Henry the wombat arrived into care weighing 1.5 kilos. He was around 6 months old. Henry had ticks and mange and was very dehydrated. We presume mum had been hit by a car and he had tried to survive alone in the wild as best he could. Since wombats stay with their mum until round 18 months of age, his chance of survival without her wasn’t very likely. Luckily a member of the public found him and delivered him to ACT Wildlife.
Henry was treated for mange and every tick was laboriously picked off him. He was difficult to feed at first. It took me a great deal of perseverance to finally get him to relax and accept a bottle. Young wombats generally take the bottle easier – however the longer they are with mum, they are more used to the real thing!
The strangest thing about Henry was his colour! Mostly we receive wombats who develop fur which is a lovely silver/grey colour. Henry had very dark fur and a pink button nose. I was convinced I had received a baby bear into care!
Once Henry was established with his feeding and accepting his bottle, he began to relax and accept me as mum! He had a delightful personality, but I was always convinced he was part bear!
Henry needed a bottle every six hours. Since I’m a teacher, my days are often long. (It’s a real myth that teachers work 9 – 3. Children are at school from 9 – 3!!! But teachers like me arrive around 7:30 am and leave around 4:30/5:00 pm). These hours meant that Henry had to come to school with me so I could feed him during the day in my lunch break.
At home though, Henry was content running around the house and was never far from me.
There weren’t many places that Henry wouldn’t explore.
But… Henry wasn’t with me for long. Sometimes my job is to prepare wombats for their carer who will care for them through to release. Sometimes I stabilise a wombat joey, get them accepting a bottle and prepare them for a new carer. This gives a new carer an animal that is a healthy weight that should thrive in care. It also frees up my time to accept other animals into care.
So after less than two months with me, Henry was transferred to his new carer. I was so sad to see him go and it’s very tempting to change my mind during these handovers!! So did he survive…? Did poor Henry suffer and fail to thrive without me? No way! We prepare our wombats to be happy, confident animals. We prepare our carers to be happy, confident carers! We work with them – we allow the new carer visits to establish the bond and we prepare a proper handover so the final transition is smooth for everyone – including the wombat! I’m happy to tell you that Henry thrived in care! This beautiful wombat was successfully released after a year in care with his new carer. Henry now lives in the wild where he belongs! I’m sincerely thankful to his carer for her love and dedication to this beautiful dark wombat! ❤️
This image was sent to my from his carer. They re-visited the release site and Henry was filmed using a night vision camera happy plodding around his burrow!
Goodbye Henry, you little bear/wombat! I’ll always remember our couple of months together!
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