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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Help out koalas in the heat

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On the mend: Desley back-young and Dixie at the Koala Care Centre. The mother and child nearly died of heat stress earlier this year.
On the mend: Desley and Dixie at the Koala Care Centre. The mother and child nearly died of heat stress earlier this year.

Friends of the Koalas (FoK) are calling on north coast residents in areas with koalas to watch out for the marsupials during this hot and unusually dry summer.

The call follows the discovery of a stressed mother and back-baby, nicknamed Desley and Dixie (pictured), found clinging to the post of a patio at Ruthven on January 4.

Both were stressed and mother Desley was initially rejecting her baby Dixie.

A vet examination confirmed heat stress, dehydration and borderline anemia.

After two weeks in care at the Koala Care Centre in East Lismore, both critters are back on the road to recovery but locals are urged to keep an eye out for other koalas that may be in trouble.

Friends of the Koala care co-ordinator, Pat Barnidge advises people who live with koalas to take a few simple precautions, which will help thirsty animals get through long dry-spells.

‘Leaving bowls of water at the base of trees known to be used by koalas is a good start,’ Ms Barnidge said.

‘Dusk to dawn is acknowledged as their prime active time but koalas move around during the day as well.

‘If they are thirsty their keen sense of smell will lead them to garden ponds and even swimming pools.

‘Standard pool fencing isn’t always an effective deterrent for koalas.

‘While they can swim, getting out of a smooth-sided pool unaided is usually beyond them because their claws have no purchase.

‘Providing a rope or some other means of escape could prevent unforeseen calamity,’ she said.

Leaf provided for the koalas at the Koala Care Centre in East Lismore is being sprayed with water a couple of times a day.

Koala carer Susannah Keogh said ‘the leaf is so dry on these hot days that the koalas in care have been drinking around 50ml to 100ml water daily.

‘Many reports we’re receiving have been of chronically ill koalas that are not coping at all well with the heat,’ Ms Keogh said.

‘Even healthy koalas can become rapidly dehydrated if they are not able to find the fluids they need.’


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