24-hour Rescue
6628 1866

Sandy Norris

Jun 132024


If you’re interested in becoming a wildlife carer, please register your interest for our next introductory training. This workshop introduces the common species of animals that come into care and why. New members will learn basic rescue methods for wallabies and kangaroos, birds, possums, echidnas and reptiles. At the end of the day you will have an understanding of NRWC’s structure and the part we play in the community. You will also know which of the varied and interesting roles is right for you!

Introduction to Rescue & Rehabilitation of Native Wildlife
When: To be advised
Where: To be advised
Time: The course will run from 9.00am for 9.30am start until 3.00pm
Cost: $25 for members $45 for non-members (includes a year’s membership)
To register your interest: use the form below

    Your Name (required):

    Your Email (required):

    Your Phone:

    Your Location:

    Reply to:


    How did you find us?



    Your Message:

    Enter code: captcha



     June 13, 2024  General information, Training
    Aug 052021

    This is a native Australian Swamp Rat! He is in care with one of our volunteers after he was unfortunately attacked by a cat. He was picked up by a member of the public and taken to the Lennox Head Vet Clinic where they treated him for his injuries. He is doing well and once he has finished his antibiotics he will be released.

    While this swamp rat was fortunate, dog and cat attacks are sadly a common occurrence for many wildlife species. We have had a significant amount of animals come into care recently for this reason. These include possums, gliders, echidnas and birds. Cat and dog attacks can cause significant damage to the skin, but can also result in severe internal injuries and infection.

    Please monitor your pets if they are outside, and call your local wildlife rescue organisation if you have injured wildlife. Our hotline is operated 24 hours, please call 6628 1866.

    Did you know?

    • We are home to a range of small mammals and rodents, and that includes our own native rodents. We have many across Australia, but within the Northern Rivers you may find our native Water Rat, Bush Rat, Swamp Rat, Pale Field Rat, Grassland Melomy, Fawn Footed Melomy, Eastern Chestnut Mouse and the New Holland Mouse.
    • We are of course home to introduced rodent species such as the Black Rat, Brown Rat and House Mouse.

    But how do we tell the difference between native and non-native rodents?

    • Our native rodents are much happier away from us humans, they are shy and often live in dense forest where they can nest and find shelter in short burrows under logs or rocks. The rodents you see in your house or hear in your roof are most likely one of the introduced species.
    • The tail can also help you identify a native from a non-native, however is not completely consistent. Our natives often have a shorter tail in comparison to their body length, but the Brown Rat also shares this feature. The Black Rat has a tail longer than the body.

    So what can you do?

    • Keep an eye on your pets! Try and keep cats indoors or within a cat run.
    • Avoid the use of rodenticides that cause secondary poisoning, while they can incidentally kill native rodents, they can also cause secondary poisoning to our other wildlife species. If you have to use bait use a multi feed brand.
    • Try catch and release traps. Not only does this give you the chance to identify the rodent you catch, but allows you to relocate them to a safer environment for them, and away from your home.
    • If you do find an injured native rodent, take it to your local vet so it can go into care with a licensed rehabilitator.

     August 5, 2021  Animals, General information
    Sep 122017

    Article & pictures by Tom M.

    Gabriela and I have been removing snakes from people’s homes for a few year’s now and have attended a number of non-venomous snake handling training days. Whilst we have caught the occasional black snake, brown tree snake or baby brown snake, we have never felt fully confident dealing with venomous snakes. So when this recent venomous snake handling course came up, we finally stepped over the (mental) barrier and enrolled.

    The training was held on Sunday, 6 November 2016 at “Gecko’s Wildlife”, just under an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, which involved a three hour drive from Ballina. The day before the course had been very hot and the training day itself promised to be another hot one also. Kate had organised a bus for us to travel to “Gecko’s” as a group. Meeting point was Bunnings in Ballina. Julie had travelled up from New Italy and Lorraine had come from Casino, surely the ones having the longest day of us all. Rolf and Sandra had already gone up a day early, so as to be rested for the day of action. On our way north we also picked up Sue and Cameron (Cam is with TVWC). In all, we were a cosy group of 8 snake wranglers. We eventually arrived at “Gecko’s Wildlife”, eager for the course to begin.

