Murphy Town Movers Wildlife Carers:
A Family Caring For Wildlife In Need

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Murphy Town Movers Wildlife Carers:  A Family Caring For Wildlife In Need

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"Murphy Town Movers" Wildlife Carers:  A Family Caring For Wildlife In Need

By   and Mandy

Finding injured, sick or orphaned wildlife can be distressing, but fortunately there are wonderful people out there who work tirelessly to provide care and a suitable environment for these creatures, while they recover... and sometimes for their lifetime in situations where the animal is un-releaseable due to permanent disabilities, or an inability to care for itself in the wild.

I was fortunate enough to chat with Mandy, wildlife carer, whose family life must revolve around feathered and furred friends, as they put countless hours into the well-being of the special little lives in their care.  Mandy and her family are enthusiastic environmentalists in many ways, and have a special place in their hearts for wildlife.

Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us Mandy.  I know your time must be pretty well filled, so it's greatly appreciated!

So, when did you start caring for wildlife?

Approximately 7 years ago.  We finally managed to move into our own house after renting for 4 years and that was it - I wanted my animals.

My first animal was an adult magpie I called Jack.  He had been tossled by a car and was unable to fly again so was un-releasable.  It was very hard initially feeding a magpie (as we are vegetarians and magpies are definitely not!) and making his food, but when it comes to animals you get over that sort of thing.  I remember being pregnant and suffering from morning sickness and making up batches of magpie food to freeze.  I was heaving and trying to hold my breath the whole time.  Of course I could have asked hubby to do it, but no Jack was my animal.  You do get used to it.

You must have great enthusiasm to have kept doing it for so long!

What made you decide to do this originally?

I have always loved animals and really wanted to be a vet when I finished high-school, but after seeing the surgeries and injuries that vets deal with I found that I didn't have the stomach for it.  Mind you, isn't that sort of what I'm doing now?  We certainly see some horrific injuries but maternal instinct kicks in and you disinfect, nurture and feed the animals just like you would your own child if they were hurt.  Obviously some injuries are best taken to the vet for immediate euthanasia.  I don't believe in making an animal suffer if it is badly injured.

Have you done any courses on caring for wildlife?

I haven't attended any courses on caring for wildlife.  I have attended a couple of Fauna Rescue workshops, but found the best way to learn is through hands-on experience and some reference materials to help with understanding the animals' feeding requirements etc.


caring for wildlife fauna rescue

What about prior experience in wildlife care before setting up your own home caring, and what are your memories from this time?

I did voluntary work in a large animal sanctuary in Newcastle, NSW for 4 weeks in 1998 and really loved getting my hands dirty cleaning out cages/pens etc, feeding and talking to the public.  That was a memory that will always live with me.  It was so much fun and I remember so many funny experiences.

One was when I was attending to the two wombats with a work experience boy.  He loved animals but unfortunately if anyone was going to be pecked, bitten, scratched or head-butted it was him.  He was lovely with them but they must have thought they could have some fun with him.  The wombats were very temperamental animals with extremely hard heads and sharp teeth.  

They had two inside enclosures that needed cleaning and an outside enclosure all joined together.
The trick was to wait until they were in the outside enclosure (entice them out with their food), then close yourself into the first inside area and clean that out.  Then open the door and move real quick into the second inside area by stepping over the wombats as they moved in when the door was opened.  I also learnt that you needed to keep a shovel over your feet and legs in case they did charge at you.  It sounds mean but wombats have extremely hard heads so head butting shovels didn't hurt them.  It just saved you from a few bruises and being bowled over.  You don't want to be on the ground when a wombat is around!

I managed to get into the second enclosure without any difficulties but unfortunately the young lad was very slow and got cornered by both the wombats at the same time.  One head butted him and the other nipped his ankle.  If I didn't have some fruit left in the bucket I don't think I would have got him out of there in one piece.  Poor boy I was laughing so hard and he never went into the wombat enclosure again.

There are lots more stories with this poor work experience boy.  Koalas thinking he was a tree and climbing up him when he was only wearing shorts and t-shirt.  Galahs nuzzling against his ear and then ouch!  Animals relieving themselves on him, others squawking on top of his head and dive bombing him.  

I'm sure that by the time he had finished his work experience he realised that it was probably in his best health interest not to work with animals.


Poor kid!  But at least he'll have some interesting stories to tell his children and grandchildren!

Tell us what different birds, animals etc you have cared for.

We have had newly hatched birds (with no feathers, all skin and head), noisy miners, galahs, short and long-billed corellas, sulphur-crested cockatoos, Major Mitchells, cockatiels, finches, magpies, magpie-larks, ravens, welcome swallows, rainbow lorikeets, musk lorikeets, Adelaide rosellas, ringnecks, lapwings, wood ducks, crested pigeons, wattlebirds, New Holland honeyeaters, black-faced cuckoo-shrikes, quails, brush-tailed possum and lizards.  

We also have our own pet animals - native hopping mice, short neck turtles and bantam chickens.


care for animals bird rescue

Do you have any favourites and why?

