October 22 – Wombat Day!

Yes, there’s actually a day these delightful creatures are celebrated – October 22nd!

It started around 2005 and ever since then Oct 22 is known as Wombat Day in Australia. Some call it World wombat day, but I doubt half the world even knows about wombats (despite my blog!) let alone celebrates them! The day isn’t a holiday and even many Australians don’t know about it, but for wildlife carers – it’s a very exciting day! Aprons go on, wombat shaped cookies are baked and we spend most of the day playing with and talking about our wombats! Makes me wonder if every day isn’t wombat day since I spend most days talking about wombats!

New clothing line…..Holes by Elsie!
Nom nom nom – sweet potato!

Naturally to celebrate such an exciting day, I just had to make a new movie! Enjoy!

Film made using Imovie.

Release for Elsie and Barney is now only a few sleeps away. The stress is building! I’ll be blogging more soon!

Please share a link to my blog but all images and videos are copyrighted. 🐾🐾

Are wombats vicious?

Are wombats vicious or dangerous? This is one question I am asked the most! Like any of us, wombats will protect themselves, their young and their territory. A wombat’s first response is to run for the safety of their burrow! Once they are at the entrance of their burrow they will use their large body to block the entrance to avoid predators following them in. Alternatively, the wombat will poke out their butt (under all that fur, their butt has a cartilage plate) and then they will try to crush the predator’s head between their cartilage covered butt and the roof of the burrow. Sorry I don’t have an image of that!

Image of Elsie courtesy of Evan Croker photographer

But wombats also use a series of vocalizations to scare us away. Remember wombats are primarily nocturnal (although you might see them out and about on overcast days). So, if you heard the noise in the video below when you were in the bush, in the dark, would you hang around to find out what animal was making this noise or would you run! I suggest you run!

Turn the sound up!

So what about wombats in care? Those cute little bundles of love with thousands of Instagram followers? How do we ever release ”tame’ wombats that have been in care for so long? Surely they never become aggressive?

The animals in my care are never ’tame’ – they are loved but never tamed. The animals go through a series of stages of development – just like children. Once wombats are ’semi adults’ they move to outdoor enclosures and we slowly withdraw the hands on love (but not the care) as they naturally begin to develop the instincts they need to survive in the wild. Elsie is ready for release! Wow is she ready! So is Barney but he’s a month younger and for some reason hasn’t yet become as aggressive and as vocal as Elsie. I now wonder how much longer it will be before Elsie (or Barney) actually turn on me! The question is would she turn on me? I don’t really want to find out!

Elsie just grumbling at me! Would she turn on me?

The images below have appeared elsewhere in my blog – the result of ‘play’ between myself and another semi adult wombat who was previously in my care. She adored me but also used me as a means to practice defending herself as she would in the wild.

I now only observe Elsie and Barney ! I ensure that their enclosure is clean and safe, that they have an abundance of food and water but other than that – it’s strictly hands off! Neither Elsie or Barney come when they are called by their name – I am now just someone they used to know!!! So sad for me – but their behaviors now tell me they are ready for the wild – they can survive without me! From initial feeds every two hours to now – where I sneak in their enclosure in the day to tidy up and replace their water, then I RUN if I hear them get up! So many hours and hours of love and care have paid off.

Time for release.. they are ready!

Elsie

I’ll be blogging more soon. Feel free to share a link to my blog but all images and videos are copyrighted. Thanks. 🐾🐾

Movie stars

In what little spare time I have, between teaching and caring for wildlife, I enjoy making movies ! With a diva wombat like Elsie and clueless Barney, I have the perfect actors! Nothing is ever staged – filming demonstrates wombats natural love of cuddling, rolling, playing and fighting!

Made using Imovie.

This film shows some of Elsie’s develop from when she arrived in care as a tiny 120 gram wombat to now a whopping 20 plus kilos! Her journey has been a long one, nearly 2 years with a few hurdles along the way, Barney arrived in care weighing months later weighing over 600 grams – he now weighs over 18 kilos.

Release back into the wild where these two belong is fast approaching! I’ll be blogging more soon!

You can follow Elsie and Barney on Instagram- wombats_and_wildlife_heljan09.

Elsie and Barney! How are they?

My lovely Elsie and Barney are well, fat and happy! Most animals in care are slightly heavier compared to the same species at the same stage of development that is living in the wild. That’s because animals in care have an abundance of food and very little stress!

Just relaxing in the sunshine!

However, although life is good, Elsie has naturally developed the skills she will need to survive in the wild. The most important one – growling at anything or anyone!

Sound up! That’s Elsie grumbling!

Elsie though still loves a cuddle!

Well, Elsie loves a cuddle when SHE feels like it!

Barney loves exploring the garden – becoming confident and ready for the wild!

Elsie and Barney spend all their time outside now preparing for life in the wild. However sometimes Barney remembers the great indoors and wants back in!

