Here are some examples of rescue situations we have been called to.
7th March 2011: We had a call from a lady in East Grinstead, who had a fox on her lawn, that didn’t look well. They had called the RSPCA ,who had come to see it, but when she approached it, it ran off, she said there was nothing she could do if she couldn’t get near it. When i got there the fox was lying on the lawn, i decided the only way i was going to get near it was to get it down the side of the house where it couldn’t escape. We did this and I managed to scruff and put her into the box without a fight. Not a good sign to start with! She wasn’t a well fox. With the fact that she was very listless, her eyes sucken, and had a large bald area down her side I immediately thought mange, but when I took her to the vet we found a huge abscess on her rump which burst as we investigated it, she had a number of other wounds on her face and back, but we are not sure whether they were further fight marks or caused by a car. The next day she became quite disorientated and wobbly almost as if she was poisoned, she was off her food and didn’t really know where she was. I started syringe feeding her, kept her comfortable and kept a close eye on her.
The wound has to be cleaned regularly, our vet said it may break down and need further treatment, so I am keeping a careful watch on that too.
12th March 2011: Today she is a little better the wound has stopped oozing and is now clean and healing. She is steadier on her feet and now eating on her own, but still not quite right. I can still get hold of her easily, but there is that ‘I’m going to bite you’ look in her eyes, which hasn’t been there before. So fingers crossed and she is on the mend.
12th April 2011: Chika was released back into the garden she was found, a little confused to begin with but soon found her bearings
Sunday 13th March 2011: The first fox cubs arrive. I had a call from Kathy and Trevor at WRAS, to say that they were on their way to some fox cubs and was I able to take them if they needed to be brought in. At 5pm they arrived with two little dark brown bundles. They had been found under some decking in Hastings, mum had been seen the night before but had not been back since, the cubs were cold and calling so we had to take them in.
They looked about 2 days old and were given Lectade to rehydrate them and placed on a heat pad to warm them up. There were no injuries seen and once warmed up they seemed fine. They will need to be fed every 2 hours, so now the work starts!
Wednesday 16th March: The cubs doing well putting on weight nicely about 10g a day, and beginning to get about the incubator and roll around with each other.
Thursday 17th March: The cubs went on an outing to WRAS volunteers evening, to show all the volunteers what orphan rearing entails.
Sunday 20th March: A week after being found and they are going from strength to strength, it always difficult when orphans are found to know whether the parents have left them for a reason or just not been able to get back to them. So you don’t know if you new babies are going to survive in your care or not. This pair seems to be doing fine, so I think they will be ok now. Their eyes should be opening very soon and at that point we will be able to know how old they are, as the eyes open at around 10days.
The larger cub ‘Bertie’ has put on 110g in a week and the smaller one ‘Barnie’ has put on 75g.
12th June 2012: Rosie was found by farmer’s dogs in fields in Lingfield, unfortunately for her they were a little rough with her and grabbed her by the neck before the farmer got to her. He scooped her up and took her to the British Wildlife Centre, who then called me.
When I arrived she was in complete shock, there were no bite marks or puncture wounds so she was lucky. I got her quickly to the car and gave her medication for shock and pain and then home. Over the next few hours her neck began to swell and because of this she couldn’t lift her head. I gave her fluids by syringe and settled down for a long night. She was frightened and in shock, it was all alien to her. That night she was very restless and I spent it lying on the floor with her, feeding her every 2 hours. The next day she was a little more settled we had her pain under control and she had begun to drink her milk from a bowl. I spent the next two nights on the sofa and floor with her, usually if we can get through the first 48hours then we can relax a bit. Deer fawns also need someone to bond with and once that bond has been reached then we stand a fighting chance.
At the end for the first week Rosie was getting stronger, still not able to hold her head up because of the swelling (luckily on the back of her neck only) but she trundled round the garden after me and began to get stronger. She was still on 3 hourly feeds and came to work with me every day, much to the surprise of some of our patients. I could often be seen wandering up and down the side of the building with a her on a lead.(for safety).
Towards the end of her third week she was managing to lift her head and look where she was going, from then on she went from strength to strength and followed me everywhere,- including the bathroom!! The bond to one person is as important as the bond they would have with their mother, they are looked after by their mothers for at least 6 months in the wild so they need same from us. Normally we would have more than one orphan fawn which then lessens that bond but unfortunately Rosie was on her own last year and the bond was very strong. We desperately needed another fawn for her so that she would realise she is a deer, but we didn’t get one (which in another way is a good thing)
In August we found out that Annette at Folly Rescue was looking for a release site for their 3 fawns that they had, this would be ideal for Rosie, and within 2 weeks they arrived. We placed them all in the small pen to get to know each other and then they went into the large one. Rosie settled well with them, although still comes over for her grapes when I visit. It will take her some time to realise she is supposed to be afraid of humans but once she meets a nice buck, who will show her the ways of the deer world, then hopefully she will ok. Until then she is safe at our release site, able to come and go as she likes with her three pals and others from previous years that come to visit.
