Elsie is thriving after 5 months in care and now weighs over two kilos!
Then another wombat joey arrives in care. Meet Barney – Barney Rubble! Barney came into care when mum was hit by a car. Unlike Elsie, who only had mum for the first three months, Barney arrived in care weighing around 600 grams and over 4 months old.
With Elsie in care my life is busy! Until Barney is off night feeds he stays with another carer during the week and comes to me on weekends. Life with two wombat joeys, running a small business and working full time is exhausting! At this age and weight, Elsie no longer requires feeding in the middle of the night. She can now get through 7 hours over night without needing a bottle. She still requires bottle feeds every 5 hours during the day. Barney, however, is younger and on a more frequent bottle feed schedule so back to night feeds when he’s with me on weekends! Just when I was getting used to having decent sleep Im back to feeling exhausted!
Barney will soon transfer to me permanently to be rehabilitated and released with Elsie. Therefore it is important for them to build a relationship. Although wombats are generally solitary creatures, joeys in care thrive being buddied with another joey that is around the same stage of development. This buddy system also helps them establish wombat behaviours which can make release easier. Although all trained and licensed wildlife carers know to ensure wildlife go through a transition period of dehumanization before release, our evidence shows that the release is easier when releasing two animals together.
At first Elsie was very shy and hesitant around Barney. She has been with me for so long that she knows nothing else. Wombat joeys live closely to mum in the pouch – they hear the grunts of the mum and other body noises, they feel the sensation when mum rolls over, runs, digs or eats. Elsie spent considerable time in a cloth pouch down my top to provide her with the same sensations that she would have otherwise received but she also spent so much time in a humidicrib. Barney, on the other hand, had difficulty transitioning to humans and for a long time was an uptight ball! His feet were bright red – an obvious sign of stress and his little hands clenched tightly into fits. What could I do to help poor Barney destress? What works for you when you are stressed? Stress can effect every part of us and impact our health. The answer, to help Barney – a whole body massage using paw paw ointment! If you have doubts about the positive health benefits of massage – watch this video!
Slowly over a couple of weekends Elsie and Barney started getting along. Although Elsie is a kilo heavier, she is quieter and less likely to hurt the smaller and younger Barney. Barney is male and like a bulldozer at play, being smaller means he’s less likely to hurt our gentle Elsie! It’s a wombat match made in heaven! Perfect.
More on this couple soon…..
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