From The Editor
Well, here we go. My final edition of The Wild Connection. I’m feeling a bit on the sad side right now after all these years but also it will be nice to be able to send in pieces occasionally and not have to worry about set-ups, ensuring pictures that were not mine were acknowledged and where they were sourced to ensure WRIN remained trouble free, very unlikely but a risk not worth taking. I’ll also miss the feedback, whether bad or good, it was and will always be essential. And sometimes very interesting in more than one way.
Since the last edition things have slowed a bit, the macropod incoming has reduced significantly being replaced by multiple arrivals of four arboreal species. The call for one, a sugar glider, arrived as I was getting ready to attend a funeral in Ballarat, I gave another number and explained my inability to attend – Garry away and having to leave for Ballarat in around an hour. Anyway the number I gave was considerably closer than I was. Half an hour later and I began to worry so rang the lady who told me she had left messages on the land line number as well as the mobile and hadn’t received any replies as yet. I asked about the glider which I had been told was a 4 week old sugar glider. Asking how she knew it was 4 weeks, she replied it looked like it! After more questioning she replied the glider was furred and about 2 inches long. For a sugar glider the description didn’t make much sense particularly the 4 week age assessment but I presumed she had her measurements wrong, after all we regularly receive 18 inch kangaroo joeys who vary from a body length that fits snugly into the palm of my hand to large furred almost out of pouch joeys.
Whatever the size, the glider needed to be taken into care as soon as possible for its sake and also for the very distressed rescuer who had found it on her verandah early in the morning and spent much time trying to find somewhere to call for help. I called a friend who does numerous rescues and pick-ups for me and explained the situation, he said he would be happy to travel to the lady and pick up the glider but first would speak to her to organise things as he had other things to do during the day. I could now leave knowing things would be well taken care of, how I wish things were always so easy.
A surprise and much appreciated afternoon learning about flying foxes took place on Sunday 18th October. After receiving a call from WRIN member Myree who needed a little advice, flying fox carer Bev Brown said she would be happy to drive to Bendigo to explain about the needs of flying fox pups. This was an opportunity not to be missed by anyone whether attending as a carer wishing to learn more or simply a person who cares for any of our beautiful creatures. Bev is devoted to flying foxes and takes any opportunity to talk about them, whether to explain their needs in care or to dispel some of those dreadful myths many members of the public still believe to be true. I was unable to attend having already arranged other wildlife ‘stuff’ for the day but, hopefully, when the next visit by Bev is arranged Garry and I will make it and get the chance to once more say a personal hello to Bev rather than on the phone or when transferring bat pups.
A SURPRISE PACKET
As already mentioned in From the Editor, macropod incoming have slowed – thank heavens
– whilst arboreal incoming have rocketed. My little surprise packet was the arrival of a glider
on the day I was attending a funeral in Ballarat and what a little surprise he was.
Cutting a long story short, I arrived back from Ballarat later than expected in the afternoon at
the appointed pick-up point and took delivery of the glider. I opened the bag just enough to
see if I could see the glider, no, but within a fold of the cloth I saw a tiny line of soft grey hair,
enough to acknowledge it wasn’t a pink. This was good! chances of survival were excellent
unless there were injuries.
Back home I hunted out a small enclosure and prepared it for the glider, a small pouch
attached to the side of the box, a piece of cloth on the bottom with a small container of water
as well as a heavy tall jug filled with water with gum and melaleuca blossom, enough criss-
cross branches in the jug to ensure the glider couldn’t get into the water. Finally I dug out
my favourite feeding implement always used for the tiny arboreal species. An eye dropper
with a cut down 18 gauge cannula glued to the end. With this it is impossible for anything to
aspirate formula as almost all smaller species, from very young, will lap formula if a droplet is
suspended in front of their lips. I find I can perfectly control the size of the droplet using the
eye dropper, essential these days as arthritis is becoming a bit of a problem.
