Tuesday, 3 June 2014

HUNGERFORD ARCADE FOX CUB

We had a very special couple visit us at Hungerford Arcade recently, Natasha Daguiar and her partner, Steve who  had a marvellous story to tell us about a four week old baby fox which, when found, was very near to death.  I am sure when you read their story and look at the photographs, you too, will agree they are special.
Rita



Fox Cub, Jade



On April the 9th we received a phone call from a local veterinary nurse to say a very young fox cub was being brought in and could we hand rear and look after it. My partner Steve has always looked after injured wildlife and together, we have also hand reared several young animals from wild birds and squirrels to pet rabbit/kits with great success. 

Of course, we said yes. We were told this tiny fox cub was found in a field by a lady walking her dog. The lady had noticed it the day before but left it in case Mum fox was nearby. On visiting the same site approx 16 hours
later, the lady found the tiny cub was still in the same spot.  
This is when the fox cub was brought into the vets.

I instantly done as much research online as I possibly could. We knew this cub would be weak and in dire need of help. My partner, Steve set off to pick up the young cub and some electrolytes from the vets and I headed out to purchase some Goats milk. When Steve got the cub home we were both shocked by the terrible state this young animal was in. She was lifeless, clinging on to minimal signs of life. She could not lift her head and could barely move her tongue. We began syringe feeding her the goats milk mixed with probiotics and electrolytes.  It was painstaking and we felt given our previous experiences of wild animals, this little cub had an extremely small chance of surviving. We wouldn't give up as long as she was hanging on in there. After a few messy feeds at very frequent intervals, we started to see this little cub show some very positive signs of life. Her licking was getting stronger, her little head lifted and we were amazed and delighted with her progress. Although we still couldn't say she was out of the woods. We got the cub home at approx 7pm and by about 12am she was starting to walk, although very wobbly. We kept up the frequent goat milk feeds every half hour to an hour all through the night. This cub also had one fit/seizure during the night. We had not experienced this before in any animal and were shocked at the severity. I did some more research online regarding fits and we thought it best to take her to the vets for medication and a course of antibiotics in case she had toxoplasmosis. She had further fits approx 4 in 24 hours. At the vets all appeared good, this little cub was walking well, much stronger but we had to stop these fits. She also had cloudy eyes and when the vet tried to look she could not get a good view as the fox kept the inside lids down. We were aware she bumped into things in a clumsy manner, the vet said even very young puppies can appear blind because of their clumsiness. We hoped for the best.

  Whilst doing lots of research online, I had stumbled across the importance of taurine. I was totally unaware that foxes and cats alike cannot regulate their own taurine as dogs and humans can. We knew taurine was found in the fox's natural food and so we purchased some taurine supplements. I forgot to mention by the second day of having this little cub which we decided to name Jade, she was willingly eating soft dog food mixed with goats milk, electrolytes, probiotics and taurine. This was fantastic as we could get a lot more food inside her than with the syringe feeding.
The medication Jade had been given to stop the seizures worked very well and she never had another seizure. I had read that low taurine levels can cause seizures and eye problems I wondered if this could have been the problem with Jade. Jade was given phenobarbital which I also looked up online, I was horrified by the side effects but was torn with the fact it had halted the seizures. It is very sedative and can hinder learning, which I felt was very important to a growing cub. After 2 weeks, no seizures and an extremely strong gut feeling, we went against our vets advice and weaned Jade of the phenobarbital. That was 5 weeks ago and there have been no seizures since, thankfully, although we are aware seizures can be 6 months apart or even a year. We hold out hope that these seizures do not return, although we keep a watchful eye for any signs.
Jade is growing at a very rapid rate, we cannot believe this is the same little cub that came to us just over 7 weeks ago. We estimate that she was approx 4 weeks old when she arrived with us. So we believe she is now 11 weeks old. We have an indoor enclosure for Jade as well as her larger outdoor enclosure, she has also been on small walks with our 2 dogs. We are going at Jade's pace and we will let her teach us what she wants and needs as she grows. Jade also enjoys rough play with our elderly Staffordshire Bull Terrier who thinks she's still a puppy! We tell Solo the staffie to leave Jade and then Jade will pounce on her and terrorise her, they are funny together. We have excluded our male Staffordshire bull terrier Buzz from this close contact play as we know Jade will terrorise him too and we don't know how he will react without the maternal instincts our female Solo has. Jade has contact with Buzz from inside her enclosures and whilst out walking where she is restrained from pouncing all over Buzz. He is a very good natured dog but we don't want to rush his and Jade's relationship as she will mellow out when a little older and then he won't be over powered by her tormenting sharp teeth.
Natasha Daguiar

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