FAQs About Wildlife
Q. Does Wildlife Victoria deal with non-native animals?
If you have found a non-native animal such as a pigeon, rabbit or fox, please be aware that Wildlife Victoria is only able to provide hands-on assistance with native animals. For assistance with non-native animals, including domestic animals such as cats or dogs, please contact the RSPCA on 9224 2222 or your local council.
Q. How many calls does Wildlife Victoria receive?
Wildlife Victoria's Emergency phone lines operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During busy periods, like spring and summer, the Wildlife Victoria Emergency Response Service receives up to 300 calls a day.
Q. Is Wildlife Victoria funded by the government to rescue native wildlife?
No. Wildlife Victoria does not receive any funding from the government. Our network of wildlife volunteers are all unpaid. Donations are received from the community to continue the work of the Emergency Response Service which receives hundreds of calls each day. If you would like to make a donation to help maintain this crucial service, please click here.
Q. Is wildlife protected by the law?
All native wildlife is protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. It is an offence to harm native wildlife or move them from where they are found. Wildlife Victoria is here to help wildlife that is orphaned, sick or injured but we are not able to relocate healthy animals.
Q. What do I do if I can visibly see the animal is injured?
If it is safe for you to do so, please consider taking the animal directly to your nearest veterinary clinic for assessment. Most vets will not charge to treat native wildlife. Use a towel or blanket to cover the animal, pick it up gently and firmly, and place it into a well-ventilated box for transport. Please keep the animal warm, in a dark and quiet environment. Do not transport the animal in the boot of your car or attempt to give any food/water.
As these animals are wild, some can be dangerous when injured or stressed. This includes larger animals and their young such as kangaroos, wallabies, wombats or koalas, but also fruit bats (flying-foxes), snakes and birds of prey. These animals should only be handled by an experienced rescuer or wildlife carer to avoid injury to you or further stress and injury to the animal. Please call our Emergency Response Service on 13 000 94535 ASAP. If you are able to do so, please stay with the animal and keep an eye on it from a short distance away while you wait for a volunteer to arrive.
Q. What do I do if I have found a young bird?
During spring, many of Victoria's young birds are going through the fledgling stage of their development. After fledglings emerge out of their nest, they can spend up to 2 weeks on the ground while learning to fly. During this period, they are still being fed by their parents and should not be interfered with unless obviously injured. Many swooping birds that people perceive as aggressive, are simply trying to be good parents. This protective behaviour lasts only a few weeks. You can protect yourself by wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella while in the area.
Q. What do I do if I have found some ducklings?
Mother ducks are on the move in spring time, walking their clutch of ducklings for up to 2 days to search for food and water sources. They often hatch their young in suburban gardens and make their way to nearby parks, creeks and natural reserves. In most situations they do not require a rescue, should be left alone and allowed to go on their way. However, if you believe the ducklings are in some sort of danger, please call the Emergency Response Service on 13 000 94535.
Q. What do I do if I have found a possum?
If you have found a baby possum and its parents are nowhere to be seen, ring the Emergency Response Service on 13 000 94535 to speak to one of the operators. The possum can be wrapped in something warm and soft and placed in a box in a quiet, dark area. You can keep it warm by filling a hot water bottle or drink bottle with hot water from the tap (not boiling water from the kettle), wrapping the hot water bottle in two layers of towel and placing it underneath the possum. Please do not attempt to give the possum anything to eat or drink. A possum that has been brought in by your cat will need to be assessed by a vet, even if it is not visibly injured.
Q. What if I have an echidna in my garden?
Echidnas can travel up to 10km from their burrows per day, leaving their young behind for 5 to 7 days in search for food. If you see an echidna, please keep your dog inside the house. If the echidna is not injured, it will move on within 24 hours, so please be patient. If it’s injured, please call the Emergency Response Service on 13 000 94535 for assistance.
Q. I have flying-foxes (fruit bats) in my garden. What should I do?
These amazing animals are close to primates in intelligence and are a threatened species here in Victoria. They are essential to our eco-system and over 20 species of trees depend upon them for survival. If there are fruit bats feeding from trees in or near your garden, they are attracted to the temporary food source while the trees are fruiting or flowering and are not likely to be around for more than a few weeks. Netting thrown loosely over trees often causes fatal injuries when fruit bats become entangled and struggle desperately to escape. Wildlife-friendly alternatives are available; click here for a brochure on wildlife friendly netting options.
IMPORTANT: Please DO NOT handle a sick or injured flying fox. Call the Emergency Response Service on 13 000 94535 for assistance and wait for a trained rescuer to arrive.
Q. What do I do if I have found a snake or another reptile?
Increased temperatures in spring and summer mean that snakes and other reptiles often come out to bask in the sun. Wildlife Victoria cannot relocate healthy animals so please consider phoning a licensed snake handler. If you require contact details of a snake handler, please call our Emergency Response Service on 13 000 94535 for assistance. Blue tongued lizards are harmless to people and benefit your garden by feeding on snails and slugs.
Q. Did you know that around 30% of emergency calls are due to cats and dogs injuring wildlife?
Wildlife Victoria endorses responsible pet ownership. Please click here to view our fact sheet on Pets and Wildlife.
If your cat has brought you a possum or bird, it will need immediate veterinary attention, even if no injury is evident. Please take the injured animal to a nearby veterinarian ASAP or contact our Emergency Response Service on 13 000 94535 for further assistance.
Q. What do I do if I have found a turtle?
Turtles found wandering, even in suburban areas, are rarely escaped pets and are mostly wild animals. As long as the turtle is not injured, it can be transported in an escape-proof box to the nearest natural water source and released. If the turtle has a cracked shell or any other visible injuries please contact our Emergency Response Service on 13 000 94535 for further assistance.
Q. What if I find a dead animal?
If you find a dead animal lying beside the road and you can safely do so, please pull over in a safe spot on the side of the road. Turn your vehicle off and contact our Emergency Response Service on 13 000 94535 for further assistance. Many of our native animals are marsupials which means they carry pouch young, including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats and possums. Even if the adult animal has been killed, there is still a good chance that her pouch young may have survived, can be rescued, rehabilitated and released back to the wild.
Installing a possum box in your garden is a great way to lend a helping hand to your local wildlife and a smart option to offer alternate accommodation to your house roof. If you or a family member possesses basic woodwork skills you can Click Here to download instructions to construct your own possum box. Alternatively you can visit either of the sites below to order possum boxes.
St Patricks College in Ballarat are also selling possum boxes constructed by their students. The project involves them donating half the boxes to wildlife shelters and selling half to fund the construction of more. So every possum box purchased equals one donated to a wildlife rehabilitator. Contact: (03) 5322 4313
The Glenroy Men's Shed Community Group located in the northern suburbs of Melbourne also have possum boxes for sale. Contact: (03) 9304 3910