Fur Elise

She was as beautiful as the music she was named after and a very lucky little joey. Elise was caught by her foot in a wire fence suspended off the ground on a hot afternoon. The wire had cut deeply into the skin proximal to the metatarsophalangeal joint( between the ankle and toe).

Just imagine how it must feel to be suspended upside down and unable to touch the ground to relieve the pull on your leg .The wire wound tightly around your leg cuts off the circulation and as you struggle to get free the wire cuts into your skin with every move. The soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves) is stretched and possibly a bone is fractured or a hip dislocated. Your mother is nearby and is  distressed and not able to help. Then you are approached by a predator – in this case a human. No wonder myopathy can be a problem for kangaroos rescued from fences.

I examined Elise and fortunately she did not have a fracture or dislocation. She did have deep wire cuts down to the bone and these wounds were flushed with sterile saline, dressed with Manuka honey and then bandaged. She had a  course of antibiotics and was given Vit E/ Selenium injections for three days to reduce the risk of myopathy. Her major problem was knuckling (the toe curling under) because of a sciatic nerve injury which results in an inability to dorsiflex (flatten) the foot. She also had an obturator nerve injury which made her unable to adduct her leg (bring the leg toward the body from the side). This caused her to have  a frog-like hop with the leg sticking out to the side. A thick bandage over the metatarsophalangeal joint reduced the knuckling and protected the joint during recovery

If you rescue a kangaroo from wire fence entanglement and it cannot get up and hop don’t despair. If there is no fracture or dislocation the main problem is nerve damage which usually settles over a  number of weeks. Even fractures and dislocations can be treated, although in larger animals dislocation can be problematic.

Elise made a full recovery. She has lived  a free life on Possumwood now for about 10 years and we have the pleasure of seeing her most days . If you haven’t heard of Fur Elise (the piano solo by Beethoven) before it really is a beautiful piece of music – very soothing for both animals and humans.