time ago now I raised and released a very beautiful Wallaroo called Squilch.
Nearly a year after Squilch was released at Fourth Crossing, during which time
we rarely saw her, Squilch returned with a joey in the pouch.
were in the middle of a pretty harsh drought and Squilch was doing it tough. She
was skinny, you could see her ribs quite clearly, and her fur looked a bit drab.
As this was her first joey we figured she had returned home for some help from
"mum and dad".
Over the next few days we got a glimpse of Squilch's joey or at least bits of
it.... a tail here, a foot there. It was a wee little pinkie we estimated at being
under 1kg, or around four months old.
What we couldn't work out at the time was why Squilch's pouch was so big for such
a small joey. It took us several weeks to find out the reason why. At the time
though we thought that maybe the joey was young but quite healthy and was bigger
than it should be? Maybe that's why Squilch looked a bit gaunt, because the joey
was taking most of the nutrient from Squilch's diet?
Squilch stayed close by our home for some time and we provided supplement food
for her. She never strayed far away, but she was free to roam as she pleased.
took great pleasure in witnessing her huge joey, or at least her pouch, grow and
grow and grow. Squilch also put on weight and a sheen returned to her coat The
support we were giving her was clearly doing good.
first true glimpse we got of the joey was when it was very lightly furred. Finally
a beautiful head emerged and took her first look around at the world. We named
we scratched our heads and pondered on the size of the joey.
once the joey was lightly furred Squilch relaxed the muscles in her pouch and
we got our first view inside her pouch. It finally clicked as to why the
joey was so big. There wasn't just one - there were two!
seemed so proud to show us her babies. She allowed us on several occasions to
open her pouch and tickle the chin of Quil and the "new" joey Foob -
and to get a photo or two.
took this as a great opportunity to study the joeys growth and development. It
isn't often that a wildlife carer gets an opportunity like this, and we felt very
privileged to be able to witness the joeys so closely and watch them grow.
the next few weeks Squilch seemed to become more and more laboured with the twins
in the pouch. Her pouch started to drag along the ground and as there was little
pouch room for two growing joeys, "bits" of them often protruded obscenely
from the pouch opening. Squilch was often seen accidentally jumping on a joeys
dragging foot or tail. I imagine it would have been quite painful for the joeys.
joeys fully emerge from the pouch at around three to three and a half kilograms.
By this stage the twins were around two kilograms each, equaling four kilograms
- normally well past the emerged weight.
this stage the joeys started taking turns in spending time and being quite active
out of the pouch, which is too normally too soon for increased activity. Interestingly,
it was Foob that seemed to be out of the pouch more regularly than Quil (we had
learnt to tell them apart by their slight differences). The soft pads on their
feet weren't quite ready for such activity and looked red and sore. The out of
pouch joey also seemed quite distressed at being out for such long periods and
often cried and tried to get back in the pouch, which Squilch would not allow.
when the out of pouch joey appeared very distressed we would pick it up and give
it a cuddle for support. Both of the joeys had become accustomed to us and were
used to our smells, although Foob was always more at ease with us then Quil was.
A cuddle often settled the joey and afterwards we would help it back into the
afternoon when the joeys were just over 2kg Squilch tried to get into our back
yard, where we had raised her. At the time we were raising another mob of assorted
macropods and Sassy, another Wallaroo, was one of them. Sassy and Squilch did
not like each other and often had spats through the fence. Because of this we
were reluctant to let Squilch into the yard in case they ended up in a fight.
However, Squilch was quite determined and seemed to get more and more distressed,
so the gate was opened and in she jumped. All the macropods, including Sassy,
some Eastern Grey Kangaroos, and a Swamp Wallaby all headed down the back to the
dam. As evening fell Todd and I retired indoors and later to bed.
midnight we were woken by a loud commotion coming from beside the house. "Oh
no" we thought, Squilch and Sassy were at it. We hightailed it outside to
disperse the roo crowd only to come across one of the most distressing sights
I have ever seen.
was no where in sight. The commotion we were witnessing was actually Squilch attacking
Foob as she tried desperately to get back into the pouch where Quil was safe and
snug. As Foob tried to edge near to Squilch her mother would lash out, both scratching
and biting the terrified joey. Foob in here sheer fright had pee'd herself and
seemed utterly confused and terrified by her mothers actions.
rushed up and swooped Foob up in his arms and quickly handed her to me where I
snuggled her close to my chest. Her heart was pounding hard and her eyes were
as round as saucers.
