Blog and news 2015-16
July & August 2016
We have been very busy, rescuing various animals, and just caring for what we have. We have 3 little wombats in care now Wally , Ray of Sunshine and the latest Trevor. Ray is a dark chocolate wombat, very scared as he was found in a paddock next to his mum whom was shot. Wally and Trevor’s mum’s were hit by car’s and were rescued by some very kind and careing people, Trevor requiring quite a bit of intensive daily vet treatment before coming back to near where he was found (thankyou Terry & Mandi) Wally has been cared for by Erin till he was big enough to come and join the gang, 3 boys there a handful already. They have moved into their middle school shed, still sleeping in their hanging bags in their big box. Were attempting to teach them to follow us for walks, building them up in strength and learning where the burrows are and all the wonderful smells of the bush.
We have had a couple of rescued Eastern Grey Kangaroo’s, small and lots of work, so they were stabalised here and have gone to some carers who just love getting up in the night for night feed’s, they will be back at around 6kg for the rest of their journey back into the wild.
May and early june has been pretty busy, with 11 macropods and 9 wombats in care, 3 with high need’s and very unwell. We got 191mm in 24hr with the big storm a week ago and another 100 ml yesterday, and so now little wombats start coming into care, we have 2 and will see how they go.
Tink our wonderful girl died suddenly in early june, blood clot on the brain is the best answer we can get from Vets of the symptoms. she’s now in our special garden. Benny misses her so much, as we do.
Benny the red-necked wallaby’s cataract operation is Wed 20th April (tomorrow) so were feeling some highs and lows as the operation is not without its risks.
Tink, Benny’s little friend, will miss Benny tomorrow. She’s a ball of fun with a mind of her own, she leads Benny on a merry dance. Tink is a lovely little red-necked wallaby who has been with us a month now. We like to buddy animals up so they have someone of their own species around when they are eventually soft-released.
Wallaroos appear from nowhere, somehow they know when Waz is unloading their favourite roo nuts from the ute. It’s like chocolate. Half a cup each while they are releasing is all they get! I think they recognise the rustle of the bag.
WOMBATS ARE NOT PETS! Here is a wombat who should be 18-20kg, but is only 12kg! We have just received ‘Spoke’, short for bicycle wheel as he’s been around a few carers who were not his long-term solution. He has long claws, no muscles—he is a very, very sad fellow. He’s very scared with a very good bite on him. Now he’s safe in his own dirt floor shed full of straw (with mesh on front), a box and bag, even a burrow and a yard out front to eat in. He’s taking a bottle and eating grass, he appeared apparently not to know what grass was, other carers said. A long slow road for this little fellow.
He looks a funny shape, as he’s so thin and has nothing much in the way of muscles. He’s been madly digging so time will be the great healer.
Wombats eat grass, wombats get fat eating grass, wombats are designed to eat grass. Why feed them anything else? Pellets made very specifically for GRASS eaters, and with the right stuff in them for wombats, are ok in small quantities. Carrots have way too much sugar and wreck the gut flora, and as for sweet potato, oats, dog food, cat food—all that stuff is like living on cocaine! It completely stuffs wombats up. They become addicted because their gut flora changes, and they are no longer able to get nutrition from grass! The other thing is that carrots baited with 1080 are dropped from helicopters to kill wild pigs and goats. No matter where you think your wombat might be released he could end up at the wrong end of a 1080 carrot if carrots are what he is used to eating!
Huge black ‘cat’ we have seen around, on cameras and once in the flesh. Laura, a vet staying from Switzerland, came in last night, asking what do we have that looks like a huge cat, as big as a big fox? Sorry, it’s nothing native, it’s just a huge feral cat. We caught this on camera 2 weeks ago, it’s a wild place here. We’re trying to trap him, but he’s very good. We did catch Frankie run runaway last night though!
’Something’ scared the little joeys in front of the house. We assumed it was a goanna. Next day we checked the wildlife cameras and look what we spotted 500m away! A dingo! Only DNA will tell if he’s not a dingo (see Brad Purcell’s book on the study of this particular pack of animals).