    Martin Fingland who operates “Gecko’s Wildlife” welcomed us at the gate. He would be our facilitator for the day. As we learnt more about Martin’s background, we realised that he is quite an authority in dealing with our slithering legless friends. He is very passionate about what he does and I could sense his compassion towards all wildlife. The theoretical part of the training consisted of general information on venomous snakes in Australia, their toxicity – something like 20 of the world’s most venomous 25 snakes all reside in Australia –, the do’s and don’ts of catching snakes, examples where bad approaches to catching a snake had had devastating health implications, as well as statistical information on envenomation through snake bites. For example, did you know that around 85% of brown snake bites are “dry bites”? Recognising that for example a cow, horse or human are not suitable prey, the brown snake simply wants to make a point without wasting its venom. Speaking of venom, another interesting thing about snake venom is that not only does it serve to kill prey, but also acts as “digestive aid”, in that it dissolves the flesh of the eaten prey. Of around 3,000 snake bites annually in Australia, only 300 require treatment and of these only 3-4 cases result in the death of the bitten person.

    After a short lunch break we went down to a nearby reserve for the practical part of the training. Martin pointed out the importance of acting in teams of two when dealing with venomous snakes, whenever possible. He also emphasised the importance of proper protective clothing/footwear and the use of suitable snake handling/catching gear. Whilst the primary goal has to be not to be bitten by a snake in the first place, he also talked us through the use of first aid, such as how to apply pressure bandages. As snake envenomation travels through the body via the lymphatic system (usually the venom would not be injected into the bloodstream), applying a tight pressure bandage is considered the best course of action until medical assistance is available.

    Catching venomous snakes today would be with bag and hook. Martin demonstrated how a venomous snake can be securely bagged by observing a few essential points when using the hook and bag. As most snake handlers would have experienced during non-venomous snake handling courses, a supposedly “securely bagged” snake would suddenly reappear out of the bag, before the bag could be securely tied. You would not want something like this to happen with a venomous snake.

    Martin and his two assistants placed a few “kind” (generally non-venomous) snakes in bushes and on a children’s swing for us to get “warmed up” with catching snakes. The two pythons as well as a green and a brown tree snake quite happily “hung in there”, while Martin gave us some further instructions.

    After all of us had had a go at bagging the “nice” snakes, Martin brought out the first venomous ones for us to catch & bag. But not before we all had donned our protective gear, including special snake gaiters. And so, three or four of us in various locations around the reserve were allocated snakes to catch. As “Gecko’s Wildlife” is home to a large variety of venomous snakes, we had plenty of types to train with. There were Collett’s, spotted and red bellied black, rough scaled, tiger, Stephen’s banded, death adder, mulga (king brown) and eastern browns to train with. The coastal taipan at the end had a cruisy slither through the grass and remained unharassed by us; Martin decided to rest her, as she was about to shed her skin shortly. Whilst some snakes would willingly disappear into the presented bags, others, like some black and tiger snakes and especially the brown snakes, tried to avoid the bags like the plague. It was hilarious to watch us running across the paddock with bags flying in the breeze for yet another try to lure the elusive snakes into the bag. Sometimes it was only thanks to Martin and his RSPCA approved “gripper” tool that prevented some snakes from disappearing into the undergrowth.

    Martin also demonstrated the technique of “tubing” a snake. A transparent tube, slightly bigger than the thickness of the snake, would be held in front of the advancing snake. Eventually the snake would slither into the tube, making it easier to control and hold the snake. This technique is being used where for example the snake had to be safely assessed by a vet.

    Even though most of our snake capturing takes place in home environments, usually furnished or rooms full of “stuff” like boxes, it was great to get face to face with these notorious elapids in the open reserve, where we could have multiple attempts at catching the snakes. Martin also offers “advanced” courses, where venomous snakes are removed from confined spaces, from under objects or vegetation. So hopefully there will be a possibility for all snake handlers in our group to attend this one also.

