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During the summer months when we experience consecutive days of extremely high temperatures, many species of wildlife will suffer dehydration and exhaustion. Placing shallow containers of water around your yard during hot days and especially through heat waves really helps your local wildlife. Keeping your cats and dogs indoors also spares wildlife that may be more vulnerable and in a weakened state. If possums are on the ground looking for water during the daylight hours, they’ll be at a high risk of being preyed upon.
In extreme cases of heat exhaustion where the animal is convulsing or unconscious or an animal is obviously injured the animal should be promptly transported in a ventilated container to your local vet clinic if it is safe for you to do so. Or alternatively log a case and we will look for a trained rescuer to retrieve the animal as soon as possible. Be mindful that animals may have burns on their feet from walking on hot tarmac or tin roofs and this would require veterinary attention.
If however the animal is showing signs of heat stress but is still conscious and uninjured, there are some steps you can take at home to try and help the animal recover and avoid the added stress of a trip to the vet:
If you have found a heat stressed animal please read the following advice and log a case.
If you’ve found an adult bird or ringtail possum (white tipped tail) suffering from heat stress and it’s safe to do so:
Keep in mind that any handling and interaction with humans is stressful to a wild animal so, please keep this to a minimum.
If the animal recovers (i.e. appearing alert, responsive, feisty, or vocalising) birds may be returned to where they were found once it has cooled down outside. Possums must not be released until after dark as they are nocturnal. They can be kept contained for the rest of the day and released at the base of the closest tree to where they were found. If however the animal shows no sign of improvement within one to two hours, please take it to your local vet clinic. Cool the car down before transporting the animal and please keep your radio off and all noise levels low to minimise the stress on the creature. If you are unable to transport the animal yourself please log a case and we will look for a trained volunteer to attend as soon as possible. Please remember that on extremely hot days we will be inundated with emergency calls and all our volunteers will be stretched to the limit so please assist the animal directly if you are able.
Grey-headed flying-foxes (also known as fruit bats) suffer terribly in the heat. It is important never to touch or handle a flying-fox under any circumstance as there is a risk of contracting Australian Bat Lyssavirus, a rare disease similar to rabies which can be transmitted through bites and scratches. If there is a bat entangled in your fruit tree netting, please log a case with us so we can send out a trained and vaccinated rescuer. If a bat is entangled on a hot day it can die of heat exhaustion very quickly. You can help keep it cool until our rescuer arrives:
to the Emergency
8,239 Animals Reported
Referred to 955
Individuals or Organisations
Explore the map to see which animals were in need of our help in your local area last month. The points on this map all relate to a single animal, or family of animals, reported to Wildlife Victoria last month. (Yes, this is just one month!)