Quick clean up in the mirror after my bottle—Red the very smart wallaroo
Jules the wombat. Little Jules (5 kg) was rescued by Jules the Ranger down at a canyon at Wombeyan Caves. His mum had fallen in and died and little Jules had fallen, scrambled down a rocky slope and ended up on a sandbank. Tourists reported a dead smell over the weekend, and Jules the Head Ranger visited the caves on the following Thursday and took a trip up into the canyon and found him. The water was neck deep and lower than normal, so he was lucky to have a spot to stay. He was very hungry, after a week at least. He’s been very frightened, and covered in hundreds of ticks. It’s taken some weeks for him to get to know us, but he loves his bottles of milk, and is finally starting to eat grass and even let us scratch his tummy and begin to play.
Snake and goanna season is hopefully nearly over. We had way too many large goannas—a local was trapping them and moving them near us, forgetting we were nearby. So we had an overpopulation. They were trying to get into the little wallaby pen, and another electric fence was needed. They normally eating dead animals but Benny and Tink must have looked rather tasty. We caught three large ones and moved them away to a good location with water and hopefully plenty of food. Two others hanging around proved more tricky. Snakes are a problem as usual—I caught and moved a number of red-bellied black snakes (one very full of babies) and a few brown snakes. Warwick caught his first snake, a young copperhead—deadly of course! We only worry about them around the house and sheds, they bite anything or anyone who accidentally treads on them and they like wombat burrows. Along with wild dogs, snakes are the main enemy of wombats.
Terry is looking very grown up now at 20 kg. He was rescued at about 500 grams by us, and Julie raised him to around 5 kg for us—that was two years ago. He is in his soft release, he comes and goes from the wombatorium. The wombat door is open and we anticipate he will have found his place in the wild over winter.
We finished March with 5 wombats in care, 5 being soft released, 2 little red-necked wallabies, 2 wallaroos and 8 kangaroos. Also in the process of soft release are a swamp wallaby called Dawn, and 3 wallaroos: Red, Legs and Lithgow. We had a rare sighting of Mr Lee the eastern grey, fully released last year. It was lovely to see how much he had grown. We have also just released the last 2 wombats at the supported remote release site, the site has had 3 wombats visiting still, and we anticipate they will all visit over winter from time to time. We will continue with our wildlife cameras here and elsewhere, keeping an eye on what’s happening, who is around etc. The small dam dried up in the dry spell, so we set up a water station outside the release pen for those coming back for a visit. Warwick underestimated the size some have grown to, and we have since adjusted the hole in the fencing to accommodate this.
Cooler days and nights finally … we’re getting some of our released and in the process of releasing wombats, wandering around the house, singing to each other. We have seen Lilly released last August again, and she has grown so much.
Poppy her buddy always pays a visit if we have visitors of an evening so about every 3 weeks. Both doing well. Wiggles has appeared, he’s our latest postcard boy. He was looking very chewed by Charlie Girl his buddy when he started his release in January but is now looking much better. We think Charlie just chewed his fur, obviously a wombat love thing. Then there is the men’s shed mob Gentle Terry, Frankie run run away, and Tankie all doing so well. Tankie came in wild around 5 kg and so has become very wild early, you’re lucky if you see him every other week. So the wombatoriums are both busy with comings and goings, and wombats are living under Waz’s shed as well as in assorted burrows around the place.
Benny the red-necked wallaby gets his operation.
Our little red-necked wallaby Benny has suddenly developed cataracts over Christmas. The good news is he’s having them removed in mid-April. He’s got we think about 20% vision now, he knows his enclosure, and has a buddy called Tink. He cannot be released without full eyesight, and he can’t be kept as a pet either. We think now his wild mum had vision problems as she ran into a watertank and broke her neck here at Rocklily. We have found that blindness in macropods is more common that we realised. And yes, if you feed macropods cow’s milk they do go blind. Being overheated when young causes similar problems. That is why wildlife need to be cared for by trained carers. Benny, like all our wildlife, is only fed a special macropod milk. (Macro = big, pod= foot, by the way!)