Now to take the glider out of its small pouch and, boy, was I surprised to find it wasn’t a
sugar glider but the much smaller and daintier feathertail glider, this meant the three quarters
of an hour taken to organise a small, safe enclosure had been a waste of time, this tiny 4gm
creature would have walked through the <1cm wire with ease. At the time of writing [25 th
October] this beautiful creature has been in care 10 days. We both survived the hand
feeding routine and he now laps his own nectar from a tiny modified bird feeder and feasts
on the callistemon and melaleuca blossom freshly picked each day. Release will not be too
far away, he will be going back to his pick-up location where the finder is more than eager to
have him back, hopefully to be reunited with his relatives. Feathertails live in communal
family nests, so he has the best chance of surviving if he is released at his pick-up location
and release takes place as quickly as possible. Too often the smaller mammals are kept far
too long so they have passed the age of being welcomed back into the family group and
have nowhere to go. Family members may see semi-adults as intruders and chase them
away, this often causes death through stress and being chased into unfamiliar territory [there
is a difference between being chased into an area and gradually making your own way
there] or by attack from non-family members. They are also at a much greater risk of natural
predators in an area unfamiliar to them.
Any carer who has released a short term in care adult or young adult arboreal species
probably has many tales of the release of these short term patients, those who are in care
for a few days, perhaps a week or two. We will dutifully go to the pick-up area, select a tree
WE think is suitable, open the cage and allow the animal to come out in its own time – this
can sometimes happen within seconds but sometimes those seconds become long worrying
minutes. Whichever way it happens we’ve discovered we really have no intelligence when it
comes to choosing ‘the tree’ as more often than not the possum will charge out and up the
trunk but before too many steps have been taken it will charge back down, leap to the
ground and head off in another direction and fly up onto another tree, without a thanks it will
disappear into the leaves. We think the possum knows exactly where it’s going. Gliders
often race up the trunk of the tree then volplane to another a short distance away. It’s very
important to remember that just because something fits snugly into the palm of your hand or
weighs as much as a bag of feathers it doesn’t mean it’s a baby and must be kept in care for
an extended period.
Keeping any species for too long increases its chances of NOT surviving in the wild, very
small species are more at risk as any instinctive behaviour can be lost if kept too long,
unfortunately our human instinct to nurture tiny things until they become big things can get in
the way of doing what is right.
Ed. note : The glider has now been released back at its pick-up point. My lovely rescuer friend was
able to take it back to its pick-up site complete with a brand new home which, if not used by its
present inhabitant no doubt will be used by other members of his family or other ‘locals’. The original
finder was happy to have the glider back in its home territory and will be keeping an eye open for any problems that may arise. Garry had altered a pardalote nest box to suit the glider before leaving onanother job, terrific I thought until almost time to introduce the glider when I realised – luckily – when putting gum leaves into the box there were thin slits at the top and bottom of the door that would provide perfect escape paths for the young feathertail.
These days there isn’t too much that puts me into a true state of shock but the phone call
received late afternoon of Saturday 26 th September surely did that, even Garry was lost for
words, as was the wildlife friend visiting at the time. It was to let Garry and I know Denise
Garratt, founder of Help For Wildlife had died a short time earlier.
I’m not sure how many of the current WRIN members and officials knew Denise personally
or even knew anything of her other than her name being connected with wildlife but Garry
and I knew her for many years. There were long periods when there would be no
communication then time spent chatting at meetings or over the phone – this often to Garry
when committee business for various issues needed talking over.
Except for the Wildlife Rehabilitation Conferences my contact with Denise in more recent
years was also mostly meetings regarding wildlife, whether it be official meetings with our
wildlife governing body – these days DELWP [Department of Environment, Land, Water and
Planning]; official government committees putting together rules and regulations to ensure
wildlife in care received the best outcomes in care; getting assistance for wildlife at the
beginning of fires rather than 6 weeks later; even the long ago beginnings of organising a
Victorian State Body for wildlife.
Some years ago Garry and I, along with Denise and other selected wildlife people as well as
heads of various other Government Departments attended many meetings over many
months regarding helping wildlife during and after bushfires. Those meetings dragged on for
a very, very long time, held at first in Lancefield then in Melbourne. The organising at times
was a nightmare always having wildlife needing care but we never missed one, the project
was so important to us and critical for wildlife impacted on by fires.
