INJURIES TO MACROPODS

 
 

3 Photos: Rob Schmidt

These 3 photos are a graphic illustration of a kangaroo that has been caught as described above, and scavenged alive. (Macropods are marsupials belonging to the family Macropodidae, which includes kangaroos , wallabies , tree-kangaroos , pademelons , and several others.)

Menkit Prince from northern NSW writes: “Kangaroos are usually creatures of habit and will return to areas of fencing that they know are weak, have been pushed through underneath or been knocked down. Farmers can make entrances for kangaroos by using old tractor tyres, cutting away one third of it and burying the ends in the ground, forming an arch. The tyre arch needs to be partially buried for support as the kangaroo passes through it. These tyre arches can be placed along the fencing where it is known that kangaroos pass through. This simple practice also deters livestock like sheep, preventing them from escaping. Kangaroos that jump over fences are nearly always caught by the top strainer wire and will eventually die from shock and starvation. These carcasses will attract flies and feral animals such as foxes on to the farm land. Foxes will subsequently prey on the lambs and injured sheep will be affected when flies lay eggs in open wounds, becoming fly blown or fly struck. The tyre arches will therefore benefit both the farmer and the kangaroo (Lander, C. (2003) Wildlife Education at Roo Gully Wildlife Sanctuary, W.A.)”

Another great idea for a swing gate to let kangaroos pass through can be read about here swing gate.pdf

Scroll down this page to see a fixed access point for kangaroos on Ross Thompson’s farm near Orange. “....they are nothing special. All that happened was I got sick of trying to stop the roos damaging my fences. So where they had made their main holes in the fence, rather than letting the netting hole get bigger and bigger and allowing domestic stock to get in and out of my neighbours, we simply welded three 1/2 iron posts in a square shape, banged the assembly into the ground in the fence line, and tied the netting off around it. So the effect is a small, say 2 x 2' square in the fence which the roos just hop through as required. Because it is flat, rather than dome shaped at the top, they probably scrape their backs a bit when they are pressured, but I doubt it worries them too much. By making it a little difficult it also deters calves from sneaking through...With a couple of these in the fence line, literally hundreds of Eastern Greys migrate between paddocks daily and make no impact on the rest of the fence. With them blocked off, the roos have been creating havoc with the netting once again...

Photos: Rob Schmidt

These photographs show the remains of adult wallabies who died hung up on deer fences. This type of fencing with open grid profile is dangerous to macropods. The wallaby missed the top and its leg went through the top grid and its body went forward over the top. There was no way it could have removed its leg from that situation. Unimaginable pain and fear!

The ones that are lucky enough to be found can be helped out. Cover the animal in a blanket – (sedate it if possible with valium under direction from a vet) – cut the wires with wire cutters – contain the animal and get it to a vet or carer.

Kangaroos more commonly get caught up in plain strand or barbed wire strand fences. Again they attempt a jump, miss the top, and the leg or sometimes both legs pass between the top wire and the next one down. The body then flies forward over the top and as it falls towards the ground, the legs act like a stick in the wires, pulling the top wire over the one under and effectively pinching the leg(s) in tight. If the fence is high or the roo is small the body may be suspended off the ground; if the roo is bigger or the fence is lower the body may be partially on the ground. Either way the result is the same – no hope of rescue without assistance - the animal dies slowly of capture myopathy (fear response) or dehydration or sometimes foxes or dogs come along and eat them alive.

This photo(left) shows a section of fence that trapped 3 kangaroos over a period of 1 year. All the kangaroos were about 2 years old.

The offending section of fence seemed to be a crossing point for kangaroos. The top strand was too high for this size roo, and the bottom strand too low for them to get under. Interestingly the roos continued to cross at this point after removal of the fence, some of them actually jumping over the non existing fence for some time afterwards.

The fence was a very well constructed highly tensioned standard 6 strand wire
fence with "spreaders" spaced regularly.

Photo: Rob Schmidt

Photos: Marcus Ward









This photo (Andy Mason, Yungaburra) shows a pademelon                         Fixed access for kangaroos near Orange, NSW.
that has been caught on the barbs, rather than a crush injury                     (Ross Thompson)
as described below.


