If only casualties could talk to us

This week I thought I would tell you a bit about the detective work we have to do sometimes when a casualty is admitted.

By Pat Goff, Berwick Swan and Wildlife Trust
Sunday, 03 March, 2019, 15:29
Hog's wounds.

We recently had in a tawny owl that had already been to see a vet (not the vet we use). The very nice people who brought it in said their vet told them it was thin, but had no injuries so it just needed feeding up.

When Kay examined the bird she firstly wondered why it was so thin so she decided to give it a good check over herself. When she opened the bird’s beak she immediately saw what the problem was. It was infected with trichomoniasis.

This is a condition that is commonly found in pigeons, but over the last few years we have found it frequently in birds of prey. It is a parasite that infects the mouth, throat and crop of birds.

It is spread when adult infected birds feed their young, or when adult birds pair up and feed one another as part of courtship. It is caused by a protozoan parasite, which grows into little cauliflower lumps in the mouth and throat.

It is treatable if found early, but most of the birds that come into us are too badly infected and have to be put to sleep.

In the case of the tawny owl the infection had almost completely closed the throat. It was unable to swallow and was dying of starvation.

It is a horrible condition and we are finding it more frequently now.

We are currently treating a hedgehog that came in recently with awful head wounds. You can see from the photograph I took that the wounds are still very open.

We have been bathing the wounds and applying intrasite ointment to help with healing. The wounds should close slowly from the outside.

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We wondered how the wounds were caused and are pretty sure now that a stoat or weasel had given the hog a good bite.

We have had hogs with much worse wounds recover, but this hog also has cataracts in both eyes and we are not sure just how much it can see.

We feel at the moment that we must keep on with the daily treatments and antibiotics to prevent infection and give the little guy a chance.

When these casualties come in we have no idea what has caused their injuries.

We have a pigeon with us at the moment that was unable to use one leg. When it was examined we found a wound under one wing.

After cleaning the wound, which was very dirty, the poor bird looked very wet and untidy. We thought that the damage to his body must also have affected his leg.

We decided to give the bird time to see if he could recover.

He is the pigeon that was cooing at us every time we cleaned his cage. He has been in the Longridge Aviary for a week or so now and I’m pleased to say that his limp is much reduced.

All of the casualties that come in have a story to tell, it’s just a pity they can’t talk.