    Overall, we all had a very enjoyable day out and learnt a lot. What resonated with me most is that whilst venomous snakes in Australia don’t have to be feared, they certainly deserve the utmost respect when dealing with them.



     September 12, 2017  Animals, Caring Tales
    Oct 222015


    Fedra in care

    The little bat in this photo is Fedra: she was one of the lucky bats who survived being caught on the barbed wire security fence around Byron Bay High School (BBHS). She is a Grey-headed Flying-fox (listed nationally as a vulnerable species) and only just over three months old. She was the inspiration to approach both BBHS Principal Peter, and Norm from the National Parks & Wildlife Service Office at Byron Bay, to see if they would consider either removing the wire or covering it with shade cloth.

    In recent years, Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers have rescued several flying-foxes entangled on this fence. This is mainly due to it being in such close proximity to the flying-fox food trees in the Arakwal National Park, which surrounds the school on three sides.

    Fedra was caught on the wire by her wing and her belly, making it a very difficult and distressing rescue. Once carers had removed her from the wire she was taken to MyVet Animal Hospital at Byron Bay where they anaesthetised her to remove the wire still entangled in her tummy. We decided then to send her to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for X-rays as she also had some mouth damage and the hole in her tummy was quite large. Currumbin weren’t able to stitch the wound but glued it together to prevent infection. Due to the possibility of a fracture at the tip of her mouth, she was given a soft fruit/liquid diet which consisted of custard apples, juice and yoghurt. She loved this diet and recovered quickly and will soon be released back into the wild.

    Later NRWC carer Lou organised a meeting with the BBHS Principal and a representative from the National Parks & Wildlife Office in Byron Bay. We were surprised and delighted when the BBHS agreed to remove the wire!

    It was decided to replace the barbed wire around the school with plain wire and that the NPWS along with the Rural Fire Service would remove all vegetation within a few metres of the fence around the school. Once this is completed there should be no more entanglements.

    Six of us gathered on Monday, 7 September 2015 at the BBHS; Lou, Valerie, Miles, Rowan, Phoebe, (all of the NRWC), and Nigel Stewart (NPWS). With great enthusiasm and energy we removed three strands, almost 1.5 km long, of this horrible barbed wire. Hard work but very satisfying!

    A very big thank you to Lou for liaising with the Byron Bay High School and the NPWS, and organising volunteers to remove the barbed wire. Great work Lou, and everyone who helped!



    Miles Lou Rowan Phoebe Nigel

    Miles Lou Rowan Phoebe Nigel



    Ranger Nigel and Rowan

    Ranger Nigel and Rowan

     October 22, 2015  Advocacy, Animals, Blog, Caring Tales
    Sep 272015

    Story by Rowan Wigmore
    Kmart’s website says that they make “Low prices irresistible”. They certainly had something irresistible for a young male magpie! Mr Mags entered the store on Sunday 12th of July and had no intention of leaving. He had explored all of the departments and much to the annoyance of the staff and manager, left calling cards on some of the merchandise and attempts by the staff to shoo him out were only temporarily successful, with Mags returning very quickly. Clearly he didn’t mind being there at all.

    I received a call from the Hotline on Monday and went out to assess the situation. The staff were helpful and very concerned for the bird’s well being. They and some concerned shoppers had offered food to the hungry bird, which was sustaining him but also allowing him to continue dropping calling cards! When I arrived mags was in the toy department up high on a sign and was starting to look weary. I had taken a small amount of mince with me and thought that I may be able to lure him down. In the past I have caught a magpie with a visible tick on his chin by luring him close and offering mince. In a small window of opportunity I was able to grab him by the tail, remove the tick and then release. This bird was not going to be as easy.

    Mags was hungry but still wary of his situation and the food being offered. He would not come below the top of the shelves but was interested in the mince. I placed a very small amount on the top of some shelving and he came close but not close enough to be grabbed. We needed some sort of net to throw over him but the height of the shelves made that an almost impossible task.

