Friday, July 29, 2011

Giant Kangaroo Attacks Elderly Woman - Merrilyn Part 15

OK I'll get to the kangaroo attack in a moment but first...
Remember this poor pathetic little joey from part 11
In fact this photo was taken after we'd had him in care for a week.

Well I'm pleased to say in just eight week's Bob under went a transformation.

Hard to believe it's the same joey, but I promise you it is.  There's a tell tale sign he's a happy boy too - can you spot it?  (Remembering he's a boy!)
I had dubbed him the third musketeer and indeed the three musketeers built a solid bond from a very early stage of Bob's arrival.

Merrilyn is on the left, Bob is lying down and Buster on the right.  Walking with them around the property and seeing them growing it's just an absolute joy!
And so to the attack.

Headlines around Australia this week, and probably the world, screamed from newspapers, the radio and TV.
 AFP put out a release across the world headed Giant Kangaroo Attacks Elderly Woman.
And it's true a kangaroo did come into an elderly woman's garden and he scratched and kicked her.  The thing is, and I am always amazed by the media's ability to omit a few salient facts so that people are horrified and start thinking of these gentle creatures as granny killers!
This release finally came out later, not front page, not mentioned on any radio or TV program and probably not beamed across the world.
Kangaroo "Eddie" who attacked 94 year old woman to be put down.
What this story explained was that Eddie the kangaroo wasn't a wild kangaroo, he had, in fact been kept in care after an unsuccessful attempt to release him.  This day he had escaped from his enclosure and was probably just looking for food and he associated food with humans and when this human didn't feed him he got annoyed.  Eddie is now injured, as well as dangerous and sadly having him euthanased is probably the only way.  These animals are meant to be wild and free.  Males in particular can become aggressive if kept in captivity.  Although this carer probably couldn't face having him euthanased, the result of keeping him could have resulted in someone losing their life.
I hope for media that report things less dramatically and completely so people don't think all our kangaroos are like this (a wild male will usually run away unless he is cornered, attacked, mating or being fed by humans), and I hope all carers who consider keeping adult kangaroos this way also take heed that it is the animal who will suffer in the end.
Sorry it's not all cheerful in the land of kangaroos, but there you go.  Until next Friday, many thanks for visiting, your presence is an additional joy in my life!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Foot and Mouth Disease - Merrilyn Part 14

Some weeks nothing seems to go right.  You long for a quiet life.  You want everything to go smoothly.  Why does life sometimes seem to conspire to ensure life is anything but quiet and smooth?

Thankfully all was smooth for Merrilyn.  In fact her biggest problem was staying awake!
 She was now a healthy 4.3kg and growing by the day. She was 9.5 months old.

The boys were another story.
 Those of you who've been here a while will recall that Buster broke his foot in Part 10.  We worked hard to keep the cast on for the four weeks the vet wanted it there.  He didn't want to wait much longer as Buster was growing fast and he was concerned the cast would affect the foot.  We headed to the vet's to have the cast removed with trepidation.  Had it healed well?  It had been nearly impossible to keep him from running. There was good news and bad.

  The good news was the bone had knit well.  The bad news was he now had a crooked foot.  You can see the dark "toe" at the end of the foot.  The one on the left (your left) is clearly turned in.  
This shot shows it a bit better.  Buster was now 12 months old.  Still about six months from being fully weaned.  A male kangaroo must have full use of his hind legs.  He must be strong and he must be able to run fast.  Would this defect be a problem for him in the longer term?  

A number of people leaving comments have suggested the joeys are our pets.  It may look that way from the outside but our role is to simply help them achieve their freedom to go back to the wild, not to keep them here with us.  In fact trying to keep a male kangaroo around, when they reach adulthood, can be a very dangerous thing, but more on that later.  Our immediate concern was whether we were saving Buster now, only to see him die a horrible death later.  We discussed it with the vet and all agreed we'd keep going and see how Buster adjusted.  If we felt he was going to suffer later then the awful decision could be made before he was too big to take back to the vet. Time would decide his fate.  

Then we discovered a major problem with Bob.  He'd overcome his tummy troubles and was starting to put on weight.  Then, the day after Buster had his cast removed I noticed something very strange about his mouth.
Here he his taking his bottle.  Looks fine - right (and a much finer head than he arrived with!)

Take a look this side - His mouth looks somewhat deformed.  I couldn't believe it, or believe I'd missed the extent of it in the few weeks he'd been here, though between the joeys in care and stabilising new joeys for others I'd been pretty busy.  I thought I knew what was causing it and it had to be stopped or his mouth would be permanently damaged.

You might recall Merrilyn liked to suck on her tail for security. Something I had discouraged and that she now didn't do.

