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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Christmas Plant Selection.

We do love Christmas plants around the house during the festive season. Particularly festive is the Poinsettia brightening the dark winter evenings and adding that splash of Christmas colour. It just would not be Christmas without poinsettias! You may be surprised to hear we have them in our homes and we often receive the comment from family “I can’t believe that you of all people have Poinsettias out around your pets, knowing that they can be poisonous.”
And this is where we can assure, and our guests, that poinsettias are very over-rated as a toxicity. Their ability to truly result in toxicity has long ago been hybridized away. Worst case scenario with ingestion of this colourful plant is oral and gastrointestinal upset, and in most cases it is mild and relatively limited. If the milky sap is exposed to skin, dermal irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness) may develop. Rarely, eye exposure can result in a mild conjunctivitis (“pink eye” secondary to inflammation). Signs are self-limiting and generally don’t require medical treatment unless severe.

Mistletoe, however, is best kept away with more concerning vomiting, diarrhoea and changes in blood pressure with large ingestions.  
To be on the safe side, keep your Mistletoe out of reach of your dogs in the holidays and if you suspect your pet has ingested mistletoe, contact us at the practice.

Holly also can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and depression but again, these are generally mild. 

If ingested, most pets lip smack, drool, and head shake excessively due to the mechanical injury from the spiny leaves.

Lilies are often received as in a Christmas bouquet. Our advice would be to remove the Lilies, and sadly never have them in your house. These are highly toxic to pets with minor signs such as tissue irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus. Clinical signs of drooling, pawing at the mouth, foaming, and vomiting may also be seen. The more dangerous, potentially fatal Lilies are ‘True Lilies’. Examples of some of these dangerous Lilies include the Tiger, Day, Asiatic hybrid, Easter, Japanese Show, Rubrum, Stargazer, Red, Western, and Wood Lilies – all of which are highly toxic to cats! Even small ingestions (such as 2-3 petals or leaves) – even the pollen or water from the vase – can result in severe, acute kidney failure. Other types you need to be aware of include Lily of the Valley. This type does not cause kidney failure, but can cause life-threatening heart arrhythmias and death when ingested by dogs or cats.

If your cat is seen consuming any part of a Lily, bring your cat (and the plant) immediately to a practice for medical care. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better and more efficiently the Lily poisoning can be treated.

Don’t let this put you off our beautiful Festive plants. Enjoy them in your home, just select them carefully and think about ‘safe’ positions. Merry Christmas! 

Monday, 8 December 2014


Every Christmas, here at Broad Lane Vets, we see pets with problems caused by the festive season. This is a difficult time, with their usual home environment becoming overtaken with unfamiliar visitors, strange trees, bright decorations, interesting packages, odd noises and enticing food aromas. Here is a guide to avoiding the common festive pitfalls and poisons, and help keep your pet safe:

CHRISTMAS TREES are of low toxicity, though eating bits of them could obviously cause an upset tummy and injury from the sharp needles. A more likely problem is that your cat will view the tree as fair-game to climb, or your dog will find the lights or tinsel an irresistible tug-toy, with obvious consequences! Even a rabbit will often find an indoor tree hard to resist, giving it a little nibble. Perhaps consider an alternative location for your tree this year?

FESTIVE PLANTS need to be identified. Holly berries are best avoided, and the spines may cause physical injury. And whilst ivy ingestion might only result in a bit of drooling from our dogs and cats, it can cause muscle twitching, paralysis, convulsions and even death in rabbits. Mistletoe tends to cause an upset tummy in dogs and cats, and Poinsettia is toxic to cats, as are Lilies.

ANTIFREEZE used in the radiators of most motor vehicles to prevent freezing, may easily be spilled into the environment as drivers top-up their cars ready for wintertime. Unfortunately its sweet taste is very palatable to cats and dogs, who often lap it up from puddles and discarded containers. Ethylene glycol is the toxic ingredient, which can cause heart, breathing, urinary problems, weakness, incoordination and convulsions, even in small quantities. Kidney failure leading to death is often the sad conclusion, especially in cats.

