So let’s start with Elsie – the joey wombat.
Well let’s start a little before Elsie! Just before Elsie came into care, a tiny joey wombat was delivered to me weighing just 40 grams. Unfortunately she arrived cold and very dehydrated. She had to be euthanized, one of the saddest parts of my job. For days I felt very sad. Even after all these years and so much experience, I am still affected when an animal doesn’t survive.
A few weeks later we received a call from a vet advising that another joey wombat had been handed in to them and needed to come into care. A member of public had done all the right things – they had stopped, checked the pouch, removed the tiny joey, kept her warm and delivered her straight to the vet! Well done wombat joey finder. I will forever be grateful.
A carer collected the joey and delivered her to me. A friend of mine was visiting at the time with her daughter. They had the privilege to see the tiniest joey we’ve ever seen and name her – Elsie!
Elsie weighed just 120 grams! She was so tiny! I was petrified! Initially I made sure she was warm, quiet and calm then gave her a few mils of water to establish hydration. The first night was the hardest. I fed her with a bottle and specialized wombat milk around the clock. I was determined this wombat joey would survive! She was three times larger than the last one so she had to make it. Luckily Elsie agreed! What a fighter she turned out to be!
Since I work full time in a school teaching kindergarten, Elsie’s care was shared between myself and the wombat coordinator. She had Elsie during the week and I had Elsie Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – thankfully there were also many long weekends so I could also keep her on Mondays!
We worked together ensuring that the same care and feeding routine was maintained. Elsie was fed every two hours around the clock! Her feeds times, once she was stable, spaced out to bottle feeds every 3 – 4 hours for months! Injured wildlife don’t know that we need a sleep in, they don’t know it’s a long weekend – to survive they just need around the clock care!
People often ask me, how can you do this and not love them? Of course we love them, without love they won’t thrive! They will grow if their basic needs are met, but we want them to thrive in care….! ❤️
Elsie suffered a few set backs – she suffered from wombat herpes, we suspected mange (although she was only skin!) she was too pale and then she didn’t poo for 5 weeks! Let’s face it, we all have to poo! The vets were great, ultra sounding her belly, treating her herpes. I suspected something was wrong one weekend when the other carer collected Elsie. I said she just looked pale – something wasn’t right. In fact Elsie looked a little grey. Sure enough, the vet took bloods and Elsie was iron deficient. Then a course of oral iron commenced once a day after a bottle. The drama never seemed to end.
So did she survive… this delightful creature…?
I’ll write more about her soon…..
Instagram page – wombats_and_wildlife_heljan09.