If you would like to help us, you can pay $20 towards the cost of Benny’s operation in the wishlist in our shop wishlist.
Feb & March 2016
It’s been a busy time,with highs and lows. Dianna has caught and relocated a brown snake near the wallaby pen and a very angry red-bellied black snake from Sarah’s pen next to the house—it was a female ready to give birth to many live young, last seen resting in a small dam some kilometres away from here. We have also had a well-meaning local catch and release 4 or 5 large goannas just 2 km from the house at the top of our road. So yes, these guys have been lots of trouble. So far we have caught and relocated two that were about 1.7 m long and we are still trying to get the two smaller ones. One has been seen trying to climb into the little joey pen. We already had a few, there are now way too many and they are getting very game in getting food.
We lost Danielle and her joey, our helpers heard lots of noise outside their window, we now think goannas were hunting her. She did not stand a chance. We looked for many days for her little joey but did not find it.
We also lost Joy, a lovely little 6 kg eastern grey. She had a twisted bowel, and sadly was not able to be saved.
We now have 13 macropods in the release pen: 2 female wallaroos, 3 male wallaroos and the rest eastern greys. They sure drink lots of milk, and we do lots of sweeping twice a day to clean up all the poos.
As for wombats, we have the three little ones now weighing around 9kg. Jasper, June and Kodiak and Sarah are all buddied up. Charlie and Wiggles have been/are being soft released. Wiggles has been ganging up with the three other boys, Terry, Frankie and Tankie in the middle school, Warwick’s shed and a few burrows around the place. Frankie comes for his evening snack at the back door, making himself known with loud wombat shouting.
Poppy only visits when we have new helpers here, she’s very tolerant of Frankie and just ignores him and his screams.
Benny the red-necked wallaby has a little buddy now called Tinkerbell, very sweet. Benny developed cataracts in just a week over Christmas. He has some sight and it looks like we can get an eye operation for him soon to restore his sight. So looking forward to this. It is probably genetic, and explains why his mum ran into the watertank and broke her neck. Zoos test the genetics of breeding stock to ensure those with the genes for this do not mate. Benny will have to be 100% to be released when he’s fully grown.
Clever John’s mange treatment & roadkill signs. John, another member of Wildlife Rescue South Coast who lives in the Southern Highlands has been getting the locals on side with a few simple signs. Check it all out in our mange treatment section!
Terry and Frankie started their soft release. Both of them, at around 18 kg, have been making it their daily mission to dig out of their enclosure. Tunnelling under and collapsing paving, managing to dig down and under the roller doors buried a metre deep. Refilling their efforts with large rocks did not deter them. Walks were becoming a problem, when they would simply just run away to a burrow. So we opened their wombat door so they come and go, and they are living in a variety of burrows around their pen, plus digging new ones. Both seem calmer and happier.
Benny the red-necked wallaby got cataracts and went blind in just over a week this Christmas. We understand it can be hereditary and given his mum from a standing position turned and ran into a large watertank, killing herself, that is realistic. We are exploring what the options and outcomes are for surgery at the moment. Meantime he’s managing very well, following us around for long walks (thongs make a great noise) and he knows his small outdoor yard and immediate area already within a few days of going totally blind. In researching this it’s more common than we knew and macropods kept in zoos etc. are tested for genes for blindness and not allowed to mate. We will never allow our wildlife to suffer or be stressed. Benny needs to have enough sight to manage in the wild, (as per our licence with NPWS all animals must be releasable) even if it’s just in the immediate area here.
A big thank you to all our helpers this last year or so…
So you came to Rocklily, fed, cleaned up poo, weeded, built, cleaned up poo, dug graves, picked grass, washed neverending bottles, picked grass, raked up poo, weeded, removed fencing, and hopefully had a good time… thank you to all who came and helped us care for our four-legged hairy critters! We could not have done it without you! It’s not always just cute and cuddly!
