At six months of age and weighing over a kilo, the change in Elsie was incredible. She no longer needed to be kept in a humidicrib so she was moved into a portacot. Unfurred joeys are unable to generate enough heat to keep themselves warm and, in the wild have the constant warmth of their mother, so heat was still required for Elsie. Her portacot was set up with thermostat controlled heat pads. The heat pads are placed under her pouch to provide warmth but Elsie can move off them by backing further into or out of her pouch as required. She looked so tiny the first day in her portacot.
Then to much excitement Elsie began venturing out of the pouch! Joeys begin to emerge from their mum’s pouch when the mum is in the burrow. This is their first venture into the real world. Elsie began venturing out of her pouch and onto my lap. During this initial scary (for her) stage, I set her up in a small quiet room so she could become accustomed to her out of pouch world. Wombats don’t have particularly great eyesight but have very good hearing and sense of smell. It didn’t take Elsie long to become confident and begin to run around just as she would if she was playing around her mum in the burrow.
Learning through play is such an important part of development for all young – wombat, human or otherwise! When playing, Elsie is developing her confidence, learning to return to mum or her burrow if there is a problem, learning to bite, pounce, attack and dig. It’s also hilarious to watch and be part of! She really is a delight and constantly entertaining!
So what happens to Elsie while I am at work all day at school? She comes with me of course! At this stage Elsie still requires bottle feeding during the day. She has a special locked crate in my office that houses her in her pouch while I am teaching kindergarten. As long as she has her pouch she can go anywhere! She sits in her travel enclosure on my heated front seats in the car for the short journey to and from work each day. Most of the day she sleeps and I give her a bottle during my breaks.
More stories about our Elsie to follow….
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