Living with wildlife

 Tawny Frogmouth, Podargus strigoides, at Yarra Bend Park.

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) at Yarra Bend Park

Wildlife in Victoria is protected under the Wildlife Act 1975, which makes it illegal to willfully disturb or destroy wildlife.

Sick, injured or orphaned wildlife

If you see a sick, injured or orphaned native animal call Wildlife Victoria on (03) 8400 7300 or report it on the Wildlife Victoria website. This is a statewide service. 

REPORT A SICK OR INJURED NATIVE ANIMAL

The more quickly the animal is seen by a vet, the higher the likelihood of its survival and release to its natural habitat. 

Wildlife Victoria provides advice and may ask you to safely transport the injured animal to a vet, if it is safe to do so. If necessary, they can arrange for a trained wildlife rescuer to attend. You should never attempt to handle a bat or a snake yourself.  

The most common call outs for injured wildlife in Yarra are possums, magpies and other birds. 

Wildlife Victoria can only help with native wildlife that is sick, injured or orphaned.  They cannot re-locate healthy animals, or help with non-native animals such as foxes, rabbits or cats.

  • For problems with healthy wildlife, call the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on 136 186
  • For problems with non-native wildlife (such as foxes, rabbits, pigeons or feral cats) contact us on 9205 5555. 

Save Wildlife Victoria’s details to your phone and share it with your friends, family and neighbours.

Possums

Brushtail and ringtail possums are common throughout Yarra. 

Brushtail possums sometimes like to take up residence in your roof. While they may only be trapped to remove them from the roof-space they must be released on the same property within 50 metres of the capture site. Licensed wildlife controllers are authorised to trap brushtail possums but they will not relocate them to another site.

To prevent possums from accessing your roof space, we recommend blocking the holes where the possums are gaining access – but be sure to block them out not in! Brushtail possums are territorial, so installing a possum box in a nearby tree can provide a new home for the evicted possum and prevent new possums from moving in

Ringtail possums are fully protected and must not be trapped. They build a nest or ‘drey’ in dense trees, shrubs or vines.  Remember to check for dreys before heavy pruning. 

Find out more information on living with possums on the Wildlife Victoria website. 

Birds 

Swooping birds

When birds swoop, they are trying to protect their territory, nests, eggs and young. These birds are trying to scare you away – not harm you. 

Most “swoopers” are male birds, defending their young. Swooping usually occurs for just a few weeks during spring. Magpies and masked lapwings (plovers) are the most notable, but only a small proportion actually swoop. These birds, like all wildlife, are legally protected in Victoria.

Here are some tips on how to deal with swooping birds: 

  • Don’t harass or harm the bird, or go near the nest. If you can, use an alternative route during this time. 
  • If you can’t avoid the area, carry an open umbrella or wear a helmet, hat and sunglasses to protect yourself. Hop off your bike and walk away quickly. Keep an eye on the bird as it is less likely to swoop while you are watching.

Find out more information on swooping birds on the Wildlife Victoria website. 

Birds in buildings

Birds are sometimes found trapped within buildings. Here are some helpful tips to set them free: 

  • Make sure there is a window or door open, and a direct route to this exit is available. Make sure other windows are covered. 
  • Food can be used as a lure to entice the bird toward the exit. 
  • Calmly encourage the bird to move towards the exit. You can use large blankets or a sheet to guide it. 

If you are able to safely contain the bird using a towel and box, it may be best to take the animal to your local vet for assessment. Birds are easily stressed and suffer injuries when in buildings.

Flying foxes and microbats

Have you seen the flying foxes from Yarra Bend Park flying overhead in the evening? Yarra is home to the largest colony in Melbourne. These bats play a vital ecological role as they spread pollen and disperse seeds. They mainly eat the nectar and pollen of eucalyptus trees, but they will also visit fruit trees.  

Microbats may be smaller than a mouse.  They eat insects, including mosquitos. They roost during the day in tree hollows and sometimes in the roof space or wall cavity of buildings.  Occasionally one may accidentally come inside your home.  If it is dark, turn off lights and fans, open any external doors and windows and vacate the room. The bat will usually find its own way out. If you think the bat is injured, call Wildlife Victoria for assistance.   

No touch, no risk

As long as you do not attempt to handle a bat, there are no health risks to living near these animals or having them visit your garden. If you see a bat on the ground, or on its own during the day, it is in trouble and needs your help.  Please report the animal to Wildlife Victoria who will arrange for a vaccinated, trained rescuer to attend.

Fruit tree netting is the major cause of urban injury and death for the endangered grey-headed flying fox. Netting that is not wildlife safe will soon become illegal in Victoria under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Visit our biodiversity and wildlife page to find out how to make your garden wildlife safe

Snakes 

What to do if you see a snake 

Snakes are found throughout Yarra and it is important to remember that they are in their natural habitat. If you see a snake, do not approach it or attempt to touch or kill it. 

  • If you discover a snake on your property, you will need to contact a professional snake handler to remove the snake. 
  • To discourage snakes from entering your property, keep your grass short and your garden well maintained and free from rubbish. 

If a snake bites you, the Victorian Poisons Information Centre advises not to wash the bite as traces of venom can be used to identify the snake and the anti-venom required.

Apply a firm bandage to the bitten area, keep still and call 000 for an ambulance.

If your pet is bitten, attempt to keep the animal calm and still. Any movement may cause the toxin to spread faster. If possible, carry your pet to the car and seek immediate veterinary assistance. 

Soldier beetles

Soldier beetles can be found in Yarra’s parks and gardens during the summer months. The beetles are approximately 14mm long and have an elongated, flattened body with a yellow-orange band behind the head. The head and wing case are dark green-black and the body is yellow-orange.

They are often mistaken for bees or wasps due to the colour of their underbelly. They are not harmful, and we do not take action to control them. The beetles generally disappear after 1 to 2 days. 

Soldier beetles can be beneficial for plants as they attack harmful insects that are attracted to nectar. They are also very effective as a biological control of aphids, grasshopper eggs and caterpillars.

Bees and wasps

Yarra is home to at least seven species of native bees. Some of these native bee species can sting but they are generally not aggressive. Most native bees are smaller than honey bees. Some are solitary species and dig burrows for their nests in the ground whilst others use narrow holes in timber or pithy stems. They are important pollinators for a variety of native flora.

Aside from the European wasp, all other wasps are native to Melbourne and provide useful environmental services. They are only aggressive when threatened and their nests should not be disturbed.

Bees and wasps are most active during spring and summer. 

Non-native bees and wasps

Non-native honeybees form swarms as part of the establishment of new hives and colonies. People who are experienced at handling bees can easily catch swarms in open areas. 
European wasp nests can be found mainly in dark, protected areas including under the house, in ivy, underground and in the walls of weatherboard houses. 

Tips for discouraging European wasps nesting in your house and yard: 

  • Cover swimming pools, birdbaths and ponds. 
  • Cover windows and doors with fly screens. 
  • Remove all garden clippings, compost, pet food and damaged/rotten fruit from your garden. 
  • Water the garden at nighttime when wasps are least active. 

A professional should always carry out the removal of swarms, hives and nests. 

If the non-native nest or hive is located on your land, you are responsible for its removal or treatment. If the nest or hive is on Yarra City Council land, please contact us on 9205 5555.