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  1. ITV Report

Baby wallaby hand-reared in rucksack at Swindon sanctuary after mum dies from pneumonia

Riley the baby wallaby is being hand-reared in a rucksack after his mum died. Credit: ITV News West Country

A baby wallaby is being hand-reared in a rucksack at an animal sanctuary near Swindon after its mother died from pneumonia.

Four-month-old joey, Riley, is being nurtured by wildlife carer Julia Stewart at the Studley Grange Butterfly World and Farm Park.

She carries him in the furry rucksack strapped to her chest from 6.30am to 10.30pm everyday - and then he sleeps on her bed.

Riley is allowed out of his makeshift pouch for up to an hour and a half a day. Credit: ITV News West Country

Riley is allowed out of the pouch for up to an hour and a half a day while staff encourage him to hop around with other wallabies.

He likes the motion. Obviously, mum would be constantly moving. He likes the fresh air as well because again she would have him with his head stuck out of the pouch.

Unfortunately when his mum died from pneumonia a couple of weeks ago, we then took him on board to make sure he survived and he’s doing really well - putting on weight. Although it’s nice for him to be friendly, it’s important for him to know he’s a wallaby and how to behave like one.

– Julia Stewart

Riley sleeps in the rucksack dangling from the headboard of her bed at home, is protected by her pet collie and even has a special spot in the passenger seat of her car.

Riley in his pouch. Credit: ITV News West Country

The wallaby is fed every four hours and enjoys a diet of lactose-free milk, fruit, veg, a bit of grass and alfalfa, a nutritional plant - though makeshift mum Julia said he particularly enjoys snacking on strawberries and grapes.

Wallabies, native to Australia and New Guinea, have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years and typically spend nine months in their mother’s pouch.