Bob had chosen to suck on his foot and had obviously started doing it at a very young age.  He needed to stop.  He was almost 11 months old and quite a big joey and his sucking was damaging his mouth.  How to stop him that's the question?  He was settling in now, so hopefully his stress levels were subsiding and the sucking was now just a habit.  So the foot was gently removed every time he was caught in the act and he was distracted with a mouthful of grass.
The three musketeers were bonding, but between the 3 of them, life was certainly not going to be quiet or smooth!

This week has bought a great milestone for me in the blogging world.  My 100th follower.  I'd like to thank all my followers, as followers and regular comments are what keep us going and my blog has grown rapidly since I started serialising the life of Merrilyn and her companions just one post a week generally.

I decided to spontaneously offer my 100th follower a small reward, so please go and meet Jessica of Suitcases and Sippy Cups.  What's Jessica's blog about?  Well a family of six let's the world be their classroom as they travel together making memories.  Travel tips and guides
to great family locations are served up with a dose of humor, along with
stories to inspire families to pack up and go.  I'm so glad I found this great blog and joined as a follower, which brought Jessica over to see me and now we are building a friendship.  Jessica thought this particular posting might suit readers here and as it's about wildlife I have to agree.  See Turtles
Please go and say hi to Jessica and again, thank you Jessica and all my followers and commenters.  You're all great and I may well start doing a few more random acts of introduction at the end of a post so that you can meet a few more.

Until next Friday, take care all!

Adding this into the fun of Love Links #16 - Come and join in the fun.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Yet another problem child - Merrilyn Part 13

Just 3 days after Bob arrived in care, (The Third Musketeer) yet another bundle arrived in our life.  I'd taken on the role of Macropod Coordinator for our local wildlife care group, which means it was my responsibility to stabilise new kangaroo and wallaby arrivals.  On this particular day I was contacted by our local police saying they'd had a joey dropped into the police station and could I come and take it away please.

I headed down there and found a female red-necked wallaby, yes like Pepe and Joe ( What's a Wallaby) .  She was over one kilo (2.2lb) and well furred.  I estimated she was about 7 months old and her mother had been hit by a car.  I was surprised she had made it into care as at that age she was well able to run from people and it worried me that she may have some injuries.

I couldn't find anything obvious but she struggled and was difficult to try to feed, so as she should have been nibbling on vegetation by this stage I decided to give her rest and quiet and see what would happen.  Most of you have probably used a playpen along the way (or are they considered a no no for kids these days?)  Well they come in handy for joeys who are reasonably mobile and that you don't want to mix in with the rest of the joeys in your house.
The normal bars are encased in soft mesh so that the joeys can't just walk through them and towels and sheeting give them a sense of added security and privacy.  Copper, as we named her, curled up in Merrilyn's old pouch and fell asleep.  I gave her a few hours and then tried some more rehydration fluid.  She seemed very flat but I managed to get a small amount into her and suddenly she was fighting me.  I left her to rest some more and this process continued for a couple of days.  She lost some weight and seemed to have some colicky type pain which I treated and hoped that it was the dietary change and loss of her mom and not internal injuries.

A week went by and suddenly both she and Bob seemed to turn a corner together.  I'd been struggling to get his poo problems under control and he was well under weight but one morning they had both put on weight and Copper hopped out to take a look at her new world.  She was a delight!

She hardly stopped moving so capturing her on film was quite a feat.

Two days after these photos were taken she went missing.  I got up in the morning and there was no Copper in the playpen.  I couldn't believe that she could have escaped the house without us noticing and so I carefully checked every nook and cranny in the place, but no Copper.  I could not imagine where she could be.  The three musketeers were all heads out and looking for their morning bottle so I started to get them ready and when I turned around to give Bob his bottle I couldn't believe what I saw.

Perhaps she wanted company, or perhaps she sensed that Bob was struggling and needed a friend?  She wasn't actually directly in the pouch with Bob, but had somehow found her way between his pouch liner and the pouch.  She was obviously warm and happy and looking for her bottle too!

As much as I would love to have added Copper to the gang, between 3 demanding kangaroo joeys and Pepe and Joe, plus stabilising new joeys coming into care, I didn't have enough time to keep Copper here and after a few more days she was taken to another carers place for final feeding up and gentle release from their home back into the wild.  It's a beautiful property, with many red-necks and somewhere Copper will feel right at home.  I'm still amazed that she was in with Bob and also amazed she jumped out of the play pen so easily - at least we knew she was fit and strong!

As for Bob - well here he is at the end of his first week here.  Still scrawny but looking a bit better and with his systems settled slowly gaining weight.

OK before I go I want to point you to a new page I've put in Hopper Strategized.  This is an ongoing blog hop currently being co-hosted by Christin Vance of Mom Blog of Two Little Misters and Stephanie Greiner of Always Just a Mom.  It's a way to gain some more traffic and also keep your blog up front and centre on the Google engine.  All the details are on the page if you want to give it a try and I'm working my way through the people already on to to say hello.

Adding this post to Love Links No 15 - come and join in the fun!

