It was like one of those moments you’ve heard about, but you’ve always thought would never happen. We were driving through outback Queensland, between the remote towns of Winton and Longreach when Thom suddenly spotted a baby kangaroo joey sitting in the pouch of his dead mother on the side of the road.
As we were driving by he just spotted this little cutie’s ears sticking up near his mothers belly. We slowed down, turned around and went back to find this little baby kangaroo, alert and awake, sitting inside his mamas pouch, not sure what to do next.
Unfortunately in outback Australia accidents involving animals, particularly kangaroos are quite common. Especially if you’re driving at night, dawn or dusk. Often they are unavoidable, especially for truck drivers or if you’re towing a caravan or a camper. But in the unfortunate event that you do hit a kangaroo on your travels, here is a quick guide of what you should do.
What to do if you hit a kangaroo
The first thing to do if you hit a kangaroo during your travels is to park somewhere safely, or turn around if you need to head back to where the accident occurred.
If you can, it is important to move the dead kangaroo off the road (at least 10 metres away from the road if possible) to prevent other accidents. As well as preventing other accidents with cars, this will also make sure that other wildlife such as dingoes or wedge tailed eagles (who will feed on the dead kangaroo) will not be hit and killed by passing vehicles.
Finding a baby joey that has survived
In moving the kangaroo you might have already spotted if it has a pouch or in fact a joey inside that has survived the accident. If the kangaroo has a pouch carefully open it up and check if there is a baby inside, if it’s not obvious of course.
If there is in fact a baby joey that has survived, carefully and gently pull it out of the pouch and place it into some kind of a makeshift pouch. This could be a t-shirt, a green shopping bag, or in our case a beach blanket that was in the backseat of the car. Wrap the kangaroo up so it feels like it’s back in a pouch and hold it close to you for warmth and so that it can feel your heartbeat.
After we pulled out this baby we brought him into the car and made sure he was calm before we set off. We were very aware that he must have been experiencing so many new senses at once, so we didn’t want him to freak out and start trying to thrash around.
Depending on where you are in the country, the closest vet is a good place to call into to ask about what to do in this situation. Being the local animal carers they will be able to either take the kangaroo for you, or let you know of someone in the community who often takes on orphaned wildlife from the area.
We gave Longreach Vet a call and they said that one of their veterinarians looked after kangaroos who had been orphaned, so we let them know how far away we were and then took him straight into the vet to be properly cared for. The little guy had a few flea-like bugs on him, as well as a couple of growths on his stomach that needed to be looked at, so it’s great that we were able to leave him with someone who was able to give him the care he needed. Lots of remote communities also have wildlife or kangaroo sanctuaries who look after orphaned kangaroos in these kinds of situations.
Depending on how far away from the vet you are, you can ask them for recommendations on how to care for the baby joey in the meantime. It is recommended that you don’t try and feed the joey, unless you’re in an extremely remote situation. In that case you can cup some water in your hand and see if the baby wants a bit of a drink. If they’re not interested, don’t force it and you can try again in a couple of hours, depending on how far away you are from the vet.
Once we got to the vet in Longreach they confirmed to us that this joey was in fact a boy, that he was around 4 months old and that he would probably have been in his mothers pouch for a couple more months, so it was extremely unlikely that he would have survived on his own. We offered them a donation to help pay for his milk and care, but they were happy to take him and at least now he will have some other kangaroos to play with!
No one expects you to check the pouch of every dead kangaroo you drive past, this was an exceptionally special circumstance where we spotted him as we were driving past. However, if everyone checks the pouch of a kangaroo that they hit, then we can all make sure no little kangaroo babies have to suffer and die on the side of the road.
We only had this little kangaroo with us for about two hours as we drove between Winton and Longreach, and then the vet took over. But at the end of the day, we were able to save this little ones life, and that is a pretty special feeling.
The information shared in this post came from the recommendations on the Kangaroo Sanctuary website. The Kangaroo Sanctuary are located in Alice Springs and they have been rescuing and rehabilitating injured and orphaned kangaroos around Central Australia for many years. Find out more information on our post about visiting the Kangaroo Sanctuary: