Stumpy, the roo with an artificial hind leg!
Although kangaroos aren't your typical pet, in 2003 the story of Stumpy received national media attention when she was fitted with a prosthetic leg after losing a foot due to an injury.
Tammie Rogers, director of the International Kangaroo Society, Lancaster, Ohio,
USA, owns a one-acre property where she cares for sick and injured kangaroos. Rogers had been caring for Stumpy, a three-year-old at that time, when she observed that the kangaroo could not "posture," meaning that she couldn't take the natural upright stance of a kangaroo by standing on her hind feet with her front paws up in the air. "She walked around on three feet. She didn't hop," Rogers said. To make matters worse, Rogers was forced to prevent Stumpy from mating because she feared the weight of carrying the offspring in the pouch would be too much for the macropod.
Enter Rick Nitsch, CPO, of American Orthopedic Inc., Columbus, Ohio,
USA, who began experimenting in animal O&P several years earlier. Nitsch fitted Stumpy with a Luxon® Max DP prosthetic foot donated by Otto Bock HealthCare. Just like Nitsch does for people, he custom-made a plastic and fiberglass limb using the same molding and fitting process. He first made a cast of the kangaroo's residual limb, filled the cast with plaster, and produced a replica of the leg. The replica then had to be modifiedwith the plaster shaved away or filled into make sure it would hold the animals weight in the best way and enable it to walk with a normal gait. That took several fittings, with the process lasting up to a month. The limb was then secured to the animal with a strap or hinge. "The animal can't tell me it hurts or it's falling off, so it has to be foolproof," Nitsch said of the fitting process. "The first few steps, the animals try to kick it off. It takes some animals longer than others to get used to it." After receiving the artificial limb from Nitsch, Stumpy was reenergized. She was posturing, running, and hopping again, and Rogers was going to allow her to breed. She also enjoyed her 15 minutes of fame with the national media coverage.
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MIXED BAG CAUSES MACROPOD DIARRHOEA
Diarrhoea is probably the most common problem encountered with orphaned macropod
must be made with the aid of veterinarians.
Non-infectious causes include diet, overfeeding, temperature stress, bad management, psychological
distress and irritable bowel syndrome. The infectious causes include bacteria, yeast, coccidia and worms.
Diet, temperature stress and psychological distress are the most common causes of diarrhoea. As the
symptoms persist and the gut flora is altered, specific pathogens begin to play a bigger role.
Joeys often experience diarrhoea as they adjust to artificial formulae.
To help them, dilute their formulae (half strength on day one, 2/3 on day two, 3/4 on day three and full
strength on day four). Marsupials do not tolerate high lactose milks. Some concentrations of proteins, fats and carbohydrates will
lead to inappropriate osmolality of the milk (which should be isosmotic with plasma) and diarrhoea will result
from water drawn into the gut.
There are three readily available artificial milk formulae suitable for hand-raising joeys: Wombaroo, Biolac
Wombaroo and Biolac have variable strength milks representing the various stages of macropod lactation.
People wrongly believe that Joeys know how much milk they need.
Wombaroo has calculated tables for the quantity of milk joeys require at different stages of development.
Each Joey should be weighed and measured when it comes into care and compared to the
Wombaroo chart for
the closest related species (use growth data from actual animals that have been successfully raised if possible).
Regularity of feeding is also important. A Joey cannot thermo-regulate
until it fully emerges from the pouch, although this improves as it grows fur.
Furred Joeys need to be kept at 28 deg and unfurred Joeys at 32 deg.
Temperature fluctuations or inadequate heating can produce profuse watery diarrhoea. Bad management
also causes problems. This ranges from lack of routine, noisy environment, poor attention to hygiene, poor
toileting technique (stimulating pouch dependent joeys to urinate and
defecate), poor pouch design to poor
Constant warmth is very important. Powered milk, Divetelac, Digestelact,
(available from your produce or fodder store) or evaporated milk can be used. The milk should be fed diluted initially, i.e., 114ml milk - 314ml water, for a few feeds, gradually increasing the concentration over 2- 3 days.
Solid foods - fruit and vegetables (i.e., apple, orange, pear, carrot); kangaroos can also be given grass hay and cattle
pellets. If you have the animal for more than 2-3 days you must check for a more complete diet.
Unfurred or Finely Furred Kangaroos
These animals are very undeveloped and need the very best of care if they are to survive. Provision of constant warmth is essential as they cannot produce their own body heat.
They should be fed water and Glucodin (1 teaspoon Glucodin per 200 mls water), or Lectade
(available from your veterinary surgeon) for the first few feeds.
Joeys can get diarrhoea if they are frightened and cold. Anxiety caused by
handling and feeding by numerous people, irregular feeding, hugging, carrying out of the pouch and “roughing up” by children or pets will also
lead to diarrhoea.
An irritable bowel is the result of chronic, unresolved diarrhoea. The decreased transit time of digesta through
the gut does not allow adequate digestion, causing malnutrition and death. Changes to the gut lining in this
syndrome usually make treatment unsuccessful.
Bacteria are rarely to blame in the early stages of diarrhoea.
In some cases, faecal culture is advisable to determine appropriate antibiotic.
Suitable first line antibiotic therapy pending culture can be carried out with the broad spectrum sulpha/sulpha-trimethoprim drugs. Penicillins (e.g. Amoxil) are mostly absorbed from the gut and therefore do not work on gut infections.
Yeasts such as Candida and Torulopsis can take control of the gut if bacteria have been depleted by
antibiotics. In an already inflamed gut, the results of a yeast infection can be rapidly fatal.
The diarrhoea associated with yeast infection is typically creamy, white to yellow and sickly sweet smelling.
All joeys receiving antibiotic therapy should simultaneously receive a course of nystatin to control yeasts.
Coccidiosis in macropods is caused by macropod specific protozoans that live in the intestine and do not
normally cause disease. It is only a problem in joeys that have started grazing. It is transmitted to the joey
when it eats oocytes in faeces.
WHAT TO DO
The first step is to eliminate the possible non-infectious causes of diarrhoea.
Day 1: As soon as diarrhoea is observed and an analysis of the Joey's
management completed, add a binding
agent to the next feed.
Kaomagna and ADM (apple pectin) are useful, the latter being more palatable in fussy joeys.
Binding agents must be administered in sufficient volume to coat and sooth the inflamed gut lining and thicken
the liquid gut contents thereby reducing the risk of dehydration.
Give small joeys 5ml of agent, medium sized joeys 10ml and large joeys 20ml three times a day.
If the causes have been addressed, this will usually bring a response within three days.
The total volume of milk should not change or the joey will receive less total energy. An extra meal a day may
be needed to make up the total daily energy intake.
Scourban is contraindicated as a first line treatment because it contains antibiotics which will alter the gut
Day 3: Visit a vet if there has been an inadequate response. Faecal floatation and faecal culture are
Antibiotic therapy should be avoided unless indicated by culture.
If antibiotics are to be given, always give a course of nystatin (Mycostatin or Nilstat) to prevent yeast
Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland
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