Fourth Crossing Wildlife

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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

Bath time

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.
Fourth Crossing Wildlife
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