    I informed the hotline and asked whether we or WIRES might have suitable equipment but drew a blank. Tuesday the 14th we decided that we would attempt to catch the bird in the evening after 8pm when most of the shoppers had left. Cheryl put out a request for helpers and I soon had more people than we needed volunteering to help. Earlier that day I made a throw-net from some fruit-tree netting, flexible electrical conduit, old building cable (to weigh down the edges) and some elastic binding. It was about the size of a large hula-hoop and was similar to some that I have seen online. I though it might be our only hope of catching him. Hayden, Richard and I went in and easily found the bird. He was looking tired and we thought he might now be an easy catch. Not so. Mags had us on a merry chase from one end of the store to the other, refusing to come down and avoiding any attempt to get close with the net. We left exhausted and despairing that the only apparent way of ever catching the bird would be to not feed it until it eventually became to weak to fly and then catch it. The problem with that scenario is that the bird would have been close to death by that stage and would need rehabilitation afterwards.


    Wednesday I was scheduled for a run to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital and used the opportunity to evaluate some trapping equipment at a nearby supplier. They had a very sturdily built large bird trap that would be the best way to catch the magpie. It was for sale at nearly $300. I had spoken to Cheryl about obtaining one and she had contacted committee members about it but approval to purchase was not yet forthcoming. I took a punt and bought it myself, as I couldn’t bear to see the bird suffer any longer.

    Later that night I went into Kmart and set up the trap on top of some shelving near where Mags was. He came down immediately and delicately ate the mince on the trigger-tray and flew off! I was disappointed to say the least! I tried again with the mince and when he flew down, I bumped the shelving which triggered the trap but also scared the bird and he was able to fly away.

    I was really annoyed as I had spent nearly $300 on a trap that didn’t catch birds! How could I expect the committee to pay for something that clearly didn’t work! Reassessing the situation I decided to reset the trap, push the mince firmly into the trigger-tray mesh and use the other trigger arm that is slightly more sensitive. Mags had flown down to the other end of the shop and with the help of the staff we cordoned off the area where the trap was to prevent it being triggered by someone bumping the shelf. I went home to await the call but none was forthcoming. – Until next morning.


    At 06:15 I happily received a call from the duty manager that the magpie had indeed been trapped. She had placed a cardboard box over the bird to subdue its struggles and would let me in by the service entrance.

    The bird was caught in the centre of the trap and was in good condition. I took it out of the trap and brought it home while I awaited the opening of the vet clinic. Mags was offered food and water but by this stage I was the enemy and he was having nothing to do with me or anything that I had.


    Dr. Rebecca Knee at Keen St Vet Clinic examined Mags and found a minor gapeworm infestation in his mouth and a wheeze in one lung; possibly caused by flying into something. He was treated and needed to go to a bird-carer for a couple of days and have further antibiotics. Cheryl took Mags and he responded well. On Thursday he definitely wanted out of the aviary and she decided to free him.

    I met Cheryl in Lismore and we sought out a good release site close to Lismore Square. On the eastern side I saw a magpie clan but the western side appeared to be a better site. We joked that no matter what side we chose it would probably be wrong but the western side was clear of traffic. Mags was keen to get out of his carry-box and took his bearings for a while before flying strongly away… right into another clan’s territory where he was instantly chased off. He sought solace to the north of the shopping centre happily being free again.

    Everyone involved in his rescue deserves special thanks. Richard and Hayden for assisting, Cheryl for her care and the Kmart team especially for caring about the bird despite the damage he did to their merchandise. I am told that on one day they had to throw out $300 worth of damaged stock! As always the Keen St Vets for their professional treatments and the NRWC committee that decided not only to buy the trap but to get another for the injured bush turkeys that are hard to catch.

     September 27, 2015  Animals, Blog, Caring Tales
    Sep 212015

    We have decided to start publishing our newsletter online. We hope you enjoy the stories published in here.
    Thanks to our newsletter editor Rowan, who is continuing in his role as editor of Wildlife News which he has now done for 10 years.

    Click on the link below.


