This week’s patient is Luna.
Little Luna is an extremely precious 4 months old female ringtail possum and was found on a road orphaned, cold and very scared. It is unknown how Luna became separated from her mother but upon examination of Luna it was clear that she had been alone for several days, her dehydration was severe and she was extremely underweight due to not being able to suckle from her mother for a long period of time.
Luna’s prognosis was very poor but the Currumbin Wildlife Hospitals dedicated veterinary team did everything they could to give Luna her best chance of survival. An IV catheter was placed into a vein in Luna’s tail which is what you can see in the images below. We provided Luna with fluid therapy directly into this catheter over several days. We almost lost Luna on day one but she is a little fighter and made a promising recovery. She began to lap her formula from a little bowl and munched on fresh lily pilly leaves. Over the next couple of days Luna began to gain weight and her strength, she is now in foster care with one of our veterinary nurses Tammy who will care for Luna until she is old enough to be released back into the wild. Tammy is currently feeding Luna her formula every 4 hours around the clock! She will also be fed lots of fresh Eucalyptus and other native leaves daily. Tammy is able to care for Luna at home because she has a permit to do so.
Ringtail possums are very social little marsupials and don’t do well on their own. As other orphaned possums of similar age are admitted to the Wildlife Hospital over the coming months they are likely to go into foster care with Luna so that they can grow together and be released as a group. This is very important for ringtail possums in care as it helps prevent them from imprinting to the carer.
The most common cause of death for our ringtail possums is domestic pet attacks and vehicle hits. If you ever see a possum or any other marsupial dead on the side of the road please always stop if it is safe to do so and check to see if it is female and has a pouch. It is always possible that there is a scared little baby inside still living. If you are lucky enough to have a chance to save an orphaned possum put it in a warm, dark and quiet place. A woolly pouch or beanie is perfect but anything you can find to wrap them in will help. It is essential that you get the orphan to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital or your nearest veterinary clinic as soon as possible to give the baby its best chance of survival.
Do you want to help save patients just like Luna? Please donate here.