. Insert your hand, or at least a few fingers, into the pouch and lift the pouch as high as you can. Make sure that your fingers lie between the scissor blades and the joey (this is where you may have problems - don't cut yourself or the joey!).
Cut very slowly until you can see clearly and have enough space to gently remove the joey. Remember (!) that furless and just furred joeys have their lips fused and are permanently attached to the teat - so if you find one at this stage you will need to cut the teat off the mother entirely. Cut the teat as close to the mothers body as you can and remove the joey with the teat still in the mouth. The teat must be sealed to ensure the joey does not suck air.
If you don't have a pair of scissors and cannot cut the pouch open, try to take the entire mother's body with the joey inside to a rescuer, carer or vet. You can also just wait for a rescuer to arrive. The caution here is body temperature of the joey. If the pouch is cold, then the joey needs to be removed and gently warmed.
Another simple action you can take is to place a blanket over the pouch area to help keep the joey warm.
To remove the joey from the pouch use a towel or some kind of cloth and glove it over your hand. Reach in very slowly and gently try to envelop the joey. This action will also rub the mothers scent onto the towel which will help keep the joey calm after it has been removed. If the mother has been dead for some time and has a rotting smell it is best to avoid scenting the towel.
As you pull the joey out of the pouch move the towel up and over the joey enclosing it in the pouch. The towel, with the joey enclosed, can then be placed inside warmer wrapping. The number of wrappings will depend on the size of the joeys - small furless or just furred joeys will require more warmth than larger furred joeys.
If you have a furless or just furred joey try to pin the mothers teat to the towel so that the joey doesn't end up getting it stuck in the airway. Put the pin on the outside of the towel, away from fragile skin. The joey should release the teat after around 3 hours.
Place a heat source, wrapped in a towel or similar, between the towel and the warm wrapping. Do not place a heat source directly next to the joey as it may cause burns or heat stress. A heat source may not be required on hots days for a furred joey but it is essential for a furless or just furred joey as it cannot regulate its own temperature. Do not over heat the joey as it may die from heat stress.
If you don't have any warm wrappings or a heat source place the joey, wrapped in the towel, inside your clothes close to your chest. The joey will get heat from your body.
Try to get the orphan to an experienced carer or to a vet straight away as it will need specialised care.
This is a seemingly simple, but actually very tricky business and experienced help should be sought. But, if it's a matter of saving a life, then do the best you can armed with this knowledge.
In addition to the detailed information below, there are other things to consider. If the mother is alive but will be euthanised, please wait until she is dead before joey removal. There are special circumstances where the joey may be outside the pouch or unable to remain in the pouch ... use your judgement in that case.
In the special case where the mother is a Wallaby, it would be prudent to cover mother and baby with a net of some kind to prevent the wallaby joey taking off (which they will do ... unlike Eastern Grey Kangaroos which will not).
If in doubt, call a rescue service and get expert help. Stay with the animal and make sure it is safe from further danger, scavengers etc.
Thank you to Fourth Crossing Wildlife for the core of this text, which has been edited and expanded.