Who painted the dead wombat?

Cars and wildlife just don’t mix! You have probably seen a wombat or a kangaroo lying at the side of the road. If you look closely enough, you will sometimes see a big X has been spray painted across the body. Who would do such a thing to a dead animal? This X is a sign that somebody cared enough to stop to check if the animal was female and, if so, has checked the pouch for a joey. It is likely that the person who checked the pouch was a wildlife carer. (They spray paint an X on the body so that other wildlife carers will know that the animal has already been checked.)

There is a lot that is happening around us that we just don’t notice. The two possums below are animals I rescued following calls from the public.


A ringtail possum pouch

Orphaned ringtail possum joey

So why do you think wildlife get hit by cars? Are they getting in our way, or are we getting in their way? Before you post, let’s pretend you are a possum living in your street. Look in your backyard and tell us what you see that you would have to navigate around or could use to get where you want to go at night. What dangers are there? What is the risk that you could be injured trying to move through your backyard?

Megan (Wildlife Carer)

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24 thoughts on “Who painted the dead wombat?

  1. Obviously the animals were here before us and before we built roads throughout the country on their home. Obviously it is hard to miss an animal if it jumps out in front of you or it is so small that you can’t see it when you are travelling down the road. It would be hard if you were an animal, not knowing what the car is, or what it is going to do, but if you saw it coming straight at you, you would move out of the way, but maybe the animals don’t know any better. Pretty much all of the animals that get hit have been by accidents. I think that both humans and animals need to stay more alert.

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  2. Driving down the roads that go through any sort of tree filled environment is a danger to animals and humans. The animals get hit by cars as either the animal has jumped out of the bushes surrounding the road being driven on and the driver is unable to stop quickly to be able to control the situation or the driver is not watching the road properly hits anything that is on the road. In some situations the animals could be getting in our way but we have to remember that earlier before the roads were made by passing through the bush land we were getting in their way. A possum in a backyard of a household would have to try and get around without anyone noticing it so it has a better chance of staying in the spot that it likes, no animal would get used to being in the backyard there is just too many things to worry about…. I mean what if there is a dog in your backyard how is the possum supposed to get around without the dog barking? There is a highly big risk trying to move around it’s just not safe for the animal.

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  3. Is this only just animals and humans being in balance with each other? Or is this also jeopardising the environment that in such careless, mundane and quite saddening ways like mentioned above – roadkill. Like Teighan said not only is it dangerous for the animal but for the driver. If animals are so easily put in danger by going on a road which they probably have no idea what it is, then how are we, as humans, protecting them? Sure, it’s an accident, but it’s likely that this accident would not have happened if there was no road and no car, as mentioned by Nick. So maybe the question can also be said as…”Are we protecting our wildlife or are we killing them off?”

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  4. agreeing with just about everyone above, it is not only a danger for the animals but a danger for us,but that doesn’t make it an excuse to just plow through them. Sure, if the animal came out of nowhere and you hit it by accident fair enough, if you’ve got the decency to move it to the side of the road great, but if its actually still alive call a wildlife carer. My mum is actually a wildlife carer and there has been multiple times where people have left a dying animal on the side of the road, sometimes they’ve been their for more than 24 hours. alot of the time its really hard to be able to save them. I wouldn’t be able to comprehend the feeling of not being able to walk through your own habitat without being killed or seriously injured. as mentioned by Lin, perhaps there are people who are ‘killing them off’

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  5. I killed a possum once. I didn’t mean to do it and I felt really bad about it. I had left a bucket behind my shed and it had filled with rainwater. A tiny possum fell in, couldn’t get out and drowned. I didn’t even know there were possums in my backyard. I would never have hurt it on purpose, but that doesn’t matter – I still killed it.

    If only I had been more aware. All I had to do was turn the bucket upside down! I didn’t think and unintentionally set a deadly trap!

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  6. It is neither the animals or the peoples fault that they are getting hit. Our 2 environments clash and unfortubately animals are getting hit. A lot of the time animals are getting hit at night and it can be hard to see an animal if it jumps out on the road in front of them with no warning. But the animals don’t understand what is going on.

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  7. A lot of these accidents are mostly common at night, mostly because animals briefer to hunt for food then, or a new home. animals aren’t like humans they have nature instincts and learn to survive on what they have or were they are. a road to a possum is basically another peace of land, animals need to get from point A to B in anyway they can. When possums cross the road they cant judge the speed the vehicles are traveling until they can hear the sound to make their move, and when its their move its life and death.

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  8. Animals and humans are two completely different natures. We clash in so many ways. Animcals like possums come out at night because they search for food or a new home to live in. Possums walk across roads because the need to get places. They cant walk on powerlines all the time. They dont have the knowlege and the common sense like we do to know about speeding cars , trucks etc. Of course they’re gonna get hit. They dont know what they’re doing.

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  9. Animals and Humans live as if they’re in 2 separate environments when in reality they live in the same world. We just have to accept that we do clash with their enivironment and cause harm to them. We are the intelligent species and we should be smater with the way we handle our clashes with other ecosystems.

