Usually, joeys are reared by their mothers but sometimes the unfortunate happens and a joey gets abandoned or ends up motherless.
In these cases, the joey will need to be hand-reared, and it’s very important that this is done correctly if the joey is to survive and thrive.
In this article, we will look at all you need to know about how to hand-rear joeys.
Provide A Heat Source
Marsupial joeys are not able to regulate their own body temperature so you will need to provide a heat source to keep them warm.
While the joey has little to no fur and remains in the pouch, you should aim to keep the pouch at a temperature of 86 to 89 degrees Fahrenheit (30 to 32 degrees Centigrade.)
For kangaroo and wallaby joeys, the best method for keeping them warm is to use a small electric blanket. You can hang the blanket on the inside of a box and keep the pouch pressed against it.
To make sure that the temperature is always where it should be, simply add or remove layers of cloth between the pouch and the electric blanket.
For the smaller possums joeys, you can use a 15-watt light instead. Place the bulb into a tin that also contains the pouch, but make sure that you drill some holes into the tin so that it doesn’t get too hot in there.
You will need to be careful that the temperatures don’t rise too high so remember to frequently check the temperature is still safe.
How To Create A Substitute Pouch
No matter what joey you’re looking to hand-rear, the pouch will need to be made of soft material that is ideally washable.
We recommend using materials such as old blankets, sheets, or sweaters. You should wrap up the joey and ensure that it is in a natural position when in the pouch.
If the joey doesn’t have any fur, you should rub the joey’s skin with baby oil. This will prevent the joey from losing fluids and help them maintain humidity.
For specifics on how to create a substitute pouch, see the information below about specific types of animals.
For kangaroo joeys, the pouch should be sized so it’s big enough for the joey to move around in while still keeping it snug.
It’s best to hang the pouch inside a larger bag that is then suspended in the air as this means the bag will not be touching the ground.
When the joey is old enough to start emerging from the pouch, keep it closer to the ground so the joey can safely enter and leave the pouch.
Pouches for wombat joeys should have another blanket placed inside. You can then place the pouch inside a solid wooden box that has a secure lid to keep the wombat safe as it gets older.
Wombat joeys can regulate their body temperatures better than some other joeys can, but you can leave an electric blanket inside the chest.
Just make sure there is space for the wombat to cool if they need to.
Possum joeys are small enough that you can use either a small woolen hat or a sock as a pouch.
For the younger joeys, you should fasten the top of the pouch closed with a safety pin to prevent the possum from getting out.
As the possum gets older, put the pouch inside a larger cage so the possum can get out when it wants to and eat during the night.
How To Feed Joeys
You should try to avoid holding and touching the joey as much as possible but this is unavoidable at feeding times.
You will need to feed the joey some formula such as Divetelact, which is a low-lactose milk powder and is easily mixed with warm water.
It is best to consult with a vet to make sure that you have a suitable formula. You should also consult with a vet to ensure that you feed the joey the right amount of formula.
This can change greatly depending on the age, weight, and species of the joey.
The formula should be warm and before feeding it to a joey, test it on the inside of your wrist to make sure that it isn’t too hot.
It’s best to keep the joey in the pouch while you feed it as this will help the joey feel more secure and comfortable. You will need to remove the joey from the pouch for it to use the bathroom, however.
If the joey struggles as it’s being fed, you should hold it close to your body. You can also place your hand underneath its chin and cover its eyes to quieten and calm it.
Try To Avoid Adding Any Extra Stress
The joey is likely to be suffering from severe shock and stress from being orphaned. You will need to check if the joey is injured and needs veterinarian attention but even if the joey is fit and well, it will still be stressed.
A joey that has lost its mother and its source of warmth and nourishment will be stressed because of this.
Try to get the joey situated in an appropriate pouch as quickly as possible and then leave it alone to settle.
You should avoid handling the joey as much as possible and ensure that, at least in the beginning, only the same person ever handles it. If you do have to handle the joey, do so while it is still in the pouch.
In this article, we looked at everything you need to know about hand-rearing a joey.
We covered the most important factors such as creating a heat source, making an appropriate pouch, feeding the joey, and how to relieve stress.
We hope that the information and hints and tips in this article will help you if you ever need to hand-rear a joey.