THE VERY BEST OPTION FOR A RESCUED JOEY IS TO ORGANISE GETTING IT TO AN EXPERIENCED WILDIFE CARER IMMEDIATELY.
Basic Initial Care
- The key requirements for urgent short term care of joeys are WARMTH, QUIET and FLUIDS
- An orphaned joey must be given a pouch or something warm to snuggle in. A pillowslip is a good internal pouch and then slip this into a warm blanket or polar fleece bag. The pouch should hang supported just above, but not touching the floor, between feeds. Joeys also require extra external warmth for well being and to recover from shock. A furred joey should be kept at around 28 – 30 degrees using an animal heat pad, or failing that using a covered hot water bottle or heat pad in the bag. Furless joeys should be kept at around 32 - 34 degrees constantly. The temperature must be monitored constantly with a thermometer as fluctuations in temperature can quickly kill a small joey. If you do not have a thermometer, in the short term a simple check is to feel the joey’s feet –they should be toasty warm but not hot. The heat source must not be touching the joey as it may burn it or cause overheating and dehydration – always place several layers of towelling or material between the heat source and the joey and monitor the heat at all times.
- Keep the joey in a quiet place in the house and away from children, other animals and the TV. The joey must be allowed to sleep uninterrupted between feeds as the stress from frequent handling or noise can setoff serious illness or death.
- The joey must be warm before you attempt to feed it. There are a variety of formulas available for kangaroos. In an emergency Lactose Free milk can be used but only for a matter of hours as it does not contain the correct nutrients for healthy joey growth. DO NOT GIVE KANGAROOS COWS MILK - THIS WILL KILL THEM. KANGAROOS ARE LACTOSE INTOLERANT. Please speak to an experienced kangaroo carer urgently when you get a joey in to discuss what to feed it and how to do so. Joeys will often be very difficult to feed when first in care as they are stressed and there are special techniques to do this, as well as special equipment such as bottles and teats designed specifically for kangaroo joeys.
- Joeys need to be toileted every three to four hours. This is done by wiping a damp tissue across the cloaca (not testicles) which will stimulate the joey to urinate or defecate. Continue until the flow stops.
- Cleanliness is essential. Sterilize any equipment used to feed the joey, and change the pouch immediately it becomes soiled by faeces or formula.
- It is essential that anyone who has not cared for a joey successfully must ring for advice as soon as possible, preferably within an hour of getting the joey into care. Weigh the joey so the experienced carer you call has an idea of age and weight and is able to give the correct advice.
- MANY PEOPLE ON FINDING A JOEY ARE TEMPTED TO KEEP IT WITHOUT CONSIDERING WHAT WILL HAPPEN AS IT GETS OLDER.
There are many considerations:
- Kangaroo carers tend to be people who do not work full or part time away from home.
- Joeys require 24hr care (as you would give an infant) and need to be with you at all times whilst small.
- Raising a joey is long term, and quite expensive for around 10 – 12 months. (a joey of around 2 kilos is approximately 7 months old)
- Depending on the species, joeys are weaned at 14 - 18 months old.
- Gradually as they start to emerge from the pouch they require supervised time outside several times a day, which over months becomes less supervised as they gain confidence and are less reliant on you.
- Joeys need a quiet garden large enough to get up to full speed as they grow. Or preferably carers with property where the carer has room to have a compound and can keep kangaroos for their lifetime (approx 14 -20 years)
- Preferably no dogs (or dogs can be kept separately) loud machinery or noisy neighbours that could frighten the animals.
- Joeys must be kept away from cats and their litter or toilet area as cat faeces can carry a protozoan called toxoplasmosis (even if the cat shows no symptoms) which is fatal in joeys.
- Kangaroos are mob animals and crave others of their kind which reduces the stress on the animals and gives them others to bond to.
- Kangaroos are not released in South Australia and are best cared for by people with properly constructed compounds in which to house them for their for their lifetime.
- If you keep a kangaroo you must get a permit from Dept Environment and Heritage. Although a joey is very cute, it will rapidly become a very large animal with specialised needs (including feed requirements, habitat and the need to be with others of its species). When larger they do not make good pets. It is essential to think long and hard about whether you have the facilities to care for this animal for its lifetime (up to 20 years) or whether it is the interests of the animal that it be handed to someone who is able to do so.
These are only very basic initial instructions. Please contact your nearest Wildlife Group and speak to an experienced Kangaroo carer for more information or to organise to place the joey into care.
The Complete Guide to the Care of Macropods
The Complete Guide to the Care of Macropods by Lynda Staker is a comprehensive guide to hand rearing, rehabilitation and captive management of kangaroo species.
See flyer for more information. (PDF, 148 kB)
Western Grey Joey
Red Kangaroo Joey
Euro or Wallaroo Joey