Neville & Dawn, Julie & Steve, Phil, Ann, Drew, Ben, Alex & Kevin, Ruth, Clair, Chris, Krystal, Julie & Tom, Illaria, Fenney, Russ & Mark, Coco & Max, Richard, Julian, Lucas & Charlotte
We get our helpers thru HelpX online. We are booked until May 2016. It’s normally a 1 month stay here. We will also take PhD students anytime on approved studies with macropods and wombats and release issues. We are interested in small groups for the weekend doing things like fence removal, bushfire clearing and weed removal.
Something different for Xmas.
Most of the people who do the hard work here learn the wombat dance. We walk the wombats daily; there is a 1km loop and shorter walks. People need to be fit and know the area, including water, burrows and other wombats to help them manage in the wild. Charlotte and Lucas demonstrate, then a rest for Tankie, with the wondrous odour of Lucas’s feet!
Wombat/Human pinball: You’re out walking the cute little wombats, when just one wombat gets a certain look in his eye, and suddenly they all run away in different directions—the more you chase the faster they get! They can do 40 km/hr when they are adults. Down the hill, into a burrow, out again between your legs, into a shed, under a car or a bush. anywhere. Leaping in excitement, all good fun it seems! They are so solid—if you grab them they slip straight out of your hands with no effort and keep going. Your only chance is to give up and go and wait back at the pen. Then, as they grow older, at 3am you wake to three screaming wombats outside the bedroom window and realise that one of them is out there when he should not be. He’s dug down and under a metal fence burried 1 metre deep into the ground in his efforts to join the other two, who are soft releasing and not really interested in having a little one tagging along. It’s not easy identifying who is who in the dark, let alone catching the correct one and putting him back (yes Tankie, I’m talking about you!) and then securing the pen again. Three nights in a row isn’t so funny!
Drop Bear, Wombat or Koala hats $24 each, baby to XL adult 100% wool.
Not everyone is the same, and our wildlife hats are all individual, helping those who dare to become extraordinary.
This hat will make you and others smile and also keep your noggin warm!
They are lovingly designed and crocheted by Wombat grandmum Kathie, each taking about 5 hours to make. And if you must you can use it to keep a small teapot warm.
Wombat, Vombatus ursinus: Large with coarse hair and eats grass. Lives underground, has a backwards-facing pouch for its young. Has claws, short legs and can run at 40km/hr for short distances. Very cute and playful when young. Makes a bad pet as tunnelling under the house can be a problem.
Koala, Phascolarctos cinereus: Large tree climber, related to wombat. Pouch for young, soft fur, fluffy ears, very cute, eats gum leaves and has a scream-like call at night similar to drop bear. Bites and scratches if you’re mistaken for a tree. Becoming extinct like wombats due to loss of habitat.
Drop Bear, Thylarctos plummetus: Related to koala and wombat. Large tree climber with a pouch for its young. Tends to drop on its prey from great heights. Can also run at great speed. Eats whatever it can find. Stay safe, stay alive in the bush: always look up when in the bush at night. Endangered.
Dianna & Warwick spend their days & nights rescuing, rehabilitating and soft-releasing Australian wildlife at Rocklily, nestled beside the Blue Mountains National Park, near Wombeyan Caves NSW. We specialise in wombats, plus kangaroos, wallaroos and wallabies. We come across the occasional drop bear, but these require extra special handling and are not for the fainthearted.
Currently in care: 2 wombats in the soft release pen, plus our 9 wombats in care and 7 macropods in care. A full house it feels like.
A pile of wombats: June on top of the boys, Jasper and Kodiak, as it should be!
Chubby and Chester now make 12 wombats soft released by us at a local friend’s property in 18 months. We have 3 cameras monitoring the pen as well as the local dam and burrow so we know what’s happening. It’s on the end of a long ridge with 2 creeks either side, with water even in the last drought. The area is also being walked by the owners to check for wombat activity in assessing the number released, and they appear to be spreading out. Previous farmers hunted out the wombats as many did, so we know that there is plenty of area for them. Releasing can take months. We feed daily for the first 2 weeks then each couple of weeks reduce the feeding to every other day etc. Eventually we just check the cameras, with fresh grass we go and cut for 2 weeks, until they dig out. They still have their own safe burrow to retreat to while they check out the area and start their wild lives.
Chubby and Chester, destroying the hay bales!