     September 21, 2015  Animals, General information
    Jan 282015

    Merlin in humidicrib

    Merlin in humidicrib

    Story and pictures by: Tracey Sanna
    Some kind and thoughtful members of the public in Pottsville stopped to check and remove a swamp wallaby from the road. The driver of the vehicle that collided with the wallaby probably would have noticed the impact but for whatever reason had not stopped to check the animal. It was fortunate that someone else came along soon after. It was while removing the female from the roadside that they noticed something wriggling on the road not far away and this turned out to be a joey that had been presumably thrown from the pouch on impact and had unfortunately landed on his head.

    This little fellow was extremely lucky to have been found so quickly by kind humans as it would not have taken long for birds to have noticed its movements and taken advantage of the opportunity for a fresh source of food, or else he would have surely been run over by another car.

    Caroline Sutherland was quick on the scene and was pleased to find that the joey was still warm and did not have any obvious fractures, she made a thorough assessment of him and could see that he had impact trauma to the head and that he would need to have Xrays to assess the damage. Fiona Waite transported him to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, where she volunteers once a week, and there the wonderful vets did a thorough investigation of the joey’s health and the extent of his injuries. He was found to be a healthy animal with some abrasions and bruising to the head but no fractures. Caroline took him into her capable care but due to house renovations needed to find a more permanent home for him and this is how I came to be the carer for Merlin.

    Merlin weighed 371 grams and has been easy to feed from the start, has put on weight steadily and has been a very easy joey to care for. At around 600 grams he started to have a light fuzz appearing as he began to get his fur and started to gain interest in his surroundings. I have found it is at around this stage where joeys can benefit from having a little mate to be with as they keep each other company for the whole day and will often choose to get in the others’ pouch.

    The first week of October, a month after getting Merlin into my care, Olly another swamp wallaby joey, only 50 grams heavier that Merlin, came into care after being rescued from the pouch of another motor vehicle victim. It was very fortunate to have two joeys so close in size to pair up and the two have really taken to each other.

    Olly is a bit more outgoing and it is usually he who I find has bailed out of his own pouch to join Merlin in his. They are both nibbling on grass and dirt and are ‘finding their legs ’as they try to master the huge springs they have to use for locomotion. This is always interesting (amusing) to watch but it is amazing how quickly they gain control and can get up to fairly high speeds and can change direction with great agility.

    I find it very rewarding to care for macropods as they are loving and trusting little animals that all have different personalities and express different habits and sometimes quirky behaviours.

    Merlin & Ollie

    Merlin & Ollie

     January 28, 2015  Caring Tales
    Jan 282015

    Properly netted fruit tree with polypipe over timber stakes. This frame is also easy to remove when the tree has finished fruiting. No wildlife has been caught in netting on this property since using this setup.

    Properly netted fruit tree with polypipe over timber stakes. This frame is also easy to remove when the tree has finished fruiting. No wildlife has been caught in netting on this property since using this setup.

    It’s summertime and nothing says summer more than a tree in your backyard laden with fruit, particularly mangoes.  But what do you do if someone, or something, is beating you to that delicious ripe fruit?  Many are happy to share their fruit with local wildlife, but for people who really want to protect their crop there are some wildlife friendly solutions.

    The easiest solution is to pick your fruit early and let it ripen on your window sill.  If you prefer your fruit to ripen on the tree, fruit bags can be tied over the fruit.  Fruit bags will not only deter wildlife but will exclude insect pests such as fruit fly.

    Shadecloth (30-50%) is an easy, temporary, inexpensive deterrent for flying foxes and it will still allow the fruit to ripen.  Fold the shadecloth over fruiting branches or throw a piece over small trees and peg into place.

    If you do want to use netting, be aware that some types of netting can be a deadly hazard for wildlife.  If a native animal becomes entangled in the netting, they can severely injure themselves.  So severe are the injuries that many entangled animals die.

    There are two golden rules when using netting to protect your backyard fruit tree.

    1 Never use black, nylon, monofilament netting.  This netting is particularly deadly to wildlife, and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of animals annually.  It can be easily pulled out of shape by an animal climbing on it, causing it to become entangled.  Instead use knitted mesh with a maximum mesh size that you can’t poke your finger through.

