Seeing cats, dogs and a variety of small companion animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets is part of a normal day when working at Vetwest Animal Hospitals. But every now and then we are surprised when we see a Black Swan, Bobtail, Long Necked Turtle, and even Echidnas brought into our hospital.
Over the past few months at Vetwest Clarkson, we have had the pleasure of coming into contact with a variety of Australian native wildlife. These patients are brought in by caring members of the community who have realised they need a bit of a helping hand.
Being presented with a beautiful Black Swan was a definite surprise to the team. The rescuers had seen the swan wandering along the side of the road in a rather peculiar manner. Upon approach, it was easy to ascertain that the poor bird had been injured as it was not able to fly. When arriving at the hospital and after a veterinary examination, it was established that the young bird was possibly a victim of a car accident due to the multiple fractures on one of its
wings. Due to the severity of the injuries, the veterinary decision was made to euthanase the swan for humane reasons. Though this was a sad outcome, being available to ensure there was no further suffering for this majestic animal was a relief for all that were involved.
Both the Long Necked Turtle and Echidna arrived at Clarkson in a similar fashion. They were found by members of the public wandering down quiet side-streets in the suburbs. The turtle was far from water and the Echidna was far from bush-land.
Turtles will travel very long distances in search for a new home, and also as part of finding a mate during breeding season. So, due to this species behaviour, it’s not uncommon for them to be far from water during the hot season. The little one bought into Clarkson was lucky. After examination established he was not hurt or injured, we were able to organise for him to be released into a local turtle friendly environment.
Echidnas travel long distances looking for food and may be seen in urbanised areas that have surrounding bushlands and scrub. But sometimes, the need to search for food or due to displacement from land clearing will lead these prickly little ones to wander. This may well have been the case for the fella that arrived on the hospital doorstep just before closing one evening. With no injuries and plenty of spirit, he was relocated to a safe and secure new environment the following day.
The habitat of the Bobtail includes shrub lands, desert grasslands and sandy dunes, making Perth and its surroundings an ideal home for these reptiles. With breeding season between September and November, there is much movement throughout territories to find mates. An interesting aspect of the lifestyle of the Bobtail is that they are diurnal, meaning they are active day and night during the warmer seasons, which is why they are so commonly seen in the community. As with the Echidna, Bobtails are also subject to the loss and degradation of habitat through land-clearing.
This robust, heavily-armoured dude arrived at the hospital with dog bite wounds, luckily his injuries were treatable. So when bought in, the rescuer was certainly pleased to know their decision to help this guy would have a happy ending. Once his treatment was complete and the wounds healed, rehabilitation back into his environment took place.
The accuracy of the information gathered by the team from a rescuer of any wildlife is paramount in giving the injured or lost creature the best chance of returning to its known and established areas. Sometimes we aren't able to return native wildlife to their homelands, which is a sad side of urban growth. By understanding the species behaviour, habitat and natural requirements we can at least have them relocated to a new, safe and secure area.