A baby Wallaby which is being hand reared in a backpack after being found abandoned is delighting keepers at Longleat with his progress.
The baby, who has been nicknamed Newt, is thought to be around 30 weeks old. He has been adopted by keepers Gemma Short and Jodie Cobb, who carry Newt around in a substitute pouch made from a backpack.
The Red-necked Wallaby, who was rescued after being found abandoned during snowy weather, is thriving under the care of his keepers at this safari park in the United Kingdom.
“It appears that for some reason his mum let him out of her pouch during the cold weather but then refused to let him back in again,” said keeper Gemma. “We kept him under closer observation but when it became clear she had abandoned him, we had to step in and hand rear him.”
“Initially we had to feed him every two hours, but now he feeds at four-hour intervals and he’s starting to take solids,” Gemma said. “At first it felt a little strange to be carrying this backpack around but after a while you do get used to it. He’s a real character and is beginning to venture out on his own again and explore the outside world,” she added.
At birth, Newt weighed just 20 grams and was little larger than a baked bean. He crawled through his mother’s fur from the birth canal into the pouch where he began to suckle.
Volunteering to take over as surrogate mothers has been a real labor of love for the keepers – especially with feedings every four hours day and night.
Gemma and Jodie will have to keep up their role as adoptive parents for up to 18 months until the youngster is fully weaned and ready to return to the Wallaby colony.
Red-necked Wallabies, also known as Bennett’s Wallabies, are native to eastern Australia and the island of Tasmania. As marsupials, their babies are born in a highly underdeveloped state and complete their growth inside the female’s pouch. They feed on grasses and leaves during the night and rest during the day. Red-necked Wallabies are not under threat, and so are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).