Until next week.  Take care all, Cheryl

Friday, July 8, 2011

What's a Wallaby? Merrilyn Part 12

As this blog is called "Kangaroos of the Scrubby Bush" and Merrilyn, an eastern grey kangaroo, is the star, we've mostly talked about kangaroos, but there are other critters here in the scrubby bush and some have been guests as joeys, so this week I thought I'd introduce you to Pepe and Joe.

Joe whispering a secret to Pepe.

Pepe and Joe are red-necked wallabies.  So that begs the question - what is a wallaby?  The majority, but not all, wallabies also belong to a group of marsupials we call macropods.  Macropod basically means "big foot" - take a look at the back foot and you'll know why that's appropriate.  All kangaroos are macropods.  Kangaroos are much larger and can weigh up to 85kgs, whereas wallabies are much smaller and do not exceed about 20kgs.  Wallabies tend to spend more time in forests coming into open areas only to feed, whereas kangaroos spend much more of their time in open areas.  Wallabies tend to eat a much larger variety of vegetation, with kangaroos staying primarily with grasses.

Red-necked wallabies are probably the most common wallaby in the forests of east coast Australia, but we are losing many to habitat clearing, which I find so sad.  I feel privileged to be able to look up from my work on the computer to see one grazing not far from my house.

Pepe and Joe both lost their mothers to cars and were teamed up to be raised together and then, when almost weaned, they came here to be released.  They really were a couple of characters, particularly Joe.

Joe loved to sit in a chair!

Cuddling or dancing?  Hard to tell.

Joe would throw himself at Pepe.

You could almost hear Joe saying "I love you Pepe" 
and equally Pepe saying "Get down Joe you're embarrassing us both."

These photos were taken before Merrilyn arrived and at the point we are up to in our story they were released 24 hours from the security of the raising pen and just came in for supplementary feed as they started to move away and to make their own way in the wild.  This is a shot of them a little after Bob arrived.

Don't know who Bob is?  Not sure who Merrilyn is?  Want to catch up with the story so far?  You can do that here.  I'm getting very excited about hitting the 100 follower mark - if you aren't following yet, you might be the magic 100.  You can also follow the story on facebook here.

This post now part of Lovelinks 14.  Come over and join in the fun.

Until next Friday when I'll bring you up to date with Busters broken foot and poor little Bob.  Stay safe and enjoy. Cheryl

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Third Musketeer - Merrilyn Part 11

Things happen in threes.  Isn't that what they say?  It was certainly true when on the day after Buster broke his foot (What Else Can Go Wrong?), our third challenge arrived.

I received a call from a carer who was having quite a bit of trouble with a joey.  He had come to her from another carer and he was thin and suffering from severe diarrhoea.  She wondered if I would take him on.  His estimated age put him between Merrilyn and Buster and therefore ideal to create a group of three, something that would make their release much more likely to succeed.  She was honest that he had issues and so I gave it some thought.  I already had two red-necked wallabies in care but well on their way to being fully released,  (hmm must introduce you to those two one day), I was still watching Merrilyn for signs of myopathy from her over night adventure, and, of course, we had no idea how Buster's foot would heal and that also meant any new joey would be my responsibility.   Still he seemed like a good fit for the group and how much of a problem could he be?  I was shocked when he arrived.

Meet Bob.  He was in very poor shape and his pouch - well, let's just say I won't forget the smell in a hurry.  The carer he came from was doing her best, but he was soiling the bag regularly and had done so between her place and mine.  I isolated him, but after looking at his feeding regime and studying the poo in detail, (one of the easiest ways to determine what kind of illness a kangaroo joey has), I felt his problems were stress and feed related.  I made some small changes as I was concerned a major immediate change could create more damage and created a regime to move him to what I thought might suit him better over the course of a week.

This is Bob with Buster, (on the right, with his plaster cast in its bag). Though there is little difference in their ages, you can see the difference between them and the photo really doesn't show it all.  One sure way to tell a kangaroos health is looking at their tail and Busters was thick and sturdy, but Bob's was much thinner.  We had some work to do here.

One good thing was Bob wanted to be friends with everyone.  Buster had been quite shy when he arrived, but Bob was happy just to be with other joeys and people, so he fitted in quite well, other than trying to keep him to his own pouch.  Ms Merrilyn was very precious about her pouch and liked it to herself and Bob thought it might be good to share.  A hiss and a biff and he realised that was not on.  As the day ended I wasn't sure whether to smile in happiness at having 3 joeys, all of such similar ages to be released in a group, or whether to wonder if any of them would make it to adulthood, especially Bob.

No point in doing anything other than smiling - the three musketeers were now united.

Buster, Merrilyn and Bob.

Do you want to read all parts of this story?  You'll find them all within the Merrilyn's Story page.

Also adding this post to the Free Fringes Love Links 13 - please hop over and check out this great meme.

Until next Friday when there is so much more to tell.. Have a great week, Cheryl