Cornish family dog helps care for baby wallaby

June 08th, 2015

Poppy, a Labrador cross, is among the family of carers helping to look after Willoughby, a baby wallaby after it was rejected by its mother.

Nine month old Willoughby has been hand fed at the home of the Allen’s at Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre near Launceston, Cornwall for the last nine weeks. Dad John, mum Mandy, son Rhys and daughter Frances are all taking turns with the feeds and helping to care for the vulnerable young wallaby. Poppy the family’s pet Labrador cross is also sharing the caring duties by letting the baby wallaby sleep with her, and it’s not the first time she’s helped rear other animals. Last year Poppy helped to rear a litter of baby otters who had also been rejected by their mother.

Willoughby has responded well to being hand fed according to Mandy Allen: “She is hand bottle fed 40 ml of special milk a  day, and she’s now weaning on grass and a little bit of carrot and apple.”

As far as Poppy’s caring duties are concerned Mandy is convinced that the dog/wallaby bond has been hugely beneficial to Willoughby: “Being with Poppy is great contact for Willoughby, following around another animal is a bit more natural for her than being with us really. It gives her warmth and comfort, almost like being in her mother’s pouch.”

Willoughby’s real mum is a wallaby at the centre who probably rejected her because she has a new baby to go in the pouch. John Allen added: “She was found by a stream one morning by Rhys at the end of March. He put her under his jumper to warm her up but couldn’t find her mum. She could have abandoned her because she was ill or had another joey.”

Because small wallabies can’t control their own body temperature the family decided to bring her in to the house. All going well she should be big enough to rejoin the other wallabies at the centre by the end of the summer, when visitors staying at dog friendly cottages in Cornwall will be able to catch a glimpse of her.