BATTERIES are another common item pets may eat this time of year. The strong acid/alkali they contain may cause burns and caustic injury, and they can become lodged in the intestine.

CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING may become obvious in the pets living in an affected house before the people, due to their tendency to sleep right next to heating appliances and their higher metabolic rate. Look out for vomiting, drowsiness, incoordination, hearing and eye problems, buy a carbon monoxide detector, and get yourself checked-out by a Doctor!

CHOCOLATE, either hanging on the tree or contained in gifts under it, is the most commonly-reported cause of poisoning in pets this time of year. Theobromine is the toxin, which can cause tummy upset, heart problems, shaking, incoordination, weakness and collapse. Even one small bar of milk chocolate, or half a bar of dark chocolate, can be enough to be poisonous in a small dog or cat. Keep chocolate-containing presents well-away from those sensitive noses!

CHRISTMAS DINNER might be the highlight of our big day, but it could all too easily be the downfall of our furry friends. The fat-laden scraps we are tempted to treat them with, can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and lead to pancreas problems. Peanuts and macadamia nuts may cause an upset tummy and neurological signs. Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are also potentially toxic, with some cats and dogs seeming particularly susceptible to kidney failure after eating just a few grapes or a handful of raisins, so guard your Christmas cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding! Even cakes and sweets marketed as “healthy” for humans, often contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which can be very dangerous in dogs, causing liver failure. Turkey carcasses and bones from other meat may fragment and splinter, and become lodged in the mouth, throat or stomach, requiring surgery. Onions and garlic, which might get forgotten but are in your gravy and stuffing, can cause anaemia in dogs, destroying their red blood cells. And alcohol, though many pets like the taste of it, can unfortunately cause heart arrhythmias, seizures and even death, so keep your half-empty glasses and cans out of reach.

Early intervention may save your pet’s life - if you think your pet has been poisoned, never just “wait and see”!
·         Remove your pet from the source
·         Seek veterinary advice by phone ASAP
·         Gather as much information about the potential poison as you can – type, amount, when it happened – this information will help the vet
·         Follow your vet’s recommendations

Elly Pittaway is Veterinary Surgeon and Director at Broad Lane Vets, an award-winning, family-run practice with sites at Broad Lane and Radford Road in Coventry, and on Kenilworth Road in Balsall Common. For more information about the practice, including our Christmas opening times, please visit www.broadlanevets.co.uk. You can also like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Hedgehogs in November

November is highly significant for our hedgehogs for 2 reasons.  The first is Bonfire night (week) and the other is for hibernation, with many going into hibernation around the end of November.

When tidying up your gardens please check any bonfires before you light them. If possible lift the materials around the bottom edge of the pile using a broom handle or similar and check for extra piles of leaves or you may even see the hedgehog itself.  A disturbed hedgehog may also make a hissing sound (like a snake) to try to intimidate those disturbing it.  Start by lighting one side bonfire and allow the quiet side, ie the side with the least people standing around, to remain unburnt for a few minutes as this may allow an escape route for any missed hedgehogs.

If you find a hedgehog put it in a high sided box with some meat based cat food and a towel to snuggle under.  Put it in a quiet place and once the noise etc has died down release the hedgehog with its dish of food.

Depending on the weather and how far north you are will depend on when those larger hedgehogs will go into hibernation. Late November is about the time many will choose.  Those that do not hibernate (Autumn Juveniles), particularly when the weather turns colder will need extra help. 

Regular visitors should be able to cope provided extra food is always put out every evening.  Weighing them regularly should ensure there is a weight gain.  If there is a problem eg out in the day or there is only a small weight gain or it is still considered too small to hibernate and the weather is closing in then contact the BHPS for details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator.  In addition those wandering without a regular supply of food and especially when there are frosts expected will struggle to find any natural food so they too will need to be rescued.  So if you find a hedgehog that you have not seen around before weigh it and call the BHPS for advice.