Elsie though uses a clever strategy to keep me outside with her. Lying on my feet so I can’t move!

Although I don’t actually spend much time with them now (to help them separate from me), I still need to check them out occasionally to ensure they are well. But the count down is on – release is getting closer. They don’t have any bottles of milk now and rely on native grasses as they would in the wild. I know they can find grass, dig a burrow, growl or run if scared and generally survive without me! The babies that once ran to me, now run to a burrow – the perfect defense for life in the wild. The burrow now represents safety – mum does not, because mum won’t be there! 😭

Running for safety!

You can continue to follow Elsie and Barney’s development for a while yet. I’ll be blogging again soon !

Please share a link to my blog, but all images and videos are copyrighted. 🐾🐾

Ted gets a friend – meet Tilda!

As I wrote in an earlier post, many brushtail possums come into care – some hit by a car like Ted’s mum. But possums also face other problems – territorial fights, stress dermatitis, thrush or other illness, poisoning, animal attacks, burns, being trapped or abandoned. Many people also hate possums! They claim possums get into their roof. But possums in a roof space signal a roofing problem – not a possum problem! That possum has found a hole where your heat is escaping! So get a one way flap trap that locks the possum out (they leave at night and can’t re-enter) get the roof fixed, put up a possum box in a tree and learn to love with these delightful creatures! After all, we’ve dumped our homes on top of theirs! But this is Tilda’s story…

Tilda

Meet Tilda !

Tilda came into care because she was abandoned by her mum. Perhaps mum was ill or maybe mum suspected that there was something wrong with Tilda. We will never know. Tilda arrived in care weighing about 250 grams, similar in weight to Ted. However, while Ted is relaxed, Tilda is bitey! She not only holds on with her claws, but also her teeth! Ouch!

Hanging on – with claws and teeth!

Tilda’s fur is grey and orange in colour. Ted is a more all over grey colour. Once Tilda had settled in and began accepting her 4 bottles a day, it was time to introduce her to Ted. Although possums are solitary animals, we buddy up wildlife so they learn how to be animals by copying each other’s behaviors and it reduces the bond with the carer.

Tilda meets Ted!

Ted was very gentle with Tilda! Part of being a possum is developing the muscles and strength to climb since they mostly arboreal. So in the evening – I am a tree! 😂 I sit and allow Ted and Tilda to practice climbing on me. Since I’m also ’mum’ it gives them bonding and nurturing time too which is vital to their development.

I am a tree!

Tilda and Ted are thriving in care! Their weight is increasing, they love their 4 bottles a day (from now I’ll increase the volume of possum milk and reduce the quantity to 3 bottles a day), they love fruit and they are healthy and happy! For now they live in pouches in a large cage inside my house.

Ted continues to be relaxed and Tilda is slowly calming down – I’ll be blogging more about them soon. You can also follow their development on instagram wombats_and_wildlide_heljan09.

Good night everyone! Sleep well! 💤

Night time = play time!

Welcome to the prerelease stage! This is the stage where Elsie and Barney prepare for release back into the wild. They are so big now and since wombats are nocturnal, most of their fun takes place at night!

Growling, hissing and grunting – it’s all in fun!

Elsie and Barney are now getting up – ready to run around when I’m tired and preparing to go to bed!

They have their moments thought where they want me to stick around! Getting back inside without them isn’t easy!

Mum, don’t go!

Elsie and Barney still have 2 bottles each a day. One early in the morning and one at night. It’s winter here in Canberra and very cold. I spend my time sitting on the back steps bottle feeding or walking around the lawn keeping an eye on them. It’s cold – sometimes minus 5, sometimes storming and I’m always freezing. This is the less glamorous side of wombat care! When this storm hit, Elsie and Barney ran for their burrow – leaving me trying to quickly get back in the house.

I’ll be blogging more soon. The countdown is on – release isn’t far away!

You can follow us on instagram wombats_and_wildlife_heljan09. Please share a link to my blog but all images and videos are copyrighted.

❤️ Ted ❤️ The brushtail possum!

We receive many joey brushtail possums in care. They arrive in care mainly because their mum has been hit by a car and killed. Ted was found lying on his dead mum’s body by the road. Ted was protected from injury inside the pouch but as mum’s body went cold, he crawled out and sat on her waiting. Joeys cannot regulate their temperature so Ted very quickly started to get cold and decline. Luckily a member of the public was walking their dog and spotted the dead mum. He also found the cold and almost lifeless Ted lying on top of her. He thought Ted was dead! Luckily he picked Ted up, wrapped him in a towel for warmth and called us!

Sleeping in the humidcrib.

I received Ted into care and placed him in a warm pouch in a humidicrib! Slowly he started to warm up. Ted was then checked for injuries and weighed. Weighing every animal helps me determine their stage of development and age. Ted is around 4 months old.