The first meeting was held at a conference centre in Lancefield, also attending were all the
‘big wheels’ of the CFA and DSE [their official name at the time] fire department. Also in
attendance were Vets from Healesville Sanctuary and RSPCA. We did it hard that day, firstly
attempting to make the two Government fire organisations understand none of us wanted to
rush into the flames and drag out burning animals then proceed to attempt to save them. We
were not those over the top people who didn’t stop to think before charging head long into
flames wearing thongs and singlets. No, our agenda was to stop the suffering of those
animals which generally meant euthanasia and by the end of that first day, we had got most
of our message through. The head of the CFA who was sitting next to me by days end – we
did round tables all day long to ensure everyone had a chance to personally meet and chat
to everyone from all organisations – stood up and said when he had prepared to come to the
meeting that morning he had thought what an absolute waste of time it was going to be, however, his eyes had been well and truly opened and he was beginning to see things in a
very different way. We had gained his respect.
Then there was the RACV connect system which gave all Victorians a quick and easy way to
call in injured wildlife by going directly through RACV on a 13 number, their telephone
operators would then direct the call to the nearest wildlife organisation. It was Denise who
alerted Garry and I to the RACV wanting to begin this system and Denise who told RACV,
WRIN should be involved along with Help for Wildlife and Wildlife Victoria, if not for Denise
we would have known nothing about this plan as Wildlife Victoria wanted the entire thing to
themselves. WRIN received 3 payments from RACV – as did Help for Wildlife and WV – to
assist with paperwork and any extra calls that might be received. We have Denise to thank
for alerting Garry and I to this as most of the monies WRIN still has came from RACV. I
attended many meetings over many, many months helping to work out a usable system, also
heavily involved in this at the start was Dr David Middleton, head vet at Healesville
Sanctuary at the time as well as office staff from Melbourne Zoo, these people did much of
the paperwork and oversaw the official meetings and the smooth running of the system. The
afternoon visits held at the zoo were good as, after the business was concluded, we could sit
under the trees chatting to others for a while winding down before the long drive home.
Like many other wildlife carers who never rest in their efforts to gain the best for wildlife,
Denise was both liked and disliked. Her efforts, sometimes against great odds should never
Wildlife Rescue & Information Network acknowledges Denise a
true wildlife champion, passed away September 26 th 2015. Her
commitment to wildlife over many years ensures our native
animals’ continued survival. WRIN
Turtles are now arriving for care on a regular basis, many are unnecessary rescues, simply
found out of water. The most common turtle in our area is the Long necked Turtle, it is a
species that spends a considerable amount of time out of the water, and can be found in our
forests moving from water point to water point and also searching for a mate and a place to
lay eggs. It is not necessary to put it back into water although we do prefer to release them
close to water. Some are road victims and arrive suffering damage, most often cracked or
broken shells. If you receive a turtle for care with a cracked/broken shell, bathe regularly in
diluted iodine to ensure infection is kept at bay. If there is soft tissue damage then
antibiotics will be needed. Contact a carer who deals regularly with turtles for information
and be aware there can sometimes be permanent damage, your turtle may appear well, the
shell may have healed nicely but you need to make sure they are able to dive under water.
Sometimes after injuries they are unable to go under water and remain floating on the
BIRDS OF PREY – RAPTORS
Not all birds of prey chase live prey, some take carrion as well as live food that has to be
chased down, but ALL raptors need to be complete, ie no missing toes or toe nails which
impacts on their ability to capture and hold live prey especially species capturing prey in
flight, they also need strong legs, feet and toes to hold prey while they tear it apart – the
example given me years ago was – peregrine falcons released with a single talon missing,
particularly from the hind toe and if it is from the left foot will not survive, that strong hind
talon is the main capture weapon of the bird and most birds are ‘left footed’.
A complete set of feathers in perfect order is also essential for species that exclusively
chase live prey, an occasional missing tail or wing feather may be okay for species that rely
heavily on carrion but serious thought needs to be put into releasing any species that is not
perfect in all aspects – brown falcons may be an exception if in care for a very short time only
and it is only one or two feathers missing – no more than one from an area ie wing or tail..