The Major Mitchells are my favourites. I have always wanted Major Mitchells so I was very excited to get these.  I love all of them so it's really hard to pick favourites.  All the others are my second favourites.

What special experiences have you had during your caring time?  Funny experiences?

There have been numerous times when so-called "injured" animals escape their cage when you are tending to them and there is a mad dash trying to catch them again.  Magpies are notorious for playing dead.  I have had a lot of people bring me magpies only to tell me that they have died on the way to me.  On their back, legs up.  I did get tricked once by a magpie but now I know how they are.  As soon as you open the cage door they are off running or flying (depending on their injuries).

We also have some very special funny birds.

We have a magpie that someone had raised from fledgling stage with dogs.  When it got rougher than the dogs it was time to be re-homed.  We had to completely change her diet because she was eating 'dog food'!   After 3 weeks with us she was onto 'magpie food'.  We call this magpie Grunt.  She is an inside bird because she doesn't like or probably doesn't recognise other birds and wants to be with us.  We let her out in the back yard for fresh air, sunlight and fossicking around like birds should.  She wags her tail and pounces on things.  She doesn't make any normal magpie noises, she howls, grunts, pants when you pat her and likes playing tug-of-war and playing with toys/anything really, toes are fun.  She often makes more noise than us!

We also have a galah that talks to himself in the corner of the aviary.  He coughs like a smoker, laughs like an old man and just loves to talk and dance.

We have a short-billed Corella (52 years old) who loves to dance and lifts one foot up (like a high-five) and then the other.

We have recently received a 20 year old female short-billed Corella who has a husky voice and loves to talk.  She loves to dance also by twirling around in a circle.  We did have a magpie that wolf-whistled and made some wonderful noises.

Our lives are certainly more richer for having all these wonderful animals in our lives!

They sound like wonderful little characters.  I especially love the "Dog-Pie"!

How do your family help with the caring?

My husband is the grave digger.

My eldest child hand rears all the babies and does feed some of the animals (mainly magpies - there's 4 cages/aviaries of them, quails and chickens).

My youngest checks that they are all alive (very important check in the morning) as well as watering the chickens and feeding the turtles.

The rest I do.  We all play our part and work together.


hand rear

How do you think this experience has benefitted them?  What have they learnt?

My children have a very healthy respect for animals.  They know what they need to survive and try their best to provide it.

It has also taught my children about life cycles and that everything lives and dies.  When something dies or we need to take it to the vet, we often talk about it and explain why.  My children come into the vet with me and my youngest tells the vet that this one is badly hurt and needs to be euthanised.  To begin with it was quite hard for them (and me) but we want the animals out of pain and their needs must be put first.

My eldest does get upset when some of the animals die.  He has a really good heart and nurturing streak and normally has put a lot of effort into keeping the animal alive.  We talk about what we have done to help the animal and why it came into care in the first place.  We do not get healthy animals (normally, sometimes we get ex-pets) so we know that there is not always a good chance of survival.  What we do know is that they are much better spending their last days quietly and calmly with us than being attacked in the wild.

My youngest is very matter of fact believing that when one dies it then becomes part of something else.  That is how he copes with the losses.  It might be just a coincidence but on the day that something dies we always get another animal in.  Maybe that's so we don't have time to dwell on our loss too much and to encourage us to continue caring!

It's a great way for children to learn so much... not just how to care for wildlife.  Your children are very privileged to be able to have these experiences.

Anything else you wish to say?

Please, please, please, please do not feed wild birds bread - be it magpies, ducks etc.  There is absolutely no nutritional value in bread for the animals.  It fills them up and they then do not eat their proper diet which can cause some serious health issues.  One major problem we encounter is when we get baby magpies in.  If their parents were fed bread then this bread is in turn fed back to the chicks who do not have their nutritional needs met and we encounter lots of nutrient deficient problems (weak legs, ill-formed wings etc).  This cannot be reversed.  Most of the times these babies need to be euthanised unless we spend lots of time performing physio and even then they are not releasable.
If anyone encounters an injured bird, contact Fauna Rescue (SA), RSPCA,  or take it to your local vet.  

Don't try to offer the bird water.  Wild birds who are injured and who have never been handled by humans before are often suffering from shock so it is best to keep them in a quiet place, nice and warm and dark.  Birds can last without food or water until you are able to get them to a carer.

Thanks so much Mandy for giving us an insight into your very busy, yet rewarding world!

Wildlife caring takes a lot of time and commitment, and can certainly be difficult emotionally at times, but it can also be rewarding.  Wildlife carers need to know what they are doing, or they can make matters worse, instead of better.  If you are interested in becoming a wildlife carer, or need to find one who can take an injured or orphaned animal, check out the links Mandy mentioned above, or those listed below.



http://www.wires.org.au/  (NSW)



http://www.tasfauna.org/index.php  (Tasmania)

http://www.nativeanimalrescue.org.au/NativeAnimals/wildcare.aspx  (Western Australia)


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Fauna Rescue Of South Australia Inc

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