A household rodent treatment that is readily available in supermarkets has been linked to the sad death of a female possum, leaving her joey an orphan.
Wildcare Australia, a not-for-profit wildlife careers organisation in South-East Queensland, responded to a call out for a brushtail possum and her joey sitting in the the middle of a garden bed during the day.
The uncommon sight of a nocturnal animal sitting in broad daylight raised a red flag for the carers.
While the mother possum was lethargic enough to be placed into a cardboard box, the joey seemed bright and alert.
“This is not usually an easy task to accomplish with a wild healthy brushtail, and along with the possum grounded in the middle of the day, meant something wasn't right,” Wildcare wrote in a Facebook post.
The mother possum displayed many of the clinical signs of rat bait toxicity, such as a pale nose and lips, cold foot pads and was extremely weak and wobbly.
Despite efforts to save the adult possum, it was too late.
“Sadly, many brushtail possums fall victim to rat bait toxicity as was the case with the beautiful female who lost her life moments after this photo was taken,” Wildcare said.
The orphaned joey has been placed with a volunteer wildlife carer and is doing extremely well.
The team at Wildcare cautioned readers to stop using rat baits, telling Yahoo News Australia it was the main cause of brushtail possums being rescued and hospitalised.
“Rat baits contain anticoagulants which inhibit the clotting enzyme in the body causing a slow and painful death for all animals - wild, pet animals as well as pest rodents.
“What makes scenarios such as this even more painful to grapple with is that it is avoidable,” Wildlife explained.
The group asked readers to use live traps for rodent problems, as even rodents who have ingested the bait can end up poisoning wildlife.
“Please don't place rat baits out for any creature. Native birds of prey have also fallen victim due to secondary poisoning from eating rats and mice that had ingested these harmful baits.
“There are more humane ways such as live traps to remove rodents from your property.”
Wildlife Australia Inc is a non for profit organisation with a 24-hour call out service to help injured wildlife in North-East QLD.
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