    2 The netting must always be taut, if the netting is loose or has a loose shape it will trap wildlife.  To keep netting taut build a frame out of pvc pipe metal or timber that will keep the netting off the tree.  Alternatively you can use a number of star pickets or stakes, crossing them to make a tepee frame.

    For netting to be safe for wildlife, it needs to be tensioned enough that folds of netting do not form around the animal when it lands or crawls over it.  Ideally a flying fox should almost bounce off the net rather than sink into it.

    Visit the wildlife friendly netting website for detailed information.

    Remember to check your netting daily and if despite these precautions an animal does become entangled ring the Northern River Wildlife Carers on our 24 hour rescue hotline.

    If you find any injured or orphaned wildlife, please call the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers on: 6628 1866 and for seabirds and marine turtles only Australia Seabird Rescue – 0428 862 852.  For koalas please ring Friends of the Koala on 6622 1233.

     January 28, 2015  Advocacy, Animals, General information
    Dec 252014
    This two-week old Black Flying Fox was found alone in a tree after its mother died during her nightly flight.  It was rescued by the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers.

    This two-week old Black Flying Fox was found alone in a tree after its mother died during her nightly flight. It was rescued by the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers.

    It’s hard to ignore that local Flying Foxes have been having a tough time lately.

    Last month heat wave conditions killed thousands of Flying Foxes at Casino, leaving hundreds of young orphaned. The high temperatures experienced so early in the Flying Foxes breeding season, meant that many females were nursing very young babies when they died. The emergency response has kept carers from Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers, WIRES and surrounding organisations very busy as the orphans were placed with carers, including some from inter-state, who could help hand raise them.

    Apart from the heat event, Flying Foxes right across the region continue to face danger on a daily basis. Every night when adults leave their day time roost in search of food, they navigate around numerous hazards like electricity wires which can electrocute them, barbed wire or orchard netting in which they can become entangled or motor vehicles which they can on occasion collide with.

    At this time of year, female Flying Foxes carry their young with them on their nightly flight. If the mother dies whilst out feeding, often the young survive protected by their mother. But without her they cannot return to their day time roost or survive on their own. These young are left stranded and alone.

    And that’s what happened to a young Black Flying Fox, found hanging very high in a tree in Cherry St, Ballina.

    A concerned member of the public called the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers rescue hotline after hearing the baby calling all night and a trained and vaccinated carer was promptly sent out to help. When the carer arrived, the young animal was found high up in the tree, out of reach. After some quick thinking, the carer approached nearby Betta Hire to see if they would be willing to help retrieve the orphan.

    Betta Hire kindly obliged, and sent around a cherry picker, in which the vaccinated carer could safely rescue the young animal. Estimated to be only two weeks old, the young Flying Fox was unable to survive on its own, and its timely rescue ultimately saved its life.

    The young Flying Fox has settled into care well, and will be hand raised until it is old enough to return to the wild. The Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers extends its gratitude to Betta Hire for its assistance and asks people to report any Flying Fox that is found alone to their rescue hotline.

    If you find any injured or orphaned wildlife, please call the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers on 6628 1866.

     December 25, 2014  Animals, General information
    Aug 162014
    Noisy miner fledgling

    Noisy miner fledgling

    Noisy miners to the rescue

    Noisy miners to the rescue








    The Noisy Miner isn’t one of the most appreciated birds in our gardens, but it deserves to be up there with the rest of them, they are very intelligent & family orientated. This little guy was having trouble staying in his nest which was also a bit close to the Ballina Rd, so I decided to bring him home & introduce him to my family of Miners. Within 5min of being in his makeshift nest & giving his best “feed me” screams, 6 adult Miners came to his rescue, checked him out then flew off to find food for him.

    By the time the first bird came back, the fledgling was on the edge of the nest looking a bit unsteady, she was about to feed him, when she too must of thought him too close so she moved to the furthest edge so he had to move to the centre to get fed. Pretty clever I think. To my surprise he flew of into the bushes, I couldn’t see him but could here his calls & lots of adult birds taking care of there newly adopted baby, nice to know he is in good hands. Story by carer Valerie Shields.