December 11, 2012

Happy little campers

Returning from a camping trip to Byron Bay, a gentleman found what he at first thought was a litter of mice nesting in his glove box. These gorgeous little creatures may look like mice they are in fact a native marsupial called an Antechinus.

  Unfortunately mum didn’t join her litter on the trip to Canberra, so it is now up to our wildlife staff and carers to raise these little hitchhikers. Our carers will continue to feed them special milk every few hours and help them learn to eat bugs, fruit and mince.

When they arrived with us they weighed just six grams and we estimated their age at 35 days. When they reach 90 days and about 12 grams, we will send them back to Byron Bay for release.

These antechinus are lucky that their traveling partner realised that they were not common mice and took the trouble to bring them to RSPCA for identification. Their pointy snout and their teeth gave them away as marsupials. Without their mum they would never have made it, but thanks to lots of TLC they are now very happy little campers!

December 5, 2012

Helping Hands

International Volunteer Day is a day for public recognition of those who tirelessly give of themselves for the benefit of others. We love our volunteers, and we know they make a difference.

At RSPCA ACT we rely heavily on the support of our army of volunteers. From playtime and long walks, to grooming and cuddling, to working at events and baking cupcakes, to the intensive tasks of hand rearing kittens and puppies and caring for native wildlife – volunteers at RSPCA are making a difference to the lives of animals each and every day.

Right now at our shelter we have a number of litters of neonatal puppies in the care of foster carers. These puppies have come to us without their mothers so they are being hand reared. For the first three weeks of their lives, they will be fed every two to three hours, 24 hours a day. They will begin solid foods around three to four weeks, and remain in care until around seven weeks of age. Socialisation is critically important to ensure that the puppies will grow into well-adjusted, loving pets.

Caring for puppies is just one example of the dedication and support our volunteers offer. Without them, we could not continue to do what we do.

Perhaps the hardest part of the journey for a foster carer is handing the animals back to RSPCA so that they can find their forever homes. After investing so much time and compassion into these little creatures, it takes great strength to set them free.

All of our volunteers, from those who work at the shelter a few times a week, to those who help at our events once a year, and everyone in between, are a vital part of our strategy to save more lives every day.

So thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

November 23, 2012

Tawny Frogmouth update

We have so many success stories at RSPCA ACT, and we often hear from members of the public with updates about how their newly adopted family members are settling in. However, it is rare for us to hear updates about native animals that we have released. We return native animals to the wild once they are strong and healthy again, and we just have to hope that they will go on to live a full life.

Two years ago RSPCA ACT saw a tawny frogmouth come into the clinic in a bad way after being hit by a car. The tawny was in the care of our wildlife staff for four months while she made her recovery. After receiving a clean bill of health she was released. With a large number of tawny frogmouths in care at that time it was necessary to identify the birds with tags, ensuring that they would be released where they were found. Usually we remove the tags before sending birds back to the wild, however this tawny ended up being released with her tags intact.

Imagine our surprise and delight when local wildlife enthusiast Stuart Rae spotted her nesting! Stuart has written a number of blog posts about ‘Double Pink’, and this week shared the exciting news that she has successfully started a family.

Tawny frogmouths are stunning birds, and as you can see from the pictures they do a very good job of blending in to their environment. A big thank you to Stuart for spotting her, keeping an eye on her and keeping us updated on her progress, and also for allowing us to share these beautiful photographs.

RSPCA ACT is the only licensed wildlife carer in Canberra. If you would like to learn more about what to do when you find an injured native animal, visit our website. You can also make a donation to help us continue our important work caring for wildlife in the Bush Capital.

October 24, 2012

Snakes Alive!

Now that spring has well and truly arrived, people living in the bush capital may find themself face to face with some of Canberra’s other residents – snakes. Snakes like to bask in the sun and may seek out water in suburban backyards on hot days.

Snakes do not like busy areas, so if you see a snake in your yard, remember that it is most likely just passing through. Snakes will not hurt you if you leave them alone. Keep children and pets indoors until the snake has moved on. If the snake does not move on within a few hours then please contact Canberra Nature Park Rangers through Canberra Connect on 132281 for advice.

Large lizards such as bluetongues are very common in suburban Canberra, and most suburban gardens will either have resident lizards or frequent visits. They are non-venomous and not dangerous. They are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks or mishandling by children or adults resulting in their injury. Please contact RSPCA on 1300 4 77722 if you find an injured lizard.

Some important things to remember:
·         Assume that any snake you come across is venomous.
·         Under no circumstances should you chase or attempt to handle or relocate a snake. If the snake is indoors please contact Canberra Nature Park Rangers for advice.
·         Under no circumstances should you injure or kill a snake. All reptiles are protected and it is against the law to kill or injure them.
·         The vast majority of snakebites in Australia (over 95%) occur when people attempt to kill a snake and the snake defends itself.
·         Injured snakes may pose a serious danger to humans as they can be aggressive and may be venomous.

You can read more about living with snakes in the ACT on the Territory and Municipal Services website.

October 23, 2012

Monotone Monotreme

Last week RSPCA ACT was lucky enough to take part in the release of a beautiful albino echidna that had been in our care. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Casper’ was found near an extremely busy road, so we sought permission to release him at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve—a much safer environment. RSPCA ACT wishes to thank ACT government rangers, staff at TAMS as well as staff at Tidbinbilla for facilitating the successful release of this beautiful creature.