This includes the nocturnal as well as diurnal raptors. They also need fully functional legs,
feet and talons Nocturnal species have specialised feathers that allow for silent [Tyto] or
almost silent [Ninox] night flight in order to capture live prey, missing or damaged feathers
takes away this advantage.
Tyto includes Barn, Masked, Grass, Sooty and Lesser Sooty owl. The common Tyto
species in our region is the Barn owl. Feathers for these owl species are extremely soft to
allow silent flight. If you have one of these species in care, carefully check the leading edge
of the wing, you will see the tiny fine hairs facing forwards, the wind flows through these
hairs ensuring silent flight.
Ninox includes Powerful, Boobook, Rufous and Barking owl. Our common Ninox species is
the Boobook, but the much less common Powerful Owl and rare Barking Owls are also in
our area. Their feathers are harder than the Tyto feathers so, although flight is extremely
quiet and generally not heard, it is not as silent as Tyto owls.
These nocturnal birds also capture and hold prey with their talons, perfect feet are a must.
Success after release following a prolonged time in captivity for any raptor species most
often is not successful. It is impossible for a captive bird, especially a large species, to gain
the muscle tone and the strength it needs to succeed when released back into the wild whilst
in captivity. As well as being able to sustain flight long enough to chase and capture prey, it
must be able to find and recognise it, it must also be able to defend itself from the wild birds
in the area it is released into, these birds will be fit and able to capture prey, they may also
chase the intruder from the area which will add more stress and fatigue to a body not fit
enough to sustain flight for a long period of time, it will certainly not be able to successfully
defend itself if attacked. Strike rate for a peregrine is around one in every eleven attempts,
so strength and ability are essential.
Choosing a release spot may mean the difference between the bird having some chance
and having no chance. If there are other raptors in the area then it is not a good release
spot, be aware that often you won’t know there are other raptors in the area until your bird
has been liberated, wild raptors can appear, quite literally, out of nowhere. Do not release
during the breeding season if you think there may be other raptors in the area. You
MUST have a thorough knowledge of the chosen release area prior to release.
Seek advice from someone who knows raptor species well. Martin Scuffins has been a
raptor devotee for many years. If Martin tells you the bird has little or no chance of surviving
in the wild then, believe him, don’t risk a slow painful death for a beautiful creature simply
because the alternative is too difficult for you to contemplate.
One of my favourite ‘raptor’ people and good friend worked for years at Healesville caring for
raptors that arrived as chicks, juveniles/immatures or adults with minor or major injuries, or
been found on the ground with no obvious problems. His work covered all aspects of raptor
care including various methods of re-training in preparation for release. Following many
experiences with birds that were thoroughly rehabbed prior to release, then released,it was
shockingly discovered that the success rate was very low, could say close to non- existent.
Sadly death isn’t always quick.
Foregut/hindgut refers to the position of the main fermentation chamber
This is advantageous if fibre intake is high, especially if overall food consumption is low
Main advantages :
1 bacteria that live in the foregut breaks down the cellulose of the plant cell walls and
releases contents effectively [better than the sharpest teeth]
2 short chain fatty acids produced by fermentation of the cellulose are a rich source of
energy which otherwise would be unavailable
3 the bacteria in the forestomach uses the urea as a source of nitrogen to synthesise their
own protein which the animal can then use when it digests the bacteria in the small intestine.
There are double advantages to this –
conserves nitrogen that would otherwise be excreted as the urea in urine
conserves water that would otherwise be used to flush out the urea
NOT ALL PLAIN SAILING
During the second half of last year I agreed to take a small badly injured wallaby in for
special care and experienced a situation I had never encountered before . It has made me
wonder if the deaths of some of the small, but very viable joeys taken in to shelters could
perhaps be attributed to the same cause. This joey had been with me for 21 days before
anything out of the ordinary showed itself. He began passing liquid faeces. First
consideration was his injuries could have damaged internal organs so I began my usual
treatment of diluting some of his daily formula feeds and giving SC fluids to replace those
lost through the liquid faeces and hoped the lack of signs indicating internal trouble meant
there were none. I’ve found this is the best treatment and usually works quickly with no
stress, or at most the 10 seconds it takes to inject the fluid, rather than the continual
suffering and extreme stress caused by constantly forcing the joeys to ingest something
they clearly do not want and that most often takes a long, very long, time for them to finish
the required quantity.
