Julia Huber, who lives in Western Australia, was shocked to see how much attention the video of her holding the young joey — seemingly at a kangaroo retreat — attracted. The clip shows the 25-year-old pick up the joey by his tail, leaving him dangling for a second before scooping him up in her arms.
"It looks weird and cruel, if you see that this is how we pick up kangaroo joeys, but, it’s actually the safest way without hurting them!" the volunteer said in the caption.
"If they are very scared of you, they might kick around and try to get away, hurting you and themselves. So if you only have the tail they can’t do much. Then use your second hand and put it gently on their ribs/belly. Turn him around like a baby — if you did it right, you can hold your joey without hurting him."
When should you pick up a joey?
Speaking to a Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) spokesperson, Yahoo News Australia was told it's okay to pick up a joey by its tail, but it also depends on the circumstances and how it is done.
"If the mother gets hit by a car, the joey is often thrown out and it’ll jump around and basically its whatever you need to do to contain it, such as grabbing it by its tail," they said. "We generally say that you don’t use any of its limbs like the legs and arms to pick it up, and you don’t grab them around the rib cage."
"You should pick it up at the top of the tail where it joins with its body, as that’s the safest spot."
They also mentioned that the aim of picking them up should be to put them in a pouch, which can also be made artificially to mimic a mother's pouch — something Ms Huber said in her video caption can be created with a "pillowcase, T-shirt or something warm."
However, it's recommended to get the animal into a pouch without touching it, as they are "flight animals" and "don't like it". "Under normal (non-emergency) circumstances where you’ve rescued a joey, you would tend to offer a pouch for it to jump into, rather than pick it up by its tail," the spokesperson said.
"They dive in and do a tumble, so that’s the safest and nicest way to do it but as they get older you don’t handle them so much."
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