Hayley Bateman, 50, rescued six-year-old Willow who was brought into a vet surgery to be put to sleep.
Willow’s mother rejected her and died hours later, and the joey was written off by zoo bosses.
But mom-of-four Hayley took a chance on her and made a ‘pouch’ for Willow to sleep in.
Gran-of-five Hayley says Willow ‘thinks she’s her mum’ and follows her around.
Willow gets half a chocolate digestive biscuit before bed.
She sleeps in a heated stable in the family’s garden in Hornsea, East Yorks, but loves to cuddle on the sofa.
And she gets along with the family’s five dogs, sleeping in their beds too.
Hayley said: “All together we’ve got 18 pets.
“Willow came to me when she was still needing six months in her mother’s pouch.
“She thinks she’s one of the family.
“She sleeps with the dogs, and she’s got a temperament like a cat – she does what she wants when she wants.
“We considered getting another wallaby for company for her, but it would be hand-reared, so we got a giant rabbit for her as a friend.
“We don’t want her to eat what we eat, but she comes up to the table and steals it.
“She will try and steal whatever she’s not supposed to have.
“Wallabies forage 80 percent of their diet, and we give her a lot of fresh fruit and veg.
“She also loves Cadburys chocolate – and she gets half a digestive biscuit before bed.”
After taking Willow in to save her from being euthanized, Hayley began researching how to raise a wallaby.
She contacted a wildlife charity in Oz and was told to feed her soy milk, and she sewed a fleecy pouch for Willow to sleep in.
Hayley carried the pouch by wearing it around her waist and tied it to the end of her bed for six months.
Wallabies are silent, so she knew Willow needed feeding when the pouch began to bounce.
She even took it into her work, at Haven Vets, in Hull, East Yorks.
Hayley added: “She used to sleep in the house all the time.
“She comes and sits on the step, and we let her in.
“It’s a bit chaotic, some of my daughter’s friends think we’re a bit eccentric.
“It’s chaotic but it’s fun.”
The family even had an alpaca who lived in the house, named Pumpkin, but he passed away.
Hayley said: “Wallabies are solitary animals, so she doesn’t miss being in a herd.
“I contacted a wildlife charity in Australia which had hand-reared kangaroos.
“They told me to feed her lactose-free milk and I sewed up a pouch with a hole for her.
“I wore it around my waist and hung it from door handles.
“They pop in and out, but they do bounce quite vigorously.
“I would take her to work, and my boss would come in and say ‘Willow needs feeding’ because the pouch was bouncing.
“Willow thinks I’m her mum, so she follows me about.
“She can still be standoffish with new people.
“If she doesn’t want to go to bed, my daughter will tell me, and I will be able to get her to go.
“She’s bonded to me because I did all the legwork.”
Willow even came on holiday in North Yorkshire and was treated like a newborn baby.
Hayley added: “It was just like having a baby.
“She was brought in by East Park in Hull as the vets did work for them, and they don’t hand-rear.
“Her mum was ill and refused to let her in the pouch.
“They brought her in to have her put to sleep even though she was completely healthy.
“I wasn’t working that day, but someone phoned me and said ‘Fancy trying a wallaby?’
“I’ve rescued several pets which were brought in to be put down.”
Willow likes to be petted but wants it on her terms, just like a cat.
Hayley said: “She will let you know when she’s had enough.
“I wouldn’t really recommend them as pets, I think a lot of people wouldn’t understand the temperament.
“They still have a fight or flight instinct.
“She’s much calmer and has been hand-reared.
“She will stay on the sofa while I potter around.”
Willow hasn’t been house-trained, but her toilet habits are similar to rabbit droppings so are easy to clean up.
Hayley added: “She likes all weathers and will sit outside in the rain and snow.
“I love her – she is hilarious and cheeky.
“I have probably handed reared and re-homed more than 150 animals – all my brothers, sisters, and friends have cats and kittens from me.
“I took her home to hand rear her but never had the intention of keeping her, but she just became so imprinted.”
Daniel Dzunda is a mixed veterinary surgeon at Haven Vets, which has two practices and also provides veterinary care for wildlife at East Park in Hull in support of its own zoo vet.
He goes every year to listen to Willow’s heart and check her skin, ears, eyes and nose while also looking to see whether her claws need to be clipped.
Daniel said: “The health check takes some time, a bit of patience and maybe a few treats like different fruits or nuts.
“Willow is in good health and happy.
“She has the company of a large rabbit and the dogs, who all respect each other, while she also has her own space if she wants to hide.
“I know a few wallabies that are kept in a garden or on a small holding, but Willow is the only wallaby that is let inside the house.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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