Watch Out!

BBK 10903 brownsnake reduced copyright












The afternoon sun is setting - making it a little difficult to see the road ahead. So you lower your visor, put your sunnies on and wriggle around in your driver’s seat - trying to avoid the glare from the sun. Someone yells ‘watch out!’, you brake, but it’s too late.

BBK5 14197 blackstripe reduced copyright

Have you noticed more animals on the roads lately? What about an increase in the number of road kill? With the onset of the warmer months and the lack of rain, animals are using the roads more and more. In Australia, roads are extensive across the country, with our roadsides often supporting narrow strips of vegetation including remnant forest, woodland and shrubland1 which is very attractive to both native and non-native wildlife. Birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and even invertebrates all fall victim to death by motor vehicle1.

The reasons animals use the roads vary from reptiles basking in the warmth of the sun, moving across their territory, some mammals using the roads for travel2 and most commonly, as a source of food both in the habitat along the roadside and road kill that is already present. It places these animals in a very vulnerable position, particularly on our highways where speeds are increased and reaction times are reduced2.

What can you do?

  1. Slow down!!
  2. Avoid driving at dawn and dusk when animals are most active.
  3. If you have passengers in the car, use them as spotters.
  4. Pay attention to signs warning of wildlife in the area.
  5. Take extra care on dirt roads and when it is raining.
  6. If you do hit an animal, pull off the road safely and cautiously approach the animal to see if it is still alive. If the animal is dead, move it off the road and check the pouch for young (if it’s a marsupial). If it is still alive and you are comfortable doing so, cover it in a blanket or towel, keeping its head covered and pick it up. But only if it is safe to do so. Then contact the RSPCA or your local wildlife carers group.

 BBK2 0459 bearded reduced copyright

The saddest stories that we hear are from those who have swerved to avoid a critter on the road, only to look in their rear vision mirror and see the car behind deliberately swerve to hit it. For wildlife carers, these are the heartbreaking moments when an injured animal is brought in and has to be euthanized due to the severity of its injuries. In Australia it is illegal to intentionally kill native wildlife.

There are times when it is impossible to avoid a collision with an animal but you can do things to reduce the chances of it occurring. The animal (and your insurance company) will thank you!



1: Queensland Department of Main Roads (2000) Fauna Sensitive Road Design, Volume 1: Past and Existing Practices, Queensland Department of Main Roads, Planning, Design and Environment

2: Jones, M.E. (2000). Road upgrades, road mortality and remedial measures: impacts on a population of eastern quolls and Tasmanian devils. Wildlife Research (27), pp. 289-296.

Comments (0)

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.