Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wallaby joey update 2

All is well with our joey! Jan is being such a wonderful carer. He's gained weight, is growing fur, and drinks well. Jan has been offering him grass to eat but he's not showing interest in that yet (but he will suck fingers, nibble on bracelets, chew on buttons, and the like). Jan informed us that had he been able to stay with his mum in natural conditions, he would still have spent another 210 days in the pouch (7 months!). So he does spend most of his time in the humidicrib, and he is taken out for feeding and toileting.

Tess holding the joey, now renamed "Benjamin Wallaby"

In Yarrow's arms. As you can see he has some unusually striking markings for a swamp wallaby.

Horse training: Rascal under saddle

Now that he's four and a half years old, our very own Rascal Darius, our friendly intelligent clown, has started proper training! And he's coming along so well. John and I have done a fair bit of ground work using natural horsemanship techniques. Our friend, a professional horse trainer, comes over and has been doing great work with him. Soon he will go to her place and receive the 'fine polish' of training such as doing lateral work, working on flexion and so on.

After his first time under saddle with her (I was at a uni research seminar) she texted me "You have an amazing little horse on your hands!". And we think so too.

Some background: Rascal was born on Melbourne Cup day 2007. His dam is buckskin brumby Duchess (now living with Hans and Niki); his sire is Noah Nielsen's bay tobiano arab Xerxes. Rascal looks much like his Dad. Rascal's very similar uncle can be viewed here.

Rascal at 4 days old running with his Mama, Duchess the brumby.

Rascal now 4 years old, his first time ride under the trainer. No bucking, no fear, but collaboration and confidence :-)
I do like the natural training techniques: they make such sense and you get a better horse in the long run. Oh, and Rascal's not for sale...  he's staying as my very own future riding horse :-)

Here's another lovely photo of his first real ride. He's looking pretty relaxed and happy!

Ears forward :-)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Joey update

Just rang Jan ... He's doing very well. He weighs 666 grams which puts him at about 80 days old: very young to survive without a Mum. (See here for a table of weight / feed ratios).
He has not developed diarrhea which is one of the big dangers for young rescued macropods. According to Jan he's doing better than most joeys she's had in her care, which is wonderful considering how very cold he was to start with. He's much more active and very curious about his surroundings. We'll go visit him later this week and take some more photos.

Rescue of a swamp wallaby joey

Driving down towards the narrow bridge over Pearce's Creek late Thursday afternoon with Tess, we spotted a small shambling silhouette staggering across the road. Shocked, we realised it was a very young joey. Swerving to give it plenty of room, the Forester has never been brought so sharply from 80kph to a halt downhill on grass. Tess pelted back up the hill, and gathered it gently in her school jumper.
Poor thing, it's frozen, I said as I felt its ears, only lightly covered in fur. Tuck it under your shirt, against your skin. Where's its Mum? Tess swaddled it under her shirt and held it close.

A short search revealed the body of its mother, a swamp wallaby, both back legs shattered, her body stone cold. Must have been there all day, slowly getting colder, and now come out of the pouch in search of warmth.
What can we do? Asked Tess, knowing full well it needs special care that we can't provide.
I might know someone. Long time ago, but they might still have the resources. Not far from here. Come back to the car, and keep it warm.
We took the joey to the farm where ten years ago, I remembered, people did macropod rescue. And they were still there.
Wading our way through their various dogs (ranging from Chihuahua cross to the hugest great Dane I've ever seen) we met Jan and Peter. Jan placed the joey in a soft bag and ambled over to the garage where, to my intense surprise, they had two fully kitted out hospital grade humidicribs. Let's just get this one started up, Jan said softly, twiddling various techno dials. Just keep him warm against you, darling, there's a dear, she said to Tess, while I make up a bottle for him and wait for the crib to warm up. He's very cold, he's in danger. In the cupboard she pulled out a tin of Di-Vetelact milk powder especially for young macropods (Nope, I thought, I have lots of stuff in my cupboards, but I don't have that). Soon after, while Tess cradled the joey, Jan fed him tiny amounts of milk. He didn't eat much. I know, it's strange, Jan said to him. Not your Mum, not your home, not your milk. But it's the best we can offer you. Tonight will be the most difficult: if you make it through the night you might be right.

By then it was well dark outside. We left him with Jan who was going to stay up during the night to ensure he regained his body temperature and learned to feed.

The next day I received a text: "Our little boy has picked up well, he started sucking at 10 last night. Jan"

:-) he made it through the night :-) he made it through the night :-) he made it through the night :-)