What to do if you find a joey

By AG STAFF 1 August 2016
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
This adorable video of a baby eastern grey kangaroo comes with an important message.

The cute baby joey in this video is Kevin, an eastern grey kangaroo joey being cared for at the Australian Reptile Park on the NSW Central Coast.

Sadly, a local family found Kevin’s mother killed on the side of the road in Morisset – they discovered Kevin when they checked inside her pouch.

While Kevin is now in good health and enjoying bottle feeds and cuddling up to his keepers at the park, he also has an important job to do – the Australian Reptile Park hopes little Kevin can help get the message out there about the best thing to do if you ever find an orphaned joey on the side of the road.

Baby kangaroo in an artificial pouch
A baby kangaroo in artificial pouch. Image credit: shutterstock

How to rescue an orphaned joey

1. If you see an animal on the side of the road, and if it is safe to do so, consider checking the pouch – there may be a joey inside that has survived. A joey can last from six to 48 hours inside a pouch once its mother has passed away.

2. Call a local wildlife organisation such as W.I.R.E.S or Wildlife Arc, or take the little one to an institution like the Australian Reptile Park, or your local vet.

3. Do not take the orphaned joey home or feed it – from wombats to kangaroos and Tassie devils, all joeys need a different type of milk and the wrong type can be fatal.

4. If you need to take the joey out of the pouch, do so very gently and with great care! It’s not as easy as it sounds. A very young joey may be permanently attached to its mother’s teat, in which case you may need to use scissors.

5. If using scissors, first position the mother so the pouch opening is toward your body. Cut the pouch to assist with the removal process, while keeping your hand between the joey and the scissors.

6. Next, insert your hand into the pouch and feel around for the teat at the end of the joey’s nose. Ensure your fingers are between the scissors and the joey and make the precise cut very slowly. Remove the joey with the teat still in its mouth.

7. If scissors aren’t available, enclose the joey in your hand as much as you can. Then proceed to move your fingers to the end of the nose and gently push the sides and ease the teat out of the mouth. Please note this action may rip and damage the mouth, so be very careful.

8. Use a towel to assist with removal of the joey and place both the towel and the joey inside more towels, jumpers – anything soft you have.

9. Not all joeys will be attached to the teat, some (such as wombats) will often be found standing next to mum. In all cases, the process is the same – put the joey in soft, warm wrapping that mimics a pouch and bring it to an institution like the Australian Reptile Park or your local vet, or call a local wildlife organisation such as W.I.R.E.S.