by Shelly Burrowes
This survival story has been 5 months in the making and I can now finally post about it.
This little girls name is Magenta.
On the 17th February I was brought a very small brushtail possum joey. She had been found hanging upside down between some iron, caught by her foot. Her foot was touching the iron, it had been a very hot day, and she’d been hanging there for around a day and a half. I took one look at her foot and saw that it was incredibly burned.
However, as I started to assess her, I realized that she wasn’t showing the typical signs of shock and pain that one would associate with such a burn. In fact she was very bright and lively. On top of that, her foot wasn’t hot to touch (burns will retain heat).
I quickly realized that I wasn’t looking at a burnt foot, I was looking at medical issue called a Crush Injury and Compartment Syndrome. Her ankle that had been trapped had been caught so tightly and blood was now pumping into her foot but not escaping out, due to the crush/strangulation around the ankle. The purple discolouration I was looking at was blood trapped in the foot; it was even pushing into the nails as far as it could go.
Since Magenta was not in pain, I consulted with the wonderful Dr Amy and we proceeded with a treatment plan.
This included antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and compression bandaging around the foot. I could type for days about the process, so I will give a brief summary.
- Day 2: the foot starts going black. This concerns me, but we’ve never treated something like this so we shall see what happens.
- Day 5: The skin starts to scab and peel.
- Day 10: by now, the skin is sloughing off and there is delicate, healthy new skin underneath. The fur is also starting to fall out.
- Day 16: the foot is looking good, a few new scabs are forming in places.
- Day 20: around this time, her toenails start to fall out one by one. The nail beds underneath are withered and black. I don’t know if she will regrow nails.
- Day 29: Her nails have started to regrow. Now we have nice new skin, but the skin is too delicate and soft still. This is causing issues. The foot is little a little deformed from the restriction of the bandages. The bandages are stopped at this point, in the hopes that her skin will toughen up and she can start to spread her toes properly.
- Day 31-45: the blisters have healed up, the foot is looking really good. There is still a few delicate spots.
- Day 62: The skin has toughened up, Magenta is running and bounding around on the foot. She has a mild limp from damage done to the ankle when she was trapped.
- Day 128, the last progress photograph: Magenta’s foot is completely healed, she can run and jump and climb. She has 98% mobility.
I photographed the process for learning purposes and also for use in consulting with Dr Amy and the ever helpful Pam Turner at Wildwood Wildlife Shelter - Gariwerd. A huge thanks to you both for guiding me through the lengthy healing process with Magenta.
The last photograph is of Magenta in her aviary.
She will winter here and then be released in a safe location when the weather is kinder.
She is a very pretty possum.