It all began, as mentioned, when the wallaby in question had been here for 21 days. It ended
up as just a hiccup in the long run but caused so much worry for a while, thankfully I had a
vet who often thought ‘out of the box’ on first sightings of a wildlife patient and never
hesitated to say what he was thinking.
The animal concerned was a small, pink, black wallaby. Arriving here late on Saturday 23rd
August the shelter he had originally been taken to said she thought he weighed around
500gm. He had originally been picked up on the Thursday and taken to her shelter very late
the following night [Friday] in a badly dehydrated state. At the shelter the first attempts were
made towards rehydrating, he was given a total of 50ml fluid under the skin during his hours
there but because of the severity of his injuries there was a question over his chances of
survival. I agreed to do what I could so off went Garry to pick up the troubled wallaby.
Arriving home almost 6 hours later we were both shocked at the injuries but continued what
had already been started hopeful of a full recovery. Pain relief had already been given and
this was kept up for several days.
My notes on his arrival on Saturday 23 rd August state : [notes in bold italics] :
massive trauma to lower back area above and around butt of tail. Severe gravel rash, with tiny pieces of grit embedded under skin. Belly area a little distended, bleeding under the
skin around lower back and tail area. Bruising on left side of muzzle. Some bruising
on legs. There is concern of kidney damage.
Antibiotics given as well as cortisone cream smoothed over all the injured area to
assist with pain and swelling. Is lethargic and laying on his side with his head down
along his chest and onto the belly area. Legs extended in a position which indicates
pain. At 11pm 20ml of fluid SC then at 3am another 10ml. Has not passed any pee
but the faeces runny. Using a basket rather than a hanging pouch to allow him to lay
on his side rather than in the usual horse shoe position which may cause extra pain
to damaged area.
Sunday 24 th : Fed 4hrly, slow but steady drinker. 8ml formula with .5ml water added is
being given. Over the following 24hrs SC X 2 for a total of 24ml. This was to ensure
hydration and skin elasticity to assist the badly damaged skin and to keep fluids up.
Only a tiny amount of pee passed, consistency of the faeces remained the same
although no beds were soiled. His belly area was distended down the central line and
quite hard which was of concern, could be a bladder infection or worse. Damage.
The antibiotics would control any infection, we had to hope there was no damage. He
was drinking well and the eyes were more open.
Monday : Did quite well overnight but still no pee and the belly very hard. At the
8.30am feed much relief. WE HAVE LOTS OF PEE. Belly reduced in size and much
softer at the touch. Appears much brighter, the gravel rash is drying and redness is
reducing. During the afternoon became very alert, eyes wide and bright, eagerly
taking every offered bottle, faeces still soft and runny, pee at every feed. Gave 12ml
SC fluid. 8.1ml formula plus .4ml water X 6
Tuesday : Drinking eagerly, damaged area drying and thickening. Concern there is
damage to the lower back although can’t feel any internal damage. SC 6ml of fluid.
Warmed Ungvita ointment and covered damaged area which has developed into a
huge haematoma covering his entire lower back and extending about 2cm down the
length of his tail. 8.2ml f plus .3ml water X 6
Wednesday : Weighed for the first time this morning, weight 486gm. Same
procedures as day before carried out. Skin has visibly thickened and in places
showing signs of sloughing. For the first time seen grooming whilst in pouch. Major
concern now is whether there is undetected structural damage, constant checking
has shown nothing but he is not strong enough to stand unaided as yet and injuries
would be very painful, particularly trying to use the tail for support. 8.3ml f plus .2ml
water X 6
Thursday : Despite the thickened peeling skin the area is looking much improved.
Used baby oil to moisten the area in the morning then in afternoon back to Ungvita.