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  10. we have got to accept that we live in a world of different environments. We clash in so many ways that we cant imagine. the animals cant defend themselves against a man made car. it just not going to win.

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  11. Whenever we decide to clear more land for human development we are forcing more and more animals to come into the animal habitat to feed on our scraps and this is going to result in us killing more animals. Also, when we enter the animal’s habitat, we are seeing cars hitting animals which isn’t surprising seeing that we’re encroaching their natural environment. So as long as humans are developing and expanding their boundaries, animals are going to die as animals and humans don’t mix.

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  12. They are good thoughts guys. As all of you have said, humans have chosen to live in a way that clashes with the way the world we live in works. Did you know that ringtail possums are ‘arboreal’? That is, they live in trees and rarely come to the ground unless they have to. This means they can stay hidden from owls and are close to food. So with that in mind, when you look in your backyard, do you think a ringtail possum would be able to cross it using trees alone or is it forced to walk on the ground, the fence, the roof, the road instead?

    Understanding these things can help us to make better decisions about what we build and how we live. For eg. do you think that putting powerlines underground instead of overhead is an improvement or making things harder for the ringtails?

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  13. I believe animals get hit by cars because they are un-aware that cars are coming, it mostly happens at night time but also people that are driving should stay alert at all times while driving. I believe humans and animals are getting in each others ways, we all should stay alert at all times.

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  14. i think that animals and humans are getting in each others way, but because we are bigger and stronger, the smaller animals are coming off second usualy ending in their death. we should drive a bit slower so just incase there is an animal on the road we will have the time to slow down. but in saying that animals also have eyes and can see if there is an oncoming danger, but we will never know what they think

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  15. I do agree with most students here, both the animals and humans should be more aware of things on the road. Us humans should be more aware whilst driving and to always be on lookout of animals crossing the road, it is harder if they come out of no where and is hard to swerve away from the animal which may cause more damage towards you. If the animal is hit it is very important to check if it is a female and to check for live babies then if you have an old rag to safely remove it off the road so no more damage can be done.

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    • Actually Sarah Wildlife Victoria is on call to help injured wildlife in just such situations. I think that everyone should have their number in their mobile phone. They will send someone to assess the animal and get it medical attention and rehabilitation if possible. If it is too badly injured they will see that it is treated respectfully and put to sleep painlessly. They do everything they can to save the animal. Their number is 13 000 94535

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  16. Wild life have been here before we decided to change the world they live in. We drove a path through their habitat’s. Possums and other creatures have to adapt to the way we change things, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them. If I were a possum, obstacles in my way would be cars, people, trees and dangers of man-made objects. If it isn’t originally from the environment; it is usually considered a danger. From the start, we have been getting in the way.

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  17. well to be honest it goes both ways. They run on to our roads and so on but usally there are signs there around the area to warn us about the wildlife so it’s both of our faults in my opinion. But as people have said above we have built roads on there habbitats and brought the amount of room they had down, they are most likely unawre about the road and cars because they don’t really have that thinking power about it like us humans do.

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  18. I believe that the drivers are getting in the animals way , animals live in trees, bushes etc. they are the ones that live permanently close to the road, there is more often than not, signs that indicate that there is wildlife around the roads humans drive on. Although it’s the driver that is in the wrong, it’s not entirely the drivers fault, animals don’t know that they can be killed on a road, they don’t know the same things humans do, so they are unaware that a moving car will kill them, they don’t even know what a car is! Humans hit animals like wombats and kangaroos all the time and nobody truly cares, you see a dead animal on the side of the road, you move on, but what people don’t realize is that the animal that is dead on the road could have had babies, them babies now have no mother/father, if enough of the species is killed, they may go extinct! There is endless reasons why people on the road should be aware of the animals out there that they may just come across driving down a road surrounded by trees.

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  19. I think both humans and the animals are at fault here. I think because we both live here and we both live using bushes, trees and roads we should be aware of our surroundings, which include noticing if some careless driver has killed an animal and left it to die. I think whilst driving you should look out for wildlife and try to stay out of there way. If you accidently kill an animal you should take it somewhere to get help, not just leave it on the side of the road. Usually while driving in highly populated wildlife areas they usually have signs saying things like ‘Look out for Wombats’ or ‘Kangaroos ahead’ so really there should be no excuse to hit an animal and leave it to die on the side of the road, that’s just cruel.

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  20. Its great to see that people actually care about our wildlife, dead or not. Thanks to the wildlife carers to their contribution to the animal kingdom.

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  21. What the wildlife carers do with the big X is a great idea.
    The wildlife get hit by cars because our world and their world don’t really mix well.

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  22. the message i got out of this is the animals are unaware of the cars on the road and their are signs up saying wildlife crossing but i dont think anyone takes any notice of them. wildlife carers are doing the right thing by checking to see if their is a baby in the pouch. it is sad though that people hit the wildlife it just breaks my heart.

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