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Revised draft A Guide to the Use of Australian Native Mammals in Biomedical Sciences submission

B. Please provide contact details

Personal information provided, e.g. contact details, will only be used for the purposes of developing resources relevant to this consultation document and will not be disclosed outside of members of NHMRC staff and NHMRC Committees. Such Information will not be used or disclosed for any other purpose, without prior written consent.

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E. Specific comments
Specific comments: 

Page 7 – Transport – a stacker box of 50cms height would require a lid to prevent escape by an adult Echidna. Suggest deeper box >60cms.


Page 8 – Housing – suggest that the sheet metal be 0.75cms for over wire cages as when the floor is covered with deep litter, adult Echidnas could still climb onto the wire. I have also had Echidnas move objects not fastened down within the cage to the fence enabling their escape (they are cleverer than they look!).


Diet – I would not recommend the use of mince meat diets as, in my experience, they often result in diarrhoea. Our preferred diet is that developed by Dr [name removed by ONHMRC] which consists of a slurry of pollard, meat meal and glucose (Ratio 5:4:1) plus a drop of Pentavite. This is readily consumed by echidnas and being made from dry components does not require refrigeration. In order to avoid spillage and food contamination, food bowls should be secured and covered by steel or timber structures, preferably bolted to the ground. Access to the food by Echidnas is gained via smooth edged holes drilled through the cover.


Page 51 – Capture in the field – Larger wallabies captured using soft walled traps need to be released as soon as possible to prevent the inevitable stress and possible predation by dogs and foxes. Ideally the use of electronic warning devises linked to a nearby field camp should be used but at the very least, traps should be checked at least once overnight.


Page 52 – Transportation – this section should be divided into two sections;


a)      Large species can be transported over short journeys in wool sacks suspended inside a vehicle with the bottom of the bag supported on the ground. The animal should be positioned in the sack with its rump down and head up – not in a standing position as given in the draft report. For long journeys large macropods should be housed in a suitably sized wooden crate, large enough to allow the animal to lay down.


In my experience larger macropod species must be sedated to some degree to avoid/reduce mortalities in transit. It is agreed that over sedation may be detrimental to the animals’ health in the long term.


b)      Medium/small wallabies can be transported in an appropriately sized sack, suspended inside a vehicle with its rump down and head up (neck damage and difficulty in breathing can occur if the animals head becomes trapped in the corners of the bag. Sedation may be required only if the animal is restless and/or showing signs of rapid breathing/overheating.


Rat kangaroos and potoroos can be transported in small breathable sacks in pet packs or similar.  Sedation is not usually required.


Page 53 – Capture of captive macropods (2nd paragraph, 3rd line). Animals should not ‘fall’ into the open sack. They should be ‘placed’ in the sack and positioned with the rump down, head up before the bag is tied and hung up (wallabies). Larger species may need to be physically restrained and should be released as soon as possible or sedated if they are to be held for an extended period.

F. General comments

My wife and I have 40 years experience working with native mammals with 20 of these years spent working as a technical officer with the then [institution name removed by ONHMRC]. My position involved the care of a variety of native mammals (mainly marsupials) being held for research, firstly in the animal house at [institution name removed by ONHMRC] and then as officer in charge of the [institution name removed by ONHMRC] where captive colonies of a variety of macropod species were held.

I was a major contributor to the publication ‘Care and handling of Australian Native Animals’ edited by Sue Hand and published by Surrey Beatty and the RZS of NSW in 1990. We are also co-authors of ‘Caring for Kangaroos and Wallabies’ published by Kangaroo Press in 1999 (Copies still available for $15 via the above address).

As a general comment, with regards to the species tables, the Status information with regards to the EPBC Act should be uniform throughout the document and it would be beneficial to also include State threatened species listings.

Page reviewed: 24 April, 2014