Had him on my knee for a while, quite animated and checking out the new
surroundings. 8.4ml f plus .1ml water X 6
Friday : Woo woo!! is able to stand unaided. Very alert Formula 8.5ml plus 1ml water
Saturday : All appears well, temperature okay. When standing is much more steady –
very brief, seconds only. Damaged skin sloughing, new skin nice and pink.
Sunday : Weight now 534gm increase of 48gm since Wednesday. Formula will now
be changed to 5 times day over next few days.
Wednesday : Doing beautifully, often has head out of pouch looking around. Weight
now 582gm, a 48gm increase in 3 days and a total of 96gm over 11 days. Damaged
area is clearing up nicely, no visible bruising, the damaged skin is healing well.
Colour pigment has been coming out since just after arrival and now covers head,
neck, shoulders and upper back, however, new skin on lower back is shiny and bright
pink. Concern fur growth may not occur in damaged areas.
Thursday [11.9]: Refused bottle voluntarily but took most when dripped into mouth.
Faeces have turned liquid. A bit shocked as had been doing very well. Fed at noon
by Garry for first time – stress? Urine test shows all as normal. Back on the first
routine of 6 equal feeds per 24hrs.
This reluctance to feed continued and on 16 th shocked to find his weight had dropped, going
from 665gm [inc. of 179gm from arrival] to 648gm in 48hrs. Over the next 5 days his weight
dropped further to 581gm – 4gm lost between midnight and 8am in the morning of 20.9.
For the first time in all the years I have spent caring for wildlife I had decided, a few days
earlier, to stop offering a good amount of formula each day and offer electrolytes or water
orally with some feeds having a small amount of formula added, the SC fluids continued to
be given as usual to try combat the fluid loss through the liquid faeces. A slow drip by drip
into the mouth method was used for every feed and took a considerable time but still better
than forcing a teat into the mouth, each drip was swallowed voluntarily whereas he refused
to suckle from the teat. I stayed in the lounge next to little Tonto every night.
17 th : is dull, lethargic and often appears dead – stays laying down with head down
sometimes resting on belly
18 th : weight is now down to 604gm. The liquid diarrhoea has stopped. Passing
formed faeces of a much lighter colour. Gradual increase now sees every bottle total
19 th : Faeces are again liquid, although still appearing bright and having head out of
pouch watching around him. Weight 588gm. Is looking emaciated, bones are
prominent, skin folding and pleating due to loss of muscle mass. Total weight loss =
77gm. He has no strength to fight.
20 th : Has lost another7gm
A visit to my vet is arranged. As usual the first 5 minutes is spent with my extended version
of everything from the first arrival to our arriving at the clinic. I gave my vet a full, nothing left
out, run down on care given and the small joeys behaviour prior to this visit, His first
suggestion was we would test urine, something I do routinely with most new joeys who arrive
for care in a poor/bad state, but something my vet rarely suggests.
Tonto’s had not been tested for a few days. I had managed to collect 0.05ml of urine prior to
the visit, this was drawn into a syringe and a tiny droplet delivered onto each test square, all
presenting as normal until the pee hit the dusty pink ‘ketone’ spot, instantly the square
turned dark, very dark. My vet had already pretty much deduced this would be the result
from my long drawn out explanation. Commenting on his thoughts and the cause in
language I pretty much understood came as a huge shock and I expected euthanasia would
be the result.
What a shock I hadn’t expected this. Didn’t know what it meant. After an explanation all was
fairly clear. My first question of what can we do was answered with equal speed, and within minutes I had the oral and SC medications. I was given a bag of glucose, the quantity
needed for a sheep with this problem, I’m not too bad at working out dose rates but there’s
something of a difference between a full grown sheep and a <600gm wallaby, still we’ve had
to do worse over the years. I think? This SC medication had to be given twice, a third time if
necessary, the oral medication was daily for a week or longer if necessary and there was
also the addition of small amounts of glucose occasionally put into formula. Talk about a
The following day, 21 st , Tonto would either be seen in an almost comatose state in the
bottom of his pouch or head out looking very alert. Weight was unchanged but the skin
folding/pleating seemed to be a little less. Bottles of water/electrolytes were taken with a
little more enthusiasm but formula still had to be dripped in. A urine test at 5pm showed
ketone level had reduced to ‘small’. Faecal consistency improved and when placed on
ground able to move quite steadily towards me. Last thing before bed I put Tonto’s pouch
on the ground, within a very short period of time he had come out and explored around a
22 nd suckling became much stronger although it was for a few seconds only at each
feed. Reasonable faecal consistency deteriorated during the day to liquid. When
placed on ground to have body oiled moved around with confidence. Weight
increased by 8gm over 2 days. Following day weight had increased to 593gm.
