A stitch in time saves joeys

Sue Ulyatt WIRES macropod co-ordinator from Rosebank with two six-month-old swamp wallabies.
Sue Ulyatt WIRES macropod co-ordinator from Rosebank with two six-month-old swamp wallabies. Jacklyn Wagner

SAVING joeys on the Northern Rivers is a job for people who sew or knit.

From Australia and across the world these crafty people send replacement pouches for displaced marsupials that no longer have their mother's pouch.

Constant warmth is essential for a young joey and the hand-made pouches are a great substitute for the real thing.

But the Northern Rivers WIRES branch struggles to get enough pouches for the all the joeys in care.

"We can never get enough of them," said WIRES macropod volunteer Sue Ulyatt.

The group needs outer pouches made from wool with a separate inner lining made from cotton.

A dedicated group of locals involved with Knit for Australia and Knit for Brisbane have contributed pouches.

WIRES has also received some recent donations from overseas, including hand-dyed pouches from South Africa.

Ms Ulyatt said the "wonderful" pouches were sent from Johannesburg and Cape Town and from Venice in Italy.

"It gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling to know people want to help and they feel concerned about what's happening in Australia," Ms Ulyatt said.

She was touched to know some of the pouches were donated by a woman who cares for native birds and microbats in Cape Town.

"It amazing they find the time to be concerned about other animals."

Ms Ulyatt estimates the wildlife service receives one new joey a week.

Pouches are used for other marsupials with pouches such as bandicoots, wallabies, possums and gliders.

The pouches need to be in sizes for different animals and they must be made from natural fibre so the animals can breathe.

"The animals have to be in a clean environment so if they defecate or urinate in the pouch it has to be changed because of bacteria." The pouch lining used by a small joey is changed six times on average over 24 hours.

For volunteers with lots of joeys in their care, this amounts to a lot of washing and wear and tear on pouches.

The group is calling for more 25cm wide and 30cm long pouches knitted in plain stitch from 8 ply pure wool using size 8 needles.

They also need pouch liners the same size but made from washable pure cotton such as flannelette.

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Topics:  joey

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