Caring for sick, injured or orphaned wildlife is a challenging, but ultimately rewarding undertaking. It requires passionate and dedicated people with a reliably stable lifestyle.
Not sure if it’s for you? Take a few minutes to read this interview “Being A Wildlife Carer‘. If you believe you may be up to the challenge, please email us for further information on the availability of carer positions.
Make a difference!
Members’ who wish to become more involved as a volunteer wildlife rescuer/rehabilitator will need to apply separately for a ‘Rehabilitation Permit Endorsement’ and satisfy the requirements as set down by Wildlife Rockhampton. ‘Permit Endorsement’ application assessments are based on availability and a demonstrated commitment and support to other members as well as the animals in care, completed training, experience, knowledge and available care facilities.
Wildlife Rockhampton will only issue ‘Permit Endorsements’ for its members.
There are many advantages of becoming a Wildlife Rehabilitator with Wildlife Rockhampton and we are proud to offer our online ‘Wildlife Rescue Awareness’ course. This course is free and covers many of the requirements for rescues and the transportation of wildlife.
We place considerable emphasis on training and continually strive to improve our knowledge through the various online opportunities that present from time-to-time. All of our resources are available to our members and are specifically designed for wildlife rehabilitators.
What is Wildlife Rehabilitation?
Wildlife rehabilitation involves providing 24/7 care for sick, injured or orphaned native animals to ensure that they have the best chance of survival when released back into their natural habitat. It includes assisting wildlife when they become displaced or are found in dangerous situations. The activities of the wildlife rehabilitator range from the initial rescue of an animal, providing on-going care through to its eventual release back into its natural habitat. This includes not only the actual care of native wildlife, but also arranging suitable release sites and monitoring animals following release. Wildlife rehabilitation also involves anticipating and helping to prevent problems with native wildlife as well as resolving conflicts between humans and wildlife. It may include lobbying local, state and federal governments to do more to protect our native wildlife.
Wildlife rehabilitation has many facets; it is part education, part science, part problem solving and part care giving. Wildlife rehabilitation is a fast-growing industry in Australia, with a rapidly expanding knowledge base and ever-improving professional standards.
With increasing urbanisation leading to the loss and fragmentation of our wildlife’s habitat, native animals not only lose their food and shelter, but are negatively impacted upon by people, their vehicles and their domestic pets. Wildlife rehabilitators strive to give as many orphaned, injured and displaced animals as possible a second chance.
Many people living in an urban environment have little personal experience with wildlife or its habitat requirements and when they encounter native animals they want accurate and appropriate information about living in harmony with them. In both the urban and rural environment, there is also the potential for conflict between humans and native wildlife. This is where wildlife rehabilitators have a role to play, in providing education to reduce areas of conflict, and to provide advice to the growing number of people who are interested in environmental issues. Wildlife rehabilitators can also make a valuable contribution to conservation.
Why become a Wildlife Rehabilitator?
Wildlife Rehabilitation can be very rewarding in many ways. It provides a personal connection with the natural environment and many of our volunteers feel that they are giving something back that will help, in some small way to balance the damage humans do. It also brings an enormous sense of joy and reward at seeing a strong and healthy animal that you have cared for being returned to the wild. It provides a unique opportunity to talk to people about native wildlife and to impart to them an appreciation for our wildlife and an understanding of their habitat requirements.
The Different Types of Wildlife Rehabilitation
Most wildlife rehabilitators in Australia care for wildlife in their own homes; however, the activities they choose to undertake varies greatly.
- Some specialise in certain species (such as birds, possums, macropods, bats or reptiles) or a specific age or stage of development (such as juvenile or adult animals).
- Some only look after sick or injured animals such as those requiring ongoing medical or intensive care.
- Some care for orphaned joeys or birds that may require 24/7 monitoring and feeding.
- Some look after a few animals each year, while others have the time and facilities to care for many.
- Some provide the vital service of rescuing and providing 24-hour emergency care before passing the animal on to other wildlife rehabilitators.
- Some provide safe release sites, which allow ongoing monitoring of rehabilitated animals.
- Others assist with the emergency rescue call service.
Getting Started as a Wildlife Rehabilitator
Becoming involved with wildlife rehabilitation is both challenging and immensely rewarding.
To help you on your way, remember:
- Learn as much as you can about wildlife rehabilitation by reading, completing training courses, and talking with other wildlife rehabilitators.
- Volunteer to help a local wildlife rehabilitator member.
- Discuss with your family the degree to which you want to be involved and what that might mean for them.
- When you are ready, start small – helping one animal extremely well makes you a good wildlife rehabilitator. Never take on too many animals or too many different species.
- Begin to collect the supplies you are going to need, and acquire or build cages and enclosures.
- Check out our website for information on the various species that wildlife rehabilitators deal with.
- Remember that native animals must have no contact with domestic animals, as familiarity with pets, especially dogs and cats, will seriously jeopardise their safety when they are returned to the wild. You must be able to keep domestic pets separated from wildlife-in-care.
Wildlife Rockhampton is always looking for more volunteers to ease the burden on our existing wildlife rehabilitators. Although wildlife rehabilitation can be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience, we must remember that the welfare of the animal is of the utmost priority.
The aim of the wildlife rehabilitator should be to rehabilitate the animal or raise it to a state of maturity such that it can be safely and successfully released back into its natural environment.
