A mammoth effort for a tiny puggle found orphaned near Lightning Ridge last week has culminated in its safe arrival at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
The baby echidna, named Muggles, was found sitting on a rock by the side of the road and taken to a local human doctor before going to a vet; the first leg of a 4-day long journey that included two plane flights, hundreds of driven kilometres, and countless hours on the phone arranging transport.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital’s senior nurse and rehabilitation coordinator, Vicky Toomey said Muggles will require specialised care for the next six months before being released back into the wild.
“Puggles are particularly difficult to look after, as they have different requirements to most other orphaned mammals,” Vicky said.
“We don’t keep them in the same manner as other marsupials as they naturally have quite a low body temperature, and they also feed infrequently due to long digestion times. Puggles of this size can take up to ten days to adjust to handraising and consume enough food to put on weight.”
The blue tinge to Muggles is from the spines and fur starting to emerge from under the skin; in two weeks it will be a very different looking puggle! It’s just the beginning for little Muggles, with echidnas being known to live up to 49 years in the wild.
This month, Bindi and Robert Irwin are encouraging kids to help Muggles and patients like him by taking part in the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Readathon. The month-long reading frenzy extends until Steve Irwin Day, on November 15. All funds raised will go to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital that last year received more than 7500 patients. Visit www.wildlifewarriors.org.au for more information and to register.