Rosie in centre of photo, with the 3 on right from Folly and some of last years on left
10th May 2011: We had a call from WRAS to say they were out on a call after a farmer finding a fawn in his field. The fawn was completely collapsed and in a bad way. Trevor rushed it to Chris and Sylvia's who helped to rehydrate and try and rouse him. He was in a bad way and it was touch and go, his sucking reflex had gone and we were having to syringe feed him. The problem with this was he was getting a lot of air which was causing hiccups and coughing, and we weren't sure whether this was the reason he hadn't suckled and there was a problem with his throat or there was another problem. There was no sign of mum around so we don't know if she had left him because he wasn't feeding properly or had she been killed and he had been left for so long he had just given up.
After 2 sleepless nights Chris and Sylvia were due to go away so i took over his care. He was still not suckling and we were having to syringe feed every 2 hrs around the clock, he was only taking small amounts- half of what he should have been taking, but we persevered, he was calling for food which was a good sign and gradually started to take more each feed. Then there were small signs that the suckling reflex was coming back, he started with my ear and then a finger and at last after 4 days he actually took the bottle.
2 weeks on he is strong and doing really well, I think we can name him now, he is nibbling bits in the garden running around and taking proper amounts of milk.
Early May 2014 we were told of a deer that was seen in the area with an injured foot, as they are very fast on three legs we said there was not a lot we could do as they are just as fast on three legs as two!. A couple of days later Rosie came into the garden hobbling, with one of her hind legs badly injured. On close inspection it was obvious it was an old injury as the bone had knitted over the fracture. As a result she was unable to use this leg and it was tripping her up. She was looking quite thin across her hips so it was obviously causing her problems. She stayed in the garden for a few days, which gave us time to consider what to do. We discussed it with our vet and he said she had either come home to die or get help. We hoped the latter. It was decided that the only course of action was to amputate the leg. Not an easy option as she was now a wild animal and there was no way she was just going to get into the car and let us take her to the vets.
You may say that we pick up deer all the time it should be easy, but she is a fit and healthy deer, not in a state of shock, as all our casualties are, and is fully aware of what we do. Just as we made the decision she disappeared off into the forest again and we thought that was the last time we would see her, she had come home to say goodbye! But then a few days later she reappeared, so a plan was made. We do the softly, softly approach and try and sedate her while she was eating her favourite grapes. But no she was not having any of that, I managed to get ¾ of the syringe in and she did stagger for a couple of minutes then fought it off. This was obviously not going to work. If she was a youngster it would have been easy to get her to the ground and inject her but she is fully grown and going to take some strength. Our vet says it will be easy i will just come up and put a tourniquet on her leg and sedate her! Yes, good plan Alex, but we have to hold her! Any way to cut a long story short after a couple of attempts he managed to do it, and we got her into the car. Chris sat in the back with her and 5 mins down the road she began to wake up! By the time they got to the surgery she was wide awake and desperately trying to get up. Alex rushed into the surgery got a top up and knocked her out again, it took a long time to get her sedated enough to go into the theatre but after that everything went well.
While she was on the table we noticed that her nipples were very prominent and swollen!! She couldn’t be pregnant she is too young! The operation went really well and we took her straight home sedated to recover in an area she knew. We always do this as if they come round at the surgery the smells and noises are alien to them and they get very stressed and freak. Within a couple of hours she was up and eating, we were so pleased, her recovery should now be trouble free as she was already used to using only three legs. The only problem we had was giving her, her injections. We had to catch her every day and Chris became the bad man for a while! This went on for a week, we hated doing it but it had to be done.
Two weeks post op, our vet came back to check on her and take the clips out, which meant sedation again. This time went quite smoothly and the clips were taken out in the pen. Whilst Chris was helping he noticed her stomach move, he couldn’t believe his eyes so asked Alex to check, and yes he saw it too - she WAS pregnant!!!!! This changed everything, we didn’t want to release her to have the baby, in case she had problems, she was quite settled in the extended pen we had her in so we decided to keep her in there until she had the baby.
On June 9th 2014 she gave birth to a still born fawn, it was sooo sad. The fawn had some abnormalities and our vet Alex said the damage probably occurred when she had had her accident, it was not caused by the operation, which was some comfort, but still very sad. Rosie seemed fine and not bothered by it at all. After a couple more days in the pen we let her out into the garden again. She stayed for a few more weeks then went back into the forest. She has been back a couple of times since and is looking good.