May 7 - 13, 2017: Issue 311

A Week In The Life Of A Wildlife Rescuer - Part 2

A Week in the Life of a Wildlife Rescuer - Part 2

To celebrate Sydney Wildlife's 20-Year Anniversary, I was asked to recount a typical week in the life of wildlife rescuing.  It took so long that we had to break it into 2 parts!

For those of you who missed Part 1 of "A Week in the Life of a Wildlife Rescuer" in our April edition:  the first 3 days of the week comprised of darting a wallaby to remove plastic from around its neck; rescuing a tawny frogmouth with a broken leg and then a concussed lorikeet; a visit to Waratah Park to drop off some ringtail possums; an attempt to manipulate a faecal impaction from a very uncomfortable diamond python and grappling with a grumpy tiger snake...  

Come Thursday and our sweet diamond python still hasn’t been able to expel whatever is clogging her cloaca… Many soaking baths haven’t shifted the mass so it’s off to one of our wonderful veterinarians who give of their time for free.  Dr Andrew at Dee Why Vet takes a close look and decides to take x-rays.  A large white sphere shows up.  Oh, no - we hope she hasn’t swallowed a golf ball…

Whilst we are poring over the radiographs, Dr Andrew has lubricated the cloaca and begun physically manipulating the area as gently as possible.  He has oodles of patience and doesn’t rush her at all.  And sure enough, out pops a large white oval shape.  And then another large white oval shape.  And another.  Not golf balls.  But eggs!  The poor girl has dystocia (she’s been egg-bound)!  She must’ve dropped a clutch of eggs but the last 3 were abnormally large and she was unable to expel them.  Well, I can guarantee she feels 100% better.  She even looks thankful!  Dr Andrew gives her some anti-inflammatories and some pain relief and we are on our way again.  

Poor diamond python looking very sorry for herself :(

Turned out to be dystocia (egg-binding) not faecal impaction!

Later that week she is released back to her glorious home in the bush:

From there it’s off to a Fundraising Meeting with Joan - our Pre-Release Facility Manager.  We have been madly raising funds to buy a Mobile Wildlife Clinic.  The idea behind the Sydney Wildlife Mobile Clinic is to provide first-class treatment to our injured and sick wildlife.  The clinic is to be staffed by veterinarians who are experienced at treating wildlife and who can provide hands-on training for veterinary students.  The van is to provide first aid and emergency medical treatment for injured animals and is to be deployed to areas where natural disasters have occurred. 

So today we’re on a reconnaissance mission to check out a few venues for our next big fundraiser.  First port of call is to grab two coffees (NOT in takeaway cups, but in our environmentally-friendly ‘keep cups’) and then scout around for a great but inexpensive location.  We visit a few venues in Terrey Hills and Newport but we feel they may not be central enough to any non-Northern Beaches attendees.  So it’s back to the drawing board.  Dr David Ward (our head veterinarian for the Mobile Clinic) has suggested we contact the International College of Management in Manly.  We pop it onto our 'To Do' list for the next meeting.

We then contact our wonderful graphic designer - Laurie Sword - who is doing all the marketing work for us Pro Bono.  She has designed this amazing concept photo of the van for us:

We then pop back to Joan’s place to finish applying for some Community Grants and to feed her critters, one of whom is this adorable wombat joey, Mulan:

Joan Reid with her little wombat joey, Mulan.

When Friday rolls around, it’s time for Nash the tiger snake to have another injection and to have his mouth cleaned out.  So, it’s time to chase each other around the room again ha ha :D  He surprises me by being a complete angel and not giving me a hard time.  Straight in the tube for his injection and subcutaneous fluids and then onto the mouth treatment.  He’s so good for his treatment that I reward him with some unrestricted ‘sun-time’ outside under my watchful gaze:

Nash the tiger snake enjoying his time in the sun on the warm tiles.  

When Nash has had his fill of sunshine, it’s time to pack up all our educational brochures and habitat decor for a talk at a local school.  As part of our Sydney Wildlife charter, we are committed to educating the public about the needs of our wildlife and the importance of habitat protection.  Our Community Education coordinator, Eira Battaglia, does talks all over the Northern Beaches - to schools, to age-care facilities, to TAFEs and even to Scout gatherings.  She’s amazing and very enthusiastic!  As part of our education plan, we often collaborate with the wonderful folks at the Coastal Environment Centre (CEC) in Narrabeen.   Today’s talk has been organised by the dedicated team at the CEC and they have invited us to join them to talk about how the general public can do more to protect habitat for our wildlife. 

Eira Battaglia educational talk

The CEC team have organised the kids into groups.  The first group are invited to build a “Bee Hotel” with Tim the Bee-Man.  It’s so much fun and the kids learn about the invaluable job that our bees perform through pollination.  The second group are being coached by Dave about how to do small things in their own backyard to provide habitat for little birds, blue-tongue lizards and other visiting critters.  The third group are gathered in the hall and we (Sydney Wildlife) are giving a talk on the right and wrong things to do when bush-walking.  Ably assisted by the passionate Kate Murray - one of our newest members - we re-enact a bush-walk that was done incorrectly.  The ‘naughty’ bushwalker rumbles through the bush talking loudly on their mobile-phone, throws their litter on the ground, moves pieces of bark and logs around without thinking and throws rocks into the adjacent lake.  The children are asked to identify aspects of the person’s behaviour that could be problematic.  As always, they are always spot-on!  At the end of the presentation, the kids are able to identify many of our local wildlife species and the type of habitat that they require.  They are also well-versed on the correct behaviour to undertake whilst bush-walking.  It’s very important to get kids to connect with nature and fall in love with wildlife because they will only grow up wanting to protect something that they love.  

During the talk, a call comes through about a snake in a toilet.  This ought to be easy, so I pop up to Avalon expecting to scoop a little slithery critter out of a toilet bowl, give it a wash and pop it back in the bush.  Riiiiiiiiiiight….

Instead of being in the toilet-bowl, the sweet little green tree snake has sought refuge from the family’s cat in the pedestal of the toilet.  The only access to the snake is through a tiny 20c piece-sized hole in the bottom part of the toilet which is - obviously - fused to the toilet floor…  Sigh.

This photo was taken through the tiny hole...

The lady's dad makes an excellent suggestion - build a tunnel from the hole into a box which will make capture much easier.

While we are running about gathering vacuum-cleaner hose, bedding for the box and tape, the little critter sneaks out, climbs the towel-rail and plops herself into a reusable shopping-bag hanging off the end of the towel-rail...  Well that's what I call gift-wrapping yourself for the snake-catcher :)

With Friday almost over, there's just enough time to pick up the kids from school, collect foliage for the animals in care, feed them all and get some sleep before the weekend.

Who knows what the weekend will bring...!?! 

Joan's and I at our most recent fundraiser.

The glamour of wildlife rescue...  Post-clambering-under-a-house to look for the source of a random scratching sound...

Previously: A Week In The Life Of A Sydney Wildlife Volunteer by Lynleigh Greig

By Lynleigh Grieg
Sydney Wildlife