24 th night feed taken strongly and eagerly. Weight check at noon showed an increase
of 16gm [609gm] in less than 24hrs.
26 th decided to begin to reduce the night feed, sailing in smooth waters now, eager to
drink, exercise and weight now 622gm
27 th fine fur cover becoming obvious, rather than an allover even growth, patchy over
his body, there is no evidence of hair on the injured areas, not unexpected but
28 th energetically hopping and ‘bopping’ around the room. Ketone reading down to
‘trace’ only. We have now graduated to using Rosken Skin Repair over the entire
3 rd October. Often out of basket during day exploring. Urine check shows ketone
level still registering ‘trace’. Weight 676gm.
8 th October. Doing beautifully. Fur growing at trauma site in patches, worry it may be
white and stand out from the rest of the body. Weight 715gm.
Diary entry for 12 th October, simply weight gain 778gm, gained 63gm in last 4 days.
My earlier decision to almost completely cut out formula had clearly been a monstrous
mistake and although I had increased the amount of formula being given at each feed after a
couple of days and continued with small increments daily it clearly hadn’t been enough.
Never before had I taken this route, I had always continued to give a good amount of
formula daily when any animal arrived with diarrhoea. I believe this ensures the body
remains well nourished and has the strength to fight problems, others disagree, but I strongly
believe this and I think this experience tells me the same. It works well for me. The final
entry is noted in my diary :
Tonto has gone from strength to strength, the fear he may have multiple white
patches has proved an unnecessary worry as the discoloured areas became covered over as his fur grew to its proper length and within a month or so, only I was able to
see the subtle change in shades of grey.
Tonto was released almost 12 months after arrival with 4 of the mates he had grown up with,
what a joy to be able to see him grow and prosper, changing from the badly injured pink
handful that arrived to the beautifully formed shiny black 15kg animal he was at release.
Nothing is better than that.
Back to my thought of the problem being the cause of death in other wildlife in care. It has
always been the ‘thing’ to stop formula and give water and/or electrolytes when animals
develop diarrhoea. I guess for a day or two it probably isn’t much of an issue but I have
received calls on many occasions from carers who have animals with diarrhoea, many of
these joeys end up dying with the cause being stated as whatever was wrong that had
caused the diarrhoea, I’m sure in some cases this is probably right as I have received many
animals over the years who have liquid faeces caused by many things – stress [this is a real
invisible, silent killer with dozens of causes eg over handling, noise, too cold, too hot, the list
is almost endless and often not considered or believed] wrong formula can also play a part.
In the case of little Tonto, we think his first 24hrs in illegal care with nothing done or given
either for nourishment or to treat the injuries and pain, then the transfer with treatment and
food given, followed by yet another transfer. Perhaps topped off once he was well settled
here by being fed on one occasion by a different person [Garry]. Garry is a very
experienced carer but that simple act of an unknown smell and touch can be enough to
begin a downward slide in many animals. My choice to change a 30 year successful routine
of always offering an adequate amount of nutrition when an animal is unwell [losing more
liquid than taking in] is what I think probably caused the ketosis. The water and electrolyte
combination simply didn’t supply any nutrition and once the body had been depleted of its
stored energy the body began to ‘eat’ itself, that is use up its stores of energy to remain alive
because it has stopped receiving nutrition. That’s an extremely simplified explanation.
Google It, there’s lots to read.
Indulge me on my last edition. I love all birds but these are my favourite Hawks. Brenda