The first three days in care are the most important. During this time, regardless of the best care being provided, an animal can just give up! The trauma, the loss of mum, initially being cold or not wanting an artificial teat and formula can exhaust any animal and they just die. But if they survive the first few days, their chance of survival increases and I can relax, a little!

Wake up it’s bottle time – a little yawn from Ted.

Luckily Ted is a fighter! He accepted each bottle, slowly gained weight and accepted me as his new mum. He often sits and stares at me as if he notices that I don’t look like the animal he crawled out from! Maybe he wonders where his ‘real mum’ has gone. During one of my zoom meetings during the pandemic, Ted sat and started at me from his himidicrib! He wanted to come and join me!

Cute as a button!

Ted has four bottles a day – one every six hours. After a few days he started accepting small bits of fruit as well which is another good sign. He loves banana!

Perk a boo! Ted just showing how cute he is!

I’ll be blogging more about Ted soon so you can follow his journey to release. You can also follow him on Instagram wombats_and_wildlife_heljan09.

Thank you for your interest in and care for our wildlife! Feel free to share a link to my blog with other animal lovers but all images are copyrighted. 🐾🐾

Enrichment in their lives!

Every animal in care or captivity needs enrichment. Luckily animals raised together can use each other as a source of entertainment! Elsie and Barney roll, climb on and bite each other continually. I’m also a form of both nurture and entertainment for them!

Togetherness at all times – they usually have at least one part of their body touching each other!

But cuddles alone are not enough! I’ve added items to their area to entertain and stimulate them. Now there might not be many bears and swings in the Australian bush but the swing represents something new, something that moves and a challenge. In the wild, there are storms, branches that come down and new animals will appear in their area such as foxes, possums and echidnas. To help Elsie and Barney develop the instincts and confidence to deal with life in the wild, I have to constantly add things and change their familiar environment . Elsie shows her fighting skills when a bear appears!

Day or night – Elsie is fascinated with her swing!

Barney on the other hand just settles in for a nap!

I also regularly fill in the entrance to their burrow. Now this might sound all very mean, but remember, my job is to prepare them for the wild and life in the wild can be tough! One day they might find another animal in their burrow, or too much rain might damage it. Elsie and Barney need to be strong and capable and ready to work hard to fix their burrow or accept any interruption or difficulty. Sending two spoilt, cuddly wombats into the wild unprepared would be cruel. So for now they develop their determination and digging skills with confidence!

I’ll be challenging Elsie and Barney more along the way! Please continue to follow their journey – the count down to release is on!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share a link to my blog but all images and videos are copyrighted. 🐾🐾

Wombat combat!

Elsie and Barney love to play. They spend so much time cuddling, rolling around and chasing each other.

Flop down and roll maneuver used by Elsie to get the upper hand.
Slow motion.

But as they grow, practicing their skills becomes more important and the play occasionally turns serious.

Whatever Elsie is communicating below (that we are unable to interpret) she clearly tells Barney to behave. He can be seen calming down and no longer being aggressive. He certainly doesn’t want to continue to battle Elsie.

Should I intervene? No – it’s all important learning! Elsie needs to be able to fight off unwanted male advances and they both need to learn to defend themselves and their territory against any predators. So this ‘play’ is vital for their survival in the wild.

Friends agsin.

But after the occasional battle turns nasty, Elsie and Barney go back to being friends! Climbing, exploring and just wandering around the garden.

Very often I am caught up in their battles! It is all in ‘fun’ and necessary for their development and one day I know the bruises will fade!

All this ‘play’ is thirsty work! Elsie loves drinking from the hose!

Barney hasn’t quite figured out yet where the water comes from!

Now I know who/what has been chewing the hose?!

I’ll be blogging more soon. In the meantime – relax and take some time out like Elsie does! Clearly, no wombats were harmed!

You can follow us on Instagram wombats_and_wildlife_heljan09. Please share a link to my blog but all images and videos are copyrighted.

⚽️ Let’s play ball! ⚽️

Barney has always been the more aggressive of the two wombats. Elsie can bite hard, but when she plays, there’s still a certain gentleness. Yes I am covered in bites, knocked off my feet and have many bruises but Elsie plays differently. Barney is just aggressive – growling, jumping up and repeatedly attacking Elsie and I! It’s all part of necessary learning but it still hurts. So the answer is to always make sure Barney has something to play with. The answer came in a soccer ball!

Barney growls and hisses and occasionally farts as he dominates the ball!

In fact it doesn’t matter what type of ball – any ball will do!

The ball represents a challenge, it moves and is hard enough to bite – probably similar to the rump of a female wombat!! Barney has a ball – literally!

All this sport is thirsty work! Barney checks out the fridge! What is he looking for?

Stay tuned for more blogging about Elsie and Barney.

You can follow us on Instagram wombats_and_wildlife_heljan09. Feel free to share a link to my blog but all images and videos are copyrighted. ⚽️🐾