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Road Kill - Spring is a time for lots of new life; flowers are blooming and babies are being born.

Sadly, highways and animals are always a bad mix. I am more than aware that accidents happen and that for a multitude of reasons people try their best to avoid hitting wildlife. What is important is what we do as drivers to avoid it, and what we do after such an accident happens. In Australia there are many species of marsupials who are often carrying young with them in their pouches. These car accident tragedies have their death toll double when a joey is left to die inside their mothers pouch. If you hit any kind of marsupial in your car, please, check for a baby.

This photo was a baby I found a couple days ago. He had died in his mothers pouch before I had gotten there. If collected soon after the accident this precious little one would have had a second chance at life. Each time I find young like this, perished in the cold or due to starvation, I really struggle to want to leave them. It takes me sometimes minutes of holding their lifeless bodies before I am able to accept that they really are gone; I was indeed just a bit too late.

Additional to checking pouches of any animals we hit ourselves, checking animals we spot laying on the side of the road can also be a second chance at life for these little ones left behind. No doubt hundreds of people drove past this joey while he was dying, just one person pulling over was needed to save him. People who do are so few and far between that like my experience, the joey has already died by the time I pass by, usually no more than a few hours before.

If you do think this is something you can do, it is well worth it for the inevitable occasion that you will find a live baby inside. Here is some guidance of how to check for, and possibly retrieve a joey from the mother's pouch;
When checking deceased animals for joeys, you first need to determine if the animal is female to have a pouch. If the animal is a female you will then need to have a firm and thorough feel over the pouch area of the deceased mother for any lumps to indicate a joey inside. If she is anything but completely smooth it is worth checking for a joey. When a body has been laying for a little while the skin becomes very stiff making it difficult to open the pouch, if this is the case you will have to cut it open. This is no where near as uncomfortable as it sounds but having sharp scissors in your car ready make the process much easier. Before any cutting begins in case it isn't absolutely clear, make sure to touch around the mother's eye to check for response before cutting her. Eyes are very responsive so if there is any life left there will likely be slight flinching when touched. Once confirmed dead, you can continue. When the pouch is exposed, if there is a baby inside and they are very small you are best to also cut the teat from the mother as when they are young their mouths are often fused to their mothers teat, and if removed by force it would cause damage to their jaw. Then the most important thing is to keep the joey warm, so put he or she into something that makes them snug (less wriggling = less stress) and then pop them into your shirt so you can share your warmth with them. You then are able to contact Fauna Rescue to arrange for a carer to take over raising the baby. And just like that, a little life has another chance. Please do not attempt to raise the baby yourself without guidance by experienced carers.

Finally on this post I would like to add a list of things I have learnt as being driving conditions which increase your likelihood of hitting wildlife. If these conditions are present, driving should be done with more caution and slower speeds. In [roughly] order of significance simply from my anecdotal experience of living most of my life in the country, here is a list of risk factors;

1) Between dusk and dawn (especially if hot during the day)
2) Just after lots of rain (especially if it's been dry before the rain)
3) Near waterways/rivers/low lying areas
4) Winding roads (you won't see them, they won't see you)
5) During particularly dry times like the middle of summer (where they will seek the side of the road to feed)

Witness #1 - VIC, Australia

Road Kill

Spring is a time for lots of new life; flowers are blooming and babies are being born.

Sadly, highways and animals are always a bad mix. I am more than aware that accidents happen and that for a multitude of reasons people try their best to avoid hitting wildlife. What is important is what we do as drivers to avoid it, and what we do after such an accident happens. In Australia there are many species of marsupials who are often carrying young with them in their pouches. These car accident tragedies have their death toll double when a joey is left to die inside their mothers pouch. If you hit any kind of marsupial in your car, please, check for a baby.

This photo was a baby I found a couple days ago. He had died in his mothers pouch before I had gotten there. If collected soon after the accident this precious little one would have had a second chance at life. Each time I find young like this, perished in the cold or due to starvation, I really struggle to want to leave them. It takes me sometimes minutes of holding their lifeless bodies before I am able to accept that they really are gone; I was indeed just a bit too late.

Additional to checking pouches of any animals we hit ourselves, checking animals we spot laying on the side of the road can also be a second chance at life for these little ones left behind. No doubt hundreds of people drove past this joey while he was dying, just one person pulling over was needed to save him. People who do are so few and far between that like my experience, the joey has already died by the time I pass by, usually no more than a few hours before.

If you do think this is something you can do, it is well worth it for the inevitable occasion that you will find a live baby inside. Here is some guidance of how to check for, and possibly retrieve a joey from the mother's pouch;
When checking deceased animals for joeys, you first need to determine if the animal is female to have a pouch. If the animal is a female you will then need to have a firm and thorough feel over the pouch area of the deceased mother for any lumps to indicate a joey inside. If she is anything but completely smooth it is worth checking for a joey. When a body has been laying for a little while the skin becomes very stiff making it difficult to open the pouch, if this is the case you will have to cut it open. This is no where near as uncomfortable as it sounds but having sharp scissors in your car ready make the process much easier. Before any cutting begins in case it isn't absolutely clear, make sure to touch around the mother's eye to check for response before cutting her. Eyes are very responsive so if there is any life left there will likely be slight flinching when touched. Once confirmed dead, you can continue. When the pouch is exposed, if there is a baby inside and they are very small you are best to also cut the teat from the mother as when they are young their mouths are often fused to their mothers teat, and if removed by force it would cause damage to their jaw. Then the most important thing is to keep the joey warm, so put he or she into something that makes them snug (less wriggling = less stress) and then pop them into your shirt so you can share your warmth with them. You then are able to contact Fauna Rescue to arrange for a carer to take over raising the baby. And just like that, a little life has another chance. Please do not attempt to raise the baby yourself without guidance by experienced carers.

Finally on this post I would like to add a list of things I have learnt as being driving conditions which increase your likelihood of hitting wildlife. If these conditions are present, driving should be done with more caution and slower speeds. In [roughly] order of significance simply from my anecdotal experience of living most of my life in the country, here is a list of risk factors;

1) Between dusk and dawn (especially if hot during the day)
2) Just after lots of rain (especially if it's been dry before the rain)
3) Near waterways/rivers/low lying areas
4) Winding roads (you won't see them, they won't see you)
5) During particularly dry times like the middle of summer (where they will seek the side of the road to feed)

Witness #1
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Uploaded: Sun 12 May 2019 by Bear Witness Australia
Captured: Not specified
Location: VIC, Australia
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