Willow is one of our resident Tamar Wallabies who came to us when we first opened the shelter. Her and her family or "mob" were living with a gentleman who lived approximately an hour away and was looking for a new home for them as his wife who took them on had passed and he didn't want them anymore.
Such a cute little face
Since we've only just seen it's face we have no idea how big it is but it definitely has hair which means it is somewhere in the area of 6 months old. It also seems to of taken after the alpha male of the group and has brown fur instead of being albino like Willow.
When they first came to us 2 of the 8 were albino and the rest were plain brown. The 2 albinos were babies, Willow and Scooter and still lived in their pouches, along with another brown baby. However it is very difficult to move and transport wallabies and unfortunately they were kicked from their pouches during capture and had to be hand raised. Because of this they were slightly friendlier than the other wallabies and I can now almost touch willow and can hand feed her but the others will run if you get within a metre or two.
Wallabies and other macropods suffer from a condition knows as stress myopathy. If the animal becomes too stressed they will develop something known as stress myopathy which is an almost always fatal condition. In humans it is also commonly knows as "broken heart syndrome" though it affects us differently.
In macropods like the wallaby and the kangaroo stress myopathy causes the muscle tissue to slowly break down, this leaves the animal becoming weaker and weaker, even after the stressful situation has passed. Eventually it will either suffer from heart failure, or become so weak it cannot move and will be eaten alive or simply die where it lay.
Basically this means transporting them is very dangerous for their health and needs to be done with minimal fuss and stress.
We cornered them one by one and caught them by their powerful tail, I held them whilst my mum injected liquid Valium into them to keep them calm. My stepdad then put them into a pillowcase and handed them to my sister who put them in the car and kept it nice and dark. For some reason and I don't know why you also need to keep their temperature low so we had the air-con on full blast and had to get them home as fast as possible before the Valium wore off.
Once home they were put into their new house nicknamed "The Tamar Hilton" and had the door shut so they could adjust to the new smells and surroundings.
We attempted to reunite the babies with their mothers but we also had to take care not to stress either out too much and unfortunately only the brown joey returned successfully to its mother.
After hand-raising them for around 3 months they were both old enough to return to their mob and take their place in the family. They settled in fairly quickly and Scooter being a male was soon competing for alpha status.
We had a few unfortunate deaths, one we don't know why he was just found dead in the morning and he was the original alpha male at which point young scooter simply took over.
We were happy about this because Scooter is de-sexed and we never had plans to have wallabies to begin with but unfortunately one day the enclosure was left open and 5 of the wallabies escaped. There is argument as to whether someone came and opened it purposefully, whether a guests child did it by accident or whether whoever fed them the night before didn't shut it right but regardless they were out.
They hung around in the bush close by but being very small in stature, especially compared to the wallabies native to this area they would not last long alone in the forest. We set traps and tried to lure them back with food as well as gently herd them back and success! we managed to catch one.
The next day I found one dead just down the hill, eaten by a fox or wild cat. Poor thing, after the third day we never saw Scooter or the other brown one again and can only assume they met an unfortunate end somewhere in the bush.
From then on Willow became the only child and she now has one of her own.
We have no need to interfere in anyway and she will raise the joey within the mob but also safe within the $12,000 special built fence to keep out predators. To me it isn't ideal, I would love if they could of gone back to the wild but after being in captivity for so long, some their whole lives, and being far out of their natural environment of the west coast it just isn't possible.
They will stay with us and probably continue to grow their mob, though hopefully not too swiftly as de-sexing is an expensive and stressful process. For now they are happy and safe, well fed and out of the elements if need be and I cant wait to see the little joey hopping around for the first time on his own, all unstable and cute.
I'll definitely get some pictures for everyone when it does.
Thanks for reading, Cheers.