PREPARATION FOR THE INEVITABLE
raise a lovable, cute and cuddly being,
(marsupials in this case) you must be aware that
during it’s life span, which can be anything
from three to fifteen years depending on the
type of marsupial, there will come a time when
you need veterinary help.
What I want
to put forward is some thoughts on how to make
life much easier for the animal during treatment
and convalescent care. There are a few things
is wrong with the animal?
to treat it?
is involved for care and nursing requirements?
there any special requirements?
need heat, quiet, and medication of course, to
get over any illness whether it is a broken bone
or general ill health.
It is well to
consider all the above points when building your
particular animal’s enclosure; think of what
that particular marsupial needs and don’t forget
to include a catching area if necessary. In
the case of kangaroos, a large area, say, a
small acreage with trees and shrubs, maybe a
shed and/or windbreak would do nicely.
include a heater light and feeder in the shed so
if the animal has to be handled and treated for
any length of time it can be contained within
the confines of the shed.
catch a kangaroo without a specific area,
firstly, to catch them in and secondly, to keep
them in, spells trouble with a capital T. The
‘roo you are chasing, even though it may be
unwell, says ‘Forget it”. To run it down and
catch it tends to make the ‘roo hot and stressed
as well as the catchers becoming hot under the
If they are
regularly fed inside their shed this is one of
the easiest places to catch them. You can run
them into a net but this is easier said than
done. This is usually more successful for
wallabies than for kangaroos.
If you have
hand-reared a joey, then keep up the contact,
maybe not everyday but at least every second
day. You don’t need to keep it on milk; treats
are the best idea but be sure to give the treats
in the usual feeding place each time, which
should be an area where it can be easily caught.
It is easy to fall into the trap that if the
animal is sick it is easier to handle - this is
rarely the case! If you do get to handle it,
and it is normally unhandleable, will probably
mean that the animal is extremely sick. Of
course there are always exceptions to the rule!
of nocturnal, underground and ground dwellers
build their animals homes for them. Wombats
that live underground during the day, maybe a
hole in a mound or a cement kennel.
Bettongs live in scrapings under logs or
overhangs from rock caves. These can all be
duplicated but stop and think, how can you get
the animal but if you need to. Beware of
sticking your hand into a dark hole, most of
these cute animals have very sharp teeth and are
not afraid to use them. Doors on all these
nests can be arranged and they make life so much
easier if you can seal off the entrances and
catch the animal inside. It is hopeless trying
to coax the animal out when the vet arrives, you
must have access to them. The same goes for
gliders, etc. are normally kept in an aviary
situation. Have a doorway so
you can get into it and have a doorway to the
log or nest box large enough to be able to
remove the animal without being scratched or
bitten. Have a smaller enclosure that can be
brought inside for warmth and care if needed.
It must be big enough for the animal to
continue its nocturnal habits and be fed and
cleaned regularly without being disturbed.
been numerous examples of disaster. Turning up
to a new client’s house to treat a two year old
Western Grey kangaroo that has a weepy eye. It
doesn’t seem like an emergency, but it had to
checked out. The kangaroo is in a 11/2
acre paddock with a six foot fence and hasn’t
been handled since it was twelve months old.
It was fed at the gate and there was a shed in
the middle of the yard but it wasn’t used. The
animal needed to be sedated and a course of
antibiotics administered over a couple of weeks.
In this case a yard had to be built which took
a couple of days and the kangaroo darted (which
is no mean feat), which meant that treatment was
put on hold, for about three days. In this
case time was not critical but sometimes (most
times) you have not got three days to wait once
the owner has realised the animal is sick.
example is a Red kangaroo in an open paddock of
about an acre with seven other kangaroos, there
is a shed but it is not enclosed. Lumpy jaw
was the diagnosis, treatment, a course of
antibiotics. Sounds easy doesn’t it, but we
would have tramped up and down that yard dozens
of times while seven other kangaroos looked on
in terror and one in particular became very
There was the
case of the Kangaroo Island buck of about 7-8
years old, 8ft high and very broad across the
chest, who had to be caught. I can’t remember
why but I do remember that he didn’t want to be
caught. Thankfully he was in a fairly small
yard but with three of us trying to catch him we
had all been grabbed, scratched and jumped on
before he was eventually sedated.
there was the example of a Brushtail Possum who
was to be castrated. His home was a 4ft piece of
4” polypipe which was big enough for him to turn
around in, but to try and get him out was an
absolute disaster because he could always get at
me before I could get to him - remember the
“sharp teeth”. After a while of pushing with a
towel I finally got him out but not before being
sorts of problems can be avoided with a little
thought and preparation before hand.