by Linda Dennis
Thump when he came into care -
his damaged skin is hidden under hard fur
Thump and Todd - quality time
Thump showing his hard skin and loss of fur
More fur loss
close up, showing the two biopsy sites
Thump enjoys a nibble on dirt and grass roots
Thump and Linda - quality time
Thump in his little blue jumper
My little man, Thump
During my years as a wildlife carer, I think it was Thump, our little Red Kangaroo, who touched Todd's and my heart the most deeply.
Todd's working companion's, Peter and Kevin, were traveling west of Dubbo when they came across a female Red Kangaroo in the middle of the road.
The driver tried to stop the car and they both watched as the kangaroo struggled to get off the road, she looked sick and weak and seemed to have very little energy to quickly move off the road.
Sadly the car couldn't stop in time and the kangaroo didn't make it off the road and she was killed instantly.
Feeling quite heart sick the boys stopped the car to check on the kangaroo and to check the pouch for a joey. There was one, a little boy - Thump.
Knowing I was a wildlife carer the boys brought Thump to me.
Little Thump was quite unwell himself. After hearing about mama kangaroo I decided that she must have had an illness which had passed on to her son. It's very hard to describe Thump's condition except that his skin and fur was "hard and crystally".
Some areas, including his ankles, arms and hands had lost patches of fur. The fur above his right eye was rock hard and he had difficulty opening the eye fully. He also had a severe case of mites, we could see hundreds of the tiny parasites crawling on his body.
Thump was given Ivomec to kill the parasites and we rubbed olive oil and paw paw ointment onto the hard patches of skin to soften them up. When the areas softened the fur started to fall off revealing pink skin underneath that didn't appear infected or raised. The rim of skin around the fur loss looked slightly raised but receded after a day or so. After the fur came off around Thump's eye he could open it wholly again.
As we had no idea what we were dealing with Thump was taken on a visit to Benn and Tim at the Veterinary Quarantine Centre at Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo.
Benn and Tim were as perplexed as I was, having never seen anything like it before.
A host of test were taken including biopsy's of his flesh. Within days the results were returned I was told that Thump had a severe case of ringworm, a fungal infection of the skin.
Ringworm is a condition that joeys can sometimes get while in care, however it is rarely seen - especially a case as severe as Thump's - in an animal received directly from the wild.
Tim prescribed some medications and a regular anti-fungal bath. After Thump's first shampoo bath lots of fur fell off revealing skin that was red and crusty. The application of anti-fungal creams reduced the damaged skin within days.
With so much fur lost we feared he would get cold, especially at night, so Todd made him a little jumper made out of a polar fleece jumper sleeve. Not only did it keep him nice and warm, but he looked awfully cute in it as well!
Over the weeks Thump's condition improved and he gained weight. He seemed brighter and his appetite improved. He loved eating dirt and grass roots and nibbled at all the offerings we gave.
His energy also increased and he enjoyed a little hop around the garden.
Things were looking good for little Thump.
My dad's birthday came up and I headed home to share in the celebrations. Todd stayed at home to look after Thump and the other critters in care.
One evening I had a call from Todd, Thump had dramatically gone down hill.
He had little energy and was listless. He refused to take his bottle and was becoming dehydrated.
Things had definitely taken a turn for the worst.
I quickly came home to find a very ill Thump. I was totally amazed at how fast he had dropped in condition. He looked so very sad. I immediately gave him subcutaneous fluids to help rehydrate him.
Off to my local vet we sped. With gentle hands Kim assessed Thump and told me that his little body was shutting down. Thump's immune system was very weak and secondary problems were not a surprise to Kim. With an animal so sick, even though he did appear to be on the improve, Kim said that it was to be expected that his body would not have been strong enough to fight.
Thump was dying. We were told that without help it would probably take a few days.
With incredibly heavy hearts and weeping a bucket full of tears Todd and I made the difficult decision to euthanase Thump.
Although I desperately wanted to fight for his little life I realised that saving him would be unlikely, and I my conscious wouldn't allow to keep him alive and struggling for my own end.
Thump fell asleep while inside his pouch, encircled in my arms while Todd held me. It was one of the most unbearable moments of my life.
Thump was one of the special ones. We shared his life for a very short six weeks and feel so incredibly lucky for having done so.