Foob was away Squilch visibly settled and Todd stroked her head for a couple of
minutes to soothe her further. When we thought that all was OK Todd took Foob
and tried to return her to Squilch's pouch. Squilch reared aggressively and attacked
Todd, this time lashing out with her hind legs, luckily Todd sustained no injuries
but he was quite shocked as Squilch had never acted aggressively with us before.
So, he again handed me Foob and I quickly located a makeshift pouch to put her
Foob was out of sight Squilch waited at the gate to be let out, which Todd did.
As I settled Foob inside, Todd sat with Squilch for around 20 minutes, gave her
some food and stroked her head. Squilch then hopped away into the bush, not to
be seen again for a few days.
Apparently, we had been given Foob as she could no longer cope with the twins.
It was a humbling moment for us - that Squilch trusted us to give us one of her
joeys was an amazing feeling.
we set about raising Foob as an orphan, although Squilch did return to visit every
so often. We didn't quite trust Squilch not to attack Foob again though so we
only allowed them to touch noses now and then. Both seemed happy with the contact.
and Sassy become good friends and oftentimes Sassy would lie next to Foob while
she was in her makeshift pouch. They often "talked" to each other too
and I was glad that I had another Wallaroo in care during Foob's time with us.
weeks down the track Squilch had an accident. She had ventured into our garage
and somehow got a blind wrapped around her leg. Todd was outside at the time and
told me how Squilch had exited the garage at high speed with the blind trailing
behind. The noise and movement of the blind frightened Squilch and she was trying
to escape the "predator". She took a huge leap over the water bore and
as she flew sailed through the air the blind caught on the bore and Squilch crashed
to the ground. Unfortunately, Quil kept on going and flew through the air and
landed heavily some metres away.
rushed to Quil and found her to unconscious. For a few moments he thought she
was dead, but slowly she came around as he cradled her in his arms. Squilch by
this time had become untangled and moved up to Todd and softly clucked at her
joey. I had heard the commotion and was now at Todd's side. As Todd held the joey
we saw that Squilch's actions were vastly different to the time she had rejected
was in a pretty bad way. We contemplated taking her into care and maybe replacing
her with Foob. But as we watched Squilch and saw the maternal bond with her daughter
we decided to let nature take its course and we put Quil back into Squilch's pouch.
She hopped off into the bush and we hoped that all would be OK.
was another week or so before we saw Squilch again and we were ecstatic to see
that Quil had survived!
Although our elation didn't last long.
the next few days we witnessed Quil's highly erratic behaviour, sadly it appeared
she had received brain damage in the fall.
was still very small and was at the stage where she would be at mums side constantly.
We were dismayed to often see the tiny joey disappear into the bush on her own.
Squilch rarely followed.
at about the same time that Quil received her brain injuries, Foob character changed
dramatically. Where before she had been quite cuddly with both me and Todd, she
also started acting strangely and hated Todd or I touching her. When we collected
her to put her in her pouch she would hiss and kick out at us. We marveled at
how the twins seemed to be psychically connected, albeit with a not so pleasant
weeks passed and Foob and Quil grew. Although we didn't have the opportunity to
weigh both of the twins we saw that they both grew at about the same rate.
continued to be quite odd and Foob continued to hate us. Sadly, Quil finally disappeared
from Squilch's side and we supposed that she had been taken by a fox or had met
some other awful fate. We figured her to be too small to survive in the wild on
long after Quil disappeared Squilch started to visit more and more often. She
easily jumped into the front garden where we housed Foob along with her older
day Squilch would visit Foob and she had even mellowed enough to tolerate Sassy!
The three of them became a little mob of their own.
Foob grew, each time Squilch would leave the front garden - with an effortless
jump over the fence - Foob would longingly look after her mum as she bounded into
the bush. On several occasions Squilch would stop to see if Foob was following.
day, several months after Squilch had entered our yard and given us her joey,
we allowed Foob to go back to her mum.
Squilch left the garden and turned to look at Foob, we opened the gate to allow
Foob to follow. With tears in our eyes we watched as Foob followed her mother
- without a backward glance - into the bush.
and daughter were well and truly reunited.
was not long to follow. The three Wallaroos were returned to the bush, back where
wondered what would happen next time Squilch had a joey. Would there be two? Would
we go through the same situation again? What if we weren't around when if it happened
again? What if one didn't make it?
needn't have worried. The second time around, Squilch got it right. Her daughter,
Uno, was one of a kind!
a year later we saw two Wallaroos, very close together, looking awfully similar
in appearance - right down to the white stripes on the tips of their noses (just
like Squilch had).
Quil was alive after all!
we couldn't too close enough to Quil as she was truly wild we're quite confident
that it was her. We are so pleased that she was reunited with her sister Foob
and her mother Squilch.
three - and Sassy too - still live in the area today.