Short Term Care
Rescue and Short Term Care for Feathertail Gliders
It is important to remember that an injured, sick or orphaned glider, as with any wild animal, will be stressed when caught. Stress can kill a wild animal so it is very important that it is kept in a dark, quiet place, away from children and family pets.
If it is a juvenile or adult glider (between 8 and 14 grams), wrap it loosely in a towel and place it in a box.
If you find a furless or just furred joey (1.5 to 7 grams) place it in a woollen or cotton sock then into warm wrappings. It is crucial that the glider be kept warm. Use a heat source if you have one. A hot water bottle can be used in an emergency, but make sure that the water is changed regularly. A hot water bottle will need to be wrapped in a towel. A heat pad is better.
Warm the joey slowly (over a period of 2 hours), the temperature inside the makeshift pouch should be around 32o for a furless- no higher, and around 28o for a lightly furred joey - no higher. Do not over heat the glider as this is as detrimental as under heating it. Do not place the joey directly on the heat, place a towel between the heat source and the pouch. A glider of this size needs to get to an experienced carer urgently as they need specialised care.
Do not feed any wild animal for at least a few hours after rescue - they need to have their stress levels reduced and too much human contact can send them into shock. Additionally, it is very important that you do not feed a cold animal as any food will not be digested properly and the possum may die. If the rescued glider is cold you will need to warm it very slowly (over a period of 2 hours) - if you warm the possum too quickly it may also die from heat-stress related complications. An animal that is badly injured or sick will not want to eat. If this is the case, just leave the possum in the box until an experienced carer can collect it, or take it to a veterinarian.
Food for an adult glider can include fruit, such as apple or pear and flowering natives such as eucalypt, wattle, grevillia and callistamon. As gliders are so small only small amounts of food should be offered and in small dishes. Never attempt to feed an adult glider by hand, as this could stress it more, leave the food in the box, it will eat when ready.
A joey can be fed Farex (but as emergency food only - to much Farex will kill them). Good generic milk replacers are Di-Vetelact and Formula One, which can be purchased at most veterinary clinics. Never feed a glider cows milk as they are lactose intolerant and they will get very sick and may die. Keep the joey in the pouch with only its head exposed. Feed the formula to the joey through a small syringe or pipette (available at chemists) held at the edge of its mouth - do not force the syringe into its mouth - the glider will lap at the formula. Do not force feed a joey, if it seems stressed or disinterested, discontinue feeding and put it in a quiet, dark place.
Just remember to use your common sense when caring for a glider. You are caring for a wild animal, it is not a pet.
Keep pets, family and friends away from the animal at all times.