Code of Practice

Food and water | back

  1. Food and water
    1. Objective
      1. To ensure that sick, injured or orphaned wildlife receive a diet that supports their healthy recovery and development, and their effective rehabilitation and release.
    2. Standards
      1. Rehabilitators must be aware of the appropriate food and water requirements for the particular species in the wild and in care. Advice must be sought from a person experienced in rehabilitating a species where a rehabilitator is unfamiliar with its care.
      2. Food and water of suitable quality and quantity for the species must be provided at an appropriate frequency and must not be accessible to other wild or domestic animals.
      3. The feeding of live non-native vertebrate animals to an animal under rehabilitation must not occur unless the feeding of live food is essential for the rehabilitated animal’s survival.
      4. Live protected animals must not be used for the purpose of feeding an animal under rehabilitation. It is permissible to collect a dead least concern animal (e.g. fresh road kill), other than a special native animal (echidna, koala, platypus, wombat), if the dead animal is taken to feed the bird of prey kept under a rehabilitation permit.
      5. Food quantities must be adjusted to reflect an animal’s stage of development and to maintain a weight that is within an appropriate range. Guidance on this can be obtained from wildlife rehabilitation organisations and facilities.
      6. Prior to release food must be offered in a way that encourages natural feeding behaviour such as foraging.
      7. An animal that is unable or unwilling to feed sufficiently (other than nursing young) must be assessed by a veterinarian or a suitably experienced person to diagnose the cause of the inability to feed.
      8. Prior to undertaking the force feeding of an animal, a rehabilitator must have received training from a suitably experienced person (i.e. experienced wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian) for that particular species.
      9. Food and water for wildlife must not be allowed to become contaminated by wild or domestic animals.
      10. Food must be provided in a manner that minimises food contamination and spoilage and the transfer of disease.
    3. Guidelines
      1. To the greatest extent possible, captive diets should be similar to the natural diet for the species to minimise diet-related health issues, to teach food recognition for release back into the wild and promote normal digestive function.
      2. Animals should be weighed at least weekly to determine overall health and to mitigate weight loss through dietary changes.
      3. Vitamin and mineral deficiency is a disorder associated with prolonged captivity in a wide range of species, and should be anticipated and prevented by provision of a proper diet with vitamin and mineral supplementation. Care should be taken when adding supplements to an animal’s diet as incorrect quantity can also cause dietary problems.
      4. Whenever practicable, prior to release, animals should have foods included in their diet that would be available to them in the area where they are to be released.
      5. To avoid contamination and disease transfer, wildlife and human food preparation areas and implements should be kept separate.

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