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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Glider gets a new home

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Animal welfare group WIRES tells a local success story

A female squirrel glider came into the care of animal welfare group WIRES in March. Shane Milgate and his two children Chloe and Braydon found her near their home in Goonellabah after she had been attacked by a cat. Shane called WIRES and the little glider was picked up and immediately put on antibiotics to counter infection from the attack. Cats have bacteria on their claws and teeth that are fatal to our native wildlife. She was not well for the first few days but she pulled through.

The squirrel glider is a threatened species, owing to loss of habitat. It is a beautiful animal with gorgeous round black eyes, a cute face and very soft fur.

When the glider was transferred to a WIRES carer, she weighed 96 grams – her body was about the size of a small mouse. At first she was kept in a beanie with a cotton liner and fed four times a day with milk specially prepared for mammals. Once she became accustomed to the carer and her feeding routine, a little drey was made out of a cardboard box and placed in a cocky cage with plenty of native foliage and flowers. After a few weeks, she was moved into a large aviary outside so she could get fit and strong, jumping and gliding and climbing from branch to branch.

By late May she had grown to 180 grams and it was time to release her back into the wild. WIRES contacted Shane and it was arranged to release her where she had been found. When the day for release arrived, Shane attached the drey up high in a tree chosen by the carer. The carer climbed up and put the glider in the drey, then stuffed the opening with a cloth so she couldn’t get out as it was still daytime.

The team waited until dark and returned to the tree. Chloe held the torch as the carer climbed up and removed the cloth. Instantly the squirrel glider’s face appeared at the opening and she climbed out to have a look at her new home. She climbed onto a branch and sniffed the air first up and then hanging down. All watched her for about 20 minutes as she explored the area not too far from her drey.

The glider has every likelihood of joining her original family. This could not have been accomplished without Shane. It was an excellent result and another example of what can be accomplished for our wildlife with cooperation between WIRES and the public.

There are still serious concerns, however. In the neighbourhood where the glider lives, many big old trees are being felled to build new suburbs. Those trees are not only home to gliders but also important to other wildlife. We must find ways to progress without destroying the balance of nature that enables all of us to survive. Plans for new home construction should endeavour to retain mature trees and shrubbery. Cat owners should keep their pets inside at night – it is safer for your pet and for our wildlife.

WIRES welcomes calls seeking information or reporting your sightings or experiences. The all-volunteer organisation is looking for caring people to train as licensed volunteer wildlife rescuers and carers. There are also many other ways to help including staffing the hotline service, administration, fundraising and catering. Give WIRES a call on the 24-hour hotline 6628 1898 or go to their website at www.wiresnr.org.

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