Drain Rescues: How You Can Help

Wildlife Posted Dec 15, 2020
Drains can be dangerous spaces for curious creatures looking for new hollows, morsels of food, or for small wildlife that may find themselves stuck with no way of escape. We can all contribute to their protection, and in these cases, prevention by way of covered drains is always a much better option than the rescue!

Our RSPCA Rescue Officers are frequently summoned for drain and pipe rescues with possums being commonly caught out, particularly after tree-cutting evictions send them searching for safe havens. The inadvertent adventures of a Bribie Island possum, became a recent addition to our tally of life-saving missions after concerned home owners spotted its tiny paw fussing through a crack in one of their downpipes. 

possum in drain

After their own attempts at rescue proved too difficult, Animal Rescue Officer Sam arrived on scene, to successfully pry the cold, wet possum free. A pouch check revealed that the little jill was still too young for a joey, and though markedly fatigued, after a warm towel-down, snug swaddling and a few bites of banana peel, she was almost back in full, feisty possum character. A few days of rest at the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital will see this little one through to release. A wonderful outcome, but also a real reminder of the downpipe perils faced by fauna in our communities.

Birdlife are not immune to the risks of getting stuck in drains either! Recently, two Rainbow Lorikeets accomplished the head-scratching feat of becoming trapped inside a 30cm x 30cm narrowly grated and concrete-secured drain at the Australian Institute of Creative Design in Yeerongpilly. Passer-by Chantelle, heard their distressed tweeting and called for the help of Animal Rescue Officer Mary, who with chisel and hammer, torch, food and the clever service of lorikeet calling sounds from YouTube, miraculously lured the birds to freedom. After deeming their good health, the two lorikeets were released – hopefully the lesson will be only once learned.

rainbow lorikeet in drain

For precious young wildlife, these dangerous terrains aren’t so easy to discern on their diligent travels. A little Eastern Grey joey is another to have taken a tumble: this time into an open, unlidded drain. Thought to be suffering Myopathy — muscle damage possibly triggered by the stress of trying to escape — he was discovered by Queensland Police at the old mental health facility in Wacol. Inspector Sam and Wildlife Vet Tim, attended the rescue and admitted the baby roo for care at our Wildlife Hospital. After a good recovery, the little joey was transferred to a wildlife rehabilitator where he’ll continue to strengthen until eventual release.

kangaroo in drain

These are the all-too-common narratives linked with the dangers of drains, but wildlife aren’t the only animals that get caught out! Domestic pets like Koala Blue, a newly adopted RSPCA cat, was reported missing only to be found the next day, stuck deep in a drain in Chermside West. 

Watch his rescue story here:

How can we offer our wildlife a drain-free future?

Great news! Protecting our wildlife and pets from these incidents of entrapment really is as simple as covering all of the drains and open pipes on your property with chicken wire or netting. Take the time to do a quick check to ensure no animals are stuck in your pipes and drains. If you’re at a workplace, suggest a check of these too!

rescued kangaroo with rspca inspector

The evidence is clear: even narrowly grated drains pose problems for small animals and birds, so attending to all openings is ideal. The materials you need are easily accessible from hardware stores and serve the winning purpose of not only keeping animals out and saving lives, but also preventing leaf clutter and blockages. 

If you see a sick or injured animal, call our Animal Emergency Hotline 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) available 24/7.

Rebecca Kahler

Rebecca Kahler
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