Do I Have to Join a Wildlife Group?
No. You do not have to join a wildlife group but under the legislation it is illegal for anyone without a permit to remove a native animal from the wild – even if this is to take it into care for rehabilitation purposes. Individual permits can be applied for from the Department of Environment & Heritage Protection. However many wildlife carers find it easier to spend the small membership fee, and join a local wildlife care group which affords them not only coverage under the group permit, but also insurance cover and access to training and mentoring which they may not otherwise have. Note that when working under a group permit you will be expected to adhere to the group’s policies, procedures and objectives, and decisions about any animals in your care, particularly around housing and release, will need to be referred to the Management Committee. See our Links page below for a list of wildlife groups.
Do I Need Special Equipment to Rehab Wildlife?
Yes. Depending on the species you will need appropriate housing in the form of carry cages, pouches, tanks, boxes, cages of varying sizes, aviaries or a large fenced area for the animals to roam (eg macropods).
You will also need the right food for your animal including access to native browse (eg leaf, blossom, bark, fruits), live food such as mice and crickets, and supplementary food such as Wombaroo or Divetelact milk replacers, carnivore mixes, insectivore mixes and a range of fruits and vegetables.
In addition, depending on the age of the animal you’ll need equipment to administer the food such as feeding bottles, teats, syringes, spoons and bowls etc.
Do I Need Special Equipment to Rescue Wildlife?
You will need some basic equipment in order to rescue wildlife. A basic rescue kit would include:
- Boxes/carry cages of various sizes
- Gloves (disposable and sturdy garden gloves)
- Torch and extra batteries
- Antiseptic solution
- Cotton swabs
- Clean towels
- Safety pins
- Rubber bands
- Pillow case
- Hot water bottle
- Ice Pack
- Plastic bags
You’ll also want to pack a notebook and pen, a small first aid kit, and some hand sanitising solution.
Here’s an example of a basic rescue kit:
Eventually – depending on what you rescue – you may want to include a bird catching net, wire cutters and pliers. Each situation will determine what extra equipment you take.
How Old Must I be to Become a Carer?
Under the Code of Practice for Wildlife Carers children should not be involved in the rehabilitation of wildlife. Children are welcome however in many groups to learn about wildlife, rehabilitation practices, and contribute by helping out with construction activities and meal worm breeding programs.
Do I Need Training?
It is a requirement under the Code of Practice that people wishing to care for wildlife attend regular training. Many groups hold training sessions that are open to non-members.
Best practice methods in rehabilitating wildlife change over the years, so even if you used to care for animals 20 years ago, it’s a good idea to update your knowledge with attendance at these sessions. We include training offered via a number of groups on our site.
Can I Still be a Carer if I Work?
Yes, quite a large number of wildlife carers work. It will depend on the species and the age. Macropod joeys for instance are very intensive and require a lot of hands-on care, as do baby birds. Some other species are more independent and many Australian native animals are nocturnal feeders, enabling you to work during the day and attend to feeding at night.
Many carers have flexible workplaces which enable them to take animals with them but this again depends on the species and whether you have a quiet location where the animal will remain undisturbed. There would need to be a location in your workplace where you could feed the animal discreetly. Always remember wildlife care is about the animal and its welfare. Whilst friends and workmates will be interested in what you’re doing, remember the animal is easily stressed if exposed to too much noise, artificial light and activity.
How Many Animals Can I Care For?
Some local governments may have local laws concerning the number of animals allowed on residential premises. Under the Code of Practice for wildlife carers, no more than 5 animals can be held on a single property.
We would recommend that until you get more experienced, you try and specialise in one species for at least 12 months so you can really get to know that animal, its behaviour, needs and biology. This will also mean less expenditure in terms of housing and food!
Why Do I Have to Keep Records?
It is a requirement under the Code of Practice for wildlife carers that we keep records of all animals in our care. These not only assist in the treatment, rehabilitation and release of the animals, but also provide you with a history for the next animal you may have come into care so you can refer back to your notes.
Can I Keep my Animal as a Pet?
No. All native Australian animals are protected species. It is illegal in Australia to keep wildlife as pets (with the exception of recreational licence holders).
The aim of wildlife rehabilitation is to return healthy, functioning animals back to the wild within a reasonable time. Under the Code of Practice for wildlife carers if animals are not suitable for rehabilitation they must be euthenased by a veterinarian. This can be difficult and is one of the hardest decisions to make but our objective is always to return animals to the wild.
Do I Get Paid as a Wildlife Carer?
No. Wildlife care is voluntary and in fact carers should expect to spend a bit on set up and ongoing costs for the animals in their care. And the cost for each species will be different. Some animals (for example wallaby joeys) can amount to hundreds of dollars in food over the duration of care. If you cannot afford to feed the animals in your care you may need to rethink whether wildlife rehabilitation is for you. Or it may be best for you to research groups and find out which ones provide assistance to their members in terms of food and resources.