Echidnas can live for up to 50 years in the wild, so we wish this little fellow a long and happy life!

Read more about Casper before his release here, and after his release here.

Watch the Win Television news segment here.

Casper is but one of 3,000 native animals we care for each year in the nation’s capital. If you would like to assist us with our life saving work protecting and rehabilitating animals such as Casper please donate today.

September 26, 2012

Sit. Stay. Good dog!

What is temperament testing and why do we do it?

Dogs at RSPCA ACT undergo comprehensive behaviour testing before being made available for adoption. We test dogs to learn about their temperament and personality so that we are better able to match them to a suitable family.

The types of traits that we test are: sociability; touch; vet checks; toys and play; food treasures; strangers; toddlers (with a dummy, not real toddlers!); mental sensitivity; other dogs; containment; and previous training. We also collect detailed information from previous owners wherever possible.

If we identify any behavioural issues that need addressing, our qualified and experienced staff develop a behaviour modification program which is implemented by trained staff and volunteers. Behaviour modification programs could include issues such as basic manners and walking nicely on lead, to rebuilding confidence and addressing problem behaviours.

After several days of training, we will retest the dog. If the dogs fails the test again, but has shown improvement, we will continue the cycle of training and testing until we believe the dog can be made available for adoption. If there is no improvement or the behaviour could result in harm to either a person or another animal then the dog will not be made available for adoption.

A dog never fails a temperament test for just being boisterous or ill-mannered as these are training issues (not temperament issues) which our team works with and improves. A dog doesn't have to be perfect to find a new home, but we need to learn what we can about their behaviour to find the perfect home for them. We understand that the shelter environment can be stressful for some dogs and we of course take this into account during testing.

While dogs are staying with us at RSPCA ACT, we are committed to keeping dogs mentally healthy through physical stimulation and the use of environmental enrichments.

Congratulations to Frances, our Senior Behavioural Trainer, on being awarded Shelter Worker of the Year by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

September 18, 2012

Fully Fledged

It’s almost that time of year when baby birds will be out of their nests and learning how to fly. Here’s what to do if you spot a baby bird on the ground:

Firstly, is the bird a nestling or a fledgling? 

Nestlings may not be fully feathered and are not ready to learn to fly. They may have accidently been knocked or blown out of their nest. They need to be lifted off the ground out of harm’s way and placed in a temporary nest like an ice cream container. The little bird’s parents should be nearby, but if the baby is left alone for a full day, please bring the bird to RSPCA.

Magpie nestling
If the bird is a fledgling, he will be able to stand up. He may be very wobbly, but he will be trying his hardest! This is the easiest way to tell the difference between a nestling and a fledgling. The fledgling’s parents should be nearby watching over him or getting food for him.

Magpie fledgling
If the fledgling is in immediate danger from pets or children you can lift him off the ground into a temporary nest, otherwise you can leave him where he is. If you don’t see his parents return within a day you can bring him to RSPCA. If you try to pick him up and larger birds start swooping you, pop him back on the ground, because it is most likely his parents letting you know they are there.

If any bird is obviously injured, pick him up and bring him to RSPCA straight away. When he is healed we will release him where you found him.

Please try your hardest to ensure that baby birds remain with their parents, as they can teach them the life skills they need to grow and flourish in the wild. Humans simply can’t offer this kind of guidance!

If you have any questions about the welfare of a native animal you can contact us during business hours seven days a week on 6287 8100 or after hours (wildlife only) on 0413 495 031.

You can learn more about wildlife first aid here.

September 3, 2012

Nest Intentions

The sun is shining, trees are budding, blossoms are blooming, and rogue magpies have started swooping!

Magpies swoop during breeding season because they are trying to protect their nests, eggs or young from intruders. This behaviour is completely natural and only lasts for a few weeks.

There are a number of measures you can take to protect yourself, your children and your pets from swooping birds. Please visit the Territory and Municipal Services website for more information.

It is extremely important that you do not pick up a fledgling magpie (one who has just left the nest) unless they are obviously injured or in imminent danger. These babies are learning to fly and their parents are usually nearby watching over them.

Not all magpies will swoop. Harassment by humans causes some magpies to start swooping, so please do not chase them or throw things at them. Please remember that magpies, like most native animals, are protected in the ACT. 

If you are concerned by a magpie that appears particularly aggressive, or would like a warning sign erected in your neighbourhood, please contact the ACT Parks and Conservation Service on 13 22 81.

June 13, 2012

Devoted to Dooley

Dooley the four year old Kelpie cross first came to us for emergency boarding when his beloved owner was hospitalised. Without his owner having a support network, RSPCA ACT stepped in and helped Dooley in his time of crisis. 

Dooley’s owner had been present at his birth, and had saved the little pup’s life after complications arose. They had an incredible bond, and without our help, his owner would have been forced to surrender him upon entering hospital.

RSPCA ACT inspectors regularly took Dooley to visit his owner at the hospital, and these visits were incredibly special. If you have a pet, you will know what sort of effect their presence can have when you are unwell or alone.

We had every intention of reuniting Dooley with his owner once he was well. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse, and Dooley's owner passed away after a long illness.

Dooley was adopted in June, a very long time after entering our care. All the staff at RSPCA ACT will miss him, but we are so happy that he has found his new forever home.

RSPCA ACT offers a range of holistic programs and by helping animals, we are helping people in times of crisis. Help us help them by donating to our pet support program