In a story with a heartwarming end, a rare baby marsupial known as a “fluffy glider” has been rescued after being found abandoned at a Far South Coast beach on New Year’s Day.
The baby yellow-bellied glider was brought into the Bega District News office on Monday for its first photo shoot.
Brushtail and glider coordinator at WIRES Far South East Faye Wallis said the glider, which she estimated to be about 100 days old, was found at the Nelsons Beach carpark near Mogareeka by a family of tourists.
When she first saw him, he was very dehydrated and his eyes were full of maggots.
But this week he had increased his weight by 30grams and had joined Ms Wallis’s household where he is cared for alongside a baby bandicoot, two baby ringtail possums, two juvenile ringtail and brushtail possums as well as a sugar glider.
“He’s on four feeds a day and sleeps for about four house after each meal,” Ms Wallis said.
“He is special because we rarely get these – I think we’ve only had four other yellow-bellied glider since I’ve been in WIRES.
“They are known as ‘the fluffy glider’.”
Yellow-bellied gliders, which live along the east coast from Queensland to Victoria, are listed as a vulnerable species in NSW.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage states these animals are threatened by the loss and fragmentation of habitat as well as loss of hollow-bearing and feed trees.
The babies spend 100 days inside their mother’s pouch then up to two months in a nest, completely dependent on their mother for feeding.
Ms Wallis, who has looked after around 800 native animals since 1999 and joined WIRES in 2007, said 50 years as a nurse encouraged her to become a wildlife carer.
“I’ve always been a carer and it’s an extension of that,” she said.
She was asked how raising joeys compared to raising human babies.
“They are a lot quieter, they don’t cry and they leave home a lot earlier!” she laughed.
The baby yellow-bellied glider will be in Ms Wallis’s care for four more months then will be released at Tanja.
If you wish to join WIRES, visit www.wires.org.au or call 1300 094 737.