If you are concerned about any hedgehog, or you see one out in the day, contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801 (if you can weigh the hedgehog first that is always helpful, but do use gloves when you handle them).  For more information about hedgehogs and how to help them, including a leaflet on Autumn Juveniles visit the BHPS web site at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk  

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Acupuncture for cats by Sophie Edward-Jenks MA VetMB CertAVP MRCVS

Cats often respond much better to acupuncture than you might imagine!  We use very fine needles that are inserted through the skin and find that the majority of patients tolerate them very well. Acupuncture evolved in China and has been used for over two thousand years to treat a variety of conditions.  It has a number of effects on the body such as boosting the immune system and promoting healing.  One of the ways it works to provide pain relief is by stimulating the body to produce more of its own natural painkillers (opioids). 

This week I treated a beautiful 19 year old cat called Oscar and thought I would share a little bit about him and his acupuncture treatment with you.

Oscar’s favourite things are sleeping, eating his food, and peeking out of the window to check up on what’s going on outside.  He adores going out into his owners garden for a mooch around and a sunbathe.  His hearing is not as good as it used to be so he doesn’t like younger cats sneaking up on him when he’s out and about!
Oscar’s owner has been bringing Oscar to Broad Lane Vets for acupuncture to help with his arthritis and kidney disease.  Although Oscar dislikes trips to the vet to have his nails trimmed he likes coming in for acupuncture treatments and normally sits patiently throughout.  His owner says acupuncture makes Oscar more comfortable and helps him with his mobility.

Oscar can be nippy when he doesn’t want to do something so it is lovely to see him enjoying coming in to Broad Lane and being so calm during his acupuncture.   

It is quite common for cats and dogs to become sleepy during and after their treatment so we usually advise they take it easy afterwards – here Oscar is relaxing on the consult table! 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Dog Acupuncture by Sophie Edward-Jenks MA VetMB CertAVP MRCVS

This is Tye, a 7 year old male cross breed.  His owner got him from a rescue charity when he was just 4 months old having been found wandering stray and emaciated.  Tye is very closely bonded to his owner and likes to be near her at all times!

His favourite toy is his ball on a rope and he loves playing games that involve balls and fetching things.  He loves his food but is on a diet at the moment to try and keep his weight down.  Tye hates fireworks and thunderstorms and has been known to jump into his owners lap for a reassuring cuddle if he gets frightened.  His naughtiest habit is chasing cars and herding his owner around.
Tye comes to Broad Lane Vets for acupuncture to treat arthritis and stiffness in his hips.  Acupuncture evolved in China and has been used for over two thousand years.  One of the ways it works is to provide pain relief by stimulating the body to produce more of its own natural painkillers. 
When he first started coming he was a bit nervous when I went near his back legs as he thought I was going to express his anal glands but now he relaxes and enjoys a few low fat treats whilst I place the acupuncture needles. 

The majority of dogs don’t appear to notice the needles going through the skin as they are very fine at just 0.25mm wide.

Tye relaxes whlist we leave the needles in for up to 20 minutes before taking them out and having a count up to check they  have all been retrieved!
Tye’s  owner says he is much more comfortable after each treatment and they are now able to go out for longer walks and start to build up his exercise to help control his weight.

It is quite common for dogs to become sleepy during and after their treatment so we usually advise they take it easy afterwards and just go out for a short walk that evening.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Bones and Raw Food Diet (BARF)

After a few clients discussing this subject recently we thought we would publish this interesting article, about BARF Diets, by Dr Marge Chandler. She is a Consultant in Small Animal Nutrition, and an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Edinburgh. 

