Manifestation of Mange

Most of the red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) that present to the Wildlife Medical Clinic are underweight, lethargic, and have some severe skin disease. Their skin is dry, flaky, crusty, and sometimes even has open wounds. They are often also missing large patches of fur throughout their body. Why do most of the foxes we see look like this? Sarcoptic mange, caused by a mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) is commonly the culprit. These mites burrow under the skin and cause an allergic-type reaction, which leads to all of the changes observed on the skin and coat. Microscopic but prolific, there can be several thousand of these mites in just one square centimeter of skin! Mites are not insects, being more closely related to spiders and scorpions. Continue reading

Thankful this Thanksgiving

It can be easy to take our local wildlife for granted and have them blend into the scenery of our everyday lives. At the Wildlife Medical Clinic, we’re thankful we get to work with wildlife to treat their medical conditions and help relieve their pain. Here’s a list of 4 reasons we are thankful for our local wildlife, as some inspiration for what we do!

They’re masters at recycling

We appreciate how resourceful wild animals are! Birds and squirrels use twigs and fallen leaves to build their nests. Snakes take advantage of fallen logs and rocks to hide from predators. Opossums and raccoons are there to clean up fallen fruits. Carrion birds like turkey vultures and scavengers also play a role in keeping the environment clean, not letting anything go to waste. Continue reading

Dehydration in our Wildlife Patients

Most of the patients we see in the Wildlife Medical Clinic are suffering from a common abnormality in addition to any illness or injury they have: dehydration. While dehydration might not sound that harmful, it can actually be a significant contributor to an animal’s poor prognosis. One of the many reasons we must address dehydration quickly is because a patient’s hydration can affect whether they absorb medications and nutrients from their digestive tract. This means that we must rehydrate a patient before expecting them to eat food or take medications orally. There are many ways we can address a fluid deficit, but all involve careful calculation and planning.

A skin tent is one of the ways we can examine a patient’s dehydration. Here you can see a volunteer is gently lifting the patient’s skin. They will release the skin and watch how long it takes to lay flat on the patient again. It’s completely painless and well tolerated by even the squirmiest patients (baby bunnies, for example).

First, we must determine if our patients are dehydrated and the severity of their dehydration. The first step in estimating a patient’s hydration status is looking for specific physical changes. A mammal’s hydration status can be examined by using a “skin tent” test. We gently pinch and pull up on a patient’s loose skin then observe how quickly it returns to a normal position. If a patient is healthy the skin returns to normal in within a second or two, while a dehydrated patient’s skin fold will take longer or may not move back into place at all. You can even try this on yourself by gently pinching the skin on your lower arm or abdomen & seeing if it snaps back into place quickly. For birds and reptiles, it isn’t always possible to find an area of loose skin to tent, so we rely on other changes such as “sunken” eyes or thick strings of saliva in their mouth. These changes are signs we can use to quickly and non-invasively determine what measures need to be taken. Continue reading