Marcus Ward describing fence injuries in kangaroos and wallabies:
"The injuries are usually wire crush injuries, usually on the foot itself. Sometimes they don’t look too bloody or open but be assured that they will get worse before they get better. The crushing pressure destroys the tissues which die and slough off over the next few days usually leaving exposed bone. The photos (above) show one roo we saved with pretty shocking leg injuries. It is amazing how a fully grown adult roo can adapt to the whole business of captivity and handling for long periods of time while they are recovering. This one we had in our bathroom for two months. We initially covered the wounds with sterile dressings but then left them open to allow the roo to lick the area and keep it clean – which he did beautifully. With this injury the actual bone was damaged and the top layer of it died and had to slough off before the muscle tissue could slowly grow back over the area. (It came off in a big sheet one day and after that it was only a matter of three days before the wound closed over). Once he started to feel better we put him outside in a large roo yard with a straw lined shed – he pretty much immediately became wild again. We let him stay for a week or two until he could jump freely then we let him go. The last shots are of the same animal just prior to release.

Crush injuries can also sever the tendons which run along the top of the foot and results in the toe drooping. Often animals are put down when this is discovered but we have had some limited success with strapping the foot in a rolled newspaper splint and bandaged over. This allows enough flexibility for the foot to flex while holding the toe out. (If the toe droops it goes under the foot as the animal leaps and the tissues tear and the skin over the toe and foot rubs raw.) Over time the foot heals and although the tendons probably don’t reconnect the scarring must hold the toe out enough to allow the animal to jump freely.

Other fence hanging injuries include dislocation of the hip from all the pulling – soft tissue injuries – swelling in the upper leg from all the pulling and stress – capture myopathy."

Marcus continues with his ideas about macropod-friendly fencing:
" The best fencing is a solid panel of chicken wire as the hole profile is too small for a leg to go through. A solid panel of chicken wire with one plan wire above is not too bad – the leg could go through but could not make the top wire twist around the next wire as the chicken wire prevents that. Single strand wires are reasonable if the top wire and the next one down are far apart (like maybe 2 feet apart) and kept taught – anything to prevent that twisting effect. (Try it out with a stick the length of a roo leg on your fence.) Allowing a useful gap between the bottom wire and the ground allows the animals to go under – they are pretty smart and will go under if they can – especially the young ones. Of course it all depends on the type of domestic animals that the fence is designed to keep in. We keep a horse in with a plain strand fence of only two wires. Our roos go under easily and horse is contained. If trying to contain sheep this obviously wouldn’t work and chicken wire would be best. Cattle are the hardest to contain. Barbed wire isn’t ideal for the roos but a scratch / tear wound is not lethal – it’s the twisting that will kill them. Open profile wires like deer wire and ringlock are no good."

Gail Gipp, Australian Wildlife Hospital, has a similar opinion:
"The fencing that causes the most incidents of kangaroos being hung up is goat fencing wire. It has large about 15cm square holes. Young joeys that are no longer pouch bound go after mum and can't make the height, their leg goes through the hole and the square flips and entraps them. For other kangaroos, it's two strands of top wire - same thing their foot gets caught as they go over, the wire flips and their leg gets stuck. In joeys up to 10kg we have had reasonable success. It is usually torn ligaments rather than breaks, but it takes months to heal and you have to strap the leg, the same as a sports injury in humans. Any fencing that allows them to go under rather than over is best."













“ Reading the lovely story about the wild roo mother and her tangled joey reminded me of another story I heard recently from my aunt and uncle who live in the Coorong.  They were out walking one morning and disturbed accidentally a wild mob of western greys which took off over a large fence. Except a little at-heel joey could not make it over the fence and he tried and tried but couldn't clear it and kept smashing into it. My aunt and uncle beat a hasty retreat to avoid spooking them further and watched from a distance.  The little joey was becoming very distressed.  All the adult roos, including a massive male were waiting on the other side of the fence for the joey to make it over but despite many attempts it was too high for it.  So, one by one, every roo in the mob jumped back over the fence to join the joey and they then, as a group, led the joey further down the fence line where there was an open gate and that way the whole mob was able to continue on its way.  I just love that story.” Kerry Colmer


 

Photos by Amanda Yates from RSPCA Queensland