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Linda takes on mum duties for orphaned baby possums

possum carer
Wildlife carer Linda Karlsen has taken on the role of mum to many orphaned baby possums.

Orphaned baby possums have a safe place to grow with Linda Karlsen.

The Bundaberg woman has been a wildlife carer for many years and has a bit of a knack for rescuing possums who have been abandoned or orphaned by their mother.

“I have had four baby possums in care in the last year or so,” she said.

“The main reasons they come in are mum hit by cars, mum attacked by dogs or in the case of my last little boy, mum had actually abandoned him on someone's roof.”

Her last possum baby, named Gumnut, came to Linda at the start of February at just 120 grams.

“He needed feeding with milk formula every four hours at that size and that is around the clock!” Linda said.

“By February 11 he was 186 grams and I moved the feeding to about every five hours.

“He was also offered native vegetation and fruit and vegetables of various types to investigate.”

possum
Gumnut on the day he arrived in Linda's care.

Linda said looking after such a small possum was hard work but eventually, Gumnut began to grow and relied on her less for feeding.

“By the time February 23 came along he was at 240 grams and was on feeds every six hours- which meant I got more sleep,” she laughed.

“I was driving out every second day at least to find native vegetation and flowers to offer him as well as getting his formula and fruit and veg.”

Just ten days ago, Gumnut had reached a healthy weight of 500 grams and is now settled in to another carers property where he will be released.

Linda helps possums back into wild

Linda said looking after baby possums was a rewarding experience.

“The best part for me is releasing them or successfully passing them on to the next stage- hoping that one day they will breed successfully,” she said.

“We have lost so many animals to drought and bushfire and then when you add road accidents, animal attacks and all the other reasons that animals require care, well it can be a bit overwhelming.

“To me the real upside is thinking and believing that I am making at least a little bit of a difference.”

Linda said she started rescuing on and off in 1988 and since 2018, had been part of the organisation called Bundy Wild Matters.

She said becoming a wildlife carer was not only about caring for cute critters, but also about education and awareness.

“I love the education side of rescuing. Explaining to people what we do and getting to talk about the different species when I go to someone's home,” Linda said.

“I also love advising them and helping them with the situations they find themselves in with regards to native animals.”

possum
Gumnut getting to know what to eat.

What to do if you find an animal

Linda said for those who came across an injured or abandoned animal in the wild, there were a few things to remember.

“If it is a bird, small animal or baby pick it up in a towel or something to protect yourself from scratches or bites,” she said.

“Put the animal in a box and keep it warm and dark and call a rescuer.

“The other option is to take it to your local vet and do not give the animal anything unless you have got the okay or advice of a rescuer.”

Linda said it was also important to let rescuers handle any dangerous animals.

“Do not touch bats of any type as you need to be vaccinated to handle them,” she said.

“If it is a snake, keep an eye on it, remove pets and kids from the area and call a licenced snake handler.”

To find out more about Bundy Wild Matters click here.

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