Bones and Raw Food Diet (BARF)

by veterinary expert Marge Chandler on February 27, 2014 category Foods and Nutrition

Is it the Healthiest Choice for Dogs?
Fresh wholesome foods sound like a wonderful thing to feed our pets, and many dogs appear to do well on these diets, but are there hidden risks? If feeding bones and raw foods is your choice for feeding your dog, you should be aware of the potential problems as well as the benefits of these diets.
What are the benefits of a bones and raw food diet?
By choosing the foods to feed, you are in control of the ingredients fed to your dog. There are not likely to be preservatives or additives if you are feeding organic foods. Some people enjoy preparing foods for their pets and find this a rewarding part of their bond with their pet.
Do be aware that there are a lot of false stories about the ingredients of commercial pet foods. They do not contain dead animals! They may contain “offal”, or the guts of animals, although this is what wild animals will eat. They do contain antioxidant preservatives to prevent them from becoming rancid. Some of them also contain textured vegetable proteins that appear to be meat and are not, and some of them do contain colourings to make them appear more appealing. These are the same colourings added to processed human foods and must be generally considered safe, although each of us need to decide if we want to eat them or feed them to our dogs.
Is it a balanced diet?
The feeding programme for some of the raw food diets is meant to balance the diet over a couple of weeks, rather than for each meal. This is similar to the way many of us feed ourselves and our families, and with the right blend of ingredients this can work; however, in years as a veterinary nutritionist I have checked many homemade diet recipes and programmes and none of them were balanced for the essential nutrients.
A nutritional study of the bones and raw food diet (the ‘BARF’ diet) published in 2001 showed the diet to be deficient in calcium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, and excessively high in vitamin D. Another study of homemade diets showed that even combining three recipes over a week resulted in deficiencies, so varying the foods may not balance out the deficiencies, although the dogs may not show any signs of this in the short term. It is likely that some adult dogs could cope with some of these calcium and phosphorus imbalances, but they may affect the strength of the bones of growing dogs. The zinc deficiencies may cause skin disorders.
It’s natural, but is it safe?

Several studies have looked at bacterial contamination of raw foods and shedding of bacteria in the faeces of dogs fed raw foods, and have shown that 20-35% of raw poultry tested and 80% of raw food diets for dogs tested positive for Salmonella and 30% of stool samples from these dogs were positive for Salmonella. Raw food diets have also tested positive for E. coli and Yersinia enterocolitica (bacteria that may cause gastrointestinal upset). Otherwise healthy dogs may be able to cope with ingestion of these bacteria, but very young, old, or immuno-compromised dogs may not be able to do so. Further, the faeces contaminate the environment with these bacteria.
Parasites that may be present in raw meat in include Toxoplasma gondii, Sarcocystis, Neospora caninum, Toxocara canis (round worms), Taenia and Echinococcus (tape worms).
When handling raw foods, either in preparation for human consumption or for the dog’s dinner, the cook must be scrupulous in hygiene, washing all surfaces and hands before touching anything or anyone else. Small children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised (e.g. anyone ill or on immunosuppressive medications) should not be handling the raw meat.
Some advocates of feeding raw meat and bones diets claim that the bones are beneficial for oral and dental health. Studies in wild dogs, found that 41% had evidence of periodontitis, although only 2% had dental tartar, so while the teeth may appear cleaner, the gums are not necessarily healthier.
Are raw bones safe?
Raw bones are usually added to the diet as a calcium source and for dental health. Chewing on a large meaty bone does seem a great source of joy for many dogs, and if it is large enough that it cannot be chewed up is generally considered safe. Analysis of the BARF diet has not confirmed that feeding bones is an adequate source of calcium.
There is a conception that feeding raw bones is safer than feeding cooked bones but there have been no objective studies on this. Bones that become stuck in the stomach, or more likely in the intestine, may perforate the gut, causing a potentially fatal peritonitis or abdominal infection. The only way to remove a bone stuck in the intestine is by surgery. Sometimes a segment of the intestine may need to be removed as well if it has been damaged by the bone. A bone stuck in the oesophagus is an emergency and may require an urgent appointment with a specialist to remove it. This can be a fatal condition and the longer it is stuck the worse the prognosis.

