Bellingen’s loved and trusted veterinary nurse Audra Petrie has been moonlighting as a volunteer native animal carer for WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) since 2002. “In that time I’ve cared for hundreds of animals- I’ve lost count of how many,” says Audra.
The sheer time required to nurse a baby or unwell animal to the point of release, demonstrates both tenacity and a true ‘love of animals’ in the carer. But we have all witnessed these traits in Audra each time we visit the Bellingen Veterinary Hospital. It was time for Rod’s annual check-up and to chat to Audra about all things ‘animal’.
What is involved in your role as an animal carer for WIRES?
I will use a baby flying fox as an example:
My first task is to warm and then rehydrate the baby. Once hydrated, I’m able to feed with a bottle. Cows milk is what we use with a few extra things added. Baby flying foxes will hang onto a mummy roll (a rolled face washer)- it helps them to feel like they are hanging onto mum. They are wrapped with a hankerchief which resembles the mum’s wing. They are fed upside down and sleep upside down. Feeding is usually 5 feeds a day to start, plus bathing and toileting. As the baby grows it requires less bottles and will start to eat fruit and native food. They learn how to hang by living on a portable clothesline. When old enough they all get buddied up and move into a huge creche cage together before their eventual release.
You must have interesting rescue stories.
I sure do! I had a red belly black snake launch itself off the floor through the air and land in my snake bag (which I was holding) Phew!!
Ive been bitten by a carpet python 8 times on my hand!
I’ve had a Koala escape from its box in my home and trash the grandkids bedroom.
I’ve had nipple injury with a koala biting my breast.
My favorite was a female flying fox giving birth and the baby landed in my hand. Never a dull moment and there are soooo many more!!
So if we find injured or unwell animals what should we do?
You can call Wires on 1300 094 737 or take injured wildlife to your local vet.
What do you love most about your work as a Veterinary Nurse?
Mostly it is working with and assisting animals. You never know what the day holds- I love the unexpected.
Whats was your best memory of childhood?
Visiting Old Sydney Town on the central coast for a school excursion.
What was your best sporting moment?
I don’t have one- I was never very good at sport.
What are you reading right now?
Better Homes and Gardens
What are you listening to right now?
What really annoys you?
The last big belly laugh you had was?
When an echidna broke into our house through the cat door recently and ran around our lounge room at 2 am.
How do you relax?
Favourite restaurant in the Shire?
The previous career you wish you could forget?
Cleaning rental properties for for real estate agencies. Worst job EVER!
Favourite holiday destination & why?
Fiji. It was my honeymoon with Dean.
In the Movie Audragate, who would play you?