We must always remember that they are wild animals and need to be treated as such. Although it might be fun for us to have a “pet” wild animal, it is not fair to the animal – we must always remember that they are wild, and they must be able to be returned to the wild.
NB: It is important to also note that the holding/taking of wild animals without approval is against the law.
To provide for the animal’s physical and psychological needs the rehabilitator must have appropriate training, adequate time, suitable facilities and be prepared to meet all the costs incurred, such as for food, housing and veterinary expenses.
Volunteers must be 18 years or over to rescue and rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. Wildlife Rockhampton – Rescue, Rehabilitation & Release Inc. provides insurance cover for its member’s and State legislation restricts children from having direct physical interaction with injured wildlife. Whilst we recognise the importance of teaching children and nurturing their appreciation of our native wildlife, we need to ensure compliance with all legal guidelines. We do have many family members who undertake their wildlife activities as a family and children are still able to assist in many ways in a supervised manner.
What type of equipment do I need?
As a wildlife rehabilitator, you will need some basic equipment to enable you to rescue sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. A number of these items can be easily found around the house.
Basic equipment that you will need to get started includes: –
- Gloves (disposable and leather rigger-style gloves)
- Cardboard boxes of various sizes
- Clean towels
- Hot water bottle
- Glucodin powder (available from supermarkets or chemists for <$5)
As you become more experienced, you will find that you will add other items to your “rescue kit” including:
- Pet carrier or cage
- Net for catching birds
- Electronic kitchen scales
Once you have worked out which species you wish to care for, you will need to then look at building or acquiring appropriate facilities to house them.
This might include cages, aviaries or yards for the specific type of animal that you are going to care for. Aviaries and large cages should be set up with branches, both fixed and movable, for climbing and should be snake and rat proof.
You will need to obtain daily access to natural food sources such as native trees and shrubs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. WHAT SORT OF ANIMALS WILL I BE ABLE TO CARE FOR?
The type of animal that you will care for will depend upon several factors. To ensure the best outcome for the animal, you will only be able to care for those species for which you have completed relevant training, and for which you have appropriate equipment and housing. Generally, new carers will start with less challenging animals which generally require a shorter time commitment and less extensive equipment. As your skills and knowledge develops you can advance to caring for more specialised and demanding species.
Q. WHAT SORT OF ANIMALS WILL I BE CALLED ON TO RESCUE?
This depends on several factors. Your skill, experience and willingness will be considered prior to any call out. It will also depend upon the area in which you live. If you live in a high-density residential area the species that you will most likely be called upon to rescue will be birds, reptiles and small mammals such as possums. If you live in a more rural location and are appropriately trained, then you may be called upon to assist with the rescue of larger animals such as kangaroos and wallabies.
Q. DO I HAVE TO KEEP ALL THE ANIMALS THAT I RESCUE?
No. Once you rescue an animal, you contact the relevant Species Coordinator. If you do not have the knowledge or facilities to care for that animal, they will put you in contact with a wildlife rehabilitator who is able to provide the appropriate care.
Q. I WORK FULL TIME, AM I STILL ABLE TO CARE FOR WILDLIFE?
Yes, it can be done! Many of our volunteers work full-time and manage to juggle both commitments. It can be a little challenging sometimes but there are many ways that you can get involved with wildlife caring. The other consideration is that some animals require less commitment than others. There is always something that you can care for! Even just rescuing animals when you can and taking them to a rehabilitator or a vet is a tremendous help to our wildlife.
Q. IS THERE SOMEONE I CAN CALL IF I HAVE ANY PROBLEMS?
Yes, there is always someone you can contact if you have any questions. Our structure provides a few people you can contact for support and guidance, including Species Coordinators and Management Committee Members.
Q. HOW OLD MUST YOU BE TO CARE FOR WILDLIFE?
You need to be 18 years of age to care for sick, injured or orphaned wildlife in your own right. For many of our members though, caring for wildlife is a family activity. Children under 18 years of age can be involved in various ways such as collecting food supplies, but it is imperative that there is a responsible adult as the primary carer for the wildlife. We do acknowledge though, the inherent value of our younger generation being able to be involved.
Q. DO I HAVE TO COMPLETE ALL TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES?
All members complete our online ‘Wildlife Rescue Awareness’ course each twelve months, this acts as a refresher and also permits members to become aware of updates and changes that have occurred. As we continue to learn from research and experience our training continues to evolve.
IF YOU HAVE ANY FURTHER QUERIES, PLEASE EMAIL US AT [email protected]
I’m ready… what now?
Once you have decided that you would like to apply to become actively involved with Wildlife Rockhampton as a wildlife rehabilitator, we suggest that you:
Contact us at [email protected] for an application form. Please complete the form and return it to the Secretary for processing. Successful applicants will be advised by email and provided with other important information.
You will then be provided with access to our online training course ‘Wildlife Rescue Awareness’ which will need to be completed (2-4 hours) within a period of two weeks. You should then consider which species you are able to care for and where beneficial, start training with an available mentor for that species. Our experienced volunteers can give you some information on helping you decide which species would suit your lifestyle.
Also, once you have completed the ‘Wildlife Rescue Awareness’ online training course, you will be invited to become a part of our Rescue team.