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Wildlife caring and a pinkie joey called Raini (270 grams)

Animal carer, Denise McLean, talks about how she became a wildlife carer, and her night and day-shift nurse routine taking care of Raini, a very young baby kangaroo, and other macropod charges. Raini the pinkie joey's mother was a car accident victim. Raini was found in his dead mother's pouch by a woman as she was shifting the mother off the road. Fortunately for him, the woman called an animal rescue line.

Bringing Raini home

Raini was accidentally found as a tiny joey by a woman out walking one morning. His mother had been hit by a car. As she approached Raini's mother to move her off the road, the woman was shocked to see a movement in the dead kangaroo's pouch. Luckily the woman had her mobile with her. She rang her husband and he rang the rescue number.

I was the person on the other end of the animal rescue-line.

At only 270 grams, furless with eyes closed, the pinkie-Raini needed someone experienced and dedicated to care for him. I turned on the electric blanket and went out to bring my little Raini home.

The success rate with pinkies is not very high. They are very premature compared with a human baby. Joeys, normally brought up in their mother's pouch, are unable to thermoregulate until their fur grows (called "furring".) Until then they need to be kept at a temperature of between 33 and 34 degrees celsius.

Various methods are used to control temperature. Humidicribs would be the most ideal (but they are very expensive). I use an electric blanket that has been sewn into a pouch. I then suspend the pouch with the pinkie inside and put a temperature probe underneath the joey to monitor the temperature.

Here is a typical 24 hours in my life

At the moment I have Raini (whippy 1.2 kg) with his brain injury and now broken foot. Mickey (whippy 4 kg), Buddy (grey 4.5 kg), Rosie (grey 6 kg) + 2 others that still come home morning and night for bottles. With my injured shoulder and all the other day to day things, I just don't think I could take on another task at the moment.

Kangaroos are early risers and, baby kangaroos, like most babies, expect to be fed at all hours.

6am Alarm goes off. Get up, boil kettle for bottles and coffee. Feed Buddy (1.5 kg grey male kangaroo), then Raini. Must have drunk my coffee, cup is empty. Clean up bottles etc.

7am Might have another cuppa. Boil kettle. Max and Molly (15 kg grey male and 20 kg grey female) are here for their morning bottle. Feed Max & Molly, spend some special time with them. They have their morning pieces of sweet potato (hand fed of course), pats and tick search. Coffee is cold now, only drank about ¼ cup. Oh well.

7.40am Have shower and get dressed.

8am Spend 10 minutes in sun with Raini (he needs his vitamin D for his fast growing bones). Rub paw paw ointment on tail. Moisturise rest of body.

8.20am Put on load of washing, wash Raini’s liners, make bed.

8.45am Boil kettle for Raini’s syringes etc. Prepare bottles and medicine, feed Raini. Moisturise and attend to tail. Clean up bottles etc.

9.30am Hang out washing. Check emails (nothing important so they can wait).

10am Feed Buddy, take him for a walk. Clean up bottles

10.40am Must go to town and get some supplies.

11.15am Get home from town, have a cuppa and something to eat (haven’t had a chance yet). Make some coleslaw for lunch. Garry is coming home from work so am making some nice salads (mostly from the vege garden).

11.45am Boil kettle for Raini’s syringes etc. Feed him and attend to moisturizing. Clean up bottles etc.

12.40pm Have lunch and rest. I should clean up the kitchen but it can wait. Rest interrupted by 2 phone calls.

1.50pm Boil kettle for Buddy’s 2pm bottle. Feed Buddy, take him for walk. Clean up bottles etc.

2.30pm Clean kitchen (see, I did get to it). Boil kettle for Raini’s 3pm bottle. Max and Molly have turned up. Have weaned them off their daytime bottles but they still come home to see if one is on offer. Gave them some mixture (chaff and steamed flaked oats) and shut door so they couldn’t come inside.

3.10pm Feed Raini, sit outside in sun for 10 minutes with him. Clean up bottles/syringes, put everything on to boil (to sterilize joey equipment). Boil water to make up formula later. Check on Buddy. Take him outside for a while to get some sun. Pick some grass for him and put him back in his pouch.

4pm Take washing off line, fold and put away. Let chooks out, clean and refill water, collect eggs.

4.30pm Now I am going to sit down and rest for half and hour.

5pm Make up 24 hours worth of bottles for Raini and Buddy. Put dishes away. Clean up bottle making equipment. Prepare veges for tea.

5.30pm Max and Molly have come in to see about a bottle. Haven’t got any formula made up. Make formula and prepare bottles. Feed Max and Molly, give them some chaff. Clean up again.

6pm Get everything ready to feed Buddy and Raini. Feed Buddy, Garry will have to take him for a nurse and a walk as I am now late feeding Raini. Feed Raini, have cuddles and moisturize tail Clean up bottles etc.

7pm Cook tea and eat.

7.45pm That’s it, I have to have a lie down for a bit. Was going to give Raini some lectade but will do it later.

8.40pm Boil kettle for Raini’s bottle etc. At least I got nearly 1 full hour of rest.

9pm Feed Raini, attend to tail. Clean bottles etc.

9.45pm Boil kettle for Buddys bottle.

10pm Feed Buddy. Clean bottles.

10.20pm What to do now. Need to go to bed, am so, so tired but, Raini needs his 2nd lectade. Washing up not done from tea.

10.30pm OK, do washing up. Attend to Raini’s bed, temperature is rising.

10.45pm Boil kettle for Raini’s lectade. Feed Raini, clean up.

11pm Go to bed.

Baby kangaroos require night feeds

Midnight Alarm goes off. Get up, feed Raini, wash bottles.

12.40am Go back to bed.

2.15am Alarm goes off. Get up, feed Buddy, feed Raini, wash bottles.

3am Go back to bed.

6am Alarm goes off and so starts another day, another milestone for Raini.


Hi Sheila,
Wow, your day is certainly full. I don't know how you do so much and keep going.
You are a wonderful person to doing this in order to save our Wildlife.
I am sure that once you look into those darling little eyes of your Joey's you would be smitten.
Well done and bless you.

Hi Jillian,

I only published and edited the article. It was actually the carer, Denise McLean, who wrote it and who looks after these little animals. I am glad you enjoyed the article. Are you a carer? We always like to hear from them. Send in your stories or post them as comments.

Sheila Newman