  • In summary, if you chose to feed the BARF diet or any other diet involving raw foods, we recommend that very special hygienic care is used in handling the food and the dog’s faeces.
  • Remember to de-worm your dog regularly, and tell your veterinary surgeon what diet you are feeding so that if your dog develops gastrointestinal disorders they will know to look for the bacteria and parasites mentioned above.
  • Ideally, the diet should be balanced by a veterinary nutritionist and supplemented as necessary.
  • If you feed bones, either raw or cooked, that can be ingested by your dog, you are running the risk of oesophageal or gastrointestinal obstructions. It may be possible to chop or grind the bone up small enough (e.g. less than 0.5 cm) that they are less likely to get stuck. Alternatively, consider consulting a veterinary nutritionist to determine the amount of calcium (and other nutrients) to add to your dog’s diet and skip the bones.

About Marge Chandler
Dr Marge Chandler is a Consultant in Small Animal Nutrition and an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Edinburgh. After qualifying from Colorado State University she was in general practice for 4 years before returning to do a double residency in small animal internal medicine and clinical nutrition at Colorado State University and Massey University in New Zealand.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Housing and companionship for your rabbits

During Rabbit Awareness Week we thought we would look at some rabbit welfare issues.

Generally, rabbits dislike being picked up off the ground, as they are prey animals and need to feel able to get away when necessary. They are, however, social creatures and there will be ideal situations for you to spend time happily interacting with you as their companion, and other rabbits they live with.

Your hutch
These should be raised off the floor to allow air to circulate and prevent surface water being absorbed into the floor. They should have a waterproof roof, but please be aware that hutches become hot during the summer months and should be sited in a shady position.
The hutch must be secure against any predators, but you must also ensure it is secure so your racbbits cannot escape. For this reason, bolt fastenings are better than turn buttons etc as they cannot be opened accidentally.
Wire floors should not be used as flooring since sore feet can quickly develop; overlaying a wooden floor with wire makes cleaning difficult.
If you obtain a second-hand hutch, please make sure you scrub it out thoroughly with a recommended animal cage cleaner. This must be done some days before you expect to house new rabbits, as the timber must be allowed to dry properly before you prepare the hutch for its new occupants.
No hutch can be too large, in fact the bigger the better! Rabbits need to be able to stretch out lengthways, hop around, and stand up on their hind legs, otherwise they can experience skeletal aches and pains from being too cramped.You should have at least two rooms in your hutch. The main hutch area should have a wire front and be spacious enough for your rabbits to hop around. Your pet's food should be kept to this area and, if they toilet there, a litter tray could be placed in an appropriate corner, if you have the space. A sleeping area with access onto the main hutch should have solid walls and a door where your rabbits can retreat and relax allowing them some privacy.

Your rabbit's outside run
Ideally their run should be attached to the hutch so that your pets can choose whether to be in or outdoors. The run should be as spacious as possible to allow the rabbit's to hop, jump, and have total freedom of movement. Ideally the minimum size for two rabbits should be at least 200cm x 200cm. It must be secure, remember the underside, as a rabbit’s natural behaviour is to dig. Just as important is keeping it secure from predators. 
Fresh water must always be available wherever your rabbits are - whether inside the hutch or outside in the run.
Your run should be attached to the hutch, however, if this is not possible a large free-standing run can be obtained which gives shelter, shade, and a place within to hide from would-be predators. Just a thought - the sun moves around during the day, so remember a run that starts in shade may be in full sunlight a few hours later.
Your rabbits’ health depends a great deal on their environment, and a daily cleaning regime is really important. 
It will not be long before you know where your rabbits like to toilet. This area can be under-laid with newspaper to provide not only good absorbency, but ease of cleaning. Some rabbits like litter trays. These should be large enough for the rabbit to climb completely into. There are many litters available. Daily removal of any faeces and dirty bedding and newspaper is important. 
Spilled food or uneaten fruit or vegetables should be removed daily. Uneaten food in bowls can be mixed in with fresh food unless it is contaminated with bedding, faeces or is inedible.
Rabbits kept in dirty hutches can develop snuffles, sore feet, urine scalding and dirty bottoms – which can easily result in fly strike. The eggs of the fly are laid in the surrounding area and, within approximately 12 hours, can hatch into maggots which will invade the rabbit’s body. Especially during warmer weather check your rabbit's bottom twice daily. Once fly-strike happens the condition is often fatal. Please ask our advice about the best sort of preventative treatments. Please never assume that your rabbit is healthy if you have not actually checked them that day.
Rabbits are naturally sociable, so they need companionship of their own kind. Rabbits are much happier living in pairs or compatible groups. They will become very lonely living on their own. It is easiest if rabbits are kept together from birth, but rabbits less than 12 weeks old will usually live together happily. Neutered companions are the ideal friends. Two litter brothers, or two litter sisters, will also get on well, but ideally they should be neutered to prevent fights.
The Blue Cross Charity have some great leaflets including advise on introducing new rabbits to each other. Go to: http://www.bluecross.org.uk
On a final note...
If rabbits are not given daily opportunity to exercise, they may begin to suffer from skeletal pain and become bad-tempered. Lots of people take on rabbits as children's pets. It is essential that an adult is the person who takes responsibility of companion and animal carer. Rabbits are great pets but be aware they do need lots of attention and can often live for 8 to 12 years.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Animal's Victoria Cross given to dog killed in conflict

Story today published in VNonline that we felt should be shared:    

Animal's Victoria Cross given to dog killed in conflict. A military working dog killed on patrol in Afghanistan will be awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal for life-saving bravery in conflict.

Sasha and Lance Corporal Rowe were known as the best dog-handler team in their region.

Soldiers entrusted their lives to four-year-old Labrador Sasha, who boosted morale with her determination to push forward in gruelling conditions and relentless Taliban attacks.
Along with handler Sergeant Andy Dodds, Sasha's main role in Afghanistan was to search in advance of patrols - uncovering hidden weapons, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and bomb-making equipment - providing a safe passage for soldiers.
Overall during her time in Afghanistan, Sasha made 15 confirmed operational finds, saving the lives of countless soldiers and civilians from death and serious injuries.
Sasha developed a particularly strong bond with Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe when she was assigned to him in May 2008. The pair were deployed to Kandahar where they were considered the best handler and dog team in the region.
He says: "The award is even more poignant as we approach the centenary of World War One and we are reminded of the huge debt we owe the animals who serve in times of conflict…"
"Sasha's story exemplifies the dedication of man's best friend and reminds us all of the amazing contribution they make to our lives."
The medal was first introduced in 1943 by PSDA founder Maria Dickin CBE. Since then it has been awarded to 29 dogs (including Sasha), 32 World War Two messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat.

Regimental colleagues remember one occasion where Sasha searched a building in Garmsir and found two mortars and large amounts of weaponry, including mines and explosives.

Sadly, on July 24, 2008, Sasha and Lance Corporal Rowe were both killed when their patrol was ambushed twice as they returned from a routine search operation.
The PDSA Dickin Medal will be awarded posthumously in May. It is the highest award any animal in the world can receive for bravery in military conflict.

PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin says it honours Sasha's "unwavering service and her ultimate sacrifice." 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Hedgehogs in April

At this time of year there will be lots of hungry hedgehogs trying to fatten up after their hibernation, so a plate of hedgehog food or meaty dog or cat food will be appreciated, plus a dish of water.

Although it is a little early for hoglets there may well be some courtship going on. 

Hedgehogs prefer their own company as they are solitary animals.  However in the breeding season the male will be on the look-out for lady friends.  Most meetings, whatever the sexes involved, will start with a lot of huffing and puffing.  Indeed this will often be the first time you will notice there are hedgehogs in your garden.  If the hedgehogs are one of each sex then the male will start to circle the female.  She will keep turning to face him but eventually the noise will stop and the female will lower her prickles so a careful mating can take place.

If the hedgehogs meeting are both males then the larger one may well butt the other one making it cry out in fear (a loud sort of scream).  Sometimes the larger one will push the other over and roll it around (the smaller one having rolled into a ball when attacked).

The noise may not be the only sign of visiting hedgehogs.  They also leave their calling cards.  Hedgehog droppings can be as large as a lady’s little finger.  It is often black in colour with some shiny bits due to the wing casings from any beetles they have eaten – these cannot be digested so come out the other end, giving the dropping its dark colour.

If you seem to have a regular visiting hedgehog at this time of year it may well be a female as the males are mainly nomadic looking for females.  Whereas the females just want a small home patch that will support them and their expected litter.

If you are concerned about any hedgehog that you see contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801 (if you can weigh the hedgehog first that is always helpful).  Out of hours you will be directed to other numbers but whatever the time, with patience, you should be able to speak to a real person.  For more information about hedgehogs and how to help them visit the BHPS web site at  www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk  

Friday, 4 April 2014

Rare tiger cubs make public debut

Melati with cubs
Melati with her cubs in the main paddock.
London Zoo celebrates as cubs explore outdoor paddock

A trio of rare tiger cubs made their public debut at London Zoo last week as they ventured to their outdoor paddock.

The seven-week-old Sumatrans explored the main paddock with mother Melati last Wednesday. Keepers say the cubs will not be named until they are able to be sexed.

Tracey Lee, a keeper a London Zoo said: "“We were watching the cubs on the hidden cameras in their dens, when it looked like they were about to follow Melati outside – we all rushed to the exhibit and were just thrilled to catch them playing outside for the first time.

“We got a real glimpse of their different personalities, as two of the cubs confidently bounded outside while the other one hung back a little and needed a bit more encouragement from mum."

The zoo announced the birth of triplets earlier in March. Tigress Melati gave birth to the cubs on February 3, just five months after her first cub was found dead in its enclosure. Keepers were left "heartbroken" after the three-week-old cub apparently drowned after falling in the pool.

Melati's triplets are being observed by keepers using remote camera technology. With less than 300 Sumatran tigers remaining in the wild, the births represent a significant achievement for the species global breeding programme.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Why do penguins need jumpers?

Loved this story from VN online!
How best knits help oil spill birds

Jumpers have been knitted for little penguins affected by oil spills in Australian to stop them preening and swallowing toxins.

The Phillip Island Penguin Foundation which launched a Knit for Nature programme, said:  "A patch of oil the size of a thumb nail can kill a little penguin.
"Oiled penguins often die from exposure and starvation.
"Oil separates and mats feathers, allowing water to get in which makes a penguin very cold, heavy and less able to successfully hunt for food."
The jumpers are placed on the penguins to stop them preening while they wait to be washed by clinic staff.
Phillip Island is home to an estimated 32,000 little penguins.

The last major oil spill off the island happened in 2001 and affected 453 little penguins – 96 per cent of them were saved and rehabilitated at the Phillip Island Wildlife Clinic before being released back into the wild.
The foundation recently ran a knitting competition and said it has been overwhelmed with offers of jumpers from around the world, so much so that it is able to send the jumpers on to other rescue centres if required.
In 201/13 582 sick animals were admitted to the Phillip Island Wildlife Clinic of which 141 were little penguins.

The foundation raises funds for the rescue and care of sick or injured little penguins.  It also runs an adopt a penguin programme.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Drayton Manor Zoo received an early Christmas present

A new arrival has been celebrated at Drayton Manor Zoo in Staffordshire, as a tiny Brazilian tapir is born, and festively named Nickolas in honour of the season.

Born to mother Inca and father Izzie after a 13-month pregnancy, the newborn weighed in at 18lb and is said to be doing well.

Zoo manager Joyce Roberts said: "The fun-filled festive period is always an exciting time of year at Drayton Manor Zoo and now we have even more reason to celebrate.

"Baby Nickolas is adorable and he is already proving a big hit with visitors.  He is a very confident little character and has taken to running around his outside enclosure.

"His mum Inca is very attentive, as she has been with the other offspring that she has produced and successfully reared. I’m quite sure Nickolas will be getting some extra special treats this year