my little tin soldier.
rough as guts. As delicate as a dried flower. As feisty as a raging bull. And
as lovable as a puppy!
was my first male Swamp Wallaby and he stole my heart! I know, you're saying "they
all steal her heart" and I couldn't agree more! Each of the critters I have cared
for over the years holds a very special place in my heart..... Marshall holds
Marshall was transferred to me from an in-town carer he weighed three and a half
kilos. That sounds so small, doesn't it. However, Swamp Wallabies are much more
advanced at a much smaller size than say, an Eastern Grey Kangaroo. At three and
a half kilograms Marshall was aged approximately 11 months old. In comparison,
an Eastern Grey Kangaroo at 11 months of age would weigh closer to 7 or 8kg.
the wild a Swamp Wallaby would stay at its mothers heel and continue to suckle
at foot, until about fifteen months of age, so Marshall had a few more months
in care before being soft released at Fourth Crossing.
was welcomed by the other macropods in care. We had several at the time and you
can read all about them in The Mob. In particular
he made good friends with Sassy,
a female Wallaroo (shown in the photo at the left) and they would regularly be
seen together in the garden. Marsh took to his new environment very well. He set
about making lots of hidey holes in our garden, as Swamp Wallabies prefer to be
hidden in dense undergrowth most of the time.
the day he rested under his favourite grevillea bush and come dusk he was out
grazing with the rest of the mob. Marshall particularly liked our back yard as
there was a small orchard and he regularly stole the apples!
Another of Marshall's favourite foods was Todds prized orchids and ferns! Swamp
Wallabies are browsers and will eat pretty much anything that tastes good - unlike
Eastern Greys who really prefer grasses over anything else. Our attempts to chase
him away were futile as we'd see him sneakily return ten minutes later for another
go! We ended up having to move all our pot plants onto our outside dining table
for protection - any idea of eating an al fresco evening meal were then terminated,
thanks to mischievous Marshall!
a while Marshall started to slowly withdraw from us like every other hand raised
animals we've cared for. However he rarely skipped a bottle so one morning we
became quite agitated as Marshall had not appeared for his milk for the second
day in a row.
He had been sniffing around the previous morning waiting for his bottle, but as
we were a little tardy getting out of bed, he got a wee bit narky and disappeared
before we had a chance to feed him. That afternoon he came for a tickle under
the chin as I hung the washing on the cloths line, but that evening when we called
him to give him his missed morning bottle he no where to be seen.
next morning we called for Marshall again and after no response we set about searching
the 1 acre garden. We looked under every nook and cranny, in all his favourite
hiding spots and some new ones that we found, made evident from the flat grass
indicating a rest spot.
By this time we were beside ourselves with worry, we just couldn't work out where
he had gone. We wondered if something had startled him during the night and he
had jumped the fence and bounded away.
decided that we would open up even more paddock so that if the macropods were
frightened they would have more space to run away from any perceived danger. So
during the sweltering heat of the day, when it was better being inside, we started
opening gates and pulling down old fences to make a pre-release paddock of just
over 5 acres. As we worked we continued to call Marshall so that if he was close
by he would hear us and come home.
hours later in the early evening Todd returned to the house to get us a drink
and stopped dead in his tracks. Under one of the apple trees stood Marshall eating
an apple. Todd called me and I raced to Marshalls side, relieved that he had come
relief didn't last long however. As I approached him I realised that he was a
very sick little boy.
this day we have no idea what happened to Marshall, but his breathing was laboured,
his chest rattly and he had an incessant cough. He was also very lethargic and
weak. We rushed him inside and gave him some electrolyte solution to re-hydrate
him and give him some much needed energy. Then for the next few hours I performed
physiotherapy on his back, gently massaging and tapping to try and release the
phlegm that had built up on his chest.
the next morning I rang the vet and some oral antibiotics were prescribed. We
were told that we should see improvements within forty eight hours. There was
some improvement by the end of the following day but only slight, so off we went
to the vets for a consultation.
After the vet had listened to his chest I was told that his lungs weren't too
congested. Different antibiotics were prescribed for what seemed to be an upper
respiratory tract infection. Marshall was to have the medication for about a week
along with Protexin, a probiotic given to re-establish the good gut flora that
the antibiotics may also kill off.
On the sixth day we decided that
Marshall was much better. His cough had gone after a couple of days of medication
and the rattle and wheeze in his chest went too. I
consulted the vet and Marshall was taken off the antibiotics.
ten days after the last dose of antibiotics the rattle in his chest returned.
I anxiously rang the vet and was told to put him back onto the antibiotics for
a few days and to then check with the vet again.
days later Todd and I had to go away overnight so our friend Karen was recruited
to help out. We gave Marshall a dose of antibiotics before we left, but when Karen
came down that afternoon he was nowhere to be found.
The following morning he still didn't appear so he had missed two doses of his
medication. When we got home that afternoon he turned up and his condition had
rushed him back to the vet and Marshall was prescribed more antibiotics - both
oral and via injection. He was also given a cough mixture to dislodge the phlegm
in his chest and upper respiratory tract.
days passed, and there was some improvement. He could breath easily through his
nose again, whereas in his worst state he was breathing through his mouth. My
heart truly felt for him when his little cheeks ballooned out in an effort to
slight cough persisted for a few days but it wasn't nearly as aggressive as the
day we returned home and found him sick for the second time.
illness will forever remain a mystery. His symptoms were so rapidly developed
and the vets never found the reason for his illness.
often, when a small critter gets as ill as Marshall was, there is little hope
for their recovery. Marshall, my little tin soldier (as rough as guts) made it
though and after several bouts of antibiotics he made a complete recovery.
Marshalls illness he showed such trust in me and Todd. Before he became ill he
had already started to slowly turn wild and was spending less and less time with
us. But when he did get sick he seemed to know that we were helping him and whenever
it was time for a needle Marshall would appear at the back door and stand patiently
while we injected the antibiotics into his body.
was soft released some months after his illness. He was a strapping bundle of
bravado and he finally left home without a backward glance.
still see him occasionally, right down the back of our property where the undergrowth
is thick. There
was one time I was down there, enjoying the peacefulness of Fourth Crossing, when
I felt somebody watching me.
Looking around, my eyes finally rested on Marshall who was peering at me from
behind a tree only a few metres away. We silently conversed in what seemed like
forever in an instant, and then he turned and hopped away.