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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Wildlife stressed during heatwave

A district wildlife carer treated about 60 heat-affected native animals during last week's heatwave.

RENEE THOMPSON January 21, 2014 9:22am

Moama resident Chris Kiely took this great photo after she spotted a thirsty goanna trying to get to the water in her backyard's bird bath during last week's heatwave.


Native wildlife in the district have been doing it tough as a result of Victoria’s heatwave.

Department of Environment and Primary Industries licensed wildlife shelter operator Debbie Sowler said she had treated about 60 heat-affected native animals in the space of a week.

Based at Kotupna, her work sees her travelling all over the district from Echuca to Shepparton and from Cobram to Kyabram.

She said she had treated a rosella from Kyabram and a turtle in Wyuna but most of the animals she had helped last week had been possums.

‘‘They suffer greatly in the heat,’’ she said.

‘‘Possums are animals which don’t go and search for water, but the lack of moisture in the trees has forced them down onto the ground.

‘‘They’re venturing down, going into people’s backyards and then getting attacked by cats and dogs.’’

She said to counteract this, people should leave a bowl of water at the bottom of trees.

‘‘If you see birds on the side of the road with their mouths agape, it’s a sign of heat stress. Parrots and smaller birds are especially prone to dehydration,’’ she said.

‘‘If people see birds which are severely dehydrated, they should contact wildlife services, or myself.

‘‘I’m more than happy to take them to the appropriate services myself if people want to call me.’’

Even with help, not all wildlife can survive the heat.

She also recalled a turtle which had died while trying to cross a road.

‘‘A car must have driven past and flipped him over on his shell and exposed his body to the sun, he ended up totally fried,’’ she said.

But she said some wildlife should not be messed with.

‘‘If you see a flying fox which has been heat affected, never, I mean never, pick it up,’’ she said.

‘‘They can have Lyssa virus. People should ring a qualified wildlife officer. You can spray it with water but do not under any circumstances touch the bat.’’

She said spraying animals with water was a great way to keep them cool.

‘‘In this weather, the water heats up so quickly, so I advise putting lots of little bowls around,’ she said.

‘‘Make sure you put a brick or some sticks in the bowl so little birds can get out, otherwise they could drown.

To contact Ms Sowler about stressed wildlife, phone 0418328671.

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