Hey everyone! Final exams have come to a close here at MSU, so I can get back to giving more attention to the blog. My lack of writing certainly doesn't mean things have been slow here at the infirmary. Last week saw a ton of activity. I haven't been this busy at the infirmary with intakes since my first day on the job!
The day began as many do, with Linda tempting fate. Before I could stop her, she said, "It doesn't look too bad in here today." We were alone. Max the Vet was out of town, and the interns had bailed out for finals week; so I immediately started panicking. Fortunately most of the cages were empty, and the ones that had critters in them weren't too high maintenance, so we plowed through until about noon, when things went nuts.
We had a call early in the day that someone was going to bring us in a rabbit. The rabbit never came, but in its place, came five juvenile fox squirrels (one missing his tail), one Mourning dove with an infected humerus fracture, one five week old Red Fox with mange, and a Painted turtle whose shell had been cracked trying to cross the road.
The Fox squirrels were easy. We weighed them, checked them for ectoparasites, and put the tailless one on antibiotics. After smearing the poor little guys stump with silver-sulfadiazine cream to kill whatever bugs were growing on the surface, we shipped them off to foster parents.
The dove was the day's sad story. His wing was badly broken, a compound fracture of the upper arm, the bone protruded through the skin under his wing. On top of that, the bird had the acrid smell of infection on him. We are usually very good at dealing with infections in animals and are historically successful, but when bacteria make it into a bone, it's almost impossible to eradicate. He will probably be euthanized.
The Red fox and turtle both showed very positive signs, though. In a week or so, once the little fox's meds have rid her of her mange, she too will be sent to a foster, to be raised with another juvenile until old enough to be released.
Turtles are interesting things. Their prognosis when hit by cars is actually pretty counter intuitive. The conventional wisdom is that the more damage done to the shell, the more likely the animal is to survive. When a turtle is hit by a car, the shell can do one of two things: shatter or deform. When a shell shatters, it absorbs a vast amount of energy from whatever hits it, acting just like modern body armor (composed of extremely hard ceramic plates). But when the shell deforms, it just transfers the energy into the internal organs of the turtle.
Fortunately, this one looked rough on the outside, with multiple cracks on his outer shell. He had feeling in all of his limbs and tail, and was obviously not happy to see me. Once we get him on proper medication, we will weld the shell together with a type of fabric and epoxy that will flex and slough off when the shell is healed, and